ACFC TV - Berlanga: "An opportunity you have to take"

Words: ACFC Media

Thursday 26 January 2017

HONG KONG - Auckland City FC captain Angel Berlanga says playing in the Nike Lunar New Year Cup was an opportunity too good to turn down.

The withdrawal of Australia’s U-23 team from the Hong Kong tournament led to a late invitation to Auckland City that Berlanga says generated a lot of buzz amongst the players.

“It was unexpected,” said Berlanga. “We found out about 10 days ago and when we heard there was a lot of excitement in the changing room because it is an opportunity to play against some of the best teams in Asia. It’s an opportunity you have to take.”

While host club Kitchee SC and Thailand’s SCG Muangthong United will present difficult challenges in their own right, South Korean champions FC Seoul come into the annual event with the highest pedigree. Berlanga is predicting a tough encounter but can sense a potential opening.

“I think they could be quite similar to the game we played in Japan at the Club World Cup. The standard is so high in the K-League so we need to step up to play them.”

“The style will probably be the same but we also know that they are in pre-season so they might not be at their best. Maybe we have a bigger chance this time.”

The Navy Blues arrived in Hong Kong off the back of a frustrating fortnight in which they dropped points against both Tasman United and Canterbury United in their quest for another domestic title – a quest that will resume with a flurry of fixtures upon the team’s return to New Zealand 

“The last couple of weeks have been a bit disappointing because we gave away goals in the last five minutes of each game.

“We lost four points that were really important for us but that’s life and we have to continue and when we come back we have to play even harder to get the points and catch up with the other teams.”

“It’s going to be hard but there’s going to be plenty of opportunities for all of the players. Some young players will get the chance to step in and do a big job for the team.” 

The match against FC Seoul kicks off at 8pm NZDT on Saturday – the first day of Lunar New Year celebrations – and will be live streamed at www.on.cc  

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