Words: ACFC Media
Sunday 31 January 2021
NAPIER, New Zealand - Jose Figueira heaps praise on Academy graduate Dre Vollenhoven after he scored on his first full start for Auckland City FC in the 4-0 win over Hawke's Bay United in the ISPS Handa Premiership in Napier today.
Vollenhoven, who helped guide the Junior Navy Blues to the last ever National Youth League and a record three-in-a-row title victory last season, has made three previous appearances off the bench but today, on his first start, came up trumps with the game's opening goal.
Figueira said it was a big day for Vollenhoven and outlined just why it was so special from so many perspectives.
"I'm delighted for Dre, he's been at the club for a long time now having come through our Academy and youth team pathways and to not only get his first full start today, which is a special moment, but to cap it off with a goal as well and a lot of other good things he did today make it extra special.
"I think you could see the players celebrated together which makes it extra special," he said.
The Navy Blues had to survive a nervy moment when Brian Kaltak and Cam Brown got their wires crossed which led to the concession of a penalty with the game hanging in the balance.
Vollenhoven had only just scored with Hugo Delhommelle poised to take the spot kick.
"It was a key moment. Cam's penalty save came at a time when we've completely dominated the game after starting the way we did. We should've had more goals but we got hit by a sucker punch through our own poor defending.
"Cam did great to make up for it with a fantastic penalty save and its credit to him and Enaut Zubikarai who works tirelessly with our goalkeepers on these sorts of small details researching the league's penalty takers.
"It was an important moment to keep us at 1-0 and it gave us extra fuel at the break to make sure we went out there to put the game to bed," he said.
With the Navy Blues now top of the league by three points following Team Wellington's 4-3 defeat to Waitakere United, Figueira said he was extremely happy with the nature of his side's performance in Napier today.
"I was delighted with today's performance and it was right up there as one of our best from start to finish.
"I thought we had a real intensity with how we played not just without the ball but the way we moved the ball and got it into the right spaces quickly and with real quality.
"The things we worked on during the week came to fruition in the game. We've spurned a few chances in the last few weeks but didn't put teams away but today we had a sense of precision and focus with the way we finished our chances.
"That said, we could've had more goals and the incident with the penalty is a little bit of a concern to me given we had only just taken the lead and should've been more focused.
"Thanks to Cam he came up big and saved it," he told www.aucklandcityfc.com.
Auckland City FC's have back-to-back home games the first of which is against Team Wellington on Sunday 7 February before they welcome Canterbury United to Kiwitea Street on Sunday 14 February.
Figueira is adamant that Auckland City FC has a unique opportunity to push forward.
INTERVIEW - Jose Figueira on win over Hawke's Bay United
"Win, lose or draw we'll always reflect and analyse and keep striving to be better. I'm delighted with today, it was a fully deserved win and its great to be back top of the league with some clear daylight between ourselves and our rivals," he said.
ISPS Handa Premiership
Sunday 31 January, 2021
Hawke's Bay United 0
Auckland City FC 4 (Dre VOLLENHOVEN 31', Brian KALTAK 59', Mohamed AWAD 77', Yousif AL-KALISY 80')
AC: 24. Cam BROWN (GK), 2. Mario ILICH, 3. Adam MITCHELL (4. Mario BILEN 80'), 6. Brian KALTAK, 7. Cam HOWIESON (c), 13. Dre VOLLENHOVEN (9. Kayne VINCENT 75'), 16. Yousif AL-KALISY, 17. Andrew BLAKE (14. Jordan VALE 60'), 19. Logan ROGERSON, 22. Mohamed AWAD, 23. Alfie ROGERS.
SUBS NOT USED: 18. Conor TRACEY (GK), 8. Albert RIERA.
COACH: Jose FIGUEIRA.
OTHER FIXTURES AND RESULTS
Saturday 30 January, 2021
Team Wellington 3-4 Waitakere United
Sunday 31 January, 2021
Hamilton Wanderers 1-1 Canterbury United
Eastern Suburbs AFC 8-0 Wellington Phoenix
Sunday 4 December 2022, Wellington Olympic, Mount Smart Stadium