Navy Blues eye Suva challenge

Words: ACFC Media

Tuesday 16 May 2023

LUGANVILLE -Vanuatu,  Auckland City FC will be looking to build on their opening Group A victory over the Solomon Warriors when they face Fijian outfit Suva FC on match day 2 of the 2023 OFC Champions League at Luganville’s Soccer City Stadium on Wednesday afternoon, in what will be the Navy Blues’ 100th game in Oceania’s premier club football competition.

The New Zealand representatives produced a patient and professional performance to kick off their Oceania title defence and they will need to maintain a similar approach against a Suva side which scored six unanswered goals in their opening encounter against Samoa’s Lupe Ole Soaga.

Formed in 1905, Suva is one of the region’s oldest clubs with a proud pedigree and plenty of experience at Oceania level.

Maxwell Thaggard’s men advanced to the 2023 edition of the continental competition with a  3-2 aggregate win over Rewa FC, following a tense 1-all draw and  a 2-1 victory in their two-legged Fijian national playoff.

The current Suva squad boast a host of Fijian national team members as well as Solomon Islands star Marlon Taihoa and Vanuatu internationals Azaria Soromon and Alex Senial who have all got on the scoresheet against Lupe in their opening match in Luganville.

The two sides have only met once before with the Navy Blues coming out on top with a 3-0 victory back in 2015.

Thaggard  expects another tough challenge against the Navy Blues but he insists his players are  looking forward to test themselves against the defending champions. 

 “Our team has been together for the last two and a half years. We have been working hard and we have a big squad, and it will just be another day. 

“It’s about us getting our geometrics right when we play against Auckland City, and we must prepare well for it.,” explained the Suva coach.

Meanwhile Auckland City coach Albert Riera says his side will need to be switched on from the outset  after being forced to come from behind against the Solomon Warriors on match day 1.

“It was a slow start, it’s something that has happened to us before in New Zealand. We have to get better at it, because in the islands against very fast players it’s very hard to come back.”

Rieara is expecting a tough test from the Fijians but he insists the Navy Blues are ready for the challenge.

“They have a group of players that are very experienced and have a lot of games in this competition and other young ones that bring a lot of dynamism,  and the way they play they are very dangerous.

“They have (Samuela) Drudru upfront, he knows when to speed up his game, really understands how to threaten the opposition,  how to damage them with runs in behind and also his physicality. I think overall Suva is a team that knows what they are doing in every facet of their game.

“We are very aware  of their threat and we are working on that, we have to keep doing what we are doing, we recovered very well, we are ready to go and hopefully we can produce a good performance and convert that into three points again, “ explained the City coach .


OFC Champions League - Group A - MD 2

Wednesday 17 May 2023
Suva FC v Auckland City FC
Luganville Soccer City Stadium, Vanuatu
Kick-off: 3.00 pm local time / 4.00pm NZST


AC - 1. Conor TRACEY (GK) 2. Mario ILICH, 3. Adam MITCHELL,4. Christian GRAY, 5. Michael DEN HEIJER, 6. Dan MORGAN, 7. Cam HOWIESON (c) 8. Gerard GARRIGA , 9. Angus KILKOLLY, 10. Dylan MANICKUM, 11. Ryan DE VRIES,  12. Regont MURATI, 13. Nathan LOBO, 14. Jordan VALE, 15. Aidan CAREY, 16. Joseph LEE, 19. Liam GILLION, 22. Tong ZHOU, 23. Matt ELLIS, 24. Joe WALLIS (GK)

Coach: Albert RIERA
Assistant coach: Ivan VICELICH
Goalkeeper coach: Enaut ZUBIKARAI
Technical: Adria CASALS 
Physiotherapist: Matt PAYNE
Logistics Manager: Keith COTON
General Manager: Gordon WATSON 


Saturday 9 March 2024, Kiwitea Street, kick-off: 2pm

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