23 Nov 2011

Sport: Cook Islands labelled favourites for Oceania football qualifiers

11:50 am on 23 November 2011

Samoa face an early litmus test in their bid to qualify for the men's Oceania Nations Cup football finals.

They face Cook Islands in Wednesday's opening round of matches in a four-team qualifying tournament in Apia, with the overall winner to advance to the Oceania finals in Fiji in June.

Samoa coach Fogalevai Tunoa Lui says while he isn't dismissing the challenge of Tonga and American Samoa, Cook Islands is their biggest challenger.

"The reason is that they've got a lot of their players playing in New Zealand, so obviously they have played a higher level than what our competitions are in our country so Cook Islands would be the team to beat."