Silsden-born football coach Maurice Tillotson is dreaming of World Cup glory -- but he can be forgiven if he has little sypathy for Sven Goran Eriksson.

Whatever the challenges England present to the genial Swede, they are tiny compared to the tasks confronting Tillotson as he gets to grips with his latest appointment.

He recently took up the job of coach to the Cook Islands national team, in the South Pacific.

The Cook Islands are a string of fifteen small tropical islands in the approximately halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand.

With less than 20,000 inhabitants the Cook Islands have a total population which would rattle round in most Premiership grounds - and is just twice the size of Silsden.

Their football history is brief and - so far - distinguished only by their lack of success.

The islands made their international debut in 1971, shortly after the formation of the Cook Islands Football Association. At their first regional tournament they conceded 61 goals in three games!

After such a sobering setback it was little wonder that the Cooks were not seen in international competition for a quarter of a century. Their return set in motion a train of events which ended with Tillotson moving to Rarotonga the tiny nation's capital city.

Football is very much a minority sport in the Cook Islands where most sportsmen play rugby union and rugby league.

Many of Tillotson's squad are rugby players keeping fit during their 'serious' sport's close season.

Despite the Cook Islands' small population they have produced an impressive number of gifted rugby players including Kevin Iro, who has given outstanding service in the thirteen-a-side code with Wigan, Leeds and St. Helens.

The Cooks had no intention of returning to the international football circuit in 1996 but were prompted to doing so by the controversial Oceania Football Confederation chairman Charlie Dempsey. He gained worldwide notoriety when his abstention cost South Africa the right to host the 2006 World Cup.

However, it was the 1998 World Cup on Dempsey's mind when he contacted the CIFA and told them that FIFA would give each country taking part in the qualifying stages with one million US dollars for football development.

Australia inflicted a 16 - 0 hammering in the group stages, but that mattered little as football on the islands collected their bumper cash windfall. Administrators spent some of it in recruiting Tillotson as their national director of football.

Rarotonga, an idyllic tropical holiday resort, could not present a greater contrast to Huddersfield Town's old ground at Leeds Road, where Tillotson began his playing career.

He later moved to Stockport County and then enjoyed four seasons with Royal Antwerp in Belgium, before emigrating to New Zealand where he created a lasting impression.

He was an old fashioned left back and won 20 international caps for the Kiwis, wearing their colours in Singapore, Indonesia, Macao and New Caledonia. The highlight of his playing days came during 1972, when appeared in World Cup qualifying games against Indonesia, Iraq and Australia.

He was New Zealand Player of the Year in 1973 and became player-coach of his club, the quaintly named Stop Out, in 1976. He hung up his boots soon afterwards.

As a coach, Tillotson has gained respect for his hard work, calm demeanour and tactical expertise while in charge of several unfashionable clubs and the New Zealand national women's team.

He also guided Manurewa to triumph in the Chatham Cup - New Zealand's premier knockout competition - in 1984.

In Rarotonga, Tillotson not only looks after the national team playing in the World Cup, but also coaches the women's team and an Olympic squad, together with youth and under-17 teams. But he will be really judged by the senior team's progress in the World Cup this summer.

A 17-0 annihilation at the hands of Australia three years ago gives a fair reflection of the Cooks' current standing in world football. They have a FIFA ranking of 172nd out of the 203 countries active at international level.

In June the Cooks will meet New Zealand, Solomon Islands, Tahiti and Vanuatu in Group Two of the Oceania World Cup Qualifying Series.

If they can achieve just one win it would be the equivalent of Eriksson's charges reaching the final in Tokyo a year later.