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VIDEO PREVIEW: We must respect Tupapa

Words: ACFC Media

Wednesday 27 February 2019

Picture: Phototek

HONIARA, Solomon Islands - Auckland City FC will show Tupapa Maraerenga every respect as the Navy Blues prepare to take on Cook Islands opposition in the OFC Champions League for the first time on Wednesday.

The Cook Islanders won the OFC Champions League preliminary tournament with a 100 percent record but hit the ground with a thud after they were taken apart by Solomon Warriors 10-1 in their opening Group D match on Sunday.

The Navy Blues won theirs 2-1 over AS Magenta and can extend their unbeaten run in the competition to 26 matches if they can power past the group minnows, just one game short of equalling their own competition record of 27 set between 2008 and 2012.

Coach Ramon Tribulietx has experienced awkward ties like this before with his team beating AS Mont Dore 12-2 at Kiwitea Street in 2013 and thumping Malampa Revivors 11-0 in 2016. But he says it's vital to treat these type of matches with care and respect.

VIDEO PREVIEW - Tupapa Maraerenga v Auckland City FC

"The first thing we need is to respect Tupapa Maraerenga. The opening result shows the two levels of the respective clubs, that's the reality but we must keep our feet on the ground.

"Respect is important in life and we will show respect to Tupapa Maraerenga. Sometimes these games become tricky. They lost heavily in the first game which can increase motivation for the next.

"We could face a more motivated team that will sit deep and those games can become difficult to open up and difficult to create chances in," he said.

The Navy Blues have coped with a heavy fixture schedule by rotating their squad carefully and Tribulietx says it would make sense to do so given how big the game with Solomon Warriors is on Saturday but what that rotation looks like has not yet been decided.

"We're assessing the squad and we'll look to rotate the team in some areas.

"We have another game to play on Saturday and we have a strong squad capable of taking on three or four changes and still playing to a high level.

"We are capable of making different adjustments to give us a different flair and so we'll consider how we want to play in order to compete well and put fresh players on the pitch.

"Our only target is to make sure we qualify for the next round - records aren't a factor for us.

"Playing in Oceania is difficult and the Magenta game showed that.

"In the first half we dominated that game and looked comfortable and created good chances but after the first 15 minutes of the second half our energy levels dropped off and it made our life very hard.

"The game changed in some respects at that point. We had 68 percent possession which is the average for us in most games but in the final 15 minutes the possession became 50-50 and we struggled physically.

"Some players couldn't get out of third gear. People can tell you how hard it is to play in the islands but until you do it yourself it's difficult to understand just how tough it is on the body," he said.

One player who was substituted out of Sunday's match was Micah Lea'alafa. Lea'alafa has been in top form this season but was withdrawn as a precaution in the first match. Tribulietx says there are no red flags hovering over the Solomon Islands international.

"We've got another day to prepare and we'll see what we do with regards to Micah. Micah isn't injured but he just had some tightness.

"Micah is from the Solomon Islands but it was a ten hour flight to Honiara and he's been in New Zealand a long time so in coming home he is very much like one of the Kiwis - he's had to adapt again," he said.

The match with Tupapa Maraerenga is scheduled for Wednesday 27 February 2019 and kicks off at 3pm NZST.

The match is live streamed from Honiara via

The live link will be posted to and on all official club social media platforms.


Match Details
OFC Champions League - Group D
Wednesday 27 February 2019
Auckland City FC v Tupapa Maraerenga
Lawson Tama Stadium, Honiara
Kick-off: 3pm NZST

AC (chosen from): 1. Enaut ZUBIKARAI (GK), 2. Jackson WOODS, 3. Thomas DRILLIEN, 5. Angel BERLANGA (c), 7. Cam HOWIESON, 8. Albert RIERA, 10. Micah LEA'ALAFA, 11. Fabrizio TAVANO, 12. Dylan MANICKUM, 14. Jordan VALE, 15. Dan MORGAN, 16. Yousif ALI, 17. Reid DRAKE, 18. Ruben PARKER (GK), 19. David BROWNE, 20. Te Atawhai HUDSON-WIHONGI, 21. Maro BONSU-MARO, 22. Omar GUARDIOLA, 23. Alfie ROGERS, 24. Josh JONES, 25. Darren WHITE, 26. Cameron BROWN (GK).


OMITTED: 3. Takuya IWATA, 4. Mario BILEN, 6. Brian KALTAK, 9. Javier LOPEZ, 13. Patrick LUNDEMO.



No previous meetings

19.05.06 Auckland City FC 9-1 Nokia Eagles
14.02.09 Auckland City FC 8-1 Port Vila Sharks
25.04.09 Koloale 2-7 Auckland City FC
18.02.12 Auckland City FC 7-3 Koloale
13.04.13 Auckland City FC 12-2 AS Mont Dore
18.03.17 Auckland City FC 11-0 Malampa Revivors
25.02.18 Auckland City FC 7-0 AS Venus

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