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Navy Blues won't underestimate Wee Nix

Words: ACFC Media

Friday 7 February 2020

Picture: Phototek

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC have had their nose punched by the Wellington Phoenix twice but there won't be any complacency shown by the Navy Blues, according to assistant coach Ivan Vicelich.

Vicelich was on the end of one of those upsets when the Wellington Phoenix swept aside Auckland City FC's FIFA Club World Cup bronze medal heroes on a sweltering summer's day in January 2015.

The former All Whites midfielder has kept on eye on the Wellington Phoenix side and has no doubt they represent a tough challenge as the Navy Blues chase a seventh consecutive ISPS Handa Premiership league title.

"It's going to be difficult again. The Wellington Phoenix squad line-up changes week-to-week, which is understandable, and they've produced some good football throughout the season.

"We beat them 3-0 earlier in the season but it was a very tough game for us and now we're expecting that at Kiwitea Street. Teams always lift their game when they come to Kiwitea Street and the Phoenix have always got a surprise in them," Vicelich told

Auckland City FC come into this match off the back of a fine 3-1 win over Hamilton Wanderers, but Vicelich says there's been some tweaking done.

"It's been a good week of training for us. We've worked on a few things from the Hamilton game. It was a good three points for us but there were things we needed to work on. Hopefully we can implement some of those this week and come away with three points," he said.

The Wellington Phoenix sit ninth in the table but that position doesn't tell the full story with the Paul Temple-coached side pushing opponents all the way, their most recent match producing a last minute 1-0 loss to Team Wellington.

Vicelich says they were hard done by that result which makes them a dangerous opponent.

AUDIO - Wellington Phoenix won't be underestimated - Vicelich

"They played very well last week against Team Wellington and probably deserved to come away with at least a point. They fight for everything and every game against them is difficult for any team.

"It's very good for them to have more experience. The more games, the more experience and when that's augmented by players from the top team it is always going to help them," he said.

The Auckland City FC juggernaut continues to roll on with the form of All Whites strikers Myer Bevan and Logan Rogerson, and that of club legend Emiliano Tade, impressive last week.

Vicelich says while they're producing some top performances there are also others in the Navy Blues squad capable of stepping in if required, keeping the squad on a healthy edge.

"They're a big three players for us but we have six or seven who can play there and do well for us and have a lot of experience.

"The three of them currently starting are playing very well and have done well. Tade has impressed me more than when he left.

HIGHLIGHTS - Wellington Phoenix 0-3 Auckland City FC

That two year experience in South Africa has helped, he's grown as a player, and matured as a player and he showed that by being involved in all three goals last week.

"He brings a calmness to the game that helps everyone. For the younger players around him they'll learn from him and benefit from that quality and experience.

"We've got a very strong squad with a lot of quality but what is pleasing is the players are working hard and understand there is potential for squad rotation which keeps everyone sharp and it could prove to be the reason we do well this season," he said.

Two players who face a fitness race are Mario Bilen and Conor Tracey. Bilen has five stitches in his head while Tracey has four in his eyebrow following a collision with Hamilton Wanderers' Joe Nottage last week.

Vicelich says both players will be given time to prove their readiness for the Phoenix clash.

"Conor and Mario have come through the week ok with the healing of their stitches happening quicker for Conor. Fortunately, it wasn't too bad a knock but we just have to wait another 24 hours to see how their stitches are healing and decided whether we take a risk with them or not," he said.

The match kicks off at 2pm NZST on Sunday 9 February, 2020, at Kiwitea Street.


Match Details
ISPS Handa Premiership
Sunday 9 February, 2020
Auckland City FC v Wellington Phoenix
Kiwitea Street, Sandringham
Kick-off: 2.00pm NZST

AC (from): 1. Enaut ZUBIKARAI (GK), 2. Mario ILICH, 3. Adam MITCHELL, 4. Mario BILEN, 5. Angel BERLANGA (c), 6. Brian KALTAK, 7. Cam HOWIESON, 8. Albert RIERA, 9. Myer BEVAN, 10. Dylan MANICKUM, 11. Tom DOYLE, 13. Emiliano TADE, 14. Jordan VALE, 16. Yousif AL-KALISY, 17. Andrew BLAKE, 18. Conor TRACEY (GK), 20. Logan ROGERSON, 21. Maro BONSU-MARO, 22. Clayton LEWIS, 23. Alfie ROGERS, 24. Cameron BROWN (GK).


Other fixtures:

Saturday 8 February, 2020
Waitakere United v Eastern Suburbs AFC
Seddon Field, Auckland - 4.00pm NZST

Sunday 9 February, 2020
Hamilton Wanderers v Southern United
Porritt Stadium, Hamilton - kick-off: 12.00pm NZST

Hawke's Bay United v Canterbury United
Bluewater Stadium, Napier - kick-off: 1.00pm NZST

Team Wellington v Tasman United
David Farrington Park, Wellington - kick-off: 2.00pm NZST


v. Wellington Phoenix (A) won 3-0 (Myer BEVAN, Jordan VALE, Dylan MANICKUM)

v. Wellington Phoenix (H) won 2-1 (David BROWNE, Yousif AL-KALISY)
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, Daewook KIM, Fabrizio TAVANO)

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

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