Tahiti’s quiet achiever

Heimano Bourebare in action for AS Tefana. Credit: OFC via Phototek

Heimano Bourebare is a quiet achiever in Tahiti’s midfield and it seems to be the way he likes it.

The midfielder has been a constant presence in Tahiti squads since his debut in 2011 and typical of a player comfortable doing the unglamorous defensive work in Tahiti’s midfield, Bourebare has never attracted the same attention as some of his colleagues.

A member of both of the Tahiti teams that have broken through to major FIFA events on grass – The 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup and the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup – Bourebare is one of the last remaining players for those sides still featuring regularly for the Toa Aito.

That means the 27-year-old has taken on more of a senior role but even that role is performed with an unassuming confidence.

“I’m definitely one of the older members of the team, but there’s a few of us really.

“I don’t really see myself as a leader, but I still try to share my experience with the younger players that are coming into the team.”

His experience also includes helping AS Tefana to back-to-back appearances in the OFC Champions League and Bourebare has had to change focus quickly after the club topped a very competitive Group D less than a week ago.

But an even bigger test awaits as the defending champions stand between them and a place in the final.

“Yes, we qualified for the semi-finals of the Champions League and we’ll give our all to progress. But we’ve been drawn against Auckland City and we’ll try and do our best to go through the semi-finals.”

While he performs the same on-field role for both club and country, he feels an obvious step up in the weight of expectation when pulling on the national jersey.

“Playing for your club, we try and win every match, but when playing for the national team we’re playing for our country, for our families, for the entire French Polynesian population so we have to play our best.

“Although at the end of the day there’s no real difference because with both you give everything to win.”

Sitting top of Group B on goal difference after splitting their opening OFC Stage 3 fixtures against Solomon Islands, a win for Tahiti in Port Moresby would give them a massive boost in the race for a place in the Stage 3 final heading back to Papeete. That return match is their last in the group with Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands set to wrap up the group on match days five and six in June.

Bourebare is confident, quietly of course, that Tahiti can set themselves up to progress to the final.

“We need to listen to the coach, be ready physically and technically and especially tactically, and that way we have a good chance of beating the Papua New Guineans. I think it’s possible to beat them at home, to beat them or a draw – that’s the objective.”

Tahiti take on Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby today at 4pm PGT (8pm TAHT).

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