Words: ACFC Media
Thursday 29 September 2022
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Central League champions Wellington Olympic host Auckland City FC in the opening round of the National League Championship on Saturday.
Olympic, who are fresh from their second consecutive Central League title triumph, will be keen to mark their return to the top flight with a big result.
VIDEO - Auckland City FC 3-1 Wellington Olympic
MATCH HIGHLIGHTS - Auckland City FC 3-1 Wellington Olympic— Auckland City FC (@AucklandCity_FC) August 22, 2022
Relive the social media highlights of Auckland City FC's 3-1 win over Olympic in the Chatham Cup semi-final played at Kiwitea Street on Sun 21 Aug 2022.
WATCH https://t.co/QuRlQlr2YB pic.twitter.com/9VIpP7CxUv
Olympic scored an impressive 71 goals in just 18 games and kept eight clean sheets during a campaign that went all the way to the final day of the season.
They also gave City a tough test in the Chatham Cup semi-final back in August when the Navy Blues edged 'The Greeks' by 3-1 at Kiwitea Street.
Coach Albert Riera admitted its been a long year for not only his team but every team that has qualified for the top competition with games starting in March and running through to December in a gruelling schedule designed by New Zealand Football.
Riera and his team have enjoyed success but he noted the importance of rest with his players balancing work commitments with their desire to play football at the highest level.
"It has been nice to have a small break from football especially for the players because its been a very long campaign.
"We have another nine games ahead of us at least which is why it is important for the players to have a rest.
"We haven't trained for a week to allow them to recharge their bodies and minds.
"They came back to training very strong and look very sharp and motivated and they're looking forward to the National League Championship.
"There was a little rustiness in the beginning but it doesn't mean a lack of intensity.
"The only player missing is Dylan Manickum who has a small issue with his heel and won't be ready for this weekend.
"It'll take a bit of time to heal properly but other than that everyone is available which is good because that's what you need to be competitive.
"The players have shown a desire to win games and they've proved that throughout the season.
"To do this consistently requires a special group of people with character and we have to try and enjoy the journey," Riera said.
Auckland City FC's squad is in full time employment or study and the commitment shown by each individual to manage their time between their private life and their football has been impressive.
Riera believes the desire is there for the squad to push on to the end of the year and remain competitive.
"We want to end the year on a high but know the level is going to be very hard and the concentration required to overcome that will be high," Riera said.
The Mediterranean Cup— Auckland City FC (@AucklandCity_FC) August 25, 2022
A new trophy is up for grabs between @AucklandCity_FC & @WgtnOlympic
after a top weekend of #ChathamCup football passion, culture & history unfolded at Kiwitea Street, thanks @CentralUtd_FC & Katsanos family for everything!
Also up for grabs is the Mediterranean Cup which made a comeback during the Chatham Cup semi-final match between the two clubs.
For more information about the Mediterranean Cup click here.
The match kicks off at 3.00pm NZDT on Saturday 1 October 2022 at Endeavour Park, Wellington.
National League Championship
Saturday 1 October 2022
Wellington Olympic v Auckland City FC
Endeavour Park, Wellington
Kick-off: 3.00pm NZDT
AC (to be chosen from:) 1. Conor TRACEY (GK), 2. Mario ILICH, 3. Adam MITCHELL, 4. Christian GRAY, 5. Angel BERLANGA, 6. Matt ELLIS, 7. Cam HOWIESON (c), 8. Gerard GARRIGA, 9. Angus KILKOLLY, 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, 22.Adam BELL, 23. Alfie ROGERS, 24. Cam BROWN (GK).
COACH: Albert RIERA
ASSISTANT COACH: Ivan VICELICH
GOALKEEPER COACH: Enaut ZUBIKARAI
MANAGER: Keith COTON
ANALYST: Adria CASALS
TECHNICAL: Jarrod WALLACE
PHYSIO: Matt PAYNE
PLAYER TO WATCH - GIANNI BOUZOUKIS
The talented 23-year-old has set the Central region alight this season with an impressive 16 goals in just 18 appearances for Wellington Olympic. Formerly with the Wellington Phoenix where he played 9 times in the New Zealand Football Championship, Bouzoukis could be the player Auckland City FC need to keep an eye on today.
HEAD COACH - RUPERT KEMEYS
Rupert Kemeys is in his first full season in charge of Wellington Olympic and came to the club having had success with Wainuiomata in 2020. Kemeys was voted Capital Football's Coach of the Year after he guided the club to a Capital Premier League title. He helped guide Olympic to the Chatham Cup semi-finals and successfully defend its Central League title in 2022.
ABOUT THE VISITORS – WELLINGTON OLYMPIC AFC
Chatham Cup winners 2009
Chatham Cup runners-up 1994
Superclub Plate Winners 1995
Central Premier League winners 2022, 2021, 2016, 2010
Central League Division 1 winners 1991
Central League Division 2 winners 1995, 1986, 1982, 1980, 1977
Central League Division 3 winners 1994
BIGGEST WIN (LEAGUE)
v. Wellington United won 11-1, 2019
BIGGEST DEFEAT (LEAGUE)
v. Hungaria lost 0-14, 1973
BIGGEST WIN (CHATHAM CUP)
v. Wellington College won 13-0, 2004
v. Stokes Valley won 13-0, 2019
BIGGEST DEFEAT (CHATHAM CUP)
v. Waterside lost 2-7, 1976.
21.08.22 Auckland City FC 3-1 Wellington Olympic
ABOUT WELLINGTON OLYMPIC
Olympic fondly known as “The Greeks” were founded in 1953 as Apollon AFC. In 1959 the club changed its name to Christian Youth Football Club (CYFC) and a latter change to Wellington Olympic AFC came in 1983.
The club has a proud history in Wellington football and has established itself as one of the dominant clubs in the Central Region.
Olympic competed on the national stage for the first time in 1993 making the national round of the Superclub Championship finishing in 6th position.
A year later they repeated the feat, finishing 5th and also made the final of the 1994 Chatham Cup narrowly losing 0-1 to Waitakere City.
During that 1994 season they also played Auckland City’s sister club Central United for the first time ever in the national round of the Superclub competition defeating the Auckland side 2-0.
Olympic and Central United next met at national level in the 1999 North Island League with Central victorious on both occasions home and away. The two clubs have never met again since then at senior level.
The connection between Olympic and Kiwitea Street was revived however in 2013 when the Central United Over 35’s side travelled to Wellington to take on their Olympic counterparts for a newly minted trophy ‘The Mediterranean Cup’.
The Greeks put on a fabulous display of hospitality for this end of season friendly match and were victorious in claiming the new trophy. A year later the roles were reciprocated and a great weekend was enjoyed by both sets of players in Auckland.
Olympic claimed it's first national title with Chatham Cup success coming after a 2-1 win against Three Kings United in the 2009 final.
Three Kings United took an early lead through a third-minute goal from Luiz del Monte. They dominated for much of the early part of the match, but Olympic fought back, and a header just before the half-hour mark from Mickey Malivuk levelled the scores at 1-1.
In the second half Olympic held the upper hand, and eventually took the lead through a 75th minute penalty converted by Raf De Gregorio. Three Kings pressed strongly during the last few minutes but were unable to produce an equaliser.
The Jack Batty Memorial Trophy for the payer of the final was awarded to former All White De Gregorio.
CURRENT FORM - CENTRAL LEAGUE
26.03.22 v Petone (A) won 5-1
02.04.22 v Wellington United (H) won 4-0
09.04.22 v North Wellington (A) won 2-1
15.04.22 v Wellington Phoenix (A) drew 2-2
23.04.22 v Napier City Rovers (H) won 3-0
30.04.22 v Waterside Karori (A) drew 1-1
07.05.22 v Western Suburbs (H) won 4-0
21.05.22 v Miramar Rangers (A) drew 2-2
28.05.22 v Havelock North Wanderers (H) won 10-0
11.06.22 v North Wellington (H) won 3-1
25.06.22 v Wellington United (A) won 4-0
02.07.22 v Petone (H) won 5-0
16.07.22 v Wellington Phoenox (H) lost 0-3
24.07.22 v Napier City Rovers (A) won 5-2
06.08.22 v Waterside Karori (H) won 2-0
14.08.22 v Western Suburbs (A) won 11-1
28.08.22 v Havelock North Wanderers (A) won 7-1
23.09.22 v Miramar Rangers (H) won 1-0
CURRENT FORM - CHATHAM CUP
14.05.22 v Seatoun (A) won 8-0
06.06.22 v Whanganui Athletic (A) won 5-0
18.06.22 v North Wellington (A) won 6-1
10.07.22 v Napier City Rovers (A) won 4-0
30.07.22 v Cashmere Technical (H) won 3-2
21.08.22 v Auckland City FC (A) lost 1-3
Gianni Bouzoukis - 16
Jack-Henry Sinclair - 14
Kailan Gould - 10
Jesse Randall - 10
Conor Gaul - 5
Ben Mata - 5
Tor Davenport-Petersen 3
Lukas Hadaikas - 3
Jaga Scott-Greenfield 2
Justin Gulley - 1
Alex Palezevic - 1
Jonty Roubos - 1
Sunday 4 December 2022, Wellington Olympic, Mount Smart Stadium