Cook Islands return to international football after seven years

After seven long years the Cook Islands senior national team is back on the field for the World Cup qualifiers to be held in Qatar. It will be the first time that the national team from the small Pacific archipelago will play outside Oceania.

Cook Islands vs Samoa for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers – OFC Media

In Qatar, Cook Islands will have the return of five players who played in the 2015 qualifiers: Ishaq Mohammed, Tyrell Barringer-Tahiri, Grover Harmon, Harlem Simiona and Taylor Saghabi. Saghabi and Harmon were also present in the World Cup qualifiers along with Emiel Burrow who will also be in the squad. The latter did not play in 2015. Incidentally, Taylor Saghabi is the highest scorer in the history of the Cook Islands national team with 6 goals in 10 games played – a true legend for the sport in his country.

The coach:

The team that will be coached by the Englishman Alan Taylor – Oceania Football Center already posted about the head coach: “Alan Taylor to coach Cook Islands in World Cup qualifiers”

The key players:

Cook Islands will have two huge reinforcements for Qatar: Ben Mata, Wellington Olympic defender who will represent his country for the first time, and the forward Maro Bonsu-Maro – who has already represented Cook Islands in the OFC U-17 Championship and will wear Cook’s colours for the first time at senior level.

Bonsu-Maro playing for Manukau United – Facebook

Both will add quality to the squad, Mata can bring a defensive security that has been lacking for Cook Islands in the last two qualifiers and Bonsu-Maro should be the star of the attack, as only Taylor Saghabi scored for Cook Islands in the last World Cup qualifiers.

The Young Guns:

Cook Islands has 4 players who played in the 2016 OFC U-19 Championship: Orin Prattley, Thane Beal, Jarves Aperau and Dwayne Tiputoa. They managed to qualify for the final round of that tournament. They are players who can add a lot for the team especially for their defensive performance everything in that tournament.

The Rarotonga-based players have been training with coach Alan Taylor since late November. Taylor was not able to have all the players because of Covid-19. Now they are gathered in New Zealand and should meet the players who are in Australia and England only in Qatar. The delegation is expected to travel on Saturday, 12th March.

Cook Islands is for sure the underdog in group A, but good additions have been made to the squad, even with little training time, the individual quality of players like Bonsu-Maro and Ben Mata can excel.

Cook Islands plays its first match on March 17th against Solomon Islands.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: