A knee injury will force striker Emiliano Tade to miss Auckland City’s OFC Champions League campaign, due to start in Vanuatu on Sunday.
The club’s all-time highest goalscorer and appearance maker, Tade (35) will be sidelined for at least 10 weeks, the club says.
Main photo: Auckland City’s Emiliano Tade … ruled out of OFC Champions League tournament. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.
The Navy Blues were to depart for Vanuatu on Thursday with their sights set on retaining the trophy they won in Auckland last year.
Up for grabs is a place at the last-ever edition of the FIFA Club World Cup seven-team format, a competition set to be held in Saudi Arabia in December, but also on the line could be a berth at the expanded FIFA Club World Cup in June 2025.
FIFA recently outlined its plans for a 32-club World Cup that could feature 12 clubs from Europe, six from South America, four each from Asia and Africa and one from Oceania.
The qualification criteria for the Expanded FIFA Club World Cup is measured across the four-year cycle between 2021 and 2024.
While there is a lot of noise about that competition, Auckland City coach Albert Riera remains focused on performing well in Vanuatu and retaining the title his team won for the tenth time last year.
“There will be no surprises. We have players with a lot of experience in these tournaments in the islands and others who haven’t been there.
“There are different elements to it, the climate, the heat, players that we’re going to be playing against who we are not used to playing against on a daily basis. Nobody’s easy. It’s very hard, actually.
“The main focus is just plan, planning ahead of the Solomon Warriors game this weekend. And that’s actually the best preparation you can have for the OFC Champions League.
“I’ve been in Vanuatu as a player, and it’s a great place with great people as well. They love football, actually. I think it’s going to be a fantastic tournament. I think they’re going to bring about a great experience.
“We are not going to Port Vila, we are going to Santo (Luganville). But again, it doesn’t make a difference to us. So we are going there to do what we want to try to do, which is play good football and try to win games.”
Last year, Auckland City won the OFC Champions League with five straight wins before losing 3-0 to African giants Al Ahly of Egypt in the FIFA Club World Cup in Tangier, Morocco, in February of this year.
Auckland City’s opening game, against Solomon Warriers, will be live-streamed by OFC on Sunday at 1pm (NZT).
You can watch it here:
Auckland City’s pool games:
Game to be played on Sunday May 14, 2023
Auckland City v Solomon Warriors
Luganville, 1pm (NZT)
Game to be played on Wednesday May 17, 2023
Suva FC v Auckland City
Luganville, 4pm (NZT)
Game to be played on Saturday May 20, 2023
Lupe Ole Soaga v Auckland City
Luganville, 1pm (NZT)
More about the tournament
READ MORE: Game schedule released for May’s OFC Champions League tournament >>>>
READ MORE: Our previous stories about the OFC Champions League >>>>