Words: ACFC Media
Friday 6 May 2022
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Competition for places is heating up at Auckland City FC as the Navy Blues travel to South Auckland to take on Manukau United in the latest round of Northern League action tomorrow.
Coach Albert Riera was a happy man after last week's well earned 3-0 win over Birkenhead United but he's warned his players they face a critical test against a dangerous Manukau United.
He says there is room in his starting eleven for complacency and cites two reminders for his team.
"The first reminder about how difficult an opponent Manukau United can be is last season's game with them at Centre Park.
"Auckland City FC drew that game 2-2 through a last minute equaliser by Reid Drake.
"The other reminder is that if the players want to keep playing in this team and get game time they have to be better than the team-mate next to them.
"We have a lot of depth and a lot of players available and the way they're playing and training is unbelievable.
PREVIEW - @ManukauUtdFC v Auckland City FC#NavyBlues coach Albert Riera runs the rule over City as they head to Walter Massey Park to face Manukau - and Riera has a word of warning for his charges ahead of the game— Auckland City FC (@AucklandCity_FC) May 6, 2022
MORE: https://t.co/s3eZz7GIVu pic.twitter.com/adPgyjNdgL
"They standard has been very good.
"But if any of them drops their levels a bit, there is always another player ready to go into the starting eleven," he said.
Solidity has so far been the name of the game for Riera's team selections so far but there is intense competition in the attacking areas of the team where Angus Kilkolly, Emiliano Tade, Dylan Manickum, Ryan De Vries and youngsters Liam Gillion and Joe Lee have all shone.
Tade has scored three goals off the bench this season while Kilkolly's remarkable goal-per-game ratio continues.
Riera, though, remains very grounded in his assessment of his team with the former A-League midfield player quick to identify United's key threats.
"I've watched a lot of Manukau United and they have very dangerous players especially in transition.
"We all know Maro (Bonsu-Maro) very well and Mohamed Awad, too - and there are many others who can be very dnagerous.
"We like to have a lot of the ball so sometimes they can hurt you if you get caught in wide open spaces so we have to make sure that doesn't happen on Saturday.
"In their win over Eastern Suburbs AFC that was a good example of how Manukau United can hurt teams.
"Eastern Suburbs AFC probably had the vast amount of possession in that game and got caught on the counter on two occasions.
"But we've trained well and the lads are ready for Saturday," Riera told www.aucklandcityfc.com.
In terms of availability, Aidan Carey, Gerard Garriga and Cam Brown are all sidelined while Riera welcomes back Ryan De Vries after the All Whites cap missed out last week due to an eye problem.
"We've trained very well this week. it's been a standard week for us and we've had 95 percent of the players available and we had a few Covid cases but nothing major.
"Those players were feeling symptoms but they've felt better over time so other than that everyone is available including Ryan De Vries.
"Ryan is training and he's done very well. He had an issue with his eye but the doctor have kept a close watch and everything is going to plan with him," Riera confirmed.
Finn Dockerty replaces Brown as second choice keeper this week while Ilham Hameedi also returns to the first team squad.
The match kicks off at 3.00pm NZDT at Walter Massey Park tomorrow.
Auckland City FC U-23s hope to get back to winning ways after last week's 5-1 defeat to Birkenhead United U-23s.
The Navy Blues age group side, now third, take on fifth-placed Manukau United U-23s at Walter Massey Park at 12.30pm NZDT tomorrow with just three points spearating the pair.
Saturday 7 May 2022
Manukau United v Auckland City FC
Walter Massey Park, Auckland
Kick-off: 3.00pm NZDT
AC: 1. Conor TRACEY (GK), 2. Mario ILICH, 5. Angel BERLANGA (c), 7. Cam HOWIESON, 9. Angus KILKOLLY, 10. Dylan MANICKUM, 11. Ryan DE VRIES, 12. Sam BROTHERTON, 13. Nathan LOBO, 14. Jordan VALE, 16. Joe LEE, 17. Reid DRAKE, 18. Finn DOCKERTY (GK), 20. Emiliano TADE, 21. Ilham HAMEEDI, 23. Alfie ROGERS.
COACH: Albert RIERA
ASSISTANT COACH: Ivan VICELICH
GOALKEEPER COACH: Enaut ZUBIKARAI
MANAGER: Keith COTON
ANALYST: Adria CASALS
PHYSIO: Matt PAYNE
REFEREE: Ashley WILSON
ASSISTANT REFEREE 1: Khalid ELGANA
ASSISTANT REFEREE 2: Tom DAY
18.10.20 v Manukau United (A) won 2-0 (Jordan VALE, Abdulbaset KHALIFA)
02.04.21 v Manukau United (H) won 3-1 (Mohamed AWAD, Reid DRAKE, Dylan MANICKUM | Sanni ISSA)
2606.21 v Manukau United (A) drew 2-2 (Dylan MANICKUM, Reid DRAKE | Maro BONSU-MARO, Jade MESIAS)
SATURDAY 7 MAY 2022 - OTHER FIXTURES
Bay Olympic v Hamilton Wanderers
Birkenhead United v Takapuna
Melville United v Auckland United FC
North Shore United v Waiheke United
Western Springs v Eastern Suburbs AFC
ABOUT MANUKAU UNITED
Manukau United Football Club is a community-led partnership project providing an accessible pathway from grassroots to elite football in South Auckland. The club's community engagement programmes connects with thousands of school students annually and United work with a wide range of organisations, businesses and community groups to achieve positive community outcomes. Manukau United believes diversity is a strength and hopes to inspire other clubs, codes and sporting bodies to embrace a more inclusive and equitable sporting environment for everyone in Aotearoa.
LOTTO NRFL PREMIER DIVISION
The club was formed following a merger between Mangere United and Manukau City in 2018. They finished a creditable fourth place in their breakout season in the Lotto NRFL Premier Division and followed it up with a mid-table finish in 2019. Manukau United finished fifth in the 2020 Lotto NRFL Premier Division with the side picking up three wins, two draws and two defeats in a campaign ended abruptly by Covid-19 lockdowns in Auckland. Last year, Manukau United finished eighth in the Northern League with five wins, seven draws and seven losses.
They have had three Chatham Cup runs with their first in 2018 ended by Cashmere Technical in the sixth round after United had defeated Hamilton Wanderers (3-1), Three Kings United (3-0) and Mount Albert Ponsonby (3-1) in previous rounds. In 2019, Manukau United thrashed Onerahi 13-0 in their Third Round tie, defeated Glenfield Rovers 4-2 before bowing out to Bay Olympic (0-3) in the Fifth Round. Last year, United had a topsy-turvy relationship with the tournament defeating Claudelands Rovers (5-4) in the third round before being thumped 5-0 by Hamilton Wanderers.
v Al Ahly, Tangier, Feb 1 2023, KO: 8pm local