Words: ACFC Media
Wednesday 6 December 2017
AL AIN, UAE - Play this game as if its your last - those are the words of Navy Blues forward Fabrizio Tavano.
Now in his second spell with Auckland City FC after a short stint in Mexican football with Tigres de la UANL in 2015, Tavano is loving life with the Oceania champions and the chance of another shot at FIFA Club World Cup glory.
"Its always nice to be back at a Club World Cup and to be part of Auckland City FC is something special. We're always trying to do better than we did in previous editions of the tournament and for us it is vital to get past the first game.
"We know the first game is always the most important game and we will be giving more than 100 percent to win it. We will see what happens from there," he said.
Tavano is no stranger to the ups and downs of the FIFA Club World Cup having been a key figure in the Navy Blues run to a bronze medal win over Cruz Azul in the third place match in Morocco three years ago.
The 24-year-old played as a centre forward for the Navy Blues following the injury to star striker Joao Moreira during that tournament and shone brightly as the Kiwi club pushed all-comers close.
Tavano doesn't get carried away by those past successes and says the key to putting together a winning start is purely down to focus.
"I don't think about what happens in the FIFA Club World Cup outside of the first game. The other possibilities don't come to my mind. I just focus on the playing the first game as if it will be the last game I ever play in my life.
"If we get a good result against Al Jazira, ok, then we look at what happens next. At the moment there is no other team, no other game, only Al Jazira," he said.
Life on the road with a club that plays most of its biggest games away from home means a lot of downtime and Tavano likes to escape from the pressures of football by indulging his love of American Football.
"Its not easy being in camp all day everyday with training and meetings so you need to have other things to interest you.
V-BYTE Head coach Ramon Tribulietx sends out a message to the fans and club supporters back in Auckland #NavyBlues #ClubWC #StrengthInUnity #Auckland #NewZealand #OceaniaCL #ISPSHandaPrem pic.twitter.com/TtelHNPJLk— Auckland City FC (@AucklandCity_FC) December 5, 2017
"My room-mate is Liam Graham and to pass the time we throw around an American Football or play Madden NFL on the Playstation or we'll go and visit other team-mates in their rooms. We always spend time together as a squad and have a laugh together - our team spirit is great.
"I watched my first NFL game in 2004 with my father in Mexico. It was The Patriots against The Panthers in the Super Bowl final. I said to my father whoever wins this game will be my team the one I'll support. The Patriots won by a lot of points so from then they were my team.
"I started watching and liking NFL and buying the shirts. I still watch the NFL every Monday night on ESPN in New Zealand," he said.
While talking American Football gives Tavano the chance to express himself passionately about a sport other than football, he returns to his game face when pushed on the subject of Al Jazira.
"They're a very difficult team because they have won the UAE league title so they deserve to be at the Club World Cup.
"They have very good players and a very different type of style to teams we play in our domestic league or even teams we've played in the Club World Cup before.
"Like I said before, we need to be focused and play them as if this is going to be the last game we ever play in our lives," he said.
The match with Al Jazira kicks off at 9pm local time on Wednesday 6 December 2017.
FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017
Wednesday 6 December / Thursday 7 December
Al Jazira (UAE) v Auckland City FC (NZL)
Hazza Bin Zayed StadiumAl Ain City (UAE)
Kick-off: 9pm local time / 6am NZST
Sun 30 Sep 2018, Auckland Grammar, 11.30am