Words: ACFC Media
Saturday 5 October 2019
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC's pre-season programme steps up a gear when the Navy Blues take on Eastern Suburbs AFC at Riverhills Park on Sunday.
Coach Jose Figueira has had plenty of time to get his feet under the desk and now turns his attention towards bedding in his new look squad as they take on the reigning ISPS Handa Premiership champions.
While Figueira has a strong group of players to choose from, he insists he will cats his net wide in the search for depth and quality with a number of Junior Navy Blues players on his radar and with four players away on international duty.
"The team and our dynamic are really starting to come together now and we've obviously had a couple of weeks of pre-season under our belts and it's positive to see some of our concepts and the way we want to look on the pitch come together.
"We'll be looking to rotate things a little in the game on Sunday. We're still in pre-season mode and want to bed in the tactical concepts.
"There's also the physical and conditioning elements as well and it's another week to give me another opportunity to look at the first team players and the youth team players who have been performing really really well," he told www.aucklandcityfc.com.
"Outside of a couple of first team players who came in with existing injuries and the New Zealand U-23 players still away on international duty we've got a full first team squad to choose from.
NEWS - Venue switch for #Lilywhites friendly#NavyBlues friendly match schedule features a venue change for Sunday— Auckland City FC (@AucklandCity_FC) October 1, 2019
Sunday 6 October 2019
"As mentioned before, pre-season gives me the opportunity to look at the wider squad and the youth team players and I'm looking to continue that work this weekend.
Figueira's squad will be shorn of at least four players with Logan Rogerson, Myer Bevan, Cameron Brown and Conor Tracey all away on international duty with New Zealand U-23.
Des Buckingham's squad take on highly talented Solomon Islands in Suva today with the winner advancing to the Men's Olympic Football Tournament in Tokyo next year.
New Zealand U-23 notched a come-from-behind 4-2 win over the Solomon Islands in the group stage and Figueira said the quartet will be carefully managed back into the Navy Blues environment when they return to Auckland on Sunday.
"The U-23 players have had a pretty intensive last month, four to six weeks, the way we integrate them back into the squad from a physical and mental perspective.
"They're all fit and healthy and all performing extremely well in Fiji and we wish them well for their final on Saturday and they're all very excited to get back to work with the rest of the team," he said.
Sunday 6 October 2019
Eastern Suburbs AFC v Auckland City FC
Riverhills Park, Auckland
Kick-off: 2pm NZST
AC (squad chosen from): Enaut ZUBIKARAI (GK), Adam MITCHELL, Brian KALTAK, Alfie ROGERS, Jordan VALE, Mario ILICH, Cam HOWIESON, Andrew BLAKE, Yousif ALI, Maro BONSU-MARO, Keegan LINDERBOOM, Luca TAYLOR (GK), Nick MILICICH, Nathan LOBO, Jackson WOODS, Bradley WILSON, Thomas DRILLIEN, Deandre VOLLEHOVEN.
Coach: Jose FIGUEIRA.
Sat 26 Oct 2019, kickoff TBA, venue TBC