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Navy Blues ready for tactical joust

Words: ACFC Media

Friday 22 November 2019

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Competition for players is giving Auckland City FC coach Jose Figueira a selection headache as they take on Wellington Phoenix in the ISPS Handa Premiership tomorrow.

Auckland City FC sit top of the table with a full strength squad to choose from but Figueira will be wary of an opponent that has caused Navy Blues embarrassment in the past.

The Wee Nix dumped Auckland City FC 3-1 in January 2015, little more than a month after the Navy Blues had won bronze at the FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco. They repeated the dose two seasons later in a famous 1-0 win in the capital.

Figueira is pleased to be top of the pile in late November but is far from underestimating a team coached by colleague Paul Temple.

"I'm delighted to be in the position we're in after three games. Similarly to last week's game, Hamilton came off a great result against Eastern Suburbs and likewise the Wellington Phoenix had a a really strong second half in their draw with Team Wellington.

"No bones about it, it's another tricky game and playing at Westpac Stadium on a big pitch with a good surface will suit both teams.
"They're a talented and energetic team we've got to be right at it from the first whistle.

"We can expect a game where both teams will play a high intensity, high tempo, game. Both teams will look to play from the back and try to control and dominate the game but certainly for us there's a focus on our quality on the ball so we can get that control and dominate in the right areas and spaces.

"It'll be a fascinating tactical battle and things will evolve during the game and it's another exciting game to be part of," he told

One milestone that could be registered is the record-equalling feat of Angel Berlanga who, if picked, will match the 203-game all-time appearance record for Auckland City FC currently held by former All White James Pritchett.

Figueira said Berlanga has downplayed the achievement and kept his head down on the training pitch since coming back from injury in last week's 5-0 demolition of Hamilton Wanderers.

"I haven't spoken to Angel about it yet and that's probably the nature of Angel as a person - he's unassuming and humble.

"The words say enough for themselves : 202 games with the potential of surpassing that, it's an incredible achievement and he's giving so much to the club over the years and now he's back to full fitness he's ready to give even more.

"It's a record that will be difficult to surpass again," he said.

The match kicks off at 3pm NZST and is broadcast live on Sky Sport on Saturday 23 November 2019.

In National Youth League action, the Junior Navy Blues take on the Wellington Phoenix a day later when they're hosted at Porirua Park in the capital at 2pm NZST.


Match Details
ISPS Handa Premiership
Saturday 23 November 2019
Wellington Phoenix v Auckland City FC
Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Kick-off: 3.00pm NZST
Live on Sky Sport

AC: 18. Conor TRACEY (GK), 2. Mario ILICH, 3. Adam MITCHELL, 4. Mario BILEN, 5. Angel BERLANGA (C), 6. Brian KALTAK, 7. Cam HOWIESON, 9. Myer BEVAN, 10. Dylan MANICKUM, 11. Keegan LINDERBOOM, 14. Jordan VALE, 16.Yousif ALI, 17. Andrew BLAKE, 19. David BROWNE, 20. Logan ROGERSON, 21. Maro BONSU-MARO, 23. Alfie ROGERS, 24. Cameron BROWN (GK).


Auckland City FC's full travelling squad for the Hamilton Wanderers match will be named on Saturday 23 November 2019.

Other matches:
Southern United v Hamilton Wanderers
Logan Park, Dunedin - kick-off: 4.30pm NZST

Playing Sunday 24 November 2019

Canterbury United v Hawke's Bay United
English Park, Christchurch - kick-off: 2pm NZST

Tasman United v Team Wellington
Saxton Field, Nelson - kick-off: 2pm NZST

Eastern Suburbs AFC v Waitakere United
Madills Farm, Auckland - kick-off: 4pm NZST

Previous meetings:

v. Wellington Phoenix (H) won 2-1 (David BROWNE, Yousif ALI)
v. Wellington phoenix (A) won 3-0 (Jordan VALE, Dan MORGAN, Reid DRAKE(

v. Wellington Phoenix (A) won 2-0 (Emiliano TADE 2)
v. Wellington Phoenix (H) won 4-0 (Emiliano TADE 2, Fabrizio TAVANO, Dae Wook KIM)

v. Wellington Phoenix (H) won 2-0 (Fabrizio TAVANO, Clayton LEWIS)
v. Wellington Phoenix (A) lost 0-1

v. Wellington Phoenix (H) won 4-2 (Joao MOREIRA 3, Ryan DE VRIES)
v. Wellington Phoenix (A) won 3-1 (Clayton LEWIS, Ryan DE VRIES, Mikael ALVARO)

v. Wellington Phoenix (A) won 7-0 (Ryan DE VRIES 2, Joao MOREIRA, Oscar GARCIA, Ivan CARRIL, Andrew MILNE)
v. Wellington Phoenix (H) lost 1-3 (Fabrizio TAVANO)

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