Words: ACFC Media
Sunday 17 March 2019
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC and Waitakere United emerged from the shadow of darkness to complete their ISPS Handa Premiership regular season today.
Auckland City FC won the match 5-2 through a brace each for Dylan Manickum and the outstanding Fabrizio Tavano as substitute Maro Bonsu-Maro chimed in with a goal off the bench.
Waitakere United's exciting Matt Conroy capitalised on two slack moments in the Navy Blues defence to ensure a bright if not successful end to the season for Chris Milicich's team.
MOMENT'S SILENCE - Moment's silence observed impeccably by all here at Kiwitea Street thoughts with all those affected by the atrocities in Christchurch.— Auckland City FC (@AucklandCity_FC) March 17, 2019
#ISPSHandaPrem 0-0 pic.twitter.com/v7x7Lmv1Zh
The victory delivered Auckland City FC a record haul of 52 points from 18 ISPS Handa Premiership matches but that was hardly a major talking point with the mood at Kiwitea Street largely sombre following Friday's terrorist attack in Christchurch.
The football community was rocked by news of the death of New Zealand futsal international goalkeeper Atta Elayyan and there were obvious links with the 19-times capped Cantabrian via international team-mate Manickum.
A moment of silence was observed impeccably with the emotion palpable as the flags at Kiwitea Street were flown at half-mast.
The unanimous sense of community amongst all members of the Auckland football family as partisan differences along lines of rivalry and perspective were set aside in an atmosphere of peace was a feature of an otherwise surreal day as people continue to process events of the past three days.
This game rarely rose above the intensity of a friendly and will be forgotten but there were moments of quality especially from Tavano whose work rate and second goal were exemplary.
Coach Ramon Tribulietx remarked pre-match that in the context of Friday's atrocity the result - and the match itself - were of little importance.
"I want to express our sadness on behalf of the club, coaching team and players for what happened in Christchurch. We are thinking of everyone in the football and wider community right now.
"Today's game means nothing in that sense and we want to let everyone affected by this that we are with you," he told www.aucklandcityfc.com.
Tribulietx said post-match that he was pleased with how his team coped with Waitakere United's high press in the second half and his side's overall performance.
"We were very good and we completely dominated both halves. They pressed higher and it changed a few things and gave us some good space in behind.
"We conceded two goals that we in future have to control better. We dominated so much and to concede two goals from those situations is something we have to do much better with.
"Team Wellington will be very tough in what for us is a different competition.
"We've won the league and now we're in a Cup competition. It's a one-off game which can be a 50-50 outcome sometimes.
"The game will be very interesting and obviously very tight but we're looking forward to it," he said.
The ISPS Handa Premiership semi-finals kick-off on Saturday 23 March when Eastern Suburbs face Canterbury United at Trusts Arena in West Auckland while the Navy Blues host Team Wellington at Kiwitea Street the next day at 2.35pm NZST.
Both matches are live on Sky Sport.
ISPS Handa Premiership
Sunday 17 March 2019
Auckland City FC 5 (Fabrizio TAVANO 9', 86', Dylan MANICKUM 36', 45', Maro BONSU-MARO 74')
Waitakere United 2 (Matt CONROY 82', 90+1')
AC: 1. Enaut ZUBIKARAI (GK), 5. Angel BERLANGA (c)(4. Mario BILEN 46'), 7. Cam HOWIESON, 8. Albert RIERA (17. Reid DRAKE 74'), 11. Fabrizio TAVANO, 12. Dylan MANICKUM, 14. Jordan VALE, 15. Dan MORGAN, 19. David BROWNE, 20. Te Atawhai HUDSON-WIHONGI, 22. Omar GUARDIOLA (21. Maro BONSU-MARO 70').
SUBS NOT USED: 18. Ruben PARKER (GK), 23. Alfie ROGERS.
COACH: Ramon TRIBULIETX.
Tu 12 Dec 2023, Al Ittihad, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, KO: 9.00pm local