Words: Nick Brown
Tuesday 1 October 2019
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Preparations for the upcoming season stepped up a notch for Auckland City FC’s teams as they played an internal friendly match at the Croatian Club in Te Atatu on Sunday afternoon.
While the first team edged the youngsters 1-0 courtesy of a Maro Bonsu-Maro goal midway through the second half, the exercise was more about exposing the youth team to a high quality opponent and giving Jose Figueira's side more minutes in their legs.
National Youth League head coach and former All Whites striker Kris Bright was pleased with how the day panned out.
“I think it’s a bit rare that we get the chance to play against one of the best sides in the country.
"There’s All Whites, there’s other internationals out there, so it’s good for some of these schoolboys that they get to play against these calibre of players.
"We didn’t have a lot of the ball today but the boys worked really really hard six days out from the start of the season.
“The cohesiveness was there probably more than what I thought it would be. We’ve only had a couple of weeks training given the national schools tournament for a lot of the boys and we’ve had a few trialists come in and I think they worked quite well as a group," Bright said.
The first half was a cautious affair with chances scarce for both teams with Yousif Ali going the closest for the first team forcing Luca Taylor into an acrobatic save midway through the first half ensuring both teams went into the half-time break locked at 0-0.
Thomas Drillien had the opportunity to fire the Junior Navy Blues in front with a chance to chip Enaut Zubikarai but he hesitated and the moment was gone.
Shortly afterwards Dylan Manickum put in a great ball for Maro Bonsu-Maro who sadly lost his footing with the goal at his mercy.
The deadlock was finally broken on the 69th minute mark when Bonsu-Maro lost Callum McNeill and rifled past substitute goalkeeper Sam Bottomley to put the senior team in front which is how the game ended.
The Junior Navy Blues open the defence of their National Youth League title at home to Eastern Suburbs AFC on Saturday 5 October at Kiwitea Street at 2pm.
In pre-season action, Auckand City FC take on ISPS Handa Premiership champions Eastern Suburbs AFC at North Harbour Oval at 2pm the next day.
Sunday 29 September 2019
Auckland City FC 1 (Maro Bonsu-Maro 68')
Junior Navy Blues 0