Words: Agustin Fernández
Saturday 18 December 2021
ARGENTINA - Auckland City FC's all-time club record goal scorer Emiliano Tade spent most of last season out with a serious knee injury - now back home in Argentina, Tade spoke to journalist Agustin Fernández about Albert Riera, FIFA Club World Cup and next year's Northern and National League campaigns.
- What do you think about Albert Riera's confirmation as a new Coach of the team?
"It is great for the club. We needed a little bit of freshness because the pandemic had an impact on the way the team was feeling and I guess this confirmation is coming in the best time for everyone. Albert is someone who grew up in the club so he knows this house intimately and he knows the players and that is great. I am very happy and highly motivated."
- It was a surprise for you?
"Yes and no. It is a surprise for how quickly it happened, but then it didn't surprise me because Albert is a very capable person and much sought after. When you know football, when you know how to read it, when you are very passionate about it and you are sure in your way of teaching and playing, then I don't think you can react like -'oh, it was a surprise'."
- What do you think Albert Riera could bring to the club?
"His DNA is Auckland City FC, he grew up and matured as a player in the club and that's what is imprinted within him. He is more than capable enough to implement his style and what he wants. The fact he is just finished his football career and is coming up as a coach is going to bring us a lot of freshness and passion."
- Do you think it could have some effect in the rest of the players the fact that you and him are friends?
"It's funny that sometimes people think that the fact we are friends can affect a dynamic within the team. Actually, I believe it to be the opposite case. Now I'm highly motivated and his incorporation has inspired me more, but at the same time I know I will have to work doubly hard because of that. Our friendship is going to give me more obligations and responsibilities. The players knows that Albert is not in his job to make friends with the players, myself included, and I am sure we will see that in training."
- Have you seen the draw of the FIFA Club World Cup? What do you think about it? Do you dream of a match against Chelsea in the semi-finals?
"There is so much uncertainty around everything with Omicron and what government's may choose to do so it is important to keep everything in that perspective. But yes, I have seen the draw. I think it is like every Club World Cup that we have played. Every single game is going to be difficult. We know we are the underdogs, but that does not mean that we will never be able to perform. We have put in a lot of very strong performances in the past and we can hang on to some of those experiences and say -'okay, we can do a lot more'.
"Every time we try to better ourselves regardless of any gap between our level and the opponents but no, I don't dream of a clash with Chelsea. I am very used to going game by game in my career and then if something special happens, it happens and if it not, it doesn't."
- Do you think that the fact the team stop playing a few months ago because the lockdown could have an impact in your performance in the tournament?
"It definitely has an impact given we are not playing in the ISPS Handa Premiership over summer anymore. It's going to be 6 months since we last played in the Northern League and without football or proper trainings it is going make an impact on things. However, we know we have two months ahead of us and we obviously have to do the best that we can with what we have."
- How is your rehabilitation going? Now that we know Auckland has been in lockdown for a few months, do you think going back to Argentina was the best idea?
"After the surgery in the past first of July, my goal was to heal, to do the rehabilitation properly and be back to the pitch as strong as I can and in the least amount of time. However, lockdown hit New Zealand and I knew that Argentina was opening everything up so I thought - 'Ok, this is my chance to go back home, do the rehabilitation there and have access to all the things that I need'-. I think it was the best idea and also being with my family, friends and staying in the city where I grew up it has a plus. In time, my main objective is to overcome my challenges and win absolutely everything that we play for."
- We know that Waiheke United has a lot of Argentinians playing in the club. What do you think about them playing in the Northern League from next year?
"Yes, I am aware that Waiheke has been promoted to the top division in New Zealand and there are a lot of Argentinians, but I don't feel anything special. For me it is like any other team that gets promoted, but I don't put any more feelings on it. They have been promoted, that is great for his team and his club, but one thing doesn't impact on the other."
- Do you think playing against Waiheke could be an special game for you?
"Not really. I don't think it is gonna be an special game at all. It would be like playing against any other team. To me, special is when I have to play in important occasions, big games or when I play with people that have been my friends, when you have shared experiences from the past and you have the opportunity to have that little competition with each other during the match, but other than that I don't have any history with Waiheke at all so it is basically going to be just another game."
- Not along time ago was the Ballon d'Or award. Messi made history again winning it for the 7th time, but some people did not agree with that outcome. What do you think about it?
"Yes, the Ballon d'Or has prompted a lot of critics and people that were in favour (of Messi) and some others not. To me it was probably one of the closest Ballon d'Or of last 10 years or so, where there was not a clear player that you can say - ' okay, this year, he is the one' - like it has been in the past. In my opinion, Messi is one of the greatest footballers of all time and if it was him who won the award then that is pretty good. I am happy to know that with him Argentina has another great player in the history of football. Personally, I believe that he deserved it because of the fact he has won the Copa America with the National Team. That has to work in his favour."
- Thinking about the FIFA World Cup in Qatar 2022, it was announced that the winner of the Oceania qualification is going to play against a National team from CONCACAF and not from South America. Do you think it could be a good opportunity for the "All Whites"?
"Yes, I believe it does has some benefits for the fact that New Zealand is not going to play against a South American team, but is going to play with a rival that is more closely matched to their levels. The fact that it is a one game off gives a lot more chances to the "All Whites" to qualify and I really hope that happens. I will be supporting them because I think it could be great for the country to have the National Team playing at the end of the year at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar and then in 2023 having to host the FIFA Women's World Cup with Australia."
You can follow Agustin Fernández on Twitter here.