Auckland City head coach Albert Riera says he’ll decide his starting line-up as late as possible before Sunday’s Men’s National League match against competition newcomers Manurewa.
Though he will be without forward Dylan Manickum — on Futsal Whites duty at the OFC Futsal Nations Cup — he has top goalscorer Ryan de Vries, veteran striker Emiliano Tade and captain Cam Howieson all available again after injury issues.
“It’s going to be very hard for me to make the decision, which is what you want because we have a fantastic squad with very good depth and again, we are going to wait till the very last minute to make the decision on who is starting, even though I have a rough idea, we will keep it until the last day,” Riera told City’s website.
Main photo: Albert Riera … faces difficult selection decisions. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.
The Navy Blues beat Manurewa in both their Northern League matches this year, winning 7-0 and 2-0, but Riera respects the threat posed by Paul Marshall’s team.
“It’s a team with a lot of personality and energy, players that are buzzing. They press very quick, they are very fast in the transitions, especially up front, they have three or four players who are very tricky, combine very well in their attacking third and we have to be very aware of the dangers they present,” he said.
After Saturday’s results in the league, a win for Auckland City would put them in the lead jointly with Wellington Olympic and Christchurch United after two rounds.
That would mean the champions of the Northern League, Central League and Southern League had taken their form into the national phase of the competition.
Meanwhile, Manurewa are after their first league point since returning to the national league.
They lost their season opener 5-2 to Wellington Olympic.
Player to watch
Manurewa’s international striker Monty Patterson (26) presents his side’s main goalscoring threat, having scored 13 goals in a Northern League season disrupted by injury.
Patterson, who is also Rewa’s assistant coach, scored against Olympic last week and will be a handful for the Navy Blues defence.
Watch Albert Riera’s pre-match interview
Auckland City squad
Connor Tracey, Sebastian Ciganda, Joe Wallis
Christian Gray, Timothy Boulet, Regont Murati, Nathan Lobo, Jordan Vale, Adam Bell, Alfie Rogers, Takuya Iwata
Mario Ilich, Cam Howieson, Gerard Garriga, Aidan Carey, Tong Zhou, Michael Den Heijer, Rayan Tayeb
Jordy Tasip, Angus Kilkolly, Dylan Manickum, Ryan De Vries, Joe Lee, Oilver Colloty, Liam Gillion, Emiliano Tade, Stipe Ukich’
Aydin Mustahib, David Masters, Roshan Kumar
Mohammed Muzakkir-Nabeel, Aidan Price, Dylan Horgan, Shuiab (Sammy) Khan, Agustin Contratti, Ronaldo Munoz, Dylan Morris, Caleb Prasad
James Hoyt, Connor Probert, Ethan Foo, Keen Mandizvidza, Boon Oxawa
Eric Kostandini Ziu, Monty Patterson, Hayat Ali Tobita, Nicolas (Nico) Bobadilla, James (Jamie) Cotter
Game to be played on Sunday October 1, 2023
Auckland City v Manurewa
Kiwitea St, Sandringham, 3pm