Preview - Vicelich excited ahead of big year for football

Words: ACFC Media

Friday 22 April 2022

Picture: Phototek

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - New Zealand's most capped men's international player and Auckland City FC assistant coach Ivan Vicelich runs the rule over New Zealand's friendly with Peru, playoff with Costa Rica and the possibility of rekindling rivalry with Australia ahead of Auckland City FC's Northern League clash with Bay Olympic tomorrow.

Vicelich, who won 88 caps for his country, is an excited man these days.

Auckland City FC sit top of the Northern League section of the New Zealand National League system in the Albert Riera era and New Zealand are just 90 minutes away from qualifying for their third FIFA World Cup, their second in 12 years.

The 45-year-old played at the 2010 FIFA World Cup and won the Bronze Ball at the 2014 FIFA Club World Cup when City itself won the bronze medal after a penalty shoot-out win over Cruz Azul in Morocco.

This morning he looked over the developments for the New Zealand men's national team and its implications for football in this country.

Vicelich on Peru and Closed Door Friendly

"It's a pretty good step securing a game with Peru. We played against them in the last Intercontinental Playoff in the last four year cycle and they're a quality side.

"A second friendly match date sits there as well and its important to understand that getting teams in that international window is not always easy with other countries either having a break or very focused on their own qualification.

"It's a good level of opponent to face headed into the Costa Rica game so hopefully it'll galvanise New Zealand on the road to what is hopefully qualification for the FIFA World Cup.

"The timing of the games is also very good, it'll give the team plenty of rest before the playoff for the staff to finalise the smaller details they will use to earn victory in that last game.

Vicelich on New Zealand's FIFA World Cup hopes

"The New Zealand team has shown a lot of promise to date under Danny Hay and they need to know the country is right behind them.

"We're 90 minutes away from a FIFA World Cup and anything can happen in a one-off game.

"Costa Rica have proven they can foot it with the best of them but a 90 minute game can often come down to what happens on the day as a process.

"The stronger team may get some things right on the day but pressure can make anything can happen - a slip up or mistake at the back or maybe a referee decision that tips the game on its head and into your favour.

"It makes it so exciting for New Zealand - the sad part of the equation is that New Zealand misses out on a home game and a chance for fans to show their support and see their national team in action in a meaningful competitive match to qualify for the FIFA World Cup.

"It can be awesome to watch games live and we'll miss that but the bottom line is New Zealand need to tackle the task in front of them and do their best to hopefully qualify.

Performance of Cam Howieson

"The exciting thing for Cam is when he gets called up for New Zealand, he performs well.

"What we saw in the qualifiers in Qatar was he performed well when he was asked to in the games which is great, good for him, good for our club and good for New Zealand.

"He needs to continue to do that with us and to be fair to him he's done that. He's looked sharp in training and sharp in games and his attitude is always at 100 percent.

"The key for Cam is he has to keep doing that and rise to the occasion, which he's done in the past and I know he can do again.

Vicelich on the FIFA World Cup draw

"Spain, Germany and Japan - when I saw the draw my first thought was how incredible it could be for New Zealand to be part of such an incredible group.

"The quality of those teams is exceptional and anyone who knows the game knows how difficult that group will be for whoever qualifies from the Intercontinental Playoff.

"But its important to not get carried away by the main draw.

"The most important mission is to prove we are good enough to be at a FIFA World Cup and focus on the playoff which will be tough in its own right.

"There is an exciting opportunity for the players as individuals, and as a team, to do something very special for themselves and the country in June.

"But Costa Rica are very experienced side who I'm sure we will have a healthy respect for but at the same time also believe we can compete with.

"If we're still talking about the FIFA World Cup on June 15 then that means the team will have done something very special and qualified for the biggest show on Earth.

Vicelich on possible Australia friendly

Playing for New Zealand is always an honour but its extra special when you play Australia because there is always a bit of niggle there.

"We're often viewed as the little sibling in the relationship so its incredible that New Zealand Football and Football Australia are putting this game together.

"As the Football Ferns games with the Matildas showed, an Australia, New Zealand rivalry is always intense.

"The rivalry is intense between the two nations in all sports and its been too long since we last played one, to be honest.

"We should be playing Australia more regularly, in my opinion, and its exciting for the men's national team to rekindle that spirit.

"We have a group of players playing very well, they're an exciting group and very talented, so from a New Zealand point of view, I believe we've got a very good chance of getting a positive result against Australia.

"These clashes always prove exciting to play in because there is always something happening out on the pitch to catch the eye.

"The last one I played maybe could've seen one or two red cards and there were one or two top quality goals, all leading into both nations competing at the FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

"If we can get a full house to games like these it would be amazing.

"Australia has traditionally been blessed with top quality players who have played all over Europe - players like Mark Viduka, Mark Bresciano, Ned Zelic who became household names around the world.

"That's probably missing from the Australia set-up currently but now the path to victory for a New Zealand side is maybe a bit closer than it has been previously.

Vicelich on Bay Olympic showdown

"Our preparation has been quite good the players have recovered very well from playing two games in four days in the double header which was tough for not only us but the rest of the teams in the league.

"We got two good results which always helps and the players have looked sharp in training.

"We've looked closely at how we're going to play against Bay Olympic and the objective is to be as effective as we can be at fulfilling the ideas we set before the players.

"The players have taken everything on board over the past couple of weeks which has shown in performances and results.

"They've implemented that in the games so hopefully that means we can get a good result against a side who are doing well in the league. 

"We have excellent competition for places which creates a very high standard at training during the week so that means the players have to perform at their best at every training session to force us into tough decisions.

"Albert has to make those tough calls and I don't envy him.

"However, the beauty of that is we have a lot of good players in the squad that are fit.

"Last season, at this same stage, we had a few of players injured and out for long periods of time which was difficult.

"This year the majority of the squad are ready which makes it exciting for us and gives us some interesting options," he said.

Match Details

Auckland City FC face Bay Olympic in the sixth round of Northern League action at Olympic Park at 3.00pm NZDT. Bay Olympic currently sit fourth in the table with three wins, a draw and a defeat from their first five matches. Last season, Auckland City FC won both matches in the league by 2-1 and 7-0, both games played within a five day period. 

U-23 Preview

Auckland City FC U-23s face Bay Olympic Development at 12.00pm NZDT at Crum Park, Titirangi. Last season, Bay Olympic Development proved a tough opponent producing two exciting draws against Auckland City FC U-23s, 1-1 at Olympic Park, and 3-3 at Kiwitea Street, 


Match Details
Northern League
Saturday 23 April 2022
Bay Olympic v Auckland City FC
Olympic Park, New Lynn
Kick-off: 3.00pm NZDT

AC (squad to be finalised from): 1. Conor TRACEY (GK), 2. Mario ILICH, 3. Adam MITCHELL, 4. Christian GRAY, 5. Angel BERLANGA (c), 7. Cam HOWIESON, 8. Gerard GARRIGA, 9. Angus KILKOLLY, 10. Dylan MANICKUM, 11. Ryan DE VRIES, 12. Sam BROTHERTON, 13. Nathan LOBO, 14. Jordan VALE, 15. Aidan CAREY, 16. Joe LEE, 17. Reid DRAKE, 18. 19. Liam GILLION, 20. Emiliano TADE, 21. Ilham HAMEEDI, 22. Kristoff MULLER, 23. Alfie ROGERS, 24. Cam BROWN (GK).




07.06.21 v Bay Olympic (A) won 2-1 (Aidan CAREY 37', Angus KILKOLLY 86' | Honggyu HAN 1')
12.06.21 v Bay Olympic (H) won 7-0 (Angus KILKOLLY 13'-pen, Sam BROTHERTON 32', Matt ELLIS 48', Alfie ROGERS 68', Dylan MANICKUM 70', 76', Addison STEWART 78')


SATURDAY 23 APRIL 2022 (all games kick off at 3.00pm NZDT)
Birkenhead United v Eastern Suburbs
Manukau United v Western Springs
North Shore United v Western Springs
Auckland United FC v Hamilton Wanderers
Waiheke United v Melville United

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