15 Jan 2015

Sport: Cook Islands footballers face tough ask

12:47 pm on 15 January 2015

The task doesn't get any easier for the Cook Islands at the Oceania Under 17 football championship.

After a 3-0 defeat by Papua New Guinea in their opening match, they come up against New Caledonia on Thursday, who beat Samoa by the same scoreline and finished runners-up two years ago.

Cook Islands coach Delaney Yaqona believes their tactics were were on the money against PNG but says individual errors ultimately cost them.

He says they will need to improve their ball speed and take their chances against the Francophones.

"They're very similar to PNG - technically very good. What's going to make them, I think, a bit of a bigger challenge is that they've got a very fast striker up the front. It's someone that they could put a through-ball from anywhere on the field and our boys have just got to watch it, drop early and just cut him out because I saw him do some real big runs and get through there so it's something we've got to watch out for".

In the other Group A matches, Papua New Guinea put their winning start on the line against Fiji and defending champions New Zealand take on hosts Samoa.