Words: ACFC Media
Saturday 31 October 2020
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC coach Jose Figueira says uncertainty created by the global pandemic has led to a truncated pre-season schedule this summer.
The Navy Blues take on Hamilton Wanderers in just their second hit out to date when they travel to Porritt Stadium on Sunday.
In the past, Auckland City FC have played anywhere up to 14 or 15 friendly games in its pre-season schedules but have only pencilled in three for this season.
That seems like a luxury very few clubs can afford in the "new normal" as Figueira explained.
"It's been an interesting pre-season this year unlike previous years we've been able to plan with a bit more certainty for a number of weeks.
"With the Covid situation and the truncated end to the regional league, its created uncertainty around a start date for the ISPS Handa Men's Premiership so we've had a shorter window to prepare for the season.
"From my understanding all the other teams are in exactly the same boat.
"We've had to work through things a bit quicker and work the players through an intense period of tactical and physical training to make up the time.
"But things are looking very positive and coming together nicely and we're looking forward to kicking off the season in two weeks," he said.
The Navy Blues squad will have a familiar feel to it with two players exiting the club for professional opportunities in Myer Bevan and Clayton Lewis but Figueira is expected to field two
replacements in at least one of the next two friendlies.
In addition to two ready made first team acquisitions, Figueira also has the choice of four graduates from the club's Junior Navy Blues National Youth League side from last season.
Skipper Aiden Carey, forward Deandre Vollehoven, Addison Stewart and Ilham Hameedi may come into the reckoning as Figueira looks to give players game time.
"Auckland City FC has had a good reputation for bringing through top youth talent and you can see the success of the National Youth League team.
"It's great to see the captain of the Junior Navy Blues in Aiden Carey and Deandre Vollenhoven who both had standout seasons for the youth team and being promoted to the first team this year.
"They play in midfield and attacking positions and they've brought a breath of fresh air to the first team squad and they've settled in nicely and on the evidence of what we've seen so far there's no
reason they can't push for first team minutes and keep the senior players on their toes.
"We've also got Addison Stewart and Elham Hameedi who have been part of our club for the past couple of seasons and while they're on the younger side they've settled in nicely and shown in the early stages of pre-season they offer something very different.
"They're keeping everyone on their toes and there's no reason why they can't keep working hard and earn game minutes which is important for the team and the pathways we've got in place for developing talent, he said.
Last season, Auckland City FC were too strong for Hamilton Wanderers beating them 5-0 at Cambridge last November before following up with a 3-1 win at Kiwitea Street in February.
Sunday's friendly match with Hamilton Wanderers kicks off at 1.00pm at Porritt Stadium.
Sunday 1 November 2020
Hamilton Wanderers v Auckland City FC
Porritt Stadium, Hamilton
Kick-off: 1.00pm NZST
AC: 2. Mario ILICH, 3. Adam MITCHELL, 4. Mario BILEN, 6. Brian KALTAK, 7. Cam HOWIESON, 8. Albert RIERA, 10. Dylan MANICKUM 11. Tom DOYLE, 12. Abdulbaset KHALIFA , 14. Jordan VALE, 16. Yousif AL-KALISY, 17. Andrew BLAKE, 18. Conor TRACEY (GK), 19. Logan ROGERSON, 20. Emiliano TADE, 21. Maro BONSU-MARO, 23. Alfie ROGERS, 24. Cameron BROWN (GK).
COACH: Jose FIGUEIRA.
SQUAD PLAYERS: Aiden CAREY, Deandre VOLLENHOVEN, Ilham HAMEEDI, Addison STEWART.
INJURED: 5. Angel BERLANGA (c).
SUMMARY: Hamilton Wanderers and Auckland City FC have met eight times competitively with the Navy Blues enjoying a 100 percent winning record against the Porritt Stadium-based club. The teams have met in several pre-season friendlies with Hamilton Wanderers including the Steve Sumner Cup played at Onetangi Domain on Waiheke Island in 2017. A Callum McCowatt hat-trick alongside goals from Cam Howieson and Emiliano Tade sealed a 5-2 win.
v. Hamilton Wanderers (H) won 5-0
v. Hamilton Wanderers (A) won 4-1
v. Hamilton Wanderers (A) won 6-0
v. Hamilton Wanderers (H) won 1-0
v. Hamilton Wanderers (H) won 1-0
v. Hamilton Wanderers (A) won 3-2
v. Hamilton Wanderers (A) won 5-0
v. Hamilton Wanderers (H) won 3-1
Steve Sumner Cup - 22 September 2017
v. Hamilton Wanderers (N) won 5-2
Sunday 4 December 2022, Wellington Olympic, Mount Smart Stadium