Words: ACFC Media
Sunday 8 April 2018
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC reached the OFC Champions league semi-finals after a 2-0 win over Solomon Warriors at Kiwitea Street today.
A goal in each half from Emiliano Tade and Micah Lea'alafa - who scored against his former club - were enough to deny the Warriors their first semi-final appearance despite a spirited performance filled with discipline and attacking intent.
Such was the quality of the Warriors play they forced three quality saves from goalkeeper Enaut Zubikarai, the first a one-on-one with Kensi Tangis, another from substitute Molia Tigi, but the best by far was from a powerful long range shot from John Alick midway through the second half.
The win means Auckland City FC face a Champions League re-match with Team Wellington for the fourth season in a row albeit in the last four rather than the final.
The pair last met most recently in the ISPS Handa Premiership grand final two weeks ago with the Navy Blues reversing the recent trend between the two teams by edging the Jose Figueira-coached side 1-0.
Ramon Tribulietx was pleased with the hard-earned win against a team he knows very well from his time with the Solomon Islands Football Federation.
Tribulietx believed his side had done enough to recover from the mental exploits of winning a domestic title last week and secure progression against a team he respects.
“It was going to be tough because of a number of things. Coming back from last week the mental side of things might not have been at the best and maybe the energy levels weren’t as high but we tried to play a good game in the circumstances and we competed well.
“We played a very good team – Solomon Warriors have some very difficult players to cope with in transition. When we try to keep the ball that’s when some of these teams can hurt you on the counter. And they had two or three very good chances to be fair to them. They’re a very good side and we’re very happy with the result.”
He said the club would quickly refocus on what will be a repeat of the last three OFC Champions League finals.
“It’s a different format. A one-off game like this can be very dangerous. It’s a 180 minute semi-final which makes things a little different. We know them very well and they know us very well. We’ll look to recover then prepare for a very tough semi-final."
OFC Champions League 1/4 Final
Sunday 8 April 2018
Auckland City FC 2 (Emiliano Tade 20', Micah Lea'alafa 57')
AC: Zubikarai (GK), White, Morgan (Rogers 67'), Berlanga (c), Hudson-Wihongi, Howieson, R Drake, Peverley, Tade (Wilkins 90+3'), Lea'alafa (Bright 85'), McCowatt.
Subs not used: Tracey (GK), Graham, Raniga, Parker-Price.