Words: ACFC Media
Friday 18 December 2020
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC get a massive boost as Vanuatu international Brian Kaltack returns to Jose Figueira's squad ahead of the visit of the Wellington Phoenix this Saturday.
Auckland City FC has everything to play for after last week's disappointing 1-0 defeat to Canterbury United.
A victory for the Navy Blues could propel them into second spot if other results go their way but should they lose then the Kiwitea Street side could be in for a rocky second half of the season.
Handing Figueira a massive boost is the return of Vanuatu international Brian Kaltack. The 27-year-old defender was missing for the trip to Christchurch after suspension but his inclusion is sure to tighten up an already miserly defence and offer a cutting edge in attack when needed.
Figueira lamented last week's setback but eased any signs of pressure on his squad in a week that saw the Navy Blues pick up their pace in training.
"Last week was obviously a big disappointment for everyone especially in the manner we lost the game in the final few moments in a match we dominated, controlled and carved out enough opportunities perhaps to get more from it.
"The players aren't feeling any pressure, if anything they can sense things are really close to clicking and their attitude, perseverance and their work ethic of the players in wanting to improve is evident.
"There is a desire to stay true to how we want to play and the way they've trained has been fantastic week to week.
"The message has been one of confidence and trust. There's no pressure on the players and I'm fully confident that we'll go out and show the same personality, same application but with a bit more precision in some key moments I'm sure that we'll bounce back," Figueira said.
Goals have been a lot harder to come by this season with the unpredictability of scorelines across the ISPS Handa Premiership being the order of the day but Figueira remains resolute that sticking by principles is the best approach.
"When any team is flying high, on a winning streak or on an unbeaten run, nobody seems to worry about where the goals come from.
"Obviously, when things aren't falling for you in front of goal you maybe start to look at things a bit too deeply.
"We've been working with the team to stay true to how we want to play, to keep getting the ball into certain zones and key areas and make sure we have players in those areas ready to capitalise.
"It's been a great week of training and the players have been right at it, keen to get out on the pitch and put last week to bed and cap off this side of the year on a positive note," he said.
Auckland City FC's injury issues remain an ongoing situation with Maro Bonsu-Maro recovering from a head injury, while Mario Bilen, Emilianio Tade and Angel Berlanga remain out of the picture.
The Wellington Phoenix will be eyeing up another upset after they thrashed Waitakere United 4-1 at Seddon Fields a
few weeks ago.
Adding extra edge to Saturday's match is the opportunity for the WeeNix to open up a lead if they can emulate their past achievements of 2016 and 2014 when they defeated the Navy Blues 3-1 and 1-0 in the ISPS Handa Premiership.
The match was originally scheduled for a 1.30pm NZDT kick-off but has instead been brought forward to 2.00p NZDT at
ISPS Handa Men's Premiership
Saturday 19 December 2020
Auckland City FC v Wellington Phoenix
Kiwitea Street, Auckland
Kick-off: 2.00pm NZDT
AC: 24. Cam BROWN (GK), 2. Mario ILICH, 3. Adam MITCHELL, 6. Brian KALTACK, 7. Cam HOWIESON (c), 8. Albert RIERA, 10. Dylan MANICKUM, 12. Abdulbaset KHALIFA, 13. Deandre VOLLENHOVEN, 14. Jordan VALE, 16. Yousif AL-KALISY, 17. Andrew BLAKE, 18. Conor TRACEY (GK), 19. Logan ROGERSON, 22. Mohamed AWAD, 23. Alfie ROGERS.
COACH: Jose FIGUEIRA.
Saturday 19 December 2020
Team Wellington v Canterbury United
David Farrington Park, Wellington - kick-off: 2pm NZDT
Sunday 20 December 2020
Hawke's Bay United v Waitakere United
Bluewater Stadium, Napier - kick-off: 1pm NZDT
Hamilton Wanderers v Eastern Suburbs AFC
Porritt Stadium, Hamilton - kick-off: 4pm NZDT
MILESTONES & STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Joao Moreira and Emiliano Tade are the top scorers in this fixture with five goals each. Ryan De Vries has scored four.
The Wellington Phoenix Ruari Fleury and Nathaniel Hailemariam have each scored twice. Logan Rogerson has scored in this fixture for the Wellington Phoenix in a 1-0 victory.
Auckland City FC have faced the Wellington Phoenix's A-League side three times, beating them 1-0 and earning two draws (2-2, 1-1).
The two teams first met in the now defunct Phoenix Challenge with Auckland City FC winning one and drawing one.
The clubs have met 14 times with Auckland City FC winning 11 times with one draw and two defeats.
The Wellington Phoenix last win over Auckland City FC was five years ago.
v. Wellington Phoenix (A) won 3-0 (Myer BEVAN, Dylan MANICKUM, Jordan VALE)
v. Wellington Phoenix (H) won 3-2 (Clayton LEWIS, Mario ILICH, Emiliano TADE| Ben WAINE, Angel BERLANGA OG)
v. Wellington Phoenix (A) won 3-0 (Jordan VALE, Dan MORGAN, Reid DRAKE)
v. Wellington Phoenix (H) won 2-1 (David BROWNE, Yousif AL-KALISY | Justin GULLEY)
v. Wellington Phoenix (H) won 4-0 (Emiliano TADE 2, Daewook KIM, Fabrizio TAVANO)
v. Wellington Phoenix (A) won 2-0 (Emiliano TADE 2)
v. Wellington Phoenix (A) lost 0-1 (- | Logan ROGERSON)
v. Wellington Phoenix (H) won 2-0 (Fabrizio TAVANO, Clayton LEWIS)
v. Wellington Phoenix (A) won 3-1 (Clayton LEWIS, Ryan DE VRIES, Mikael ALVARO | James McGARRY)
v. Wellington Phoenix (H) won 4-2 (Joao MOREIRA 3, Ryan DE VRIES | Ruari CAHILL-FLEURY 2)
v. Wellington Phoenix (H) lost 1-3 (Fabrizio TAVANO | Nathaniel HAILEMARIAM 2, Joel STEVENS)
v. Wellington Phoenix (A) won 7-0 (Ryan DE VRIES 2, Joao MOREIRA 2, Oscar GARCIA, Ivan CARRIL, Andrew MILNE)
2012-13 - PHOENIX CHALLENGE
v. Wellington Phoenix (H) won 3-1 (Emiliano TADE 3)
2010-11 - PHOENIX CHALLENGE
v. Wellington Phoenix (H) drew 1-1 (Manel EXPOSITO)
Sunday 4 December 2022, Wellington Olympic, Mount Smart Stadium