Simiona stands out for Tupapa

He first came to attention in August last year at Stage 1 of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ Qualifiers in Tonga, where he played a starring role for the Cook Islands, whom he qualifies for via his grandfather who was born there.
Now back for his second taste of football with the island nation – this time with local club Tupapa Maraerenga FC at the 2016 OFC Champions League Preliminary – Simiona is once again standing out for his impact on the field.
“He is a machine, he has got speed, is a smart footballer, he can hold the ball up well for support and he is very good at trapping a team coming out of their half,” Tupapa coach Delaney Yaqona says.
“He did those things really well in our first game against Veitongo FC.
“The speed and power of his cross causes real issues for defenders as well. We scored a goal off one of his crosses against Veitongo and the defender was right there to get it, but I think the speed of it just caught him off guard.”
Simiona scored two goals and set another up in Tupapa’s 7-0 victory on Match Day 1 of the tournament, which offers entry to the group stages of the 2016 OFC Champions League for the winners.
For the 23-year-old, who plays his club football at Ngongotaha in New Zealand, the experience has been an opportunity to learn about his culture while also reaching new levels in his footballing career.
“This is my first time playing for Tupapa, it’s awesome, I have met a bunch of new guys and the staff are awesome,” Simiona says.
“It’s great to have that brotherhood here as well. My grandfather was born here so it has been great learning about all that stuff and meeting some of my family I hadn’t met before.
“It feels like home here and it’s awesome to be part of the club.”
Simiona and his Tupapa team face arguably their biggest test of the competition tomorrow in the way of Samoa club champions Kiwi FC, who sit with them at the top of the table.
Despite enjoying plenty of time on the ball on his left wing against Veitongo on Match Day 1, Simiona expects Kiwi to look to close that down.
“Teams who were watching us earlier will see that we like to attack down the flanks,” he says.
“But that’s just about us mixing it up and making sure we can still get through.

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