Words: Nick Brown
Monday 10 September 2018
Picture: Marc Peretic Wilson
AUCKLAND CITY FC enjoyed their first day of pre-season work at Auckland Grammar yesterday and this morning club stalwart Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi spoke exclusively to www.aucklandcityfc.com.
In the first one-to-one interview since the end of last season, Hudson-Wihongi discussed the first hit-out of the new campaign how training went and the demands placed on the Navy Blues as they attempt to bring success back to the club.
The All Whites international also admits he was excited and thrilled to regroup with the squad on Sunday morning and that he can’t wait to meet up with the rest of the Auckland City FC squad as they filter back from their winter clubs.
He said: "The mood in the team is good, the standard was very good for a first session back in and everybody needs to get used to each other again and play the way that Ramon wants to play. We had a few new signings and they seem to be raring to go.
"We have some new faces in the group that will help boost the squad and no doubt improve us and help get us some goals.”
ISPS HANDA PREMIERSHIP FIXTURES IN FULL 2018-19 #NavyBlues set for Charity Cup opener— Auckland City FC (@AucklandCity_FC) September 10, 2018
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Hudson-Wihongi knows that one of his key tasks this season will be to help the club retain their ISPS Handa Premiership title and win back the OFC Champions League trophy snatched from the Navy Blues' grasp at the end of last season.
He added: “We're very excited about the new season and a lot of teams have recruited well so we are going to have to be at the top of our game to compete and win the league again and hopefully win the Champions League back. Last year was a disappointing way to end the season losing that Champions League semi-final if it had gone on a couple of minutes longer I think we could have pinched it. But at the end of the day we didn’t so we are looking to bounce back and if we achieve our objectives then we get to go back to the FIFA Club World Cup."
Standing between Auckland City FC and success are some familiar faces and Hudson-Wihongi opts for the obvious when he assesses who the teams to watch out for will be.
"Team Wellington are going to be a big rivalry for us again and you can't look past Eastern Suburbs. I know a few of the young boys Callum McCowatt, Dalton Wilkins and Owen Parker-Price have gone down the road and they'll have a strong squad," he said.
At the back of his mind, though, are hopes of staying involved with the All Whites under new coach Fritz Schmid.
"The team goals are pretty much the same as my individual goals but also I want to make the All Whites and be a more regular starter with them."
Sun 30 Sep 2018, Auckland Grammar, 11.30am