Words: ACFC Media
Friday 18 November 2022
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Hunger, ambition and determination are driving Auckland City FC towards Sunday's vital National League Championship clash with Miramar Rangers.
Coach Albert Riera said his players remain focused on the visit of the Wellingtonians to Kiwitea Street on Sunday after a whirlwind 12 months that has yielded an OFC Champions League, Northern League and Chatham Cup treble.
Riera says the desire to drive forward towards the grand final burns intensely for his team but he is under no illusions that Miramar Rangers will be a tough prospect.
The one and only time the two clubs have met in competitive action, Miramar Rangers downed City 2-0 at David Farrington Park in the 2021 Chatham Cup Quarter-Finals.
The Scott Hales-coached side, like City, has been hard to work for a year but despite qualification for the National League Championship has spent the majority of the campaign in the bottom three.
Riera has some understanding for Hales' plight and isn't going to underestimate Miramar.
"It's a massive game for the club and our team. We started training at this time last year so we've been going for nearly 12 months and we have come a long way together.
"It's been a very positive and fantastic season and the togetherness is sound and what we've achieved together has been extraordinary.
"What strikes me the most is the willingness in our squad to keep going.
"The players have two more games to go and want to be in a grand final that's what we are aiming for, that's our ambition.
"We are training and playing towards a mission objective and the players ambition is intact.
"Miramar are a tough team even though they are not as high up the league table as people expected.
"They always pose a threat and the players they have can always create a threat especially Hamish Watson and Sam Mason-Smith.
"Hamish and Sam can hurt any team, any time, so we have to be very focussed and concentrated.
"We never look at where teams are placed on the league table we focus on what we have to do.
"To judge Miramar by the league table would be foolhardy," Riera told www.aucklandcityfc.com.
A win for Auckland City FC would put them in a strong position for a grand final berth heading into the final round but much would depend on the outcome of the Birkenhead United clash with Auckland United that takes place on Saturday 19 November 2022 at Shepherds Park the day before.
Birkenhead United have to win that game to retain any chance of a grand final berth while a win for Auckland United would heap pressure on City the next day.
A win for Birkenhead United would leave both them and Auckland United on 14 points each with City and Wellington Olympic each on 16 points with a game in hand.
An Auckland United win would lift them onto 17 points leaving City on 16 but with City still to face Miramar the next day.
If City draw with Miramar, then United would be in second spot based on the head-to-head record between the clubs in the National League Championship.
A defeat to Miramar in the wake of an Auckland United victory would take the grand final chase to the last day of the season with Auckland United at home to Napier City Rovers on Saturday 26 November 2022 at 1.00pm NZDT.
City host Melville United at Kiwitea Street on the same day but with a 3.00pm NZDT kick-off.
Birkenhead United's final game is away to the Wellington Phoenix on Sunday 27 November 2022 at 1.00pm NZDT.
The ideal result for City, and Wellington Olympic, would be for the Auckland United and Birkenhead United game to end as a draw.
City haven't been without their own problems with the concession of goals rising since the end of the Northern League campaign.
Riera doesn't need reminding of the issue.
"We need to tighten up, we've conceded more goals lately, so we've been working hard to get better at preventing goals.
"Miramar can be very dangerous so we have thoroughly prepared for them - we want to win everything that's left in front of us," he said.
Missing for Auckland City FC is midfielder Mario Ilich who is carrying an injury to his foot.
Sunday's game kicks off at 3.00pm NZDT at Kiwitea Street and will be live streamed on Sky Sport Next.
National League Championship
Sunday 20 November 2022
Auckland City FC v Miramar Rangers
Kiwitea Street, Auckland
Kick-off: 3.00pm NZDT
AC: 1. Conor TRACEY (GK), 3. Adam MITCHELL, 4. Christian GRAY, 5. Angel BERLANGA, 6. Matt ELLIS, 7. Cam HOWIESON, 8. Gerard GARRIGA, 9. Angus KILKOLLY, 10. Dylan MANICKUM, 11. Ryan DE VRIES, 12. Sam BROTHERTON, 13. Takuya IWATA, 14. Jordan VALE, 15. Aidan CAREY, 16. Joe LEE, 17. Reid DRAKE, 19. Ilham HAMEEDI, 20. Emiliano TADE, 22. Adam BELL, 23. Alfie ROGERS, 24. Cam BROWN (GK), 27. Rayan TAYEB.
COACH: Albert RIERA
ASSISTANT COACH: Ivan VICELICH
GK COACH: Enaut ZUBIKARAI
ANALYST: Adria CASALS
PHYSIO: Matt PAYNE
MANAGER: Keith COTON.
ANALYST: Jarrod WALLACE.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP - GRAND FINAL RUN-IN
Saturday 19 November 2022
Wellington Olympic v Christchurch United
Wellington - 2.00pm NZDT
Birkenhead United v Auckland United
Shepherds Park, Beach Haven - 3.00pm NZDT
Melville United v Napier City Rovers
Gower Park, Hamilton - 4.00pm NZDT
Sunday 20 November 2022
Auckland City FC v Miramar Rangers
Kiwitea Street, Auckland - 3.00pm NZDT
Cashmere Technical v Wellington Phoenix
Christchurch, New Zealand - 4.00pm NZDT
Friday 25 November 2022
Christchurch United v Cashmere Technical
Christchurch Football Centre, Christchurch - 7.00pm NZDT
Saturday 26 November 2022
Auckland United v Napier City Rovers
Keith Hay Park, Auckland - 1.00pm NZDT
Auckland City FC v Melville United
Kiwitea Street Auckland - 3.00pm NZDT
Sunday 27 November 2022
Wellington Phoenix v Birkenhead United
Fraser Park, Wellington - 1.00pm NZDT
Miramar Rangers v Wellington Olympic
David Farrington Park, Wellington - 3.00pm NZDT
ABOUT THE VISITORS
Miramar Rangers Football Club was founded in 1907 but it wasn’t until 1929 it first fielded a senior side. It maintained a position in the Wellington 1B division throughout the 1930s. Following the 2nd World War the Club slowly built up considerable strength and by the mid 1950s had become a force to be reckoned with in Wellington football. They won promotion to the Wellington 1st Division in 1954. Miramar won the Chatham Cup in 1966, was a foundation member of the Central Regional League 1st Division in 1968 and won the Chatham Cup for a second time defeating Waikato United 3-1 in 1992. They finally won the Central League in 1980 thus gaining entry to the National League. They competed in it until the club-based format was dissolved in 2004. Miramar Rangers is now the principal club for Team Wellington in the ASB Premiership.
In 1987 the Club established its sand carpet surface at David Farrington Park, Miramar to give it one of the best playing surfaces in New Zealand along with Park Island and Kiwitea St, as it is an all year round football only ground. The field received a renovation in 2012 by Mexted Performance Sport Surfaces. In 2009 Wellington City Council agreed to rename the ground, from Centennial Park, to David Farrington Park – as a mark of respect to the local football stalwart who passed away in 2008. David Farrington was a legendary figure in New Zealand football for more than 40 years, coaching Miramar Rangers, Wellington representative teams and the New Zealand women’s national side, his son Jamie is the current captain of the Central League side.
The club has won the Chatham Cup on four occasions in 1966, 1992, 2004 and 2010 and were runners up in 1981. Since 2001 the club has had a great period of the success in winning two National Leagues in 2002 and 2003, while they were runners-up in 2001. The club won the Capital Premier League in 2004 along with the Chatham Cup. Since the reintroduction of the Central League in 2005 Miramar has won the title five times (2006, 2008, 2011, 2013 and 2014), claiming three of the last four titles and have been runners up three times in 2007, 2009 and 2010. The club has a strong history of players who have represented New Zealand at all levels including the likes of Peter Whiting, Wynton Rufer, Grant Turner, Michael Utting, Malcolm Dunford, Vaughan Covey, Simon Eliot, Chris Jackson, and more recently Andy Barron, James Bannatyne and Jeremy Brockie. In 2014 a record five players from the club were selected to represent the New Zealand Under 20 side.
HEAD COACH - SCOTT HALES
Scott is the Head Coach of the Miramar Rangers Central League side and holds a NZ Football/Oceania A Licence and UEFA B Licence. Hales is also the Junior Football Development Manager at Miramar Rangers.
Originally from Stratford-Upon-Avon, Scott left the UK for a stint coaching and playing in the United States, then came to New Zealand where he worked for Central Football in Gisborne and Hawke's Bay, before moving to Manawatu and the position of Central Football Development Officer.
PLAYER TO WATCH - HAMISH WATSON
Hamish Watson needs no introduction to Auckland City FC fans after his exploits in both the OFC Champions League and ISPS Handa Premiership. A powerfully built striker, Watson has pedigree when it comes to scoring goals and has formed a strong partnership with Sam Mason-Smith. He has previously played for Lower Hutt City, Hawke's Bay United, Grimsby Town and Wellington Phoenix.
National League champions 2002, 2003, 2021
Central League champions 1997, 2006, 2008, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2020
Chatham Cup winners 1966, 1992, 2004, 2010.
20.02.22 v. North Shore United won 3-0
06.03.22 v. Cashmere Technical (A) lost 2-4
27.03.22 v. Wellington Phoenix (A) drew 2-2
03.04.22 v. Western Suburbs (A) won 8-0
09.04.22 v. Waterside Karori (A) lost 2-3
15.04.22 v. Havelock North Wanderers (H) won 5-0
23.04.22 v. North Wellington (A) won 3-1
30.04.22 v. Wellington United (H) won 5-0
07.05.22 v. Petone (A) won 5-0
21.05.22 v. Wellington Olympic (H) drew 2-2
29.05.22 v. Napier City Rovers (A) drew 1-1
25.06.22 v. Western Suburbs (H) won 9-0
02.07.22 v. Wellington Phoenix (H) won 2-1
17.07.22 v. Havelock North (A) won 3-2
23.07.22 v. North Wellington (H) won 5-1
06.08.22 v. Wellington United (A) won 2-1
13.08.22 v. Petone (H) won 5-1
17.08.22 v. Waterside Karori (H) draw 2-2
28.08.22 v. Napier City Rovers (H) won 2-1
23.09.22 v. Wellington Olympic (A) lost 0-1
CURRENT FORM - CHATHAM CUP
11.06.22 v. Waterside Karori (A) won 4-0
18.06.22 v. Island Bay United (A) won 3-1
09.07.22 v. Western Suburbs (H) won 5-1
30.07.22 v. Hamilton Wanderers (H) lost 3-4
CURRENT FORM - NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP
01.10.22 v. Cashmere Technical (A) lost 0-4
08.10.22 v. Birkenhead United (H) lost 2-4
15.10.22 v. Napier City Rovers (A) drew 2-2
23.10.22 v. Auckland United (H) lost 0-1
29.10.22 v. Wellington Phoenix (A) won 3-2
06.11.22 v. Christchurch United (H) lost 0-3
12.11.22 v. Melville United (H) lost 2-3
Sunday 4 December 2022, Wellington Olympic, Mount Smart Stadium