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Navy Blues ready for derby day

Words: ACFC Media

Thursday 13 October 2016

Picture: Phototek NZ

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - It wasn't long ago that Auckland City FC watched their arch-rivals Waitakere United scoop four Stirling Sports Premiership consecutive titles in a row.

Now the pair face off in the latest installment of the longest running feud in the domestic top flight when they clash at Kiwitea Street in the opening match of the season.

The game - known as the Super City derby - was keenly contested in the early years of the franchise-based competition but with Waitakere United dropping off the pace and Auckland City FC scooping titles the intensity has dropped off.

But that pattern may be set to change now Waitakere United have installed Chris Milicich as head coach. Milicich guided the club to an Premiership, OFC Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup campaign six years ago and could be the man to lead them back to title contention.

The clubs have clashed 54 times since 2004 with Auckland City FC holding the upper-hand in head-to-head results with the Navy Blues racking up 22 victories in the Stirling Sports Premiership.

Auckland City FC coach Ramon Tribulietx says starting the campaign with a local derby is a big challenge.
"Its very tough to start with a derby and neither team will be up to speed. Waitakere United have a very different team to last season with some new players in goal and wide midfieler from Germany who has a good reputation.

"There's a lot of new players which makes it a bit tricky for us. Everyone knows how we play what we're about but we don't know too much about them," he said.

Complicating the equation for Tribulietx is the absence of All Whites duo Clayton Lewis and Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi while Solomon Islands international Micah Lea'alafa has yet to arrive in Auckland.

"The first game is always difficult and players are still far away from us with players on international duty like Micah Lea'alafa, Clayton Lewis and Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi.

"But the team has trained really well over the past four weeks and the few changes we've made we're starting to get traction there. Its still early days but I'm positive to how the team is reacting to changes in and out of possession," he said.

Waitakere United and Auckland City FC played in pre-season with the Navy Blues winning 2-1. But that result is meaningless according to Tribulietx who says there is some intrigue about Sunday's showdown.

"Its hard to say how Waitakere United may stack up - they used one or two new players in our friendly like Ian Hogg and the midfielder Khalisy so its difficult to figure out whether they will take the same approach or change completely.

Bolstering Auckland City FC's ranks are Albert Riera, who returns to competitive action in Navy Blue for the first time in three years.

The 32-year-old midfielder is likely to be an important figure while new goalkeeper Enaut Zubikarai brings a wealth of experience having had an extensive career as a professional in Spain until is release in the northern summer.

The match kicks off at 3pm NZST at Kiwitea Street on Sunday 16 October, 2016.


Match Details
Stirling Sports Premiership
Sunday 16 October, 2016
Auckland City FC v Waitakere United
Kiwitea Street
Kick-off: 3pm

AC (from): 1. Enaut Zubikarai (GK), 2. Marko Dordevic, 3. Takuya Iwata, 4. Mario Bilen, 5. Angel Berlanga, 6. Harry Edge, 7. Reid Drake, 9. Darren White, 10. Ryan De Vries, 11. Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi, 12. Alfie Rogers, 13. Albert Riera, 14. Clayton Lewis, 15. Sean Cooper, 16. Yousif Khalisy, 17. Joao Moreira, 18. Danyon Drake (GK), 19. Micah Lea'alafa, 20. Emiliano Tade, 21. Nicolai Berry, 22. Dae Wook Kim, 23. Jacob Spoonley (GK), 24. Fabrizio Tavano.

Coach: Ramon Tribulietx

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