Words: ACFC Media
Friday 8 March 2019
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC resume ISPS Handa Premiership duties when they take on old rivals Team Wellington at David Farrington Park on Sunday.
Just seven matches remain in the whole campaign with three in the OFC Champions League and four domestically but the Navy Blues could yet face Team Wellington in three of those clashes.
The two teams served up a seven goal thriller back in October when the Navy Blues downed Team Wellington 4-3 in the NZF Charity Cup season opener but both teams have gone through significant transformations since then.
Auckland City FC have added Patrick Lundemo, Omar Guardiola, Thomas Drillien, Jackson Woods and Darren White has returned from a six month break to bolster their ranks while Mario Barcia, Scott Hilliar and Justin Gulley have left the Jose Figueira-coached side to take up profressional contracts.
Team Wellington have picked up Adam Mitchell, Aaron Clapham and Alex Palezevic with Joel Stevens and Bill Robertson both returning to the capital fold.
While the two teams remain close rivals the gap between them has opened up in recent times with the capital men now 16 months without a win over the Navy Blues.
Coach Ramon Tribulietx has total respect for the work of Jose Figueira and the achievements of his team.
"Team Wellington have changed quite a few players but they've replaced the ones they've lost with players of similar capability. From what I've seen they've still got power and ability in Aaron Clapham, Ross Allen and Joel Stevens.
"They remain a strong opponent and we have to understand that the changes mean they will be a tough prospect.
"Sunday's game is the least important of the games against Team Wellington if I can phrase it like that given what's potentially coming up in the ISPS Handa Premiership and OFC Champions League.
"Time will tell whether or not we face Team Wellington again beyond this Sunday because there are a lot of other sides in both competitions that are also in very good form and there are no gaurantees in football.
"We arrived back from Honiara late on Monday and our training schedule has been affected by that situation," he said.
Auckland City FC have a full squad to choose from but Tribulietx said he may be forced into rotating his group after a bout of sickness struck his team.
"One or two players have picked up a cold after our trip to the Solomon Islands so we'll look at how we rotate the squad. We've played nine games in the last four weeks and there's a number of players that have been unable to train very much.
"When you enter that dynamic you can drop your form very quickly. We've identified a few players in that situation so we'll be putting them through some sessions to fill their tanks up again.
"We have another group of players that need game time and to get sharper like Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi, Albert Riera, Omar Guardiola who signed in January.
"Sunday is a big game for us and we'll go to David Farrington Park and try to compete for the points to the best of our ability," he added.
Jordan Vale may face a late fitness test before the squad is selected while Micah Lea'alafa is also doubtful. Mario Bilen has been out for ten days after picking up a knock at the Tonghai Financial Cup in Hong Kong.
Elsewhere, Waitakere United face Canterbury United in the Sky Sports broadcast fixture, Eastern Suburbs head to Tasman United, Southern United host Hawke's Bay United while Wellington Phoenix reserves are at home to Hamilton Wanderers.
The action gets underway at 2pm NZST.
ISPS Handa Premiership
Sunday 10 March 2019
Team Wellington v Auckland City FC
David Farrington Park, Wellington
Kick-off: 2pm NZST
AC (squad chosen from): 1. Enaut ZUBIKARAI (GK), 2. Jackson WOODS, 3. Thomas DRILLIEN, 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, 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), 27. Takuya IWATA
COACH: Ramon TRIBULIETX.
15.02.15 Auckland City FC 3-0 Team Wellington - ISPS Handa Premiership
26.04.15 Auckland City FC 1-1 Team Wellington - OFC Champions League Final
17.01.16 Team Wellington 2-2 Auckland City FC - ISPS Handa Premiership
28.01.16 Auckland City FC 1-0 Team Wellington - ISPS Handa Premiership
10.03.16 Auckland City FC 2-4 Team Wellington - ISPS Handa Premiership Final
23.04.16 Auckland City FC 3-0 Team Wellington - OFC Champions League
23.10.16 Auckland City FC 4-0 Team Wellington - ISPS Handa Premiership
08.01.17 Team Wellington 1-3 Auckland City FC - ISPS Handa Premiership
02.04.17 Auckland City FC 1-2 Team Wellington - ISPS Handa Premiership Final
30.04.17 Auckland City FC 3-0 Team Wellington - OFC Champions League
15.10.17 Team Wellington 3-1 Auckland City FC - ISPS Handa Premiership
04.02.18 Auckland City FC 0-0 Team Wellington - ISPS Handa Premiership
01.04.18 Auckland City FC 1-0 Team Wellington - ISPS Handa Premiership Final
22.04.18 Team Wellington 0-0 Auckland City FC - OFC Champions League
29.04.18 Auckland City FC 2-2 Team Wellington - OFC Champions League
14.10.18 Auckland City FC 4-3 Team Wellington - NZF Charity Cup