Auckland City claim first leg OFC play-off win against Wellington Olympic

National U-17 forward Stipe Ukich has given Auckland City a 1-0 lead over Wellington Olympic after the first leg in the OFC Men’s Champions League national play-off.

Ukich (17) popped up with the decisive moment off the bench in a hard-fought encounter in fine conditions at Kiwitea Street in Auckland.

It was a fast and furious start, with Auckland City having penalty appeals waved away after Regont Murati went down inside the box just seconds into the contest.

Both teams looked to play at pace and a high intensity, shutting down time and space in midfield, and making for a very open first twenty minutes as neither side was able to control possession for long periods.

Main photo: Auckland City’s Dylan Manickum (left) and Olympic’s Gavin Hoy battle for midfield possession. Photo credit: OFC Media / Phototek.

Wellington Olympic gained the early momentum, as first Hamish Watson pulled a long-range shot inches wide of the bottom right corner on the counter-attack, before Oliver Colloty found Jack-Henry Sinclair unmarked down the right-hand side of the box, only for the latter to blast over the crossbar from close range.

Sinclair missed another decent opening moments later, heading straight at Connor Tracey after latching onto a ball in behind the defence from Watson.

City were showing some rust in their first competitive match of the season, but as they so often do, began to dictate possession more and more, settling into the match as the half wore on.

A cross into the box off the right flank from Liam Gillion fell for Michael Den Heijer near the penalty spot, but he failed to maintain his composure and powered his effort over the crossbar on the half-volley.

Gillion then tested the keeper after a run down the left-hand side of the box, but couldn’t beat Scott Basalaj at his near post moments before the break.

The contest continued to flow back and forth in the second half, with Kailan Gould scuffing a shot wide of the bottom right corner for Olympic, and Dylan Manickum slashing over the crossbar following an attack down the right-hand side.

The Navy Blues knuckled down and began to assert more control, with Cam Howieson firing wide of the right post from long range and Basalaj forced to hurriedly clear away following a goal-line scramble from a City corner.

Wellington Olympic sat back and looked to strike on the counter, coming close when Kaelin Nguyen couldn’t beat Tracey in a one-on-one inside the box.

Stipe Ukich … provided the breakthrough for Auckland City. Photo credit: OFC Media / Phototek.

The pressure eventually told, and it was Ukich who provided the decisive moment for Auckland City off the bench.

Nathan Lobo picked out the substitute with a pinpoint pass down the left side of the box, and Ukich was able to fire the hosts ahead with a cool finish from a tight angle.

Ukich almost added a second late on, latching meeting a corner from the left, but his header was clawed away by Basalaj.

The tie now heads to a second leg at Martin Luckie Park in Wellington on March 16, where New Zealand’s OFC Men’s Champions League representative for 2024 will be decided.


Game played on Saturday March 9, 2024

National play-offs — first leg

Auckland City 1 (Stipe Ukich 72′)
Wellington Olympic 0


Auckland City

Conor Tracey, Mario Ilich, Christian Gray, Cam Howieson (captain), Dylan Manickum, Ryan De Vries (Stipe Ukich 70′), Regont Murati, Nathan Lobo (Joe Lee 84′), Jordan Vale, Liam Gillion (Angus Kilkolly 90+4′), Michael Den Heijer.

Subs not used: Joe Wallis (GK), Joe Ridley, Tong Zhou.




Albert Riera (head coach), Ivan Vicelich (assistant coach), Matt Payne (physio), Keith Coton (team manager), Eñaut Zubikarai (goalkeeper coach), Adria Casals (sports scientist).

Wellington Olympic

Scott Basalaj, Gabiriele Matanisiga, Adam Supyk, Justin Gulley (captain), Tor Davenport-Petersen, Hamish Watson, Oliver Colloty (Jesse Randall 63′), Kailan Gould (Luke Tongue 63′), Jack-Henry Sinclair (Tamupiwa Dimairo 78′), Gavin Hoy, Kaelin Nguyen (Jonty Roubos 73′).

Subs not used: Alex Britton (GK), Matthew King (GK), Joel Coustrain.


Yellow: Supyk (72′), Gulley (90+2′), Randall (90+6′)


Paul Ifill (head coach), Ekow Quainoo and Taylor Hall-Jones (assistant coaches),  Brogan Treanor (physio), Matthew Kolic (team manager), Alex Britton (goalkeeper coach).


Calvin Berg (referee), Edward Cook and Gareth Sheehan (assistant referees), Luke Gardner (fourth official), Martin Neale (assessor), Jay Aickin (co-ordinator).

Read the match programme

Auckland City have published a match programme for this fixture. Read it online here:


National play-offs — second leg

Game to be played on Saturday March 16, 2024

Wellington Olympic v Auckland City
Martin Luckie Park, Wellington, 2pm

More football stories