Sport: Football World Cup Qualifiers to kick off in Oceania

The road to the 2018 Football World Cup kicks off today for four Oceania rivals.

Tonga, American Samoa, Samoa and Cook Islands are all in Nuku'alofa, vying for one spot in next year's Oceania Nations Cup.

Samoa prevailed when the same teams met in Apia four years ago but head coach Phineas Young says the squad has a new look after being ovehauled in recent years.

"Only three survived from 2011 but most of the players here, they were getting old - they were over 30 - so I decided I will bring in some new players to mix in with the old horses here. We've been starting development of players in the under 12s, under 15s and under 17s in the last three years. Most of these guys they play in the Premier League in Apia so we've been working with them starting from last year so most of the players here they're under 21".

American Samoa made history at the last qualifier, beating Tonga to snap a 30-match losing streak at international level.

Head coach Larry Manao says the goal this time around is simply to do better.

"This year it's young, inexperienced players but these are all building blocks which eventually will give us an opportunity to have a better team, better program in the future. Maybe not this year but we have to look just beyond the pre-qualification tournament - we have to look five years down the road. The goal is to do better of course but we have to look at it incrementally. I think we have reasonable expectations of what that growth and development looks like".

Cook Islands finished last in the previous qualifying tournament but coach Drew Sherman comes believes his team can be contenders this time around.

"I think success for us is giving a good account of ourselves, in terms of the way in which we play and how well we execute that. We finished bottom last time around but we're hopeful. We're aiming to qualify [and] if we didn't think we could realistically do it there wouldn't be any point in sending a team and preparing them the way in which we have. We're aware there's three other teams with exactly the same expectation and it's going to be tough for each of us".

Cook Islands face Tonga this afternoon before neighbours Samoa and American Samoa go head to head.