Auckland City’s players return to New Zealand in time to celebrate Waitangi Day and with the chance to reflect on what might have been at the FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco.
The Navy Blues were knocked out of the tournament in the opening game, losing 3-0 to top Egyptian club Al Ahly.
But before they caught their flights back to New Zealand, members of the squad gave their impressions of the match to ACFC Media.
Captain Cam Howieson, who made his 150th first-team appearance for City in the match, said:
“I thought we had a great first half so it was a sore one to concede right before half time. I believe the team gave everything but Al Ahly’s quality showed in the second half.
“We had ambitions to go and win this game and we had a lot of belief in our camp but we have to hand it to Al Ahly they won the game and deserve a lot of credit for how they played.”
Jordan Vale said:
“We had a very good first half and we were sharp and defended well and passed the ball nicely but the goal just before half time hurt us.
“We came out in the second half fighting but they got the second goal which was unlucky then they came alive and it was difficult for us.
“We came out with lots of energy but that second goal made it tough and the third goal meant that it wasn’t our night. We wanted to go further in the competition but it wasn’t to be.
“We’ve had good runs in this competition before but Al Ahly deserved their win.”
Nathan Lobo said:
“I’m happy on a personal level with my own performance but felt our team played well but are feeling pretty disappointed with the result.
“We don’t normally play in front of crowds that big but the fans were passionate and that was a great experience.
“Football in New Zealand is on the rise and I hope playing in the FIFA Club World Cup helps that process. I hope we can win the OFC Champions League again and get back to this level next year, and I’m sure the whole team feels that way.
“Now we’re out of the competition, I’m interested in seeing how the Seattle Sounders do because I went to college in the US. It would’ve been great to play them in the next game but it wasn’t to be.”