Samoa, Cook Islands football teams to jostle for pole position

Samoa or Cook Islands could seal a spot at next year's Oceania Nations Cup football competition, if results fall in their favour this afternoon.

Both teams made a winning start to the first stage of Oceania qualifying for the 2018 Football World Cup, beating American Samoa and Tonga respectively on Monday.

Another win today in Nuku'alofa could clinch the Stage 1 qualifying title with a round to spare.

Cook Islands coach Drew Sherman accepts Samoa are the favourites but hopes his team can kick on from their first ever World Cup qualifying win.

"We know Samoa are very dangerous - I mean they were 3-0 up in 25 minutes - so we know they come out of the blocks at a frightening pace. If we can contain them over that first initial period and as the game gets stretched and teams get tired in the conditions hopefully we will have opportunities to play our football and create some chance as the game wears on. What we need to improve is purely just retention of possession. It will be the focus for us really to just make sure we can keep hold of the ball when we win it back and get our breather while we're doing that".

The winner team will progress to the next stage of qualifying if the American Samoa and Tonga game ends in a draw.