Navy Blues eye National League title defence

Words: ACFC Media

Saturday 25 November 2023

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Reigning champions Auckland City FC will face a tough title challenge from last year’s runners-up Wellington Olympic in Sunday’s New Zealand National League Grand Final at Mount Smart Stadium.

The men from the capital will arrive in Auckland high on confidence having beaten the Navy Blues 3-1 when the two sides last met in Round 8 of the National League Championship two weeks ago at Kiwitea Street.

That result which has ended Auckland City’s seven games winning streak in the 2023 National League Championship was also the Navy Blues’ first home defeat in seven years as well as their first ever loss to Olympic.

City’s will be wary of  Olympic’s attacking threat after seeing their opponents scoring 34 goals in the nine regular National League rounds this season.

Head coach Albert Riera says the Navy Blues have plenty of big game experience and will be confident despite going into the contest as underdogs.

“The good thing is that thanks to the way things have been done in the club in the past, this club have had a lot of success, so luckily this team, Auckland City had a lot experience in finals and big games.

“And that’s another opportunity in front of us, which is the Grand Final, just the two teams are part of it, the others are not so we are here because of out credit and the players have to believe that and again we are very confident, we know we are the underdogs, we deserve to be the underdogs in this Grand Final and we are going have to work even harder,” he explained.

Following a long season both at home and overseas the depth  of the Navy Blues’ squad had been tested on a number of occasions but Riera says the team will be well prepared both mentally and physically for Sunday’s big match.

“We have a fantastic group of players with a lot of depth. 

“Yes, of course during a fantastic, long season you are always going to have injuries, you are always  going to have players that need a rest, it’s always about the coaching staff how we deal with it and the help we’ve had from the players, it’s been fantastic.

“I think we are in a fantastic position to play this game, again we are not the only ones that have injuries, so we can’t use that as an excuse, again I think we have pretty much everyone available and that’s great news," Riera said.

HEAD TO HEAD RECORD

2023
Auckland City FC 1-3 Wellington Olympic
National League Championship

Auckland City FC 5-3 Wellington Olympic
OFC Champions League Playoff 2nd LEG

Wellington Olympic 1-1 Auckland City FC 
OFC Champions League Playoff 1st LEG

2022
Auckland City FC 3-2 Wellington Olympic
National League Championship Final

Wellington Olympic 1-2 Auckland City FC
National League Championship

Auckland City FC 3-1 Wellington Olympic
Chatham Cup Semi-Final

RECENT FORM - Wellington Olympic 

NATIONAL LEAGUE 

19 November v. Wellington Phoenix (H) won 4-2
12 November v. Auckland City (A) won 3-1
4 November v. Christchurch Utd (H) won 5-2
28 October v. Petone FC (H) won 2-1
21 October v. Auckland United (A) won 3-1
14 October v. Eastern Suburbs AFC (H) drew 2-2
7 October v. Cashmere Technical (A)  drew 3-3
30 September v. Napier City Rovers AFC (H) won 7-1
24 September v.Manurewa AFC (A) won 5-2

Match Details
National League Grand Final 
Sunday 26 November 2023
Wellington Olympic AFC  v Auckland City FC
GO Media Mount Smart Stadium,  Penrose
Kick-off: 1pm NZDT

AC 2023 NLC SQUAD: 1-Conor TRACEY (GK), 2- Mario ILICH, 3- Adam MITCHELL, 4-Christian GRAY, 5- Timothy BOULET, 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,  17-Oliver COLLOTY, 18. Sebastian CIGANDA (GK), 19-Liam GILLION, 20- Emiliano TADE, 21- Takuya IWATA, 22-Tong ZHO, 23- Alfie ROGERS, 24-Joe WALLIS (GK), 25- Michael DEN HEIJER, 26-Rayan TAYEB, 27-Stipe UKICH, 28-Adam BELL

COACH: Albert RIERA
ASSISTANT COACH: Ivan VICELICH
GK COACH: Enaut ZUBIKARAI
TECHNICAL: Adria CASALS
TECHNICAL: Jarrod WALLACE
LOGISTICS: Keith COTON
PHYSIO: Matt PAYNE

 

NORTHERN LEAGUE R9

Wednesday 24 April 2024, Croatian Club, 7.30pm

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2 WS660020618
3 BU641112613
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5 MN6312171110
6 AU6303979
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9 MU61058253
10 WR60248162
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