Experience in all-or-nothing games gives Auckland City edge in OFC play-off tie

posted in: News, OFC Champions League

Auckland City’s experience at winning sudden-death matches will give them an advantage against Wellington Olympic in Saturday’s OFC Champions League national play-off.

There are no second chances for whoever loses the second leg of this tie, to be played at Auckland City’s Kiwitea Street.

The winner goes into the eight-club OFC Champions League tournament in May; the loser goes home with nothing.

The sides drew 1-1 in their first leg of the play-off at Wellington’s Martin Luckie Park last weekend.

READ MORE: Late goal keeps Auckland City in pole position after draw with Wellington Olympic >>>>

Over the past year, Auckland City have played 10 matches that were all-or-nothing affairs, and they won nine.

The sudden-death wins were six Chatham Cup ties, the semi-final and final of the OFC Champions League and the men’s National League grand final in which they beat Wellington Olympic.

Main photo: Auckland City are looking to repeat their OFC Champions League success of last year.
Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

Their only loss in such circumstances were their first-round exit from the FIFA Club World Cup, when they lost 3-0 to top Egyptian club Al Ahly in Morocco.

By comparison, Olympic last year had five Chatham Cup ties and their National League grand final, in which they lost to City.

Keeping their nerve in must-win games, and the home advantage, gives Auckland City the edge.

But with nothing to lose, Olympic could roll the dice and if they can get the lead … game on.

Both teams will observe a moment’s silence to acknowledge the passing of All Whites legend Grant Turner and also hand over playing gear for the Napier City Rovers Cyclone Gabrielle Relief effort.

Former Navy Blues and All Whites coach Allan Jones will be present as a guest and both teams will sign a shirt for Grant Turner’s family with his name and number on it.

Also on the line is the Mediterranean Cup, competed for between both clubs since 2013.


Game to be played on Saturday March 18, 2023

Auckland City v Wellington Olympic
Kiwitea St, Sandringham, Auckland, 4pm (NZT)

What’s at stake

The winner of the play-off goes up against seven clubs from Oceania at the OFC Champions League tournament to be staged in May.

READ MORE: Seven clubs confirm their places for this year’s OFC Champions League >>>>

Auckland City and Wellington Olympic qualify for the OFC Champions League national play-off because they are the winners and runners-up in last year’s Men’s National League.

City won the grand final between them 3-2 at Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland.

How to watch

The match will be live-streamed by OFC Media. You can watch it here:

Likely squads

The following squads are anticipated based on players available for the first leg tie:

Auckland City

1 — Conor Tracey (GK)
2 — Mario Ilich
3 — Adam Mitchell
4 — Christian Gray
5 — Michael Den Heijer
6 — Dan Morgan
7 — Cam Howieson (captain)
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 — Joe Lee
17 — Iham Hameedi
19 — Liam Gillion
20 — Emiliano Tade
21 — Tong Zhou
22 — Adam Bell
23 — Matt Ellis
24 — Joe Wallis (GK)
25 — Takuya Iwata
26 — Rayan Tayeb

Coaching staff

Head Coach: Albert Riera
Assistant Coach: Ivan Vicelich
Goalkeeper Coach: Enaut Zubikarai
Technical: Adria Casals and Jarrod Wallace
Logistics: Colin Cook
Physio: Matt Payne
Trainer: Adria Casals

Wellington Olympic

1 — Scott Basalaj
2 — Josh Rogerson
4 — Alex Palezevic
5 — Justin Gulley
6 — Tor Davenport Petersen
7 — Joel Stevens
8 — Oliver Van Rijssel
9 — Hamish Watson
11 — Nathanael Hailemariam
12 — Christopher Kotrotsos (GK)
14 — Jack-Henry Sinclair
15 — Ben Mata (captain)
16 — Joshua Apaapa-Preston
18 — Theo Ettema
19 — Samuel Mitrakas
20 — Tamupiwa Dimairo
21 — Ryan Feutz
23 — Gavin Hoy
24 — Derek Tieku
25 — Merlin Luke-Miny
30 — Connor Gaul
33 — Birhanu Taye
34 — William Vincent

Coaching staff

Head coach: Rupert Kemeys
Assistant coach: Jamie O’Connor
Goalkeeper coach: Steve Dimakis
Team manager: Scotta Roche
Physio: Brogan Treanor
Gear steward: Matthew Kolic
Head of delegation: Matthew Calcott
Sports scientist: James Keegan
Video analyst: Johnny Thompson


Referee: CK Kawana-Waugh

Assistants: Mark Rule, Edward Cook

Fourth official: Luke Gardiner

Results of last four meetings

OFC National Play-off, first leg

Game played on Saturday March 11,2023

Wellington Olympic 1 (Joel Stevens 37′)
Auckland City 1 (Christian Gray 79′)

READ MORE: Late goal keeps Auckland City in pole position after draw with Wellington Olympic >>>>

Grand Final, Men’s National League

Game played on Sunday December 4, 2022

Auckland City 3 (Liam Gillion 33′, Gerard Garriga 40′, Angus Kilkolly 88′)
Wellington Olympic 2 (Tor Davenport Petersen 77′, Ben Mata 90+1′ pen)

READ MORE: Auckland City land historic quadruple after winning five-goal Grand Final >>>>

Chatham Cup semi-final

Game played Sunday August 21, 2022

Auckland City 3 (Dylan Manickum 10′, Joe Lee 45′, Emiliano Tade 68′)
Wellington Olympic 1 (Jessie Randall 54′)

National League round one

Game played Saturday October 1, 2022

Wellington Olympic 1 (Gianni Bouzoukis 75′)
Auckland City 2 (Ryan de Vries 50′, own goal 86′)

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