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Comfortable win for Navy Blues

Words: ACFC Media

Wednesday 10 October 2018

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC wrapped up their pre-season preparations with a comfortable 4-0 friendly win over Waitakere United today.

Goals from Javier Lopez, Micah Lea'alafa, Thomas Drillien and Fabrizio Tavano guided Ramon Tribulietx's side to useful victory ahead of Sunday's ISPS Handa Premiership, Charity Cup clash with Team Wellington on Sunday.

The Navy Blues began the match at a furtive pace and carved Waitakere United open almost at will as the red and whites played a high line against a front three of Dylan Manickum, Lopez and Lea'alafa.

That high risk approach saw Lopez break clear after 14 minutes then finish tidily beyond former Auckland City FC goalkeeper Danyon Drake.

Lea'alafa doubled the lead five minutes later when he latched on to a superb pass from Tavano to tap into an empty net.

With the match threatening to slip from Waitakere United's grasp inside the first half, the visitors enjoyed the best spell of the match.

Oliver Bassett was in superb form and drew several saves from the returning Enaut Zubikarai while skipper Jake Butler and midfielder Sam Burfoot also contributed.

Auckland City FC went in at the break 2-0 up and Tribulietx rang in the changes with Thomas Drillien, James Green and Oscar Spragg getting game time.

Drillien capped his first team bow with a useful goal midway through the second half before substitute goalkeeper Silvio Rodic denied Tavano's free-kick with a good save with ten minutes to play.

Tavano had the last laugh just two minutes later when he scored from almost exactly the same place but with the help of a deflection to complete the win.

"We tried a few different things tonight in each half where we implemented some different movements across the pitch and it looked good.

"The players are understanding these new movements better and we also know that if we need to go back to our usual shape and approach then we can.

"There were very good moments in both halves and I'm very happy with the way we are merging into a new squad of players," Tribulietx told

One player to catch the eye was returning goalkeeper Enaut Zubikarai who arrived in New Zealand on Monday but looked as sharp as ever.

"Enaut is a very special goalkeeper and we should be proud to have a player of his standard at our club. He's managed to train well but if you watch him tonight he looks as if he's been playing for months.

"That's what Enaut brings and we have to be happy to have a player of his calibre with our group. He's delighted to be here with us you can see that in how he carries himself.

"There's a good relationship there with Enaut and it's important for the team," he said.

As for the decision to give youth it's chance Tribulietx made mention of Drillien who popped up with a goal.

"He's a very big boy but he can definitely play and you can see how well he holds up the ball. He secures possession most of the time and can be a platform. Thomas doesn't let anyone down but it's early days for him and the others like Oscar and James.

"The three of them did a decent job and it can be a test of nerves and personality but I think they did a pretty good job and its great to see them coming through," he said.

Auckland City FC's clash with Team Wellington kicks off at 4.35pm NZST at Kiwitea Street and is live on Sky Sport.


Match Result
Wednesday 10 October 2018
Auckland City FC 4 (Javier Lopez 14', Micah Lea'alafa 19', Thomas Drillien 66', Fabrizio Tavano 81')
Waitakere United 0
HT: 2-0

AC: Enaut Zubikarai (GK) (Ruben Parker (GK) 75'); Angel Berlanga (c) (Takuya Iwata 46'), Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi (Hayden McHenerey 46'), Dan Morgan (Reid Drake 46'), Dylan Manickum (Maro Bonsu-Maro 46'), David Browne (Alfie Rogers 46'), Fabrizio Tavano, Javier Lopez (Thomas Drillien 46'), Micah Lea'alafa (James Green 46'), Brian Kaltak (Oscar Spragg 46'), Mario Bilen (Cam Howieson 46').

Coach: Ramon Tribulietx

Pre-season results
v. Hamilton Wanderers (H) won 4-2 (Fabrizio Tavano 2, Dylan Manickum, Micah Lea'alafa)
v. Canterbury United (H) drew 0-0
v. Eastern Suburbs AFC (A) won 2-1 (Javier Lopez, Micah Lea'alafa)
v. Waitakere United (H) won 4-0 (Javier Lopez, Micah Lea'alafa, Thomas Drillien, Fabrizio Tavano)

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