Inexperienced Samoa feeling confident

They will arrive with one of the tournament’s least experienced line-ups, but Samoa aren’t viewing that as a possible barrier to success at next month’s OFC U-20 Women’s Championship.

The Samoa squad named has just one player, defender Lagmaina Akari, who has turned out at regional level before.

Coach Leti Tamasese also has no previous experience with a national team.

That will leave Akari, who was a member of the senior team which took part in the recent XV Pacific Games in Port Moresby, to shoulder much of the leadership responsibility in a squad made up of players based in Samoa, New Zealand and Australia.

But Tamasese isn’t dwelling on the lack of experience, instead focussing on the fact that her team have enjoyed a positive preparation for the tournament, which will be held at the Loto-Tonga Soka Centre in Nuku’alofa from 1-10 October

“Samoa was not part of this tournament last year, and although that experience would have been handy, I wouldn’t say the lack of it will make it harder for us,” Tamasese says.

“Preparations are coming along well. We are training every day to constantly improve our skills and I believe we are now ready for the tournament.

“I think one of our strengths is that the girls have found a way to play in unison, they play with the same rhythm and communicate well with each other.

“And while this is my first time coaching a national team, I have been coaching for five years with sides such as Kiwi FC’s premier women and other age-group teams.”

Samoa have a bye on the opening day of the OFC U-20 Women’s Championship, starting their campaign with a game against hosts Tonga on 3 October at 15h30.