Auckland City head coach Albert Riera says his side’s plans are on track as they prepare for their appearance at the FIFA Club World Cup.
Riera’s side are in training camp near Barcelona to play three warm-up games before heading to Morocco and their February 2 showdown with top Egyptian side Al Ahly.
City lost 1-0 in the first of their friendlies, losing to Spanish sixth-tier club Reus FC Reddis.
Their other friendlies will be against Korea champions Jeonbuk Motors FC and a Barcelona B selection.
The following interview has been posted by Auckland City’s media team:
The Navy Blues lost the first of their three friendly warm-up games, going down 1-0 to a penalty by Reus FC Reddis.
City, who had not played a competitive game since December 4, had to cope with -6 degree temperatures, a biting wind and the effects of jet lag after the squad’s long-haul flight from New Zealand three days before.
Reus took the lead in the 25th minute from the penalty spot after City defender Mario Ilich was judged to have fouled Spanish forward Marca Riki after his shot had been saved by ‘keeper Cam Brown.
Riki took the spotkick himself, scoring the game’s only goal.
New signings Nikko Boxall, Regont Murati and Michael den Heijer, and youngsters like Adam Bell, Liam Gillion, Nathan Lobo and Matt Ellis, showed what they can bring to the side and coach Albert Riera said he was delighted to have them at the club.
City striker Angus Kilkolly made his 50th appearance for the club in the game and told the club’s website he had seen positives in the side’s performance.
“It’s a tough one to play against unknown opposition so our team that started the game for us didn’t really know what to expect and I think when we made changes in the second half we were able to give more energy and get in their faces more and create more chances.
“We did that and hit the crossbar and forced their goalkeeper to make a couple of saves. It’s obviously disappointing to lose but there were a lot of positives to take out of the game.
“We knew Reus FC Reddis would be technically very good and I think that’s what we saw. Spain is a massive football country and you could see some of their touches and passes showed they were very good players but I think we more than coped with them and we also put them under a lot of pressure.
“I think if we played them at a different time of the season, maybe at the end or the peak of our season, maybe the result would’ve been different. But the result today is not really a factor it was all about getting minutes in the legs. Our goal is the FIFA Club World Cup and that’s all we’re really focused on.”
City’s next friendly will be against Korean champions Jeonbuk Motors on Sunday January 22 (midnight NZT) at the Futbol Salou Sports Complex.
Game played on Thursday January 19, 2023
Reus FC Reddis 1 (Marca Riki 25′ pen)
Auckland City 0
24. Cam BROWN (GK), 2. Mario ILICH (21. Michael DEN HEIJER 46′), 3. Adam MITCHELL, 5. Nikko BOXALL (4. Christian GRAY 46′), 7. Cam HOWIESON (c) (8. Gerard GARIGGA 46′), 10. Dylan MANICKUM (20. Emiliano TADE 46′), 11. Ryan DE VRIES (9. Angus KILKOLLY 46′), 12. Regont MURATI (22. Adam BELL 46′) , 15. Aidan CAREY (23. Matt ELLIS 46′), 16. Joe LEE (19. Liam GILLION 46′), 25. Takuya IWATA (3. Nathan LOBO 46′).
Subs not used: 1. Conor TRACEY (GK), 18. Finn DOCKERTY (GK).
Unavailable: 6. Dan MORGAN (injured), 14. Jordan VALE (absent), 17. Reid DRAKE (absent).
Coach: Albert RIERA
Assistant: Ivan VICELICH
Goalkeeper coach: Enaut ZUBIKARAI
Physio: Matt PAYNE
Masseuse: Natalia KOSINSKA
Technical: Adria CASALS
Analyst: Jarrod WALLACE
Highlights from Reus FC Reddis game
Game to be played on Sunday January 22, 2023
Auckland City v Jeonbuk Motors (Korea Republic) (midnight NZT)
Futbol Salou Sports Complex, Spain
Game to be played on Wednesday January 25, 2023
Auckland City v Barcelona B
Barcelona, Spain (k/o TBC)
FIFA Club World Cup (1st round)
Game to be played on Thursday February 2, 2023
Auckland City v Al Ahly (Egypt)
Tangiers, Morocco (8am NZT)