Words: ACFC Media
Sunday 3 November 2019
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC players and staff were active on the world stage in October and November with two international competitions the focus for fans of the Navy Blues.
Head coach Jose Figueira and Junior Navy Blues trio Nathan Lobo, Luca Taylor and Bradley Wilson headed off to Brazil for the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2019 with the New Zealand U-17 set-up.
Two pre-tournament friendly defeats to Mexico (0-2) and Argentina (1-7) suggested tough times ahead for Figueira's youngsters but they were to come agonisingly close to a place in the Round of 16.
A narrow 2-1 defeat to Angola was followed by a 3-0 loss to host nation Brazil in a match that left the young New Zealanders wondering what might have been.
An early red card for Yan Couto left the hosts down to ten men and with the game poised delicately it was an uncharacteristic goalkeeping error that gifted Brazil their second goal and saw the match slip away from New Zealand's grasp.
The group stage ended on a high when Matthew Garbett scored the winning goal in a 1-0 victory over Canade in the final group match, a result that saw New Zealand finish third in the group, Figueira guiding this age group to just their fourth ever win at this level.
While all eyes were on the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Brazil, Navy Blues fans were kept busy keeping tabs on the fortunes of the Futsal Whites and Kiwitea Street favourite Dylan Manickum.
The Futsal Whites made a clean sweep of their group with wins over American Samoa (9-0), Vanuatu (8-1) and host nation New Caledonia (4-2) with Manickum bagging a treble in the first match, one in the next and then a brace in the third.
Qualification for the FIFA Futsal World Cup Lithuania 2020 crept closer with a dramatic 3-2 win over Tahiti in the semi-finals.
But the dream of reaching a first ever World Cup ended amid a thriller of a final with Manickum's Futsal Whites losing out on penalties to the Solomon Islands after a 5-5 draw. Manickum picked up the Golden Ball as the tournament's best player.
FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019
New Zealand 1-2 Angola
Brazil 3-0 New Zealand
New Zealand 1-0 Canada
OFC Futsal Championship New Caledonia 2019
New Zealand 9-0 American Samoa
Vanuatu 1-8 New Zealand
New Caledonia 2-4 New Zealand
New Zealand 3-2 Tahiti
Solomon Islands 5-5* New Zealand
*Solomon Islands win 2-1 on penalties