Words: ACFC Media
Friday 2 February 2018
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC coach Ramon Tribulietx reckons his team's clash with Team Wellington is the biggest of the season - but thinks there are still twists and turns to come.
The Navy Blues lead the ISPS Handa Premiership minor title race by just one point headed into Sunday's Sky Sport televised encounter with both teams in dominant form.
"This is the biggest game in the ISPS Handa Premiership for us but we have played many games like this in the past and I that experience helps the players relax in the right way than perhaps in previous years.
"This will be a very tough game and we need to settle quickly and make sure we're as competitive as possible. The two teams know each other very well but Team Wellington they have a few new players at the moment which gives them a different flair.
"Every game is always different, it provides different situations that you need to manage well and there are moments that happen in matches you don't expect and you must wait and see what takes place on the day," Tribulietx told www.aucklandcityfc.com
Three away wins on the bounce five goals for and none against make for impressive reading for Tribulietx's side while counterpart Jose Figueira is on a high after his appointment as All Whites assistant coach and U-17 head coach.
Figueira's Team Wellington have won three, drawn one and lost one of their last five games and picked up compelling transfer window signings in Hamish Watson, Ross Allen, Kyung-Dong Kim, Liam Wood and Daniel Mulholland.
"Jose has brought his personality to his team and they remain as competitive as ever. Team Wellington are a tough opponent, a physical team and strong on the counter attack and with set pieces.
"Nothing is decided after Sunday's game - there are more games after that and both teams have difficult encounters to negotiate in the run-up to the end of the season.
"Nothing is definite before and nothing will be definite after. Auckland City FC-Team Wellington games are always very tight regardless of circumstances. Both teams understand the type of pressure that comes with a game like this," he added.
Team Wellington won 3-1 in the first clash between the two sides on October 15 with goals via Scott Hilliar, Joel Stevens and an own goal. Kris Bright had earlier given the Navy Blues the lead.
Sunday's game is the 40th clash between the teams in the ISPS Handa Premiership with Auckland City FC boasting 26 wins, Team Wellington 9 with four draws.
The teams have met seven times in non-ISPS Handa Premiership cup finals including four Charity Cup games and three OFC Champions League finals including two one-off finals and last season's two-legged final.
Auckland City FC and Team Wellington have won two Charity Cup each with the Navy Blues snaring all three OFC titles contested between the pair.
Injuries continue to dog Dan Morgan, Kris Bright and Owen Parker-Price while Darren White is expected to be available for the match after a minor niggle. New signing Cole Peverley is not expected to be available until after February 11.
The match kicks off at 4.35pm at Kiwitea Street on Sunday 4 February 2018.
ISPS Handa Premiership
Sunday 4 February 2018
Auckland City FC v Team Wellington
Kiwitea Street, Sandringham
Kick-off: 4.35pm NZST
AC (from): Zubikarai (GK), Raniga, Iwata, White, Rogers, Bilen, Berlanga (c), Hudson-Wihongi, Wilkins, Howieson, Riera, Tavano, Tade, McCowatt, Lea'alafa, Burfoot, Dordevic, H Edge, R Drake, Graham, Tracey (GK).
Coach: Ramon Tribulietx
Sun 24 February 2019, Honiara, Solomon Islands,3pm NZST