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Samuela inspired to improve

Puaikura FC's Anthony Samuela at the 2017 OFC Champions League Preliminary.

Making the history books hasn’t proven enough for Cook Islands’ Puaikura FC coach Anthony Samuela, who has taken the next step in his coaching career at the OFC B Licence coaching course Part Two in Fiji.

The 22-year-old is striving to continue his development through the course to contribute more as a coach for his club and country.

“Participating in the B Licence is really helping me progress as a coach. I’m learning new concepts and different styles of play and I think it will really help our team,” he said.

”I’m learning new ways to improve my team and I’m really happy for that.”

Samuela led his club to the 2017 OFC Champions League Preliminary competition in Tonga earlier this year, after blitzing the domestic competition back home.

With former Team Wellington coach Matt Calcott at the helm and Samuela beside him as assistant coach, Puaikura continued their winning streak in Tonga and became the first ever Cook Islands team to qualify for the OFC Champions League Group Stage.

Former New Zealand All Whites coach Kevin Fallon was recruited as head coach for the next stage of Pauikura’s campaign where they travelled to Kone, New Caledonia to contend in Group B of the 2017 OFC Champions League.

Samuela was pleased his side was able to gain experience on the field against international teams, and grateful for his invaluable experience with Calcott and Fallon.

“I was able to learn so many new things and learn different styles of play working beside such experienced coaches,” he said.

“They inspired me to continue improving as a coach for the good of my club, and I’m really happy for that.”

Despite exiting the competition at the bottom of their group, Pauikura FC were the first to score in their opening match against last year’s finalists Team Wellington, they held Ba FC to a 0-0 draw until the 81st minute, and they managed to find the net in their 3-1 loss to hosts Hienghène Sport.

Playing against the best of the region was never going to be an easy task, but Samuela and his players believe they are now better-prepared and even more determined for next season.

“After my experience in the Cook Islands, I found the Champions League a lot faster. There was a lot of speed and a different style of play among all the teams. It inspired me to think of ways I could improve my team in the future,” he said.

“I found it challenging to try and read how other teams play and how they wanted to create plays in the game situation, it’s definitely motivated me to continue developing as a coach and learn to analyse the game.”

With the pride of his OFC Champions League campaign still lingering, Samuela has his heart set on passing his OFC B before making his return to the international stage.

“I’m going to continue achieving for my family and hopefully I can take on one of the national teams for the Cook Islands in the near future.”

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