Words: ACFC Media
Saturday 13 August 2022
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - It's win or bust for Auckland City FC when Albert Riera's side take on Central Coast in tomorrow's OFC Champions League semi-final at Ngahue Reserve.
Riera's team has been in training since late last year and along the way won another Northern League title and gone an eyebrow raising 27 competitive matches undefeated in three different competitions.
The former midfielder said the reward for hard work for his team was the opportunity to play in the biggest matches available - but he insisted there was only one focus for him and his team - win.
"This group of players deserves this opportunity to play in the OFC Champions League semi-finals.
"The way they've trained, the amount of training they've done, the first training session they had was back in November and prior to that we were in lockdown.
"Some of those players were already training even then, so you always earn the right to play in these games.
"Our group have earned that right, they all look very confident and they're excited for the game with Central Coast," Riera said.
For Central Coast, two wins and a defeat saw them qualify for the last four under the watchful eye of experienced coach Jacob Moli.
Attackers Clifford Fafale and Fordney Junior have been in top form since the OFC Champions League qualifiers with Fafale netting three goals and Junior two.
"Central Coast didn't start the tournament very well but you could see from their second game and their third one how dangerous they are.
"They are especially dangerous up front and we've watched a lot of footage of them and you can tell they're technically very good.
"In the Solomon Islands they have a strong tradition in Futsal and you can tell their players have played Futsal and technically they're very good.
"They're dangerous in one v one scenarios but we've thoroughly prepared our game plan for these sorts of situations and hopefully we do well," he said.
While the OFC Champions League semi-final is Auckland City FC and Riera's priority, the prospect of more big matches looming on the horizon have kept him busy.
A potential OFC Champions League final is scheduled for Wednesday 17 August and then there is the Chatham Cup semi-final with Wellington Olympic on Sunday 21 August at Kiwitea Street.
Riera said the trick is to keep the players focused on the game in front of them while doing the due diligence with his staff on the games to come.
"With the coaching staff we always focus on every game as it comes but we always keep an eye on the next one.
"We have to keep a watch on the players loading and other details like this, which is something we as coaches have to do.
"However, when we address the information for the players it is always for the next game we play, that is always our focus - we can't get the players to focus on the game after the one they're facing, because it might not come.
"We like the players to focus on what is coming tomorrow and let the coaches worry about the rest of the games coming up," he said.
When asked if he had any final messages for his team ahead of the semi-final, Riera was brief.
Watch @AucklandCity_FC v Central Coast FC in the second #OCL2022 semi-final tomorrow. Please only follow live stream links provided from the official OFC account (link below).— OFC Oceania Football (@OFCfootball) August 12, 2022
"The only thing I said to the players is that in these sort of games it isn't a choice between winning or not, you just have to win it.
"There is no question mark, just go and do it.
"It's about being confident, its about visualising yourself winning and then you'll get more chances to win the game than not," he said.
Out of Riera's selection thoughts are Angus Kilkolly who picked up a knee injury in the 5-3 away win over Birkenhead United on July 13, while Alfie Rogers hamstring injury rules him out until at least Sunday.
Auckland City FC's OFC Champions League semi-final with Central Coast is on Sunday 14 August 2022 at 2.30pm NZDT.
The game will be streamed live via www.oceaniafootball.com.
OFC Champions League Semi-Final
Sunday 14 August 2022
Auckland City FC v Central Coast
Ngahue Reserve, Auckland
Kick-off: 2.30pm NZDT
AC: 1. Conor TRACEY (GK), 2. Mario ILICH, 3. Adam MITCHELL, 4. Christian GRAY, 6. Matt ELLIS, 8. Gerard GARRIGA, 9. Will ENG, 10. Dylan MANICKUM, 11. Ryan DE VRIES, 12. Sam BROTHERTON, 14. Jordan VALE, 15. Aidan CAREY, 16. Joe LEE, 17. Reid DRAKE, 19. Liam GILLION, 20. Emiliano TADE, 21. Ilham HAMEEDI, 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 - Jacob MOLI
The experienced Jacob Moli has extensive history to draw on for the OFC Champions League having taken fellow Solomon Islands club KOSSA to within 90 minutes of the title back in 2008 when his side were beaten by Waitakere United at Trusts Arena in the OFC Champions League final.
PLAYER TO WATCH - Clifford FAFALE
Clifford Fafale has scored three goals in three games for Central Coast in this tournament and has formed a deadly striking partnership with Fordney Junior who has scored twice in the OFC Champions League. Both players were on target in their dramatic 4-2 penalty shoot-out win over Solomon Warriors back in June and will be key figures in tomorrow's semi-final with Auckland City FC.
CURRENT FORM - OFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
19.06.22 v Solomon Warriors (A) drew 1-1
25.06.22 v Solomon Warriors (H) drew 2-2*
04.08.22 v AS Venus (N) lost 0-3
07.08.22 v ABM Galaxy (N) won 3-1
10.08.22 v Lae City (N) won 3-2
*Central Coast won on penalty kicks
16.07.22 v KOSSA (A) won 5-3
23.07.22 v Real Kakamora (H) lost 0-1
AUCKLAND CITY FC RECORD VERSUS SOLOMON ISLANDS CLUBS
02.03.19 v Solomon Warriors (A) won 6-0 (Tavano, Hudson-Wihongi, Browne, Lea'alafa, Manickum 2)
08.04.18 v Solomon Warriors (H) won 2-0 (Tade, Lea'alafa)
11.03.17 v Western United (H) won 2-1 (White, Tade)
10.04.16 v Solomon Warriors (H) won 4-0 (Kim, Moreira 3)
14.04.15 v Western United (N) won 3-0 (White 2, Souto)
19.02.12 v Koloale (H) won 7-3 (Milne, Vicelich, Coombes, Dickinson 2, Koprivcic)
12.05.09 v Koloale (H) drew 2-2 (Jordan 2) - OFC Champions League Final, 2nd Leg
25.04.09 v Koloale (A) won 7-2 (Vicelich, Williams, Urlovic, Lee, Jordan 3) - OFC Champions League Final, 1st Leg
13.05.06 v Marist (H) won 3-1 (Urlovic, Young, G. Little)
Tu 12 Dec 2023, Al Ittihad, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, KO: 9.00pm local