28 Jan 2013

Sport: Cook Islands qualify for Oceania U17 Champs

11:21 am on 28 January 2013

The Cook Islands rode their luck at the weekend to win the Oceania Under 17 Preliminary football tournament.

The pre-event favourites went into the final round of matches needing to beat Samoa and hope American Samoa slipped up against Tonga.

Things didn't start well, with the Cooks falling behind in 23rd minute before two second half goals secured a narrow victory.

All appeared to be in vain with American Samoa leading Tonga 2-0 midway through the second half and seemingly assured of tournament success.

But the double dismissal of captain Rueben Luvu and Paul Collins, in the 71st and 80th minutes respectively, changed the complexion of the game.

Tonga found a new lease on life, scoring goals in the 71st and 87th minutes, and a winning strike two minutes into stoppage time, gave Tonga an unlikely victory and handed the Cook Islands the final berth in April's full Oceania Under 17 Championship in Vanuatu.