When Abraham Iniga made his regional club debut with Marist FC in 2009 he never would have imagined that ten years later he’d still be playing a key role in the team’s bid for the Oceania title.
But the 38-year-old is defying critics and doing just that.
From his opening goal against three-time runners-up Team Wellington to the quarter-final opener against Nalkutan, when the pressure is on, Iniga delivers.
“It’s a good feeling,” he said of still being capable of performing at elite level.
“I believe in myself and I keep scoring goals. My family encouraged me to keep going and me, I keep believing in myself that I can work hard even at my age.”
Iniga is also relishing the opportunity to share his wisdom and experience with some of the squad’s younger members.
“It’s good, I can keep showing the young boys that even though I’m getting older I can still play, I can still run,” he laughed.
“I believe there’s some good players coming through. With the ones we have now the biggest thing I can teach them is finishing. That’s the most important thing in our position.
“You have to finish because if you don’t finish – you don’t win the game. We can play better football, but without goals at the end of the day we will lose.”
When considering his career highlight one of the highlights for the former Solomon Islands international was being part of the Hekari United squad which became the first non-Australian or New Zealand side to win the region’s premier international club competition and earn passage to the FIFA Club World Cup.
Now at Marist, he’s been reunited with former Hekari United coach Jerry Allen.
“It’s good to be working with Jerry again,” Iniga said.
“He’s supportive, he seems to open up to the players and his tactical side is good.”
Iniga said it is an equally good feeling to be back with Marist and helping them to achieve new and exciting things.
“I think this team is good. The team spirit, the unity of the team and the boys are all focused,” he said.
“When we go out on the field we do the task the coach asked us to do and it’s good.
“For me I think the togetherness of the team, the spirit in the camp, is what has really helped us during this campaign.
“The boys are so focused; the mentality of winning is strong in the boys. I entered this club in 1994, I’m the oldest one in the team and I feel that now this team is a better team, with the young boys they’re loyal to the club they’re honest.
When you’re honest in what you do, that’s important for success.”
Iniga said making it to the semi-finals for the first time with a club he has been associated with for almost 14 years is special.
“I feel above cloud nine,” he stated.
“I was so happy, so excited, when we scored the first goal in the quarter final. When the final whistle blew I just felt emotional – like we’re going to the semi-final – it was a good feeling.
“Now, I need to go out and score more goals. I will keep believing we can win the game, we can win any game.”
Marist will meet Lautoka at Churchill Park in Fiji on Sunday 22 April in the first leg of the OFC Champions League semi-finals.