Words: ACFC Media
Friday 2 December 2016
HODOGOYA, Japan - SC Sagamihara grabbed a 1-1 draw as Auckland City FC got through a bruising friendly game in Hodogoya today.
Auckland City FC completed its warm-up programme of matches at Hodogoya Stadium today after a bruising encounter with Third Division SC Sagamihara.
The Oceania champions have met J.League 2 sides three times previously beating Kyuzu Reizi 2-0, Matsumoto Yamaga 2-1 and drawing 1-1 with Yokohama FC.
But none of that prepared them for today's game with third tier opponents who looked highly motivated to seize what they perceived to be a valued scalp.
The day got off to a solemn start with both clubs recognising those lost in the Chapecoense incident in Medellin, Colombia, and also Mount Albert Grammar student Liam Cradock who passed away last week.
When the action got underway Auckland City FC started brightly with a strong eleven with Albert Riera looking in top form alongside Mario Bilen and Fabrizio Tavano.
That optimism was short-lived with Bilen hobbling off injured inside the first five minutes with Lea'alafa thrown into the action up front and Lewis shunted back into midfield.
The Navy Blues got over that early setback when Ryan De Vries pounced on a Darren White free-kick that hit the SC Sagamihara upright on 17 minutes. Prone goalkeeper Kaijiro Fujiyoshi was left helplessly exposed as De Vries swooped to tap the ball home from close range.
From that point SC Sagamihara set about the game at full throttle. Brazilian defender Assis Davisson set the tone with two crunching challenges on Fabrizio Tavano and Joao Moreira while Clayton Lewis was also on the end of meaty tackles in each half.
While the physical nature of the game was evident, it didn't completely detract from a fast-paced game that produced exciting moments.
One of the best saw Auckland City FC goalkeeper Enaut Zubikarai pull off a brilliant save midway through the second half when substitute Takayuki Noji hit a 35 metre flat dipping shot that swerved deceptively.
Zubikarai, who initially stepped left, had to quickly regain his bearings then dive right as he thumped the ball clear with an extended right arm.
Auckland City FC created plenty of promising opportunities going forward but were unable to find the quality of ball necessary to trouble Fujiyoshi.
The home side never stopped pursuing victory and threw on a new team while the Navy Blues turned to their own bench handing game time to Harry Edge, Reid Drake, Alfie Rogers, Mark Dordevic, Jacob Spoonley, Sean Cooper, Nicolai Berry and Emiliano Tade.
SC Sagamihara finished the match strongly but a lot of credit was due the visitors who had to survive a couple of anxious moments towards the end.
Assistant coach Ivan Vicelich was complimentary of the way the team performed in a tough game.
"It was very physical, very fast and I think we've played a team that, with respect, is a level above Hong Kong Rangers, which is exactly what we wanted.
AUDIO - Ivan Vicelich
"We wanted a team that was very quick and will be similar to what we face next week. So, all in all, this was a very good exercise.
"Collectively we played a lot better against a team that had a lot more possession than Hong Kong Rangers did. We had to defend in a few long periods which gets our players used to the next level up," he said.
What disappointed Vicelich was the way the Navy Blues allowed SC Sagamihara back into the game just before the halftime break.
"When we had the ball we kept it quite well and then we scored a goal. We're disappointed to have given away a bit of a soft goal in the end," he said.
While reluctant to single out any one particular player for praise in what was a tough shift, Vicelich did make mention of Enaut Zubikarai who made a match saving stop in the second half.
"I've been very impressed with Enaut since he came to the club he showed once again the quality he's got and the levels he's played at.
"He's capable of producing moments like that and we're lucky to have him with us. Its great for the defence and the team to have someone like Enaut behind them," he said.
The Navy Blues next match is the FIFA Club World Cup playoff with the J.League winners at Yokohama International Stadium on December 8.
The match kicks off at 7.30pm local time.
Urawa Red Diamonds face Kashima Antlers in the second leg of the J.League final tomorrow taking forward a 1-0 lead.
Vicelich believes the tie hangs very much in the balance.
"I watched the first leg and it was very even. Urawa Red Diamonds are favourites and they go into the game with a 1-0 advantage but from what I've seen Kashima Antlers have a chance - it could go either way," he said.
Friday 2 December, 2016
SC Sagamihara 1 (
Auckland City FC 1 (Ryan De Vries 17')
SC: Kaijiro Fujiyoshi (GK), Masaya Karikasawa, Bruno Cezar, Davisson Assis, Julien Gomes Rodriguez, Kim Yong Hwang, Ryo Iada, Yohei Sakai, Makaoto Hukoin, Jun Kim, Eliu Riton Marquez.
SUBS: Takayuki Noji, Taira Inoni, Shotaro Inona, Shun Tokoro, Kohei Hatori, Kyosuke Narita, Takahisha Kyahara, Noriyaki Ishigati, Shohei Mitsuhashi, Masa Thosi Ishida, Hideto Ozaki, Sotya Yauguche, Kuta Nakamura.
Coach: Sotaro Yasumaga
AC: Enaut Zubikarai (GK), Takuya Iwata, Dae Wook Kim, Angel Berlanga (c), Darren White; Mario Bilen, Albert Riera, Fabrizio Tavano; Clayton Lewis, Joao Moreira, Ryan De Vries.
SUBS: Jacob Spoonley (GK), Reid Drake, Sean Cooper, Marko Dordevic, Harry Edge, Emiliano Tade, Alfie Rogers, Nicolai Berry, Micah Lea'alafa.
Coach: Ramon Tribulietx
SUBS NOT USED: D Drake (GK), Vicelich.
UNAVAILABLE: Harshae Raniga.