Words: ACFC Media
Friday 2 March 2018
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC's fate is in their own hands as they try to beat Lautoka and claim a home quarter-final in the OFC Champions League on Saturday afternoon.
Both sides currently obtain a 100 percent record in the group, with Lautoka beating both Madang (3-1) and AS Vénus (2-1) in their previous matches.
Auckland City FC coach, Ramon Tribulietx told www.aucklandcityfc.com Lautoka are very dangerous on the counter-attack and could pose as a huge threat to the Navy Blues defense.
“From what I’ve seen, their best situation to hurt us is from the counter attack.”
“They’ve got some very good players, dangerous players up front and we need to be aware of that.”
“[Benjamin] Totori is one of the best players of the last decade in the Oceania region, he is someone who can dribble through two or three players and score fantastic goals.”
Going into the match, Tribulietx is wary of his side playing three games in the space of six days, and told OFC Media, it’s about freshening up and concentrating for the next game.
“We need to recover from the game against Madang, and we are aware both teams won’t be at their best, but we will try to freshen up, try to concentrate, and play another good game on Saturday.”
The Navy Blues have their own heavy weaponry when it comes to scoring goals in Emiliano Tade.
The 30-year-old striker notched his 100th goal for the club in the midweek dismantling of Madang FC on Wednesday and will be keen to add to his tally.
No Fijian side has ever beaten the Navy Blues in this competition, with Nokia Eagles (9-1), Ba (7-1) and Suva (3-0) all previously falling to the might of Auckland City FC in past OFC Champions League competitions.
Lautoka’s record in the OFC Champions League showcases a run of 14 matches, eight wins, two draws and three losses.
Throughout their OFC Champions League record, the baby blues (Lautoka) have only managed to keep three clean sheets.
Lautoka qualified for the tournament after going through the Fiji National Football League undefeated in 2017.
The winner of the match will also have the luxury of playing their quarterfinal match at home.
Both sides have already qualified for the last eight, alongside Nalkutan (Vanuatu) and Lae City Dwellers (Papua New Guinea) from Group A and AS Dragon (Tahiti) and Solomon Warriors (Solomon Islands) from Group B.
In Group D, it’s all to play for in match day three, as Team Wellington and New Caledonian side, AS Magenta are currently equal with four points each, while Solomon Islands side, Marist can still go through if they’re to win against already eliminated Samoan side, Lupe o le Soaga.
The match kicks off at 4pm on the 3rd March, at the Trusts Arena.
Entry to the OFC Champions League Group C matches at Trusts Arena is free.
OFC Champions League
Saturday 3 March 2018
Auckland City FC v Lautoka
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.
LAU (from): 1. Senirusi Bokini (GK), 2. Edward Justin, 5. Poasa Bainivalu, 6. Jone Vesikula, 7. Dave Radirigai, 8. Kavaia Rawaqa, 9. Leisari Qalica, 10. Cory Chettleburgh, 11. Praneel Naidu, 12. Laitia Tuilau, 14. Samuela Drudru, 16. Osea Vakatalesau, 17. Kolinio Sivoki, 18. Arami Manumanubai, 19. Benjamin Totori, 20. Brian Kaltack, 22. Beniamino Mateinaqara (GK).
Coach: Kamal Swamy
Sunday 4 December 2022, Wellington Olympic, Mount Smart Stadium