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Navy Blues eye up Cup experts

Words: ACFC Media

Thursday 8 July 2021

Picture: Phototek

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - José Figueira and Auckland City FC are eager to grasp opportunity as they take on Chatham Cup specialists Birkenhead United in their do-or-die fifth round tie at Beach Haven on Sunday.

Birkenhead United have won two Chatham Cup titles in recent seasons and knocked out Auckland United with a 1-0 victory in the previous round making them a dangerous proposition on their own turf come the weekend.

Figueira is more than aware of the threat United pose but says he and his team can't wait to tackle Paul Hobson's Cup heroes at Shepherds Park.

"We were excited when the draw came out. I knew right away that it would be a big occasion and atmosphere playing at Shepherds Park, something that the players and all of us are very excited about.

"As a club, Birkenhead United have had success in the Chatham Cup, Napier U-19 National Tournament and U-17 national tournaments in recent years and shows that over the last decade Birkenhead have a real Cup and tournament pedigree right across their club and age groups.

"Their style of play, combined with young up and coming players and the way they approach games means they are always a tough opponent, especially in one off games. If you're not ready to match their intensity you're going to have a tough task ahead," he said.

United have made big inroads in their Northern League campaign with a top four place well within their reach and Figueira says they are a squad brimming with talent in Alex Grieve, Sam Burfoot and Sanni Issa.

"Alex has been one of their brightest lights this season, where off the back of an eye catching ISPS season he’s continued that form into the NRFL. He’s a player who can create something from nothing and has an eye for goal.

"Sam is another key player for them. He is the hub of the team and looks to dictate and control things. Sam was part of the club's run to the bronze medal at the FIFA Club World Cup seven years ago and being a former Navy Blue, no doubt Sam will feel an extra motivation to do well," he said.

With Auckland City FC top of the table with by a whopping 12 points, Figueira has a headache trying to pick a team to tackle Birkenhead United but said selection is going to come down to form.

"It has been a great week of training and preparation. The Sunday game means we can get an extra session in with the players and really cover a lot of detail which we will need on game day.

"As ever the selection is based on form so we don’t want to change that momentum too much in terms of the lineup, but also what the opposition brings to the game is a key factor so it’s about fitting the right pieces together for the occasion," he said.

The match kicks off at 2.00pm NZDT at Shepherds Park, Beach Haven.

Ends

Match Details
Sunday 11 July 2021
Chatham Cup Fifth Round
Birkenhead United v Auckland City FC
Shepherds Park, Beach Haven
Kick-off: 2.00pm NZDT

AC: 18. Conor TRACEY (GK), 2. Mario ILICH, 3. Adam MITCHELL, 4. Mario BILEN, 6. Brian KALTAK, 7. Cam HOWIESON, 9. Angus KILKOLLY, 10. Dylan MANICKUM, 11. Reid DRAKE, 12. Sam BROTHERTON, 13. Aidan CAREY, 14. Jordan VALE, 17. Andrew BLAKE, 19. Ilham HAMEEDI, 20. Addison STEWART, 24. Cam BROWN (GK).

COACH: José FIGUEIRA
ASSISTANT COACH: Ivan VICELICH
GK COACH: Enaut ZUBIKARAI
PHYSIO: Matt PAYNE
TEAM MANAGER: Keith COTON
S&C COACH: Adria CASALS
ANALYST: Jarrod WALLACE
ANALYST: Dan GORDON

ABOUT BIRKENHEAD UNITED AFC
The club was established as Birkenhead in 1960 before it amalgamated with Birkdale in 1963 taking its current name as Birkenhead United. Since 1965, Birkenhead have mainly played either in Division 1 or Division 2 of the Northern League though they twice early on, made it into Premier Division in 1968 and 1970, only to be relegated again that same year. They also had one of their best early runs in the 1970 Chatham Cup, making it to the 5th round before losing to Eden 1–4.They wouldn't repeat that success in the cup again until 2010. Again going down in the 5th round, this time to Glenfield Rovers. Birkenhead started to see more success in the 2010s, with them again making the Premier Division in 2013 and they have stayed there since. They have just missed out on winning the division four times in 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017.


PREVIOUS MEETINGS
Birkenhead United and Auckland City FC met on Northern League duty earlier this season with the Navy Blues romping to a 5-0 win at Kiwitea Street thanks to goals by Angus Kilkolly (2), Cam Howieson, Ilham Hameedi and Andrew Blake.

CURRENT FORM
v. Northern Rovers (A) won 2-1
v. Hamilton Wanderers (H) lost 0-3
v. West Coast Rangers (A) won 4-0
v. Western Springs (A) lost 0-2
v. North Shore United (A) won 3-2
v. Eastern Suburbs (A) lost 2-4
v. Melville United (H) won 9-0
v. Auckland City FC (A) lost 0-5
v. Auckland United (H) lost 0-1
v. Bay Olympic (A) won 3-0
v. Manukau United (H) drew 2-2
v. Franklin United (A) won 6-0 - Chatham Cup 3rd Round
v. Northern United (H) drew 1-1
v. Auckland United (H) won 1-0 - Chatham Cup 4th Round
v. Hamilton Wanderers (A) drew 3-3

PLAYER TO WATCH
Alex Grieve has set the Northern League alight with a string of fine performances that includes three hat-tricks for his total of 12 goals. Another player to keep an eye on is former Navy Blues Club World Cup hero Sanni Issa. Issa signed for United from Manukau United and has scored two goals for his new club to add to the five he scored for his previous one. Alex Connor-McClean has scored six goals this season.

BIGGEST WIN
Birkenhead United 12-1 Mount Albert-Ponsonby, 2012.

BIGGEST DEFEAT
Birkenhead United 3-12 Kawerau Town, 1996.

BIGGEST WIN - CHATHAM CUP
Birkenhead United 12-1 Golden Gate, 1999.

BIGGEST DEFEAT - CHATHAM CUP
Birkenhead United 1-8 North Shore United, 2001.

HONOURS
Chatham Cup winners - 2016, 2018
Lotto NRFL Division 1 winners - 2012
Lotto NRFL Division 2 winners - 1980

THE CHATHAM CUP
The success in the local league was also replicated in the Chatham Cup, where in 2012 and 2013 they made the quarter-finals.2015 they made the semi-finals, only losing 3–4 on penalties to Napier City Rovers, before they finally won the cup in 2016, beating local rivals Waitakere City 3–2 in extra time. They wouldn't have to wait very long before they won the cup again, when in the 2018 Chatham Cup, they made the finals. This time they were facing Wellington side Western Suburbs and after 120 minutes the score was tied 1–1 before Birkenhead prevailed on penalties 5–4 to claim the cup for a second time in three years.

BIRKENHEAD UNITED'S CHATHAM CUP STORY

CHATHAM CUP 2015
R1 - Bye
R2 - Bye
R3 - v. Ellerslie won 4-0
R4 - v. Forrest Hill Milford won 3-1
R5 - v. East Coast Bays won 2-0
R6 - v. Central United won 3-0
SF - v. Napier City Rovers 1-1 (lost 4-3 on pens)

CHATHAM CUP 2016
R1 - Bye
R2 - Bye
R3 - v. Fencibles United won 7-2
R4 - v. Western Springs won 2-0
R5 - v. East Coast Bays won 5-3
R6 - v. Forrest-Hill Milford won 3-0
SF - v. Miramar Rangers won 3-1
F - v. Waitakere City won 3-2

CHATHAM CUP 2017
R1 - Bye
R2 - Bye
R3 - v. Glenfield Rovers won 4-0
R4 - v. East Coast Bays won 3-1
R5 - v. Three Kings United won 2-1
R6 - v. Onehunga Sports lost 0-3

CHATHAM CUP 2018
R1 - Bye
R2 - Bye
R3 - v. Waiheke United won 1-0
R4 - v. Papamoa won 5-1
R5 - v. Western Springs won 4-3
R6 - v. Wairarapa United won 2-1
SF - v. Nelson Suburbs won 2-0
F - v. Western Suburbs 1-1 (won 5-4 on pens)

CHATHAM CUP 2019
R1 - Bye
R2 - Bye
R3 - v. Bay Olympic lost 1-2



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