Top spot motivates Navy Blues - Vicelich

Words: ACFC Media

Thursday 24 November 2022

Picture: Phototek

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Motivation to finish top of the National League Championship is driving Auckland City FC forward according to assistant coach Ivan Vicelich.

The Navy Blues started their epic 2022 season almost a year ago and after picking up three trophies along the way, and after 47 games since February, the finish line is in sight.

But despite that, Vicelich has faith City's squad remains focused on the Melville United game and the grand final beyond it.

"The players have had a very long season but are very motivated to finish first in the league. We understand making the top two qualifies you for the final of the National League Championship but as we have done for every game this season we're going out there to win to continue our momentum.

"We know it will be very difficult because Melville United have had a very good season and especially winning four games in a row. There are some good results in there and Sam has done a greatr job with his players this year so we know it'll be a tough game," he said.

Melville United's winning sequence and attacking style of play saw them pick up 12 points from 12 in recent weeks including wins over Napier City Rovers (4-3), Miramar Rangers (3-2), Christchurch United (5-2) and Birkenhead United (2-0).

Vicelich says both he and Albert Riera have considered the possibility of resting key players with the final in mind but admits there is a penalty attached to any such decision.

"We've talked briefly about resting players because the top two is confirmed but the momentum is there and it is difficult to take the foot off the pdeal and rest players.

"The most important thing is to work hard for a victory and keep the mindset for the final.

"Any decision we take will depend on niggles and there may be opportunities that arise for players as a result of that analysis," he said.

One player who could feature for Melville United is 36-year-old club legend, former All White and Olympian, Aaron Scott.

Scott is a Melville United club legend and widely respected throughout New Zealand football for his achievements on the pitch and his down to earth persona off it.

Vicelich said Scott was a person and a player he greatly admires.

"I'm not sure if Aaron will be part of the Melville United squad for Saturday but if he is it will be great to see him up here.

"Aaron has had a great career and he's shown that this year with Melville United and I am sure if he wants to go another year then he's got it in his legs to do that.

"Aaron has a good strong character and he works very hard which comes through in his demeanour.

"He always gives 100 percent and he always supports younger players with his experience.

"He's had a great year and he keeps going on and that shows just why Melville United consider him to be a legend," Vicliech said.

The other game that Auckland City FC will keep an eye on could be Wellington Olympic's capital derby showdown with Miramar Rangers at David Farrington Park on Sunday 27 November 2022.

That match becomes important in terms of finishing top of the table if City slip up and draw or lose the game with Melville United.

Top position in the National League Championship is decided by the head to head results between tied teams which gives City the upper hand.

One player who could reach a signficant milestone in his Auckland City FC career is Aidan Carey who is in line to make his 50th appearance, if selected. 

Interestingly, City have twice played in the NZFC where New Zealand Football changed the regulations related to tie breakers and in each instance City won the league section based on the head to head and goal difference tie breakers in alternative seasons.

Saturday's match kicks off at 3.00pm NZDT at Kiwitea Street.

Ends

Match Details
National League Championship
Saturday 26 November 2022
Auckland City FC v Melville United
Kiwitea Street, Auckland
Kick-off: 3.00pm NZDT

AC: 1. Conor TRACEY (GK), 2. Mario ILICH, 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. Liam GILLION, 20. Emiliano TADE, 21. Ilham HAMEEDI, 22. Adam BELL, 23. Alfie ROGERS, 24. Cam BROWN (GK).

COACH: Albert RIERA
ASSISTANT COACH: Ivan VICELICH
GK COACH: Enaut ZUBIKARAI
ANALYST: Adria CASALS
PHYSIO: Matt PAYNE
MANAGER: Keith COTON.
ANALYST: Jarrod WALLACE

PREVIOUS MEETINGS
15.05.21 v Melville United (A) won 3-0 (Emiliano TADE, Angus KILKOLLY, Dylan MANICKUM)
26.03.22 v Melville United (H) won 2-1 (Angus KILKOLLY, Dylan MANICKUM | Oliver COLLOTY)
04.06.22 v Melville United (A) won 1-0 (Joe LEE)

HEAD COACH - Sam WILKINSON
Sam Wilkinson led Melville United to the Div 1 title in 2018, the Chatham Cup final in 2019 and this season has guided Melville back to national league ranks for the first time since 1998.
Wilkinson first took up the reins with Melville in 2017 but is stepping down at the conclusion of the national league section of the 2022 season. A former player with Melville United, indeed, one of the heroes of the club's journey to the Chatham Cup final in 2003, Wilkinson also appeared for Tauranga City United, Waikato FC and, briefly, at Auckland City FC as a midfielder. Wilkinson also gained experience as a coach at various academies in the UK including Birmingham City.

PLAYER TO WATCH - Aaron SCOTT
Melville United club legend and former All White Aaron Scott has played over 300 games for the reds and remained loyal to Gower Park after spending many summers playing in the now defunct NZFC with Waitakere United and Hamilton Wanderers. Scott won eight U-23 caps for New Zealand and eight full international caps for the All Whites. He also played every game of New Zealand's Olympic Games football tournament in Beijing in 2008. Scott is considering his future at the end of this season.

ABOUT MELVILLE UNITED
Melville United AFC is a Hamilton-based football club formed by the 1996 amalgamation of Melville AFC (1972) and Waikato United (1988).

Through the roots of both parent clubs, Melville United can connect to most of the major club football achievements in Hamilton over the past 60 years.

Melville were formed in 1972, initially as Melville District Schoolboys AFC.

Founders Bob Owens and Tony Tatler sought to combine the strengths of all the schools in the Melville area and originally operated from a home base at Te Anau Park.

In 1981 the shift was made to the current headquarters at Gower Park, with clubrooms initially based on private land at the south-western corner of the park on Kahikatea Drive. Since then the clubrooms have been relocated and are now adjacent to the council amenities block at the park.

Over the last 30 years significant investment has been made in facility improvements at Gower Park. This has included major clubrooms refurbishment, carpark development, erection of floodlighting and a public address system, construction of a crowd barrier fence around the No 1 pitch, seating and perimeter fencing.

BIGGEST WIN (LEAGUE)
v. Metro FC won 12-0 - 2017

BIGGEST DEFEAT (LEAGUE)
v. Taupo lost 0-9 - 1987

BIGGEST WIN (CUP)
v. Otorohanga Wanderers won 10-0 - 1999

BIGGEST DEFEAT (CUP)
v. Central United FC lost 3-12 - 1997

HONOURS
Northern Premier League 1995, 2009
Northern League Division 1 1993, 2018
Northern League Division 3 1991
Chatham Cup runners-up 2003, 2019
Northern Premier League Cup runners-up 1994

CURRENT FORM - NORTHERN LEAGUE
26.03.22 v Auckland City FC (A) lost 1-2
02.04.22 v Bay Olympic (H) lost 2-3
09.04.22 v Takapuna (A) won 1-0
15.04.22 v Birkenhead United (A) won 1-0
18.04.22 v Manukau United (H) lost 0-1
23.04.22 v Waiheke United (A) won 6-1
30.04.22 v Western Springs (H) won 3-1
07.05.22 v Auckland United (H) won 2-0
14.05.22 v Eastern Suburbs (H) won 1-0
21.05.22 v North Shore United (A) won 7-1
28.05.22 v Hamilton Wanderers (H) won 4-1
04.06.22 v Auckland City FC (H) lost 0-1
11.06.22 v Bay Olympic (A) won 5-0
24.06.22 v Takapuna (H) won 2-0
02.07.22 v Birkenhead United (H) lost 0-2
16.07.22 v Manukau United (A) won 4-0
23.07.22 v Waiheke United (H) won 4-1
06.08.22 v Western Springs (A) lost 2-3
13.08.22 v Auckland United (A) lost 0-2
24.08.22 v Eastern Suburbs (A) won 4-1
27.08.22 v North Shore United (H) won 3-0
03.09.22 v Hamilton Wanderers (A) won 3-2

CURRENT FORM - CHATHAM CUP
06.06.22 v Franklin United (A) won 2-1
18.06.22 v East Coast Bays (H) won 6-1
09.07.22 v Waiheke United (H) lost 1-2

CURRENT FORM - NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP
02.10.22 v Auckland United (A) lost 0-1
09.10.22 v Wellington Olympic (H) lost 0-4
16.10.22 v Wellington Phoenix (A) drew 1-1
22.10.22 v Cashmere Technical (H) lost 1-3
30.10.22 v Christchurch United (A) won 5-2
06.11.22 v Birkenhead United (H) won 2-0
12.11.22 v Miramar Rangers (A) won 3-2
19.11.22 v Napier City Rovers (H) won 4-3

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