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Mystery men pose challenge

Words: ACFC Media

Thursday 18 October 2018

Picture: Phototek

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC can expect the unexpected when Tasman United pay a visit to Kiwitea Street on Sunday.

United, who released Davor Tavich as head coach, are led by former Wellington Phoenix Academy director Andy Hedge and could get an extra bounce as they head north to take on the defending champions.

Auckland City FC are in good condition after last Sunday's thrilling 4-3 Charity Cup win over Team Wellington in the ISPS Handa Premiership season opener but coach Ramon Tribulietx feels the Navy Blues may have to do it all over again against Tasman United.

While the Navy Blues and Team Wellington got their campaign underway a week earlier than everyone else, Tasman United are an opponent who remain very much under wraps according to Tribulietx.

"There are a lot of questions mark in there and they have a new coach in Andy Hedge whom we've come up against before so there is also a wait-and-see as to how they set themselves up under him at Kiwitea Street.

"They've got new players, a lot of them from overseas, and Jordan Young is there and he looks like a handful in the middle of the park and we're trying to learn as much as we can about what they are doing and how these players are affecting the game.

"Being this is the first game for them and not unable to see anything of them we'll have to focus on ourselves and keep improving on what we did last Sunday but there's a lot of things to work on," Tribulietx told

The Navy Blues will be without Albert Riera and Fabrizio Tavano due to injury and suspension but there are no concerns for new striker Javier Lopez Iglesias who came off with a couple of minutes left in last week's victory.

"Javier is fine, he's been training well but he was a bit tired towards the end of the match last week as it was his first 90 minutes he had played.

"We've had a lot of new players arrive and we haven't been able to give everyone as much pitch time as we would like. It was a great effort by everyone and by the end of last week's match everyone was feeling it but we survived and it was good to see the team was prepared to suffer together," he said.

Tasman United have lost their last three our of four matches against Auckland City FC though they did pick up three unexpected bonus points after last December's encounter was awarded to the southerners after the Navy Blues fielded Micah Lea'alafa who was deemed ineligible by New Zealand Football.

The frustrations of that administrative faux pas aside, Tasman United have run the Navy Blues close twice, once a narrow 1-0 defeat courtesy of an own goal by Daniel Allan, the second a last gasp 1-1 draw sealed in Nelson.

It's clear Tribulietx and his team have a healthy respect for United and what lies in wait on Sunday but in many ways he says the pressure is off the visitors which could make them a tricky task.

"Tasman United will be fresh. It's different to playing them halfway through the season when they could either be near the bottom or challenging for the top - in those cases there can be a lot more emotions involved in the game.

"This is their first game for their new players under a new coach and they will want to make a big impression and that makes Tasman United a very dangerous rival.

"We need to be prepared for a tough game. In some respects we enter this match blindfolded because we don't know much about Tasman United but we will be prepared for the challenge ahead of us," he said.

Sunday's match also marks five years to the day since Navy Blues legend Keryn Jordan passed away from cancer in his native South Africa.

The match kicks off at Kiwitea Street on Sunday 21 October 2018 at 2pm NZST.

Highlights of the match will be available via ACFC TV the following day.


Match Details
ISPS Handa Premiership
Sunday 21 October 2018
Auckland City FC v Tasman United
Kiwitea Street, Auckland
Kick-off: 2pm NZST

AC (squad chosen from): 1. Enaut Zubikarai (GK), 2. Hayden McHenery, 3. Takuya Iwata, 4. Mario Bilen, 5. Angel Berlanga (c), 6. Brian Kaltak, 7. Cameron Howieson, 9. Javier Lopez, 10. Micah Lea’alafa, 12. Dylan Manickum, 14. Jordan Vale, 15. Daniel Morgan, 16. Yousif Ali, 17. Reid Drake, 18. Ruben Parker (GK), 19. David Browne, 20.Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi, 21. Maro Bonsu-Maro, 23. Alfie Rogers.

Coach: Ramon Tribulietx

Injured: 8. Albert Riera

Suspended: 11. Fabrizio Tavano

Recent results
v Tasman United (A) won 1-0 (Callum McCowatt)
v Tasman United (H) lost 0-3*
v Tasman United (A) drew 1-1 (own goal)
v Tasman United (H) won 4-0 (Emiliano Tade, Joao Moreira, Darren White, Ryan De Vries)

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