Auckland City head coach Albert Riera is wary of another slow start by his team as they prepare to play their 100th all-time game at the OFC Champions League.
City play Fiji’s Suva in their second pool game on Wednesday at the tournament in Vanuatu (kick-off 4pm, NZT).
The Navy Blues fell behind early in their tournament opener against Solomon Warriors and were forced to come from behind to win 3-1.
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“It was a slow start,” Riera said of the first game.
“It’s something that has happened to us before in New Zealand. We have to get better at it because in the islands against very fast players, it’s very hard to come back.”
Main photo: Albert Riera … wants to avoid another slow start.Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.
Auckland City’s Albert Riera: ‘They are very dangerous’
Rieara expects a tough test from the Fijians but insists the Navy Blues are ready for the challenge.
“They have a group of players that are very experienced and have a lot of games in this competition and other young ones that bring a lot of dynamism, and the way they play, they are very dangerous.
“They have (Samuela) Drudru up front. He knows when to speed up his game, really understands how to threaten the opposition, how to damage them with runs in behind and also his physicality. I think overall, Suva is a team that knows what they are doing in every facet of their game.
“We are very aware of their threat, and we are working on that, we have to keep doing what we are doing, we recovered very well, we are ready to go, and hopefully, we can produce a good performance and convert that into three points again.”
Suva coach Maxwell Thaggard: ‘We have to believe’
Suva FC coach Maxwell Thaggard says they are not thinking ahead to the final pool match against the Solomon Warriors and are determined to cause a major upset.
“We regard Auckland City as one of the best teams in our competition, and they have a good system in place and have been playing similar football since I’ve been watching them.
“We have to believe in ourselves, concentrate and stick to the game plan.”
Thaggard says he has studied the defending champions in detail and is acutely aware of what Suva FC can’t afford to do.
“We learned a lot. It’s about being patient; that’s how Auckland City plays, they put you under the pump, and if you crumble, you will get a red card and that’s what they wanted. They just kept pushing the ball around until they found space.”
Game to be played on Wednesday May 17, 2023
Suva FC v Auckland City
Luganville, 4pm (NZT)
Interview with City coach Albert Riera
Watch the live stream
Game to be played on Saturday May 20, 2023
Lupe Ole Soaga v Auckland City
Luganville, 1pm (NZT)
More about the tournament
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