8 May 2012

Sport: Cook Islands football champs prepare for biggest ever game

10:23 am on 8 May 2012

Cook Islands football champions Tupapa Maraerenga are keeping relaxed ahead of the biggest 90 minutes in the club's history.

After winning inaugural O-League Preliminary tournament, which also featured teams from Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga, Tupapa is one result away from a lucrative spot in next season's Oceania Champions League.

Standing in their way is New Caledonia's Mont-Dore, who've been forced to defend their position after a disappointing O-League campaign that saw them pick up fewer points than any of the seven other sides.

Tupapa player-coach Tony Jamieson says his players are high on confidence but admits they're going into the game with little knowledge about their opponents.

"For me as a player a lot of my preparation is obviously focused around myself - most of my preparation is focused on the team itself but not so much around if we went through. We've seen them in training once. They're very skilled and have very good accuracy in their passing and they're a very fast team in everything that they do and they have good structure, they keep their shape very very well."

Tony Jamieson admits his charges are very much the underdogs but sees no reason why they can't cause an upset.

The confidence is high. We had no idea what we'd be up against when we came here so for the boys to come through relatively injury free, and have won the tournament, they're in really good spirits. There's just that anxiousness at the moment, wondering what we're going to be faced with but they're really looking forward to it - in fact they just can't wait to get into it.

The match kicks off at three o'clock local time in Tonga.