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Mustonen debut at OFC tournament

The event was Mustonen’s first taste of international competition with the Oceania region and he says his appearance at the FIFA-sanctioned tournament was a learning experience.
“I can say that this was a very successful outing for me,” he says.
“This tournament is an eye opener and this will help me go a very long way in my career as an assistant referee. It was also an experience to officiate on another stage and at a different standard and level.”
Mustonen officiated in four matches during the tournament with the first match between New Zealand and Papua New Guinea followed by New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea, third game between Vanuatu and New Zealand and his fourth match between Fiji and New Caledonia. Walking out onto the pitch in his first match to a crowd of 4000 took him by surprise and the nerves begin to rattle.
The highlight of the tournament for Mustonen was during the New Zealand vs. Vanuatu match where a crowd of about 10,000 flocked to the Luganville Soccer City Stadium.
“The feeling of that crowd echoing behind your back was mesmerizing for me, it was nerving wrecking at first but when you’re focused on what your role you tend to ‘cruise’ through it,” he says.
Preparation played a major factor for Mustonen with the assistance of fellow assistant referee Terry Piri who has many experiences under his bout officiating at various OFC championships.
“Being physically fit and mentally prepared is a huge factor for any match official prior to any tournament. It makes your job easier on the field.”
Joining the refereeing team in 2009 started as a hobby which eventuated into a much loved sporting activity.
Mustonen is encouraging those who have yet to experience the frills and thrills of officiating in the beautiful game of football, to take on the challenge.
“It is a lot of hard work however the benefits are worth it. Anything is possible even for our small nation.”
“I would like thank Cook Islands Football Association and Oceania Football Confederation for giving me this opportunity,” he says.
Six Pacific Islands including host Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, New Caledonia, Fiji and Cook Islands gathered on the island of Espiritu Santo in Vanuatu to battle it out for a spot to represent Oceania at the FIFA U-17 World Cup on offer in the United Arab of Emirates later this year.
The Young All Whites retained the OFC U-17 Championship title and have booked their spot to participate in the FIFA U-17 World Cup as an Oceania representative.

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