Pierre flying high

For Manaariki Pierre, the Cook Islands U-17 goalkeeper, it’s just another day at the office.
The 15-year-old was one of the Cook Islands most outstanding performers in the side’s 3-2 victory over Tonga in their opening OFC U-17 Championship Preliminary match.
Anderson believes the score could easily have gone in Tonga’s favour had it not been for Pierre.
“I spoke to Mana after the game and said to him the boys should be going across and thanking him for his performance in the second half,” Anderson says.
“He’s beating himself up a little bit after the penalty, I think he was expecting to save it bless him, but he was in the second half, the reason why we managed to get three points against Tonga.
But the Tupapa Maraerenga Panthers keeper is not one for accolades and believes he was merely fulfiling the role he was charged with.
“I feel equal to my teamamtes,” he says.
“I was just doing my job – it’s a striker’s job to strike. That’s all I can say.”
And having had to work harder than expected did he have any harsh words for his defenders?
“No,” he insists.
“I just said ‘keep it up’ and encourage them to do better. That’s what I try to do.”
Playing for Cook Islands may not have been the dream he set out to achieve, but now he’s here in Samoa Pierre is relishing the opportunity to wear the “Kuki” shirt with pride.
“I’m proud to represent Cook Islands, I love everything about my country.
“It’s been good here. I like playing football and especially against other nations, it’s fun.”
Pierre will be hoping for another strong display between the posts as his side takes on American Samoa in their second match at the 2016 OFC U-17 Championship Preliminary this afternoon.

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