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Navy Blues with all to play for

Words: ACFC Media

Friday 21 October 2016

Picture: Phototek

The stakes couldn't be higher for Auckland City FC when defending champions Team Wellington come calling to Kiwitea Street on Stirling Sports Premiership business on Sunday.

The Navy Blues are smarting after losing a painful Super City derby opener to Waitakere United and a second consecutive loss would leave the eight time Oceania champions rooted firmly at the bottom of the competition after two rounds.

It would also be the first time since 2012 the Navy Blues have lost back to back Stirling Sports Premiership matches to the same opponent since Team Wellington downed Auckland City FC in both legs of the semi-finals.

Team Wellington, now coached by Jose Figueira, defeated Auckland City FC 4-2 after extra time in last season's grand final.

Figueira's opposite number Ramon Tribulietx has known little other than unrelenting domestic, regional and international success for the past seven seasons with Auckland City FC but faces a tough challenge in an expanded competition.

"Last week was a disappointing result and we made a slow start to the game which gave Waitakere United an opportunity to take an early lead and therefore set up a difficult situation for us to breakdown.

"When an opponent drops deep and reduces the spaces we had to play through it can be tough. We managed to generate good chances to score, which became more frequent in the last 30 minutes, but perhaps we weren’t sharp enough in the final third to convert at least one of them and gain a foothold back into the game.

"No-one likes losing a Super City derby so hopefully we can get back on track when we face Team Wellington," he says.

Complicating that objective is a Team Wellington side coached by Figueira, a coach who had two spells with Auckland City FC and knows the ins and outs of what makes his opponents ticks.

Tribulietx is wary of what a change of leadership can do to lift an opponent and what that may mean for his team.

"Team Wellington are a changed team with a new coach and they are trying to play the game a bit differently than in the past, trying to hold on to the ball more.

"They have kept some of their core players from last season, Cole Peverley, Ben Harris, Tom Jackson, Andy Bevin, Bill Robertson, Mario Barcia, Leo Villa and have also brought in names like Cameron Howieson, Nicolas Zambrano from Central and Justin Gulley and Joel Stevens from the Phoenix.

"This is a very good squad that I expect to be very well organised that sets up another difficult game for us," he said.

Auckland City FC dominated last week's match creating 30 percent more chances than Waitakere United and as is usual dominated possession.

Tribulietx, aware of those statistical indicators, believes there are still areas of the game his Navy Blues must craft more carefully if they're to return to winning ways.

"It’s important that we improve on a few fronts on the attacking and defensive structure. We have a few structural modifications that require more work and understanding from us to become more effective.

"We have to be more competitive in certain game situations to see an improvement from last week. Sunday’s game is a big one, Team Wellington are the reigning Stirling Sports Premiership champions and that demands huge concentration and the right attitude from us to get the result we want," he said.

This clash is the 36th in the Stirling Sports Premiership between the two clubs with Auckland City FC notching 24 wins to Team Wellington's seven. There have been four draws.

There's been no shortage of goals over the past 12 years with Auckland City FC scoring 88 times while last season's grand final win saw Team Wellington reach the 52-goal mark.

Sunday's game kicks off at Kiwitea Street at 4.35pm and is live on Sky Sport.

Auckland City FC have won seven of the last ten encounters, there has been a single draw and two wins for Team Wellington.

Its been four years since Team Wellington beat Auckland City FC at Kiwitea Street in the Stirling Sports Premiership - that was in the semi-final second leg the Capital Men won by 3-1.


Extra Information

Stirling Sports Premiership
Sunday 23 October 2016
Auckland City FC v Team Wellington
Kiwitea Street, Sandringham
Kick-off: 4.35pm NZST
Live on Sky Sport

AC (from): Enaut Zubikarai (GK), Takuya Iwata, Mario Bilen, Angela Berlanga, Harry Edge, Reid Drake, Darren White, Ryan De Vries, Te Atatwhai Hudson-Wihongi, Nicolai Berry, Albert Riera, Dae Wook Kim, Emiliano Tade, Joao Moreira, Alfie Rogers, Yousif Ali Al-Khalisy, Micah Lea'alafa, Marko Dordevic, Danyon Drake (GK), Jacob Spoonley (GK), Fabrizio Tavano.

Coach: Ramon Tribulietx

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