Happy selection headache for Riera

Words: ACFC Media

Sunday 7 August 2022

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Fast, mobile and strong - that's how Auckland City FC coach Albert Riera describes tomorrow's opponents Rewa FC ahead of their OFC Champions League Group B encounter at Ngahue Reserve.

The Fijians overcame a stubborn Nikao Sokattak when they defeated the Cook Island champions 3-1 on Friday with former Ba midfielder Abbu Zahid scoring twice and Tevita Waranaivalu once.

City top the group after the 5-0 win over 2019 champions Hiengehen Sport but Riera has had a chance to take a close look at Marika Rodu's team and predicts a 'complicated' match for the Navy Blues.

"It's always positive to be able to watch the other teams and we've looked at some footage of the other teams but its always better to see the other teams live so you have an idea what you're going to be facing.

"There are some good teams in this tournament, a few I believe are very strong, and We saw that when we had a chance to see Rewa on Friday.

"We thought Rewa were very, very mobile, very strong, very fast and I think tomorrow is going to be a very complicated game," Riera said.

The Fijians have had a season of highs and lows with Rodu's team undefeated in their domestic league although they ran into difficulties in the Fiji FA Cup where they were winless in five games.

Riera's biggest challenge is keeping his squad ticking over with competition for places heating up.

"We had a lot of games prior to the OFC Champions League and that was actually a positive thing for us.

"We used that as preparation for the OFC Champions League so we could have back to back games so the players could see what this was going to be like.

"Every player knows they are going to have the chance to play because there are a lot of games in a short period of time and they're all very important.

"The players have to be fit, ready and they're all hungry to play and it'll be hard for myself to pick my team which is a good problem to have," he said.

One area Riera has some thinking to do could be in both full back areas.

Nathan Lobo has departed for the USA on a college scholarship and Alfie Rogers hamstring injury means the 99-game player may be available for the semi-finals.

Aidan Carey has proved an able deputy in a number of positions and now Jordan Vale is back after a run of bad luck with Covid-19, flu and a knee injury.

The 28-year-old intermediate school teacher started every game prior to illness and injury but Riera is delighted to have him back in the mix.

"Jordy is one of those players who started every game before he got injured and sick and he was doing very, very well, so we were sad to not have him on the pitch but one of our strengths is that we have very good depth and Aidan Carey is in.

"But having someone like Jordan Vale around, with his experience, is something we're excited about.

"We need depth and people who are ready to go which is what we saw in the last game when Jordy came on against Hienghene.

"Jordan trained well yesterday was spot on so we're all very happy to see him back on the grass," he said.

Tomorrow's game with Rewa FC kicks off at 12.00pm NZDT and can be viewed here.

Ends

Match Details
OFC Champions League
Rewa v Auckland City FC
Monday 8 August 2022
Ngahue Reserve, Stonefields, Auckland
Kick-off: 12.00pm NZDT

AC: 1. Conor TRACEY (GK), 2. Mario ILICH, 3. Adam MITCHELL, 4. Christian GRAY, 5. Angel BERLANGA, 6. Matt ELLIS, 7. Cam HOWIESON, 8. Gerard GARRIGA, 10. Dylan MANICKUM, 11. Ryan DE VRIES, 12. Sam BROTHERTON, 14. Jordan VALE, 15. Aidan CAREY, 16. Joe LEE, 17. Reid DRAKE, 18. Finn DOCKERTY (GK), 19. Liam GILLION, 20. Emiliano TADE, 21. Ilham HAMEEDI, 22. Will ENG, 23. Alfie ROGERS, 24. Cam BROWN (GK).

COACH: Albert RIERA
ASSISTANT COACH: Ivan VICELICH
GOALKEEPER COACH: Enaut ZUBIKARAI
MANAGER: Keith COTON
ANALYST: Adria CASALS
TRAINER: Alejo LEGUIZAMON
TECHNICAL: Jarrod WALLACE
PHYSIO: Matt PAYNE

HEAD COACH - Marika RODU
Rewa are coached by Marika Rodu, an OFC B Licence holder who has previously led Fiji's national women's team following his tenure with Fiji FA as its Women's Football Development Officer.

PLAYER TO WATCH - Abbu ZAHID
The 31-year0old midfielder Abbu Zahid brings a wealth of experience to Rewa FC's squad with the Fiji international an almost permnanent fixture in the Ba team that qualified for the OFC Champions League between 2012 and 2019. Player of the Match in the 3-1 win over Nikao Sokattak on Friday 5 August, Zahid showed his prowess in front of goal when he bagged a brace.

CURRENT FORM
13.02.22 v Ba (H) won 1-0
19.02.22 v Labasa (H) drew 1-1
27.02.22 v Tailevu Naitasiri (H) won 2-0
06.03.22 v Nasinu (A) won 2-0
13.03.22 v Nadi (H) won 2-0
20.03.22 v Suva (H) drew 2-2
03.04.22 v Navua (A) drew 1-1
09.04.22 v Nadroga (H) won 2-1
01.05.22 v Lautoka (A) won 2-0
26.06.22 v Ba (A) drew 1-1
03.07.22 v Labasa (H) drew 0-0
10.07.22 v Tailevu Naitasiri (A) won 2-1
17.07.22 v Nasinu (H) won 2-1
24.07.22 v Nadi (H) drew 2-2

CURRENT FORM - FIJI FA CUP
22.05.22 v Labasa (H) lost 1-2
26.05.22 v Navua (H) drew 1-1
27.05.22 v Nadi (A) drew 2-2
28.05.22 v Lautoka (A) lost 0-1

CURRENT FORM - OFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
17.06.22 v Lautoka (A) drew 1-1
19.06.22 v Lautoka (H) won 4-0
05.08.22 v Nikao Sokattak (N) won 3-1

CLUB HONOURS
Inter-District Cup winners 1938, 1939, 1943, 1944, 1947, 1955, 1972, 2001, 2010
Battle of the Giants winners 1994, 2003, 2004, 2010, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2020
Fiji FA Cup winners 2011, 2017, 2018
Champion versus Champion winners 2010
Fiji Games winners 1994

PREVIOUS MEETINGS
16.09.11 v Rewa (H) won 11-0 (Manel Exposito 4, Adam McGeorge, Luis Corrales, Emiliano Tade 2, David Mulligan 2, Chad Coombes) - Pacific Football Festival

OFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE RECORD v FIJI CLUBS
19.05.06 v Nokia Eagles (H) won 9-1 (Che Bunce, Jason Hayne, Neil Sykes, Keryn Jordan, Grant Young 2, Paul Seaman, Graham Little 2)
05.11.12 v Ba (H) won 6-1 (Mario Bilen, Manel Exposito 2, Darren White 2, Emiliano Tade)
11.05.12 v Ba (A) won 1-0 (Daniel Koprivcic)
08.04.14 v Nadi (A) won 3-0 (Daewook Kim, Emiliano Tade, Joao Moreira)
11.04.15 v Suva (A) won 3-0 (David Browne, Sam Burfoot, Adam McGeorge)
03.03.18 v Lautoka (H) won 1-0 Emiliano Tade)
01.03.20 v Ba (N) won 6-0 (Jordan Vale, Brian Kaltak, Logan Rogerson, Myer Bevan, Emiliano Tade 2)

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