Words: ACFC Media
Monday 8 August 2022
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC's 3-0 win over Rewa FC at Ngahue Reserve kept the Navy Blues on a steady course for their first OFC Champions League semi-final since 2019.
In-form Cam Howieson, voted OFC's Player of the Match, scored from the penalty mark on 26 minutes after Dylan Manickum was felled in the box.
Mario Ilich added City's second when he popped up at the far post to slam home from close range nine minutes later and second half substitute Emiliano Tade added a third when he expertly lobbed the goalkeeper deep into additional time.
The victory cemented City's position at the top of Group B with six points from six and eight goals scored with none in reply - all ahead of their final group game with the lowest ranked team in the competition, Nikao Sokattak, on Thursday.
The visitors, with Abbu Zahid leading the attack, started with purpose and could have taken a shock lead when the former Ba man met a pinpoint cross at City's near post unmarked only to send his shot awry.
City punished the Fijian side with some ruthless finishing, first through Howieson and then Ilich, but Rewa FC rolled their sleeves up and remained competitive and hungry from start to finish.
It was a courageous show by Marika Rodu's team, and a physical one, an element that City coach Albert Riera said would serve some of his less experienced players in good stead.
"I'm not surprised with the difficulty of the game. When you see footage of other teams it always leaves an impression of what you can expect to see.
"It's been a hard battle and I thought the players stepped up so I'm extremely happy. Today showed our younger players whats needed to win at this level and if you want to win, what you have to do.
"I was talking to Joe Lee because he told me today was a new experience and that's completely understandable because he's a new lad at this level.
"I told him I think he can do better and its all up to him. He's got the potential to do that. It takes time, it takes time for everyone to get used to it.
"I made my debut in the OFC Champions League when I was 26 or 27 and I was still nervous, so it happens to everyone.
"I was happy to see players like Cam, Ryan De Vries, Adam Mitchell and Sam Brotherton, showing the pathway forward for their younger team-mates.
"The most important thing in these games is to read what is happening and decide what the game needs. That's why having players with the experience and quality to do so is extremely important.
"That can be deciding when to speed up, when to slow down, trying to dictate in every minute what we want to do with the ball. Rewa FC didn't make it easy, they pressed higher than we thought they would and credit to them because they have a very competitive team and it was a very hard battle," Riera said.
Auckland City FC's next match is on Thursday 11 August at 3.00pm NZDT at Ngahue Reserve.
OFC Champions League
Monday 8 August 2022
Rewa FC 0
Auckland City FC 3 (Cam HOWIESON 26'-pen, Mario ILICH 35', Emiliano TADE 90'+4')
AC: 1. Conor TRACEY (GK), 2. Mario ILICH, 3. Adam MITCHELL, 7. Cam HOWIESON, 10. Dylan MANICKUM, 11. Ryan DE VRIES, 12. Sam BROTHERTON, 14. Jordan VALE, 15. Aidan CAREY, 16. Joe LEE (20. Emiliano TADE 76'), 17. Reid DRAKE (8. Gerard GARRIGA 64').
SUBS NOT USED: 24. Cam BROWN (GK), 4. Christian GRAY, 6. Matt ELLIS, 21. Ilham HAMEEDI.
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
Sunday 4 December 2022, Wellington Olympic, Mount Smart Stadium