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Navy Blues respectful of Madang

Words: ACFC Media

Tuesday 27 February 2018

Picture: Phototek

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - The Navy Blues are hoping to make it two from two tomorrow when they take on understrength Madang at the Trusts Arena.

Auckland City FC wants an early progression to the knockout stages but are wary of the struggling Madang side despite their well-dcoumented off-pitch struggles.

After the match on Sunday, Auckland City FC coach, Ramon Tribulietx told that he was well aware of the attacking presence Madang currently possess.

“They’ve got some very skillful players, especially in the front line, very attack-minded players, physically small, but technically very good, very fast.”

“It’s going to be different game, they’ll probably be a little more focused on getting into forward areas, and will be capitalizing on counter attacks a lot more," Tribulietx said.

On the other hand, the side from Papua New Guinea will be looking to make a statement, coming off the back of a 3-1 loss to Lautoka on Sunday.

Madang qualified for the tournament after finishing runners-up in last season’s Papua New Guinea National Soccer League but the Maurie Wasi-coached side have struggled off the pitch for coherence.

Just 12 players have made the journey to Auckland for the competition due to visa complications and Wasi has his work cut out to make Madang competitive against a Navy Blues team on a roll.

Despite the choas behind the scenes, Wasi, was proud of the energy and commitment levels of his players but conceded the loss to Lautoka was not unexpected.

“Look, we knew coming into the first game it would be hard,” Wasi said.

“It’s more about managing the team more than anything else so we have enough players on the park to finish the game, but in saying that we don’t want to make any excuses.

"Lautoka were the better team. They scored three, we scored one and in that context they deserved to win the game.

Wasi was forced to play outfielder Vanya Malagian in goal and the stand-in performed well with some key early saves.

He was eventually beaten in the 21st minute by Benji Totori who extended his tally as the competition’s all-time top scorer with his 23rd goal, thanks to a deft flick-on by Osea Vakatelsau.

Totori turned provider in the 32nd minute with fellow import Cory Chettleburgh doubling Lautoka’s advantage. 

They are making their second appearance at the OFC Champions League, with former Waitakere United forward, Mauri Wasi taking the reigns as head coach.

The Navy Blues have never lost to a team from Papua New Guinea in six previous matches with five wins and a draw in a record that stretches back to Auckland City FC's debut in Oceania's top tier club competition in 2005. 

The pair will square up tomorrow at the Trusts Arena, where a win for the Navy Blues will confirm their place in the knockout stages.

A loss for Madang could confirm an early exit from the tournament.

The match kicks off at 4pm on the 28th February, at the Trusts Arena.

Entry into the OFC Champions League Group C matches at Trusts Arena is free.


Match Details
OFC Champions League
Wednesday 28 February 2018
Auckland City FC v Madang
Trusts Arena, Auckland
Kick-off: 4pm NZST


AUC (from): 1. Enaut Zubikarai (GK), 2. Liam Graham, 5. Angel Berlanga (c), 6. Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi, 7. Cam Howieson, 9. Darren White, 12. Kris Bright, 13. Alfie Rogers, 14. Cole Peverley, 15. Daniel Morgan, 17. Reid Drake, 19. Micah Lea'alafa, 20. Emiliano Tade, 21. Harry Edge, 24. Conor Tracey (GK), 25. Owen Parker-Price, 26. Callum McCowatt, 27. Dalton Wilkins.

Coach: Ramon Tribulietx

Omitted: 3. Takuya Iwata, 4. Mario Bilen, 8. Albert Riera, 23. Marko Dordevic, 11. Fabrizio Tavano, 16. Harshae Raniga, 28. Sam Burfoot.

MDG (from): 1. Vanya MALAGIAN (GK), 3. Abel REDNUT, 4. Darren POLLY, 5. Langarap SAMOL, 6. Samuel KINI (c), 7. Max SENGUM, 8. Michael FOSTER, 9. Maskulan PULUNG, 15. Hanson TOPIO, 16. Papalau AWELE, 18. Stahl GUBAG, 23. Solomon MAPAI.

Coach: Maurie WASI


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