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Navy Blues set for Oceania title tilt

Words: ACFC Media / OFC Media

Friday 10 March 2017

Picture: Phototek

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - The Navy Blues chase for their seventh consecutive OFC Champions League starts at Centre Park, Mangere, when they take on Western United of the Solomon Islands.

With six consecutive OFC Champions League titles under their belt, Auckland City FC are eager to add a seventh, but coach Ramon Tribulietx is approaching the competition one match at the time which means preparing for a tough challenge against Western United’s unique style of football.

“We’ve been competing a lot lately so we’ve got a good reading and are feeling good playing our football but now we’ve got to switch from the New Zealand football style to what’s coming up tomorrow,” he said.

“They’re a very skilful team that you can’t take lightly because if you start the game a little bit under, they have the quality to kill you in one transition.

“Playing a team tomorrow like Western United, full of very good players, a very skilful team, it’s going to be difficult but I think in regards to how we’re playing, we’re in a good moment. We’ve just got to make sure we compete well tomorrow.”

Auckland City FC's record against clubs from the Solomon Islands is excellent with their worst result a 2-2 draw with Koloale in the OFC Champions League final second leg back in 2009.

But with players like James Naka, Henry Fa'arodo and Benjamin Totori in their ranks, Western United will be no easybeats.

The Solomon contenders were dominated by the Navy Blues 3-0 when the two club sides last met in the 2015 OFC Champions League, but Western United coach Commins Menapi is determined and confident that his side will prove a more competitive opponent in their 4pm rematch.

“So far everything is good and the boys are looking forward to the first game,” Menapi said.

“We know that this is their home ground which will make it more difficult for us but we will try to do everything possible to win. We need to keep a strong mind-set and good concentration.

“Auckland will be a good team to play and we want to go out there and enjoy the game and give everything.”

In the day's other match, Vanuatu’s Malampa Revivors will meet Papua New Guinea’s Lae City Dwellers at 1pm.

Ends

Extra Information:

Western United vs. Auckland City FC
Mangere Centre Park
Auckland, New Zealand
Saturday 11 March
Kick-off: 16h00
#OFCCL #WSTAUC

Western United [SOL]

Vital Statistics: Western United’s last appearance in the OFC Champions League was in 2015 where the side finished bottom of their group after losses to New Zealand’s Auckland City FC, Vanuatu’s Amicale FC, and Fiji’s Suva FC. The club fell short of qualification in 2016 but have high hopes of redemption in the 2017 edition.

The Players: Benjamin Totori is among the horde of national team players taking the field for Western United at the OFC Champions League. Totori contributed to Solomon Islands qualification into the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ - OFC Stage 3 qualifiers with his dominant performance up front at the 2016 OFC Nations Cup in Port Moresby last May.

Coach Quote: “Playing Auckland City is a big deal for the boys. We know that Auckland City are the team to beat so we are fully focused on that game and everything is going well at the moment.”

Western United: 1. Fabrizio PRATTICO (GK), 2. Aleck WICKHAM, 3. George KAKAI, 4. Cecil BURU, 5. Freddie KINI, 6. Matson FENI, 7. Paul WALE, 8. Henry FAARODO, 9. Benjamin TOTORI, 10. Atana FAARODO, 11. Joachim WAROI, 12. Anderson DOEDOKE, 13. James NAKA, 14. Moffat KILIFA, 15. Brian PETER, 16. Gagame FENI, 17. Nelson SALE, 18. Nicholas TARAITO, 19. Lenson BISILI, 20. Anthony TALO (GK), 21. Abraham MAEZAMA, 22. Joses NAWO, 23. Molis GAGAME

Coach: Commins MENAPI (SOL)

Auckland City FC [NZL]

Vital Statistics: New Zealand’s Auckland City FC have won a total of eight OFC Champions League competitions and will be battling for their seventh consecutive title in the 2017 edition.

The Players: Clayton Lewis will be a player to mark throughout the Group Stage, with his international experience giving the 20-year-old a mature outlook on the game and his agility and accuracy making him hard to catch in the midfield. The All White has represented New Zealand throughout the age groups, recently participating in the 2016 OFC U-20 Championship, the 2016 OFC Nations Cup, and the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ OFC Stage 3 Qualifiers, and he recently represented the region with Auckland City FC at the 2016 FIFA World Club Cup.

Coach Quote: “Playing a team tomorrow like Western United, full of very good players, a very skilful team, it’s going to be difficult but I think in regards to how we’re playing, we’re in a good moment. We’ve just got to make sure we compete well tomorrow.”

Auckland City FC: 1. Enaut ZUBIKARAI (GK), 2. Harshae RANIGA, 3. Takuya IWATA, 4. Mario BILEN, 5. Angel BERLANGA, 6. Cameron HOWIESON, 7. Reid DRAKE, 8. Albert RIERA, 9. Darren WHITE, 10. Ryan DE VRIES, 11. Fabrizio TAVANO, 13. Alfie ROGERS, 14. Clayton LEWIS, 15. Mario ILICH, 16. Daewook KIM, 18. Danyon DRAKE (GK), 19. Micah LEA’ALAFA, 20. Emiliano TADE, 21. Harry EDGE, 22. Abdullah AL-KALISY, 23. Marko DORDEVIC, 24. Jacob SPOONLEY (GK)

Coach: Ramon Tribulietx (ESP)

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