Words: ACFC Media
Wednesday 8 January 2020
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC hit the ground running after the festive break as Jose Figueira's team get set for a busy 2020.
The players were given two weeks off after finishing the calendar top of the ISPS Handa Premiership with a narrow three point lead over nearest rivals Team Wellington but Figueira says the players were kept busy during the break.
"It's good the players have had a good break and they've had two weeks off but we had a couple of contact points between Christmas and New Year.
"They have had a fitness programme given to them and while it's important they were rested it was also key they kept themselves ticking over.
"We came back to training today to prepare for the Waitakere United game so it's good to see the players reset and refresh for the second half of the season," he said.
Auckland City FC finished 2019 with a pair of 0-0 draws, the first at home to Eastern Suburbs AFC and the other away to Southern United, with the latter a frustrating end to an otherwise positive start to the Figueira-era.
While an away point at a difficult was welcome, Figueira said missed chances made the trip to Dunedin even tougher.
"We knew it was going to be a tough game with an early start and a late kick-off but we planned for that in advance.
"Southern sprang a little bit of a surprise by playing defensively and they sat very very deep and set out to spoil us from the off.
"There was a bit of frustration from the players who gave everything to kick the door down and we had three fantastic golden opportunities to score that we didn't take.
"In these type of games its important we take those moments in a clinical way when they come up," he said.
The 0-0 result means Auckland City FC and Southern United have drawn four of their last five games with the other a 2-1 win for the Navy Blues at Kiwitea Street.
But Figueira put the result in perspective.
"The positive is we continue to trend upwards in terms of our energy, playing style and our personality and the way the players are leaving everything out there on the pitch in terms of their effort and application.
"The last two weeks there's been frustration that we couldn't quite find the end product.
"But I'm very satisfied to be top of the table and three points clear at this stage of the season with one game on Saturday to cap off the first round.
"I'm happy where we stand but after speaking to the players we all think there is more to come from us in 2020," he said.
Auckland City FC's next match is away to Waitakere United at Seddon Field on Saturday 11 January 2020 at 3pm NZST.
ISPS Handa Premiership
Saturday 11 January 2020
Waitakere United v Auckland City FC
Seddon Field, Auckland
Kick-off: 3pm NZST