As Benjamin Totori continues to find new ways to extend his lead in the OFC Champions League all-time top goal scorers, there’s one young man keeping a close eye on the Solomon Islands international.
Marist striker Mathias Iani has his sights set on one day surpassing Totori’s growing tally of OFC Champions League goals but first he has to break his drought.
Iani made his debut as a substitute with Marist in Tahiti last year getting around ten minutes of game time.
This year he’s a starter at home and two games deep he’s yet to find the back of the net but it’s not from a lack of trying.
“When I played at Lawson Tama on Saturday, it’s my home ground, so I felt confident and enjoyed the game,” he said.
“But I didn’t make it so well. I’m very sorry and feeling bad about that result and my performance.
“I mean, my performance was good, but by finishing was bad. I could have done so much better.”
Iani said it wasn’t so much the pressure of playing in front of the home fans against one of the competitions top sides which he struggled with.
But something he struggles to find the words for.
“It’s a different pressure. I don’t know what happened to me that I play striker but couldn’t get a goal. So there’s some pressure there but mostly what I put on myself.”
The youngster said part of it is the level, which he has to find a way to adjust to much quicker.
“I score goals in the S-League but when I come to the Champions League it’s a different level. I’m starting to feel more comfortable.”
One of the key reasons he wants to start scoring isn’t just to improve his personal tally.
“I see all the boys as a family. Even though we’re from different places – PNG or any place – we come in Marist and we treat each other like family.
“So when I have a chance to put it in the net and I don’t I feel bad. I know I have to get up and play again, play hard so I can do better next time.
“My feeling is not good when I let my family down so I have to use that to do better than I have done in the past.”
At 22 years old, Iani has a long career ahead of him but he can’t wait to start shaping his career in the form of his idol Totori.
“I’m just young so I can still do better. I’ve just started my football career and I hope I can do better,” he said.
“I want to be like him in the future. I want to do my best to take over from him in the future.”
Iani and his Marist brothers will take on Lupe Ole Soaga in their final OFC Champions League Group D match this afternoon at Lawson Tama Stadium.