Kina Likiliki: I am still keen on representing Tonga

Living in New Zealand, Anthony Likiliki keeps his path as a footballer. The 20-year-old player from Tonga moved away from his homeland last year and since then he is playing for Christchurch United FC in the Mainland Premier League.

Better known as Kina, he had his first contact with New Zealand when he was eight years old when he attended Coerver Academy in Auckland during his school holidays. He repeated this process a lot of times throughout the years before moving to New Zealand which helped him to improve as a player and get used to the country – “There are so many talented players that were way better than me but they did not get opportunities to further there game,” he said.

Likiliki has some good international experience for his age. He made his official debut for Tonga National Team at senior level when he was just 15 years old. He played two matches in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification five years ago. He also represented his country at youth level for several times including 2016 U-20 Championship and 2018 U-19 Championship. He had an outstanding performance in 2018 when he helped Tonga to advance to the tournament’s group stage.

Likiliki in action for Christchurch United.

Kina currently faces some problems when it comes to international football once Tonga Football Association (TFA) has not been in contact with him since he moved abroad. Actually it is a bad situation that many Tongan players face nowadays. There are many good players eligible to represent the country that are not contacted by the federation. A rare exception is Mohammad Rajani who is born in Australia and represented the country last year in the OFC Men’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

Mohammad Rajani: Tonga football needs to grow

Likiliki (left) and Rajani (right) are close friends

Despite not being in touch with the federation, Likiliki still wants to play for Tonga National Team – “I am still keen on representing Tonga […] but have not heard anything from them,” he revealed. Tonga’s next official challenge must take place later this year in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification’s first round when they will face Samoa, American Samoa, Cook Islands. Samoa is the favourite to advance to the further round but Tonga can be a tough challenge if they count on these who play abroad.

The biggest problem – apparently – is that TFA does not seem interested on getting stronger internationally despite have conditions to become more competitive – “Hopefully one day it will change,” added Likiliki.

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