Words: ACFC Media
Wednesday 17 August 2022
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC are OFC Champions League for the tenth time since 2006 after a comprehensive 3-0 win over AS Venus at Ngahue Reserve today.
The Navy Blues came into the match as strong favourites and demonstrated the legitimacy of that tag when Cam Howieson converted an early penalty kick to hand City the lead.
Albert Riera's team doubled the advantage when OFC Player of the Match Gerard Garriga latched onto a loose ball inside the penalty area to slip an easy effort into an empty net.
AS Venus, defending into a strong wind, struggled to create many clear cut chances but that changed in the turn around when the Tahitians tried to use the conditions to their advantage.
They did this by peppering Conor Tracey's goal frame with a series of corners but each time they delivered into the area it was either an Auckland City FC player who won the first ball or there was a lack of quality in delivery or the finish.
That combined to release pressure on City who adopted a hit on the break approach and it was this that led to City's third killer goal when Garriga broke forward and a cross was delivered to the far post for club record goalscorer Emiliano Tade to volley home expertly with his left foot to make it 3-0.
The win means Auckland City FC have earned the right to compete at the next FIFA Club World Cup, presumably next February, although FIFA are yet to confirm the details of where the tournament will be held and under what format.
While matters of a global nature are at the forefront of the club's thoughts, a more local and equally important task awaits City on Sunday when they host Wellington Olympic in the Chatham Cup semifinal at Kiwitea Street.
While that reality must be confronted, and soon, it certainly won't be on Riera's mind as he savours the club's first Oceania title since 2017.
"I am extremely happy for the players because they've had countless training sessions and over 30 games this year and its been a very long journey.
"I want to congratulate AS Venus and their coach Sam Garcia and his team because they have a fantastic squad and gave us a hard battle.
"And they showed they were very organised and we knew it was going to be very hard but the Navy Blues boys showed that we deserved to win the title today.
"Whenever you play in a final you have to contend with the conditions of the day and we got ourselves into the lead in the first half and made the most of them.
"In the second half we knew Venus would come out and push for a goal and we absorbed the pressure which wasn't easy and they got frustrated and we grabbed a third goal," Riera told OFC TV.
OFC Player of the Match Gerard Garriga was delighted with his second individual player award and the Oceania victory.
"I think we did a great job today and its not easy to win the OFC Champions League for so many years and we've done well today to change that.
"We worked very hard to win today but that's what is expected at our club.
"We have to celebrate this achievement tonight but we have a very big game on Sunday when we play Wellington Olympic in the Chatham Cup semi-final.
"We'll celebrate and then be back to training because we want to keep competing in every competition to do our best," Garriga said.
OFC Champions League Final 2022
Wednesday 17 August 2022
Auckland City FC 3 (Cam HOWIESON 13'-pen, Gerard GARRIGA 29', Emiliano TADE 90'+1')
AS Venus 0
AC: 1. Conor TRACEY (GK), 2. Mario ILICH, 3. Adam MITCHELL, 7. Cam HOWIESON (c), 8. Gerard GARRIGA (17. Reid DRAKE 74'), 10. Dylan MANICKUM, 11. Ryan DE VRIES (20. Emiliano TADE 63'), 12. Sam BROTHERTON, 14. Jordan VALE, 25. Aidan CAREY, 16. Joe LEE (Liam GILLION 90'+1').
SUBS NOT USED: 18. Finn DOCKERTY (GK), 24. Cam BROWN (GK), 4. Christian GRAY, 5. Angel BERLANGA< 6. Matt ELLIS, 9. Will ENG, 21. Ilham HAMEEDI, 23. Alfie ROGERS.
COACH: Albert RIERA
ASSISTANT COACH: Ivan VICELICH
GOALKEEPER COACH: Enaut ZUBIKARAI
MANAGER: Keith COTON
ANALYST: Adria CASALS
TECHNICAL: Jarrod WALLACE
PHYSIO: Matt PAYNE
v Wellington Olympic, 11 March 2023, KO: TBC