Bilen wants more from Navy Blues

Words: ACFC Media

Thursday 22 April 2021

Picture: Phototek

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC legend Mario Bilen has called for higher standards despite the Navy Blues going top of the Northern League last week.

Auckland City FC were too good for a plucky West Coast Rangers with the Navy Blues racking up the goals via Addison Stewart, Angus Kilkolly and Yousif Al-Kalisy and an own goal by Joshua Armitt.

But former Croatian international, Bilen, 36, laid down the law to his team-mates with a tough-love assessment of the performance overall.

"In my view we obviously didn't take West Coast Rangers seriously enough in the first 20-30 minutes and we struggled to get a grip on the game.

"We were lucky to go ahead in the first few minutes with the early goal by Addison which helped us.

"Realistically, from my point of view, this isn't good enough from us and we have to do much better.

"I include myself in that assessment as well as every player in the team and on the bench - our standards have to be much higher than we showed," he said.

The 36-year-old midfielder was a key reason Auckland City FC won a bronze medal at the FIFA Club World Cup along with five OFC Champions League, four ISPS Handa Premierships and three Charity Cup titles and knows a thing or two about what's required to win.

A key figure in Auckland City FC's showdowns with Cruz Azul, Moghreb Tetouan, San Lorenzo and ES Setif, Bilen also dominated for the Navy Blues in international games with Uzbekistan and a variety of OFC Champions League campaigns.

But Bilen, who includes Luka Modric as one of his former team-mates, wasn't entirely critical of the performance and reserved praise for Stewart.

"Addison was amazing. He deserved his goal and was probably the youngest player out there and the one who worked the hardest.

"Addison gave a very good performance and he deserves any praise that comes his way.

"I'm always honest in the way I form my opinion about our performances and we shouldn't hide from the reality.

"When you win a game 4-0, or go on a long winning run, you can make the mistake of believing everything is going well.

"But from my point of view, we have to strive for improvement all the time.

"The first 30 minutes was one of the worst performances I've seen in my ten years with the club and I believe the message to everyone involved is that our standards have to be better."


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