Kaltak poised for half-century

Words: ACFC Media

Friday 23 April 2021

Picture: Phototek

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC face a Northern League acid test when they take on Western Springs at Kiwitea Street on Saturday.

Western Springs started the season with intensity, racking up four wins out of four until they were brought crashing back to earth in a 5-3 loss to Melville United in Hamilton last week.

Coached by former All Whites skipper Chris Zoricich, Springs sit second in the table and are eager to bounce back quickly after their Gower Park defeat.

Zoricich, a former Auckland City FC youth team coach, signed Kayne Vincent from the Navy Blues at the end of the ISPS Handa Premiership campaign and the one-cap All White could cause his old team-mates issues if allowed the time and space to do so.

Standing in front of Vincent, Zoricich and Springs is Vanuatu international skipper Brian Kaltak who, if selected, will make his 50th appearance for Auckland City FC since joining the club three seasons ago.

Coach José Figueira spoke highly of the 27-year-old former Amicale stalwart.

"It's always great to celebrate milestones and it's fantastic Brian could reach the 50-match mark tomorrow.

"Brian's become an integral part of the team over the last couple of years and he's shown he's certainly up there as one of the top defenders in New Zealand and Oceania.

"He's a great role model and leader for football within the OFC and any pacific player aspiring to progress to the top of the game couldn't have a better example to follow.

"I think the biggest qualities Brian possesses is the way his actions speak louder than words.

"Everything Brian does is at full throttle, he gives his all, he's dynamic, aggressive and he's exactly like that in training.

"The most pleasing thing as a coach is that as Brian heads towards his prime he remains open-minded to new ideas, is keen to improve and progress his own game," Figueira said.

With Kaltak set to play a key role in tomorrow's match, Figueira reminded fans that Springs will be a handful to deal with as the jostle for a top four slot and first position warms up.

"Springs have been on a great run and Melville is always a tough place to go to. That result showed everyone that if you're not at the top of your game for whatever reason that this league can be unpredictable.

"Teams like Melville United can punish you but one thing is for certain and its that Chris Zoricich will have Springs raring to go and with high intensity.

"They will want to make the game as quick and transitional as possible and its important that we look to control the game and the tempo to make sure we minimise their threats," he added.

One player who has caught the eye in recent weeks is Addison Stewart.

A hat-trick for the U-23s was followed up with a goal-on-debut for Auckland City FC in their 4-0 win over West Coast Rangers last week.

Stewart misses this game after he was called up for a New Zealand training camp which potentially opens the door for the likes of Ilham Hameedi and Aidan Carey to play a part in proceedings.

"With any young player their development is a process and the process Addison is in is the same as with three or four others.

"He's more than aware competition for places is intense in his position but one thing he has shown is that his attitude and determination and roll his sleeves up and work hard and learn has been fantastic.

"The senior players respect that about Addison but like the other young players we've seen its important that we use all of the U-20 group and not just relying on two or three of them and that we're actively involving the group of four or five top quality U-20 players that we have," he said.

In U-23 action, Auckland City FC U-23 face Western Springs U-23 at the Croatian Cultural society in Te Atatu at 12.30pm NZDT.

The Northern League match between Auckland City FC and Western Springs kicks off at 3.00pm NZDT at Kiwitea Street and will be broadcast live via YouTube.


Match Details
Northern League
Saturday 24 April 2021
Auckland City FC v Western Springs
Kiwitea Street, Sandringham
Kick-off: 3.00pm NZDT

AC (squad selected from): 24. Cam BROWN (GK), 2. Mario ILICH, 3. Adam MITCHELL, 4. Mario BILEN (c), 6. Brian KALTAK, 7. Cam HOWIESON, 9. Angus KILKOLLY, 10. Dylan MANICKUM, 11. Reid DRAKE, 12. Sam BROTHERTON, 13. Deandre VOLLENHOVEN, 14. Jordan VALE, 15. Aidan CAREY, 16. Yousif AL-KALISY, 17. Andrew BLAKE, 18. Conor TRACEY (GK), 19. Ilham HAMEEDI, 20. Emiliano TADE, 22. Mohamed AWAD, 23. Alfie ROGERS.



Western Springs AFC has a long history tracing its roots all the way back to 1923. The current club was formed through the amalgamation of Grey Lynn Celtic and Pt Chevalier AFC in 1989. The full “family tree” of clubs leading up to the formation of Western Springs AFC shows a long history of football in the central Auckland area.

Western Springs AFC is a relatively new club with its official date of birth given as 1989. The club has enjoyed success at senior level with three Northern League Division Two title wins in 1994, 1998 and 2013. They improved on that with two Northern League Division One title victories in 2014 and 2017. In women's football, the club won the Northern Premier League in 2008 and picked up a National Women's Knockout Cup title in 2007. In 2006, they finished runners-up in the same tournament. 

Western Springs AFC's best run in the Chatham Cup came when they reached the fifth round in both 2017 and 2018. In 2017, Springs were ousted 3-2 by Bay Olympic and a season later they fell in a seven goal thriller when Birkenhead United defeated them 4-3. 

Coach Chris Zoricich has previously coached Auckland City FC's National Youth League team while Liam Mulrooney, Adam Dickinson, Myer Bevan and Chris Bale are all former Navy Blues players to have turned out for both clubs. 

Western Springs AFC and Auckland City FC have played just once previously in a friendly match prior to the start of the 2014-15 ISPS Handa Premiership campaign. The match was notable for an injury to Joao Moreira who suffered a leg break just before half time in the match played at Seddon Fields under lights. Auckland City FC won the game 3-0. 

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