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Cooks custodian catches eye

The New Zealand-born gloveman is likely to be one of the busiest ‘keepers on show in Nouméa and his vocal playing style also makes both players and fans fully aware of his presence.
Good communication on the field is a key aspect of any goalkeeper’s game but, as Jamieson is also skipper of his side, the need to get instructions across is even greater.
He had to bark out plenty of orders to his defensive colleagues in the Cook Islands’ opening match against Papua New Guinea and they were largely followed as a determined effort saw them trail just 1-0 at the break to their more highly-fancied rivals.
The second spell did not go as well as Papua New Guinea, led by former Australia coach Frank Farina, fired in a further three goals for a final 4-0 scoreline but Jamieson says the results of his team’s matches are not the only thing that matter.
Development and the experience gained from this tournament are more pressing priorities.
“As long as everyone gives it 110 per cent that’s all we’re after really,” Jamieson says.
“We just want to put in some good performances and don’t want to walk away from any games that have been too one-sided. We’ve got some young players who are going to come away with a lot of experience to take into the first stage of the World Cup qualifiers.”
Those qualifiers are set to be held in Samoa in November and the Cook Islands are likely to find the action much more to their liking against the similarly-ranked American Samoa, Tonga and Samoa national sides.
Group B of the Pacific Games is a far more challenging prospect with Jamieson’s men set to follow up their Papua New Guinea loss with further matches against Tahiti, Kiribati and Fiji.
Of those three fixtures, the Kiribati clash offers the most realistic chance of a positive result and Jamieson sees no reason why the team can’t achieve that goal.
“We have a lot of really good players and just have to start believing in ourselves and take the game to the opposition at times,” he says.
“One of the biggest contributing factors to our performances is that we have guys living in Australia and New Zealand, while most of the rest of the team is in the Cooks. So it’s hard to get our formations going and practice enough to make them work out on the field.
“We get together maybe a week beforehand if we’re lucky and try to work through everything. It’s a lot of information to take in before a tournament and is always going to be hard. Our population is also not as large as a lot of these other countries so that’s another disadvantage.”
Jamieson is one of those players not living in the Cook Islands but the Wellington-based veteran has links to the nation through his mother, who hails from the island of Aitutaki, and is fiercely proud of his roots.
“I lived in Rarotonga in 2001 when I first played internationally for the Cook Islands in Tahiti. We got through to the OFC Nations Cup that year and got to play Australia,” he says.
“I just wanted to learn a bit more about my culture so went back to the Cooks for just under a year. I worked there, learned the culture and played a bit of football as well.”
Jamieson has never regretted that decision and there will not be a prouder man on the pitch if his charges can notch a victory in Nouméa.
“It’s absolutely amazing to be able to play international football,” he says. “I’m not a young gun anymore so I just want to continue for as long as I possibly can.”
The Cook Islands’ next Pacific Games match is against Tahiti at Stade Boewa in Boulari on Tuesday.

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