Lots at stake as champions Auckland City face Manurewa in midweek clash

Title-holders Auckland City can take the lead in this year’s Northern League with a midweek win against fourth-placed Manurewa.

The clubs meet in a rescheduled Round 10 fixture as Auckland City play catch-up games following their involvement at the OFC Champions League tournament in Vanuatu.

A win will take the Navy Blues above current leaders Eastern Suburbs, on goal difference.

Manurewa, promoted to the Northern League this season, have ambitions to stay in the top four and qualify for this year’s Men’s National League.

City coach Albert Riera expects a difficult game under the floodlights at the Croatian Cultural Club.

He told Auckland City’s website:

Mario Ilich … about to make his 100th appearance for Auckland City. Photo: Andrew Skinner / Phototek.

“Manurewa are a good side, especially up front, and it’s going to be a very hard game, especially as it’s going to be a midweek game.

“We are going to have some players who are tired  and that’s why we sometimes rotate players, talking to them, ask them to speak up to see how they feel, if they are really 100 percent to play; otherwise someone else will going to play because everyone can do the job.”

The game will mark a milestone for defender Mario Ilich, if he plays, as it would be his 100th game in an Auckland City shirt.

Ilich told the club’s website:

“For my 100th game, I’m absolutely buzzing to get over the hundy-mark, I think I finished on 99 games for Central.

“I started for Central United when I was 4-year-old and to play for the men’s team and get hundred games here, it’s unbelievable. It would mean a lot to me and my family.”

Main photo: Auckland City … unbeaten so far in this year’s Northern League. Photo: Andrew Skinner / Phototek.

Former coach will make line-up changes

Manurewa coach Paul Marshall acknowledges Auckland City have been “Oceania’s best team for a decade and a half”.

Marshall has previously coached Auckland City at National League level and told his club’s social media channel: “I’d love to get the three points.”

He said City had plenty of depth, which Manurewa lacked, and if teams wanted to compete with City, they would need to build high-quality squads.

Marshall said he would be making line-up changes to the Manurewa side that lost 2-0 to Auckland United last weekend.

“We’re probably punching above our weight at the moment but we’ve lost a couple of games lately, and that hurts.”

Manurewa head coach Paul Marshall … returns to his former club for the midweek match. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

Battle of the strikers

Both clubs have outstanding goalscorers.

Auckland City’s Ryan de Vries is in fine form, with 10 goals in the Northern League, despite coming off the bench in many of his games this year.

Manurewa’s New Zealand international Monty Patterson missed a month through injury but still has nine goals for his side this season.

De Vries and Patterson are second and third in the Northern League’s Golden Boot, behind Hamilton Wanderers’ Derek Tieku (15 goals).

Match preview


Game to be played on Wednesday June 28, 2023

Auckland City v Manurewa
Croatian Cultural Club, Te Atatu South, 7pm


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