Cook Islands champions Puaikura has added a new face to their squad just a little over 24 hours before they take on hosts Veitongo in the opening round of the OFC Champions League qualifying stage. Anthony Hobbs speaks to Football In Oceania about his move.
New Zealander Anthony Hobbs, who has caps for the All Whites on youth level and has played in two FIFA Youth World Cups brings tons of experience to his new side.
As well as having overseas stints with Portland Timbers of the MLS and Gava of Spain, Hobbs has had New Zealand giants Auckland City, Team Wellington and lastly Eastern Suburbs on his resume.
The 25-year-old Kiwi defender has previous OFC Champions League experience with Auckland and Wellington – reaching the final with both and winning the tournament with Auckland – but finds himself in uncharted waters when he now look to steer the Puaikura ship through to the group stages of the tournament for the very first time.
– For me the biggest difference is being in an unfamiliar environment and having to get to know my teammates in such a short period of time. Also, going into the tournament as an unknown team, where in the past with Team Wellington and Auckland City the others knew we were very tough opposition, Hobbs tells Football In Oceania.
He is ready for the challenge but denies that being the experienced head in the squad puts extra pressure on him:
– I haven’t felt any pressure yet as the “experienced” player, I’ve just try to come and fit in with the rest of the team. I’m trying to do my part to help the team prepare for a level of opposition they may not have faced before, and share my experiences to motivate the team to get to the next round of the Champions League.
Hobbs says he hasn’t given much thought to the future with the Cook Islands side but he would be ready for more if they should advance to the group stages
– I haven’t thought too much about the future with Puaikura, but if we qualify for the next round in New Caledonia I would love to be a part of it with this group of players.
Puaikura meet Veitongo later tonight, the game is scheduled to kick-off at 02:00 GMT (15:00 Local Time) with the first game in the qualifying group taking place a bit earlier at 23:00 GMT (12:00 Local Time) when American Samoa’s Utulei Youth face Samoan side Lupe ole Soaga. Both games are played at the Loto-Tonga Soka Centre in the Tongan capital of Nuku’alofa.
You can check out Football In Oceania‘s run-through of the OFC Champions League setup here.
Thanks to Anthony Hobbs for his time. You can find Anthony on Twitter here.