Words: Nick Brown
Saturday 26 February 2022
WHENUAPAI, New Zealand - Auckland City FC's pre-season continued in impressive fashion, beating West Coast Rangers FC 4-0 in Whenuapai today.
The Navy Blues swept aside West Coast Rangers twice last season, beating the Fred Taylor Park-based club 4-1 out West before toppling them 2-0 at Kiwitea Street in the return.
Albert Riera's side looked sharp and dangerous in attack throughout the first half.
Angus Kilkolly picked up where he left off last season picking up City's opener after 12 minutes, while Ryan De Vries - making his first appearance for the club since 17 December 2017 - helped himself to a brace.
De Vries may have had a hat-trick on another with Rangers defender Josh Jones hooking one effort clear with goalkeeper Matt Upton beaten.
Sam Brotherton intervened to keep Rangers goalless when he cleared one attempt off the line
New signing Liam Gillion completed the scoring with his first goal for the club late on.
Also impressive for the Navy Blues were newcomers Joseph Lee and Christian Gray.
Coach Albert Riera was satisfied with the performance of his side against the club he began his coaching journey with last year.
"The most important thing for us is to pay attention to the process rather than the result.
"There were a lot of positives but its also normal to expect some rustiness but overall the team showed a lot of effort and application against an opponent that was going to press us high.
"Rangers were very fit but we adjusted to that aspect well.
"It was our first 90 minutes together against a proper opponent and I was happy with the work ethic we demonstrated.
"We have to keep working and developing.
"We have four weeks ahead of us before the season starts so we're a work in progress," Riera said.
One highlight was the return of former All Whites striker De Vries who showed clearly what he can bring to the side.
"The fact we have Ryan De Vries back at the club makes us all very excited.
"He's a fantastic player and we all know what he's capable of.
"We saw a glimpse of that today.
"I'm happy to have him in the group, his fitness is improving and I think we're going to see the best version of Ryan very soon," Riera added.
Of the other newcomers, Gillion caught the eye.
"Liam is a player we heard of from different sources.
"We had a look at a few clips of him and he's a young lad with a lot of talent and potential and he's shown us that he's keen to impress.
"He's fit in very well and gives us something we've been missing in that he's very mobile and proactive.
"He brings speed and dynamism and a player I think has a bright future," Riera said.
With Covid-19 now spreading quickly throughout New Zealand, organising friendly matches and planning the pre-season has become a case of watch, wait and see for Riera, but he says the situation is what it is.
"Every team is going to be hit by Covid-19 and we're going to be no different.
"We've had one or two cases now and we knew that was going to happen sooner or later.
"We've made communication a very important tool at the club - we're in constant dialogue between the coaching staff, physio and doctor, and encourage everyone to monitor for symptoms and keep us posted.
"We take the measures necessary to keep things under control as best we can but the reality is its here.
"We have to be very flexible and adapt to the circumstances we are living in these days.
"It's important we have depth of quality because some players may be missing in the future and its vital we prepare for that," he said.
Saturday 26 February 2022
West Coast Rangers FC 0
Auckland City FC 4 (Angus KILKOLLY, Ryan DE VRIES 2, Liam GILLION)
AC: 1. Conor TRACEY (GK), 2. Mario ILICH, 4. Christian GRAY (3. Adam MITCHELL 60'), 6. Brian KALTAK, 9. Angus KILKOLLY (Dylan MANICKUM 70'), 11. Ryan DE VRIES (19. Liam GILLION 70'), 12. Sam BROTHERTON (14. Jordan VALE 70'), 15. Aidan CAREY (21. Ilham HAMEEDI 60'), 16. Joseph LEE, 17. Reid DRAKE, 23. Alfie ROGERS.
SUBS NOT USED: 24. Cam BROWN (GK).
COACH: Albert RIERA
ASSISTANT: Ivan VICELICH
GK COACH: Enaut ZUBIKARAI
PHYSIO: Matt PAYNE
MANAGER: Keith COTON
v Al Ahly, Tangier, Feb 1 2023, KO: 8pm local