Navy Blues eye Bay crunch

Words: ACFC Media

Friday 9 February 2018

Picture: Phototek

 AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Ramon Tribulietx expects nothing less than a tough match when Auckland City FC travel to Napier to face Hawke's Bay United at Bluewater Stadium on Sunday.

The Navy Blues have emerged from their recent fixture list with 10 points from a possible 12 having faced three of the top four teams in the chase for the minor premiership title and the OFC Champions League qualification that accompanies it.

Hawke's Bay United toppled the Navy Blues at the same venue last year with a late Sam Mason-Smith goal securing the points for the home team but coach Brett Angell has had a tougher time rediscovering the magic formula this season with a host of departures unsettling his squad.

Tribulietx, however, refuses to accept Hawke's Bay United are a softer touch as a result.

"Hawke's Bay United are always difficult to play because of the way they set themselves up tactically. Most times they have dropped very deep and narrowed the space inside and across both defence and midfield and for the way we play that makes our life difficult.

"Teams can always change and tweak their approach so we need to understand how to bypass that strategy.

"We have had some more games like that this season, Southern United are a very good example. We need a very good understanding of our own strategy with the ball and more importantly awareness of our positions and overall shape on the pitch," Tribulietx told

The last time the two teams met Auckland City FC thrashed Hawke's Bay United 5-0 with Emiliano Tade and Ryan De Vries each scoring two with Dan Morgan chipping in with a long range effort.

Since then De Vries has departed the club for professional football in Japan while Cole Peverley has been training with the Navy Blues since the turn of the year.

Peverley has had to stand down for an extended period since his transfer from Team Wellington but Tribulietx is pleased to have the former All Whites player in his ranks.

"Cole is trying to get his fitness back up and at the same time understand how we go about things tactically, he hasn't played for quite a while and we will have to see how we try to bring him into the team.

"He is a very experienced player in both the national league and the champions league, he is a very suited player to play our way, probably his best position is the centre back, where he is good on the ball, has a very good range of passing and is good in defence too, in the air and on the ground.

"We have lost Daewook Kim in the middle of the defence and I think Cole will give us a similar product to what Kim used to. He can also play in the middle of the park which is good. I always have an appreciation of players that are versatile and can play in different positions," he said.

Dan Morgan is still on the way back from injury but trained with the team on Thursday night while midfielder Owen Parker-Price continues rehab following a long spell on the sidelines. Kris Bright remains on the injured list.

There are two other ISPS Handa Premiership matches scheduled with Canterbury United away to Wellington Phoenix and Eastern Suburbs AFC hosting Tasman United in the Sky Sport televised match on Sunday at 4.35pm.

The OFC Champions League kicks off for Auckland City FC on 25 February at Trusts Arena when the defending champions take on Tahitian outfit AS Venus.

Sunday's match kicks off at 2pm in Napier.


Match Details
ISPS Handa Premiership
Sunday 11 February 2018
Hawke's Bay United v Auckland City FC
Bluewater Stadium, Napier
Kick-off: 2pm NZST

AC (from): Zubikarai (GK), Iwata, Peverley, Berlanga (c), Bilen, R Drake, Riera, Howieson, Hudson-Wihongi, Wilkins, Burfoot, McCowatt, Tade, Bright, Tracey (GK), Tavano, Dordevic, Raniga, White, H Edge, Graham, Rogers, Lea'alafa, Morgan, Parker-Price, Brown (GK).

Coach: Ramon Tribulietx

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