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New Pirae coach keen to make his mark in OCL playoff

AS Pirae celebrate scoring against their upcoming OCL Playoff opponents AS Vénus in a recent domestic cup clash in Tahiti. Photo credit: Christophe Fotozz.

Heimanu Teuira knows he has big shoes to fill after taking over the head coaching role at AS Pirae from Naea Bennett, and is keen to use this week’s OFC Champions League playoff match against AS Vénus as a chance to stamp his style onto the team.

After taking Pirae to the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2021™, Bennett announced he was stepping down from the club to take on a new role outside of football, paving the way for Teuira to get his shot at the top job.

He had previously served as an assistant to Bennett in 2019.

But despite the influence of his former mentor, Teuira said he is determined to be his own man at Pirae.

“I don’t want to compare myself to Naea, because everyone has their own method,” Teuira said.

“For my part, I am focused on the collective cohesion of the squad and us having a very good state of mind.”

LIVESTREAM | OCL 2022 NATIONAL PLAYOFF | AS PIRAE v AS VENUS

Pirae and Vénus met this past weekend in the quarter finals of the Coupe de Polynésie with the latter claiming the victory 3-1 to advance to the final four. Vénus also got the better of Pirae in a 1-0 win in January and at the time of writing sit top of Tahiti’s Ligue 1 competition with Pirae in third.

Ahead of the single-leg playoff on June 14 (Tahiti time) at Stade Pater in Papeete, Teuira shared his admiration for Vénus.

“It’s a club that I respect,” he said.

“This is a team that has always been around the top of the table in each championship and a team feared by all the other teams.

“They are always physically ready and play their matches at 100 per cent.”

The match kicks off at 8.00pm local Tahitian time with the winners joining New Zealand’s Auckland City FC, Nikao Sokattak FC from the Cook Islands and New Caledonia’s Hienghène Sport, and as yet unconfirmed teams from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu at the finals stage.

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