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Navy Blues rekindle rivalry with familiar foe

Words: ACFC Media

Friday 1 April 2022

Picture: Phototek

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC will face a familiar adversary when they take on newly promoted Takapuna AFC in the Northern League on Saturday.

Chris Milicich, former coach of the Navy Blues now defunct Super City Derby rivals Waitakere United, heads up the Taharoto Park-based club and will no doubt be eager to land a telling blow on Albert Riera's team.

Milicich led Waitakere United to its most successful period winning the New Zealand Football Championship, OFC Champions League and a tilt at the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan in 2008, a run that kept the Navy Blues out of the Oceania qualifying slot for three years. 

While United were less successful in the remaining years of the NZFC, Milicich was nevertheless a thorn in the Navy Blues side from time to time.

Only one coach has led their team to back-to-back wins over Auckland City FC for their clubs in recent years and that was Milicich when Waitakere United beat City 1-0 and 4-1 in the 2016-17 ISPS Handa Premiership season.

Now Milicich has Auckland City FC in his sights after Takapuna AFC got their season off to a flyer when they defeated Eastern Suburbs AFC 1-0 at their North Shore base last week.

With an understrength Auckland City FC picking up a tough 2-1 win over Melville United sans Cam Howieson, Brian Kaltak, Ryan De Vries, Alfie Rogers and Emiliano Tade, the pressure is on for the Navy Blues to give a repeat demonstration of their depth and quality.

The Navy Blues overcame a well-organised Melville United last week and will need to show a repeat of their resolve and resilience to make it back to back wins. 

Coach Albert Riera is more than aware of what lies in prospect from a hungry Takapuna AFC side this Saturday having mulled over last week's results. 

"Takapuna AFC will come to the Croatian Club with the sole purpose of upsetting us. They've already showed how dangerous they can be by picking up three points against Eastern Suburbs AFC.

"By the looks of it, Takapuna AFC created more than a few clear cut chances and I think they will come to our place with the same intention.

"Chris Milicich is a coach who knows exactly what he's doing, he demonstrated that by getting Takapuna AFC promoted last season.

"Chris is very pragmatic in his approach and his style of football has been very successful and effective in getting results.

"For us, the message to our players is crystal clear - be prepared and ready for a massive battle.

"I'm sure it's going to be a tough 90 minutes," Riera told

Auckland City FC received a major boost this week with the return of Adam Bell, Alfie Rogers and Aidan Carey to training while Cam Howieson and Brian Kaltak's international duty has come to an end following the conclusion of the Oceania FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.

"It's great to have the players filtering back into training and we're very excited for the Takapuna AFC game and hopefully we can achieve the three points again," Riera said.

Saturday's match is Auckland City FC's 480th since the club was formed in 2004.

The match kicks off at 3.00pm NZDT

Lotto NRFL U-23 Premier Division - Preview

The Auckland City FC U-23 team face off against their counterparts from Taharoto Park for the first time in their history.

Takapuna AFC U-23 started their season with a 6-0 thumping of Eastern Suburbs AFC.

This match has been transferred from Auckland Grammar School 1 to Crum Park in Titirangi.

The game kicks off at 12.00pm NZDT.


Match Details
Northern League
Saturday 2 April 2022
Auckland City FC v Takapuna AFC
Croatian Cultural Centre, Te Atatu
Kick-off: 3.00pm NZDT

AC (Players selected from): 1. Conor TRACEY (GK), 2. Mario ILICH, 3. Adam MITCHELL, 5. Angel BERLANGA, 8. Gerard GARRIGA, 9. Angus KILKOLLY, 10. Dylan MANICKUM, 12. Sam BROTHERTON, 13. Nathan LOBO, 14. Jordan VALE, 15. Aidan CAREY, 16. Joe LEE, 17. Reid DRAKE, 19. Liam GILLION, 23. Alfie ROGERS, 24. Cam BROWN (GK).

NOT SELECTED: 4. Christian GRAY, 6. Brian KALTAK, 7. Cam HOWIESON, 11. Ryan DE VRIES, 20. Emiliano TADE, 21. Ilham HAMEEDI, 22. Kristoff MULLER.


AR1: Aaron DAY
AR2: Khalid ELGANA

Manukau United v Auckland United
Eastern Suburbs AFC v Hamilton Wanderers
North Shore United v Birkenhead United
Western Springs v Waiheke United
Melville United v Bay Olympic

There have been no previous meetings between Auckland City FC and Takapuna AFC, although Takapuna AFC coach Chris Milicich is well known to all Navy Blues supporters after his successful stints in charge of our old rivals Waitakere United.

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