Words: ACFC Media
Thursday 31 October 2019
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - The Junior Navy Blues return to winning ways in the National Youth League when they take on Hawke's Bay United in Napier tomorrow.
With their title hopes dangling by a thread in a shortened nine game sprint, coach Kris Bright has waited two weeks for his squad to reassemble after the Napier U-19 tournament saw him lose seven regulars.
The timing could've have been more difficult following the Junior Navy Blues 2-1 loss to Waitakere United ending their two-and-a-half year unbeaten run at this level.
But despite the challenges, Bright is optimistic his side have absorbed the lessons from their defeat to Waitakere United and is counting on the message sinking in to his staff and players about what's required to get their season back on track.
"We're looking ok. We've got four new players who haven't made an appearance for the youth team yet that are travelling down.
AUDIO - Honest appraisal drives Junior Navy Blues on
"In three games, we've used 22 players and we've got another four with an opportunity to have a chance to play.
"With what happened a couple of weeks ago, the players that played in that game what a chance to make it right.
"I'm excited for the game, the boys are excited for the game and hopefully the team that we take down to Napier will be strong to put in a performance and get the win," he said.
Losing to your arch rivals always hurts but that hasn't prevented Bright or anyone involved with the Junior Navy Blues from avoiding a close look at what happened.
"We addressed the game yesterday which was the first time we've had all our players together and I didn't have to say too much.
"I think they all understood the dynamic of the game and what they could've done better. We've addressed it amongst ourselves as a coaching staff as well.
"The players are raring to go so they want to make things right but with such a short season of only nine games that's tough.
"They're buzzing and what to make things right and they're looking forward to the game and I can't wait to get there to see how they react," he said.
The Napier U-19 tournament has had a major impact on all of the National Youth League teams and their preparations and while Bright isn't making any excuses, he outlined the pragmatic detail of trying to manage a side during a period of fixture density.
"It's tough. We lost seven players last week who went off to train with other clubs to prepare for Napier. We had seven with the first team. For the best part of two weeks we've had seven players to train.
"Coming back, a lot of the players had reached the finals, so we've got to look after their loading. In two weeks since the last game I've had all my players for one session.
"We've had players training with the first team who go away to the U-19 tournament. It's affected us tremendously but we're still taking a good squad to the Bay.
"The Napier U-19 is a strange one - it's great on one hand and as a player I went to Napier U-19 in 2003 as a 16 year old and it was brilliant however with what we're trying to achieve as a club the timing can affect your preparations," he said.
Tomorrow's match kicks off at 12pm NZST.
National Youth League
Saturday 2 November 2019
Hawke's Bay United v Auckland City FC
Bluewater Stadium, Napier
Kick-off: 12pm NZST
AC: Conor TRACEY (GK), Sam BOTTOMLEY (GK), Malcolm YOUNG, Nick MILICICH, Matt HODGSON, Dhanush CHANDRA, Miles PALMER, Louis MIDDELDORP, Aidan CAREY, Tyler LOUW, Harry FREEMAN, Corban PIPER, Deandre VOLLENHOVEN, Thomas DRILLIEN, Colin HOLTHUIS, Tawanda MAROWA.
COACH: Kris BRIGHT.
Waitakere United v Wellington Phoenix
Seddon Fields, Auckland - kick-off: 12pm NZST
Team Wellington v Hamilton Wanderers
Ole Academy, Wellington - kick-off: 1pm NZST
Eastern Suburbs AFC v Canterbury United
Ngahue Reserve, Auckland - kick-off: 2pm NZST
Southern United v Tasman United
logan Park, Dunedin - kick-off: 6.30pm NZST
v Wellington Olympic, 11 March 2023, KO: TBC