Words: ACFC Media
Thursday 19 March 2020
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC coach Jose Figueira has mixed emotions as New Zealand Football declares the Navy Blues ISPS Handa Premiership winners with four games to spare.
Figueira, who took over the reigns as head coach in July 2019, guided Auckland City FC to the top of the ISPS Handa Premiership after 16 rounds and picked up his first trophy, the NZF Charity Cup, in Sunday's 2-0 win over Eastern Suburbs AFC at Madills Farm.
His team remains in the last eight of the OFC Champions League with that competition postponed until May 6, 2020.
With so much uncertainty, Figueira admitted it was difficult to explain how to feel.
"It was certainly a day of mixed emotions. However, like everyone else right now we are fully focused on doing everything we can as a club and football community to play our part in preventing the spread of Covid-19.
"These are uncertain times and the priority must be to ensure we do everything to keep people safe and well," he said.
With regards to winning the title, Figueira took a moment to express gratitude for the hard work of his players, staff and mention the support behind the scenes from the club board, sponsors, community partners, volunteers and supporters.
"On one hand its a very proud moment for the team, club and myself to be declared champions, but obviously its fair to say nobody including myself wanted to see the football season end this way - with just two rounds to go before the playoffs.
"Its been another very exciting edition of the ISPS Handa Premiership, and I think you saw just how competitive things have been with the final few spots for the playoffs still up for grabs.
"While its not the way we wanted to clinch the title, I have to say that I could not be prouder of how the players went about their work from my first day in charge.
"The way they worked day in day out to push themselves and each other and took onboard my ideas and vision for the team. The way they performed on the pitch was a joy to watch.
"A special mention must also go to the staff around me and those behind the scenes. I want to thank them all for all their hard work and hours of commitment thus far this season.
"Without this type of support and dedication this team would not have been able to put in the performances it did week in week out.
"Whilst the ISPS Handa Premiership season now closes we wait for what might happen with regards to the OFC Champions League.
"I want to thank the club, the board, our supporters, sponsors and community partners for their backing during the 2019-20 domestic campaign and also to ask everyone in the wider football community to look after each other, follow the prevention protocols out there and stay safe."