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Albert Riera set to return

Words: ACFC Media

Friday 18 January 2019

Picture: Phototek

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Champions Auckland City FC are wary of wounded Hawke's Bay United as they hit the road in the latest round of ISPS Handa Premiership on Sunday.

Hawke's Bay United's bid to reach the playoffs looked reinvigorated prior to the festive break after a series of positive results including wins over Wellington Phoenix (4-1), Southern United (3-2) and Tasman United (4-2).

That recovery was blown off course last week when Canterbury United thrashed the Brett Angell-coached side 5-2 in Christchurch that left the Bay six points adrift of fourth placed Team Wellington.

With Hamilton Wanderers sitting one spot above them, Hawke's Bay must view Sunday's match as an opportunity to get their season back on track and produce a repeat of their sensational 2-1 win over Auckland City FC in February 2017 on the same pitch.

Coach Ramon Tribulietx watched footage of Hawke's Bay in their defeat at English Park and says they played well.

"Hawke's Bay have been very competitive this year and they've slightly changed their approach but they have a good team with very good players in there like Cory Chettleburgh.

"Cam Lindsay is a good midfielder who has matured and is playing good football and Maxime Olivieri who plays at the tip of their midfield is a very skilful very quick player who impresses me.

"Sam Mason-Smith is a proven goalscorer and suits the counter-attacking type of football Hawke's Bay use. They have a good squad and last week despite losing they looked pretty good.

"We played them in the first round and they are a difficult team who got a draw with Team Wellington. We understand we're in their conditions and if they want to get close to the playoffs they'll provide a very tough challenge," he said.

Injuries have been an issue for the Navy Blues coach but the good news for him is the possible return of Albert Riera. Riera has been missing since last season but looks set for a return in some capacity.

"It is likely Albert will travel with the squad to Napier and his recovery has taken more time than we hoped.

"Albert's knee reacted more than what we at first expected so we wanted to make sure his recovery was good.

"We're getting to a point where the season is getting tougher and he needs to start to be more involved.

"The positive aspect is that he doesn't feel any pain in the knee and he feels confident with it.

"The last couple of weeks have been good but we haven't made a final decision. We'll see how the game goes and maybe give him some game time," Tribulietx said.

The match kicks off at 4.35pm NZST on Sunday 20 January, 2019, and is live on Sky Sport.


Match Details
ISPS Handa Premiership
Sunday 20 January 2019
Hawke's Bay United v Auckland City FC
Bluewater Stadium, Napier
Kick-off: 4.35pm NZST
Live on Sky Sport


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. Cam HOWIESON, 8. Albert RIERA, 9. Javier LOPEZ, 10. Micah LEA'ALAFA, 11. Fabrizio TAVANO, 12. Dylan MANICKUM, 13. Patrick LUNDEMO, 14. Jordan VALE, 15. Dan MORGAN, 16. Yousif ALI, 17. Reid DRAKE, 18. Ruben PARKER (GK), 19. David BROWNE, 21. Maro BONSU-MARO, 23. Alfie ROGERS, 24. Cameron BROWN (GK).


INJURED: 20. Te Atawhai HUDSON-WIHONGI (calf), 22. Omar GUARDIOLA (hamstring).

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