Words: Agustin Fernandez
Saturday 10 September 2022
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Former Auckland City FC and now Eastern Suburbs AFC midfield stalwart Adam Thurston looks ahead to Sunday's Chatham Cup final clash at North Harbour Stadium.
The Navy Blues former is one of the most important players for Eastern Suburbs.
He scored the goal against Hamilton Wanderers to put the ‘Lilywhites’ into the final as they chase a record equalling seventh Chatham Cup competition victory.
Tomorrow’s game will be the first ever Chatham Cup final for Auckland City FC and Eastern Suburbs first since they won a Northern League and Chatham Cup double in 2015.
The number 10 spoke with Agustin Fernandez previous to the match and he’s confident about his team.
- What are your feelings about the final next Sunday?
It’s a massive game for everybody involved. Auckland City FC has never won the Chatham Cup as a club and Eastern Suburbs has had a really tough season, but we’ve done really well to have a good Cup run.
All the boys are excited for it. We are looking forward to giving it a really good go and hopefully finishing on a high.
- Is it a special game for you because the rival will be Auckland City FC?
Is a special game for me being a Cup Final. I don’t hold any grudges or bitterness towards Auckland City FC, I had a good time there and I have a lot of respect for all the players involved, they have a lot of quality in the squad and it’s run by good people.
I really enjoyed getting to know and spending time with people around the club - Colin Cook, in particular, Ivan Vicelich and some of the older people around the club.
My time with the club probably didn’t come at the best timing for me. I felt as I got older I was more ready to run my own coaching business, as I really missed coaching teams. So, although I had a really good time in the environment and the trainings were great, it wasn’t the best fit for me at the time. I was also struggling with injuries.
- Do you think it could play in your favour the fact that Auckland City FC has played a lot of games in the last two months between Northern League, OFC Champions League and Chatham Cup?
It could play in our favour that Auckland City FC have had a lot of games, but I’m sure whoever they field, it will be a really strong team as they have a lot of breadth, depth and all round experience in the team. All 24 players are strong, let alone the starting 11.
They’ve got Cam Howieson, best player of the League in my opinion, Adam Mitchell, Connor Tracey, Emiliano Tade, De Vries, etc.
- In your opinion, which is the key to winning the game?
I think the key for us to win the game is to hold a clean sheet and not concede a goal for as long as possible. Auckland City FC have got a lot of goals in them and I think if they score early they will get confident and will start moving the ball.
We need to defend well, be solid and be together as a team. Ultimately we need to frustrate Auckland City FC and try to counterattack and make something on the break.
Ultimately, we either get beat by the best team in the country or we beat the best team in the country. So like I say, it’s a bit of a free hit for us. We are the underdogs and I’m excited by the opportunity we get.
We are going to be in front of a big crowd, all our juniors are going to be there, and I’ve just become a dad to twins who will be there for the first time. As a result, my mindset on the game has changed so I will try to enjoy the opportunity and the experience because it’s not everyday you get to play a Cup Final.
- Do you dare to risk predicting a result?
We are definitely going to have a good go to get something out the game. We don’t want any regrets and I personally would rather turn up and try to get a win and get beat by a better team, than just roll over and take the loss.
We’ve got a good game plan, but it all comes down to how we perform on the day.
As told to New Zealand-based Argentine football journalist Agustin Fernandez.
Saturday 8 October 2022, Cashmere Technical, 330pm, Kiwitea Street