Preview - Figueira ready for lengthy campaign

Words: ACFC Media

Friday 30 April 2021

Picture: Phototek

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - José Figueira says Auckland City FC is ready for a campaign of epic length as his side eyes up a first ever visit to North Shore United AFC on Saturday.

 Auckland City FC finds itself in the unusual position of having trained since September 2020, a total seven months that includes a total of 18 games including pre-season friendlies from last season plus five Northern League matches in April.

Figueira says there is no grand plan to manage the rotations but had steely words for the doubters who may believe Auckland City FC's lack either hunger or the capacity for a campaign of potentially epic length.

"It's not quite a structured plan of rotations. I'm in the fortunate position of having a deep quality squad to choose a team from each week.

"As we've been doing every game we've made a tweak here and there and those rotations are based on performance in the games, how the players apply themselves and work during the week.

"We've been going for six or seven months but the way the team has been tracking now and with our quality I have no doubts we will are more than capable of maintaining these levels for another six or seven months to come," he said.

Saturday's opponents North Shore United AFC have a storied history in New Zealand football but its been a long time since the Allen Hill Stadium-based side last won a major trophy on the domestic scene. They won their first two games of the season, both away from home, but have since gone on a three game losing streak. 

Auckland City FC have yet to fire on all cylinders and after edging Western Springs 4-3 in a nail biter at Kiwitea Street last week, combined with skipper Emiliano Tade cheekily suggesting his 'kiricocho' call put one over former team-mate Kayne Vincent at a critical point in the match, Figueira light heartedly suggests it was Tade's prowess in front of goal that settled the issue on the day rather than any bad luck charm.

"Personally, I'm not one for big superstitions and I believe what Emiliano did at the other end of the pitch in scoring two quality goals probably played more of a key role in our victory on the day.

"Kiricocho is a cultural thing with South American and Spanish players and we often hear it in our training sessions and games which shows how far they are willing to go to win," Figueira said.

With Auckland City FC now five wins from five, all eyes are on how Figueira manages both his crop of young up-and-comers and rotates his squad which is full to the brim with top talent.

Addison Stewart has been in remarkable scoring form with four goals in five U-23 appearances and a goal on debut for the first team in their 4-0 defeat of West Coast Rangers a fortnight ago.

Stewart hit two second half goals against Western Springs U-23s after a week away with New Zealand Football.

"Addison isn't the only one catching the eye. We've got four or five under 20s deserving of their place and the message sent to these players is they've got to continue giving their all at training during the week as well as the rest of the squad.

"That group of four or five have to compete for their two spots and more. Addision, Ilham (Hameedi) and Aiden (Carey) were each very very good last week but they have to keep working hard and through this commitment and attitude not only are they going to get game time and opportunities they'll grow and develop as players," he told www.aucklandcityfc.com.

The game between Auckland City FC and North Shore United AFC is set for Saturday 1 May, 2021, at 3pm NZDT.

Ends

Match Details
Northern League
Saturday 1 May 2021
North Shore United AFC v Auckland City FC
Allen Hill Stadium, North Shore
Kick-off: 3.00pm NZDT

AC (squad selected from): 24. Cam BROWN (GK), 2. Mario ILICH, 3. Adam MITCHELL, 4. Mario BILEN (c), 6. Brian KALTAK, 7. Cam HOWIESON, 9. Angus KILKOLLY, 10. Dylan MANICKUM, 11. Reid DRAKE, 12. Sam BROTHERTON, 13. Deandre VOLLENHOVEN, 14. Jordan VALE, 15. Aidan CAREY, 16. Yousif AL-KALISY, 17. Andrew BLAKE, 18. Conor TRACEY (GK), 19. Ilham HAMEEDI, 20. Emiliano TADE, 22. Mohamed AWAD, 23. Alfie ROGERS.

COACH: José FIGUEIRA
ASSISTANT COACH: Ivan VICELICH
GK COACH: Enaut ZUBIKARAI
PHYSIO: Matt PAYNE
TEAM MANAGER: Keith COTON
S&C COACH: Adria CASALS
ANALYST: Jarrod WALLACE/Dan GORDON

ABOUT NORTH SHORE UNITED AFC
North Shore United AFC was founded in 1886, making it the oldest football club in New Zealand and Oceania. North Shore United was originally formed as North Shore in 1886 and in 1933 amalgamated with Belmont, taking the club's present name. As the result of a sponsorship deal with camera distributor Hanimex, the team was known from 1979 to 1985 as Hanimex United or, unofficially, as Hanimex North Shore United.

THE NORTH SHORE UNITED AFC STORY
North Shore United is one of New Zealand's oldest and most successful football clubs. In addition to numerous provincial and regional titles, North Shore United won the National Soccer League in 1977, the New Zealand Superclub League in 1994 and finished as the runner-up three times (1975, 1982, 1983). They also came runner-up in the Lotto NRFL Division 2 (2012), promoting them to the Lotto NRFL Division 1 the following season.The club was promoted to the NRFL Premier Division in 2018 as runners-up.

ISPS HANDA CHATHAM CUP
North Shore United also has a proud Chatham Cup record, having won the competition on six occasions in 1952 (shared), 1960, 1963, 1967, 1979, and 1986. They also finished as the runner-up six times in 1926 (as North Shore), 1959, 1961, 1973, 1985, and 1995. North Shore United AFC, along with Auckland City FC, have been given a bye into the second round of the ISPS Handa Chatham Cup for 2021.

PREVIOUS MEETINGS
North Shore United AFC and Auckland City FC have yet to meet in either a competitive or friendly match.

CURRENT FORM
North Shore United AFC have made a tough start to the season. They won their first two games of the Northern League campaign with a 2-1 away win at Hamilton Wanderers on 27 March 2021 before picking up maximum points away to West Coast Rangers in a 2-0 victory a week later. They have lost their last three matches to Western Springs (3-2), Birkenhead United (3-2) and Melville United (1-0).

BIGGEST WIN
North Shore United AFC 10-5 Huntly Thistle, 1971

BIGGEST DEFEAT
Northern United AFC 2-9 Central United FC, 1998

HONOURS
National League winners - 1977
National League Superclub winners - 1994
Northern League Superclub Division - 1994
Northern League Premier Division - 2001, 2019
Northern League Division 1 - 1973
Chatham Cup winners - 1952, 1960, 1963, 1967, 1979, 1986
Chatham Cup runners-up - 1926, 29159, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1995
Air New Zealand Cup winners - 1979, 1985
NZFA Challenge Trophy winners - 1987
NZFA Challenge Trophy runners-up - 1980, 1983

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