Words: Terry Maddaford
Tuesday 29 September 2009
Picture: Phototek NZ
Auckland City coach Paul Posa already has his eyes set on a return to the United Arab Emirates.
In a brief speech to thank their Dubai hosts yesterday, Posa said hopes to be back in 12 months time for another crack at Fifa’s Club World Cup.
Posa was speaking after Auckland City’s players, coaches and staff took time out from their build-up to next week’s Club World Cup to play a small part in United Arab Emirates National Day celebrations.
After a 75-minute training session which pleased Posa with both its intensity and continuing improvement as his players gradually recover from the testing flight, the City party were guests of their hosts, the Al-Nasr Sports Club.
The players and staff were introduced to the club whose president presented Posa with an impressive silver memento to mark their visit and thanked them for choosing to use their facilities. A group of school children then sang the UAE National Anthem in honour of their visitors.
The Al-Nasr SC, founded in 1945, pre-dates the unification of the Emirates which yesterday marked the 38th anniversary.
“It is good for us to learn about your country,” said Posa in acknowledging the club’s efforts. “I hope if we do return it is the Al-Nasr club we are playing as UAE champions.”
The players trained in warm -- but not oppressive -- conditions yesterday although James Pritchett made the point that it was fine for those standing around watching. “Get out there and do some sprints and see how hot it is,” he quipped.
The warm, sunny conditions enjoyed by the players were in stark contrast to what some of the party experienced later in the day on a trip to the super impressive Emirates Mall.
While the equally stunning Dubai Mall, visited a day earlier, had a massive aquarium as its centre-piece and feature, yesterday’s stand out was the indoor ski slope.
A massive facility attracting hundreds of willing skiers, it was gob-smacking with its chairlifts, learners slopes and a ski field which stretched out of sight.
And, for those looking for a place to sit and have a quiet drink (of the alcohol variety), while watching some very accomplished skiers fly down the slopes, the adjacent bar offers a haven in a city of 1.4million which obviously does not encourage drinking. Only in hotel bars, and only after 6pm, is alcohol served and those keen on a drink have to be prepared to mingle with smokers who have unrestricted access in bars but not in other indoor public areas.
On a more serious note, given the business at hand, Posa has named his team for today’s game with second division Ahli Al Fujairah. The match, which kicks-off at 2am Friday morning (NZ time) is Posa’s last chance to consider his options before settling on a starting X1 for the CWC game in Abu Dhabi.
But, he insists, this game is not a trial rather the chance to give his players much-needed game time.
“I would rather not consider it as a trial but if someone does not perform, the option to make changes is there,” said Posa. “This game is more about giving the players the chance to see little things like the different way the ball can bounce in these conditions and how it flys through the air in what are very dry conditions.”
There are few surprises in the X1 who will start today’s game. While Grant Young and Alex Feneridis still remain doubtful, Posa is hoping most, if not all, players will see some game time.
The staring X1 will be, Jacob Spoonley, James Pritchett, Ian Hogg, Greg Uhlmann, Ivan Vicelich, Ki-Hyung Lee, Adam McGeorge, Matt Williams, Chad Coombes, Daniel Kopricvic and Adam Dickinson.
Paul Gothard will play the second half in goal with the other players all expected to see some action.
Sun 29 Nov 2020, Kiwitea Street, Kick-off: 2pm