Cook Islands football continues to strive for development in football; counting on various players currently based in New Zealand – such as Harlem Simiona and Ishaq Nazeem who repersent the men’s national team – the 17,000 people self-governing island country hopes for better results in the sport. The Cook Islands are well known because of their fantastic tourist attractions and their good performances in rugby sevens tournaments, but their success in OFC-level football could be bigger if they could rely on a well-known attacker who has already represented the country at U-17 level, but he still needs to be covered by the senior national team. His name is Maro Bonsu-Maro.
Maro has played for clubs in the Cook Islands, where his mother comes from, including Puiakura and Tupapa Maraerenga in previous editions of the OFC Champions League. Maro’s father is from Ghana, but he grew up in New Zealand and it gives him the possibility to represent three national teams: Cook Islands, Ghana and New Zealand. Most recently, the striker also played in the OFC Champions League, but in a far more famous side: Auckland City. In the 2019 edition of the regional tournament, Maro met his former club Tupapa Maraerenga and helped his side to in a massive 15-0 win in by scoring four goals coming from the bench.
Maro is a product of Auckland City’s Youth Academy, but he also played for other New Zealand clubs such as Central United. The reigning New Zealand champions currently compete for their tenth continental title as they qualified for the knockout stage of 2020 OFC Champions League.
Bonsu-Maro already represented the Cook Islands on an international level, as mentioned above. It was at the OFC U17 Championship in 2013 that the striker scored two goals for his side and helped the Cook Islands advance from the first qualifying round to the group stage. Although Maro’s only international experience has been representing the Cook Islands, the player is not cap-tied to the green-white team – in return he must be capped for the senior side at an official tournament.
Since Ghana seems to be an unrealistic goal for Maro, he may only have New Zealand and the Cook Islands to choose from, but whether he will represent either side is still uncertain. Recently, the player showed some doubts about his availability for the Cook Islands – ready to wait for a possible All Whites call-up. He is just 23 and he must wait a little more to analyse his career and then decide which side he is going to represent at senior level.
Despite all uncertainties, it is obvious that Maro’s inclusion in the Cook Islands squad would rise the national team’s expectations for the upcoming challenges, and the national football association – CIFA – has an important role to play at this stage on convincing him to represent the islander team.