PREVIEW: Auckland City and Wellington Olympic set for OFC play-off decider

Auckland City expect arch rivals Wellington Olympic to come out with guns blazing when they meet in their OFC Men’s Champions League play-off decider.

City defender Michael den Heijer told Auckland City FC Media: “I’m expecting a fast start from them — it’s going to be a fiery game.”

The teams meet at Wellington’s Martin Luckie Park on Saturday March 16, 2024, for the second match of their two-legged play-off series after Auckland gained the advantage with a 1-0 win in the opener.

Den Heijer said the City team felt proud to have kept a clean sheet against the National League champions in the first leg at Kiwitea Street.

“It’s an exciting prospect, trying to keep it two clean sheets in a row against a top attacking line-up,” den Heijer said.

“We’ll be doing everything we can to do that.”

Losing the National League grand final to Olympic in late 2023 had benefitted City, in that they were now focussed on regaining their upper hand over their rivals.

“I think we’re going to have to come with exactly the same attitude as what we brought to Kiwitea in the first leg.”

Main photo: Auckland City goalscorer Stipe Ukich is brought down in the first leg. Photo: Andy Skinner / Phototek.

Olympic coach Paul Ifill: ‘We are under no illusions’

Wellington Olympic head coach Paul Ifill believes his side’s vocal supporters and home advantage can swing the two-legged tie his team’s way.

Writing in the club’s match programme, Ifill said: “Even though we lost (the first leg), I felt that we were always a threat and that the game could have gone either way.

“I always thought that we would have to win at home to progress, and I feel a 1-0 deficit is obtainable if we get things right today with our very vocal supporters behind us.

“We are under no illusion as to the task at hand as we face the most successful club in the country.

“Games of this magnitude are what we as players and staff love, and I can promise we will leave everything out there as
we try to qualify for a maiden O-League campaign.”

Ifill’s final words are to the Olympic fans: “Please get behind the players as I really feel you could be the difference today.”

What they’re playing for

The result over two legs will decide which team represents New Zealand at the OFC Men’s Champions League tournament in Tahiti from May 11-24, 2024.

READ MORE: Draw made for eight-club OFC Men’s Champions League tournament >>>>

The winners of the OFC Men’s Champions League will qualify to represent Oceania at a new annual FIFA club competition, the FIFA Intercontinental Cup.

The first staging of the six-club tournament will be in December.

Auckland City … 1-0 victors in the first leg at Kiwitea Street. Photo: Andy Skinner / Phototek.

City fans to watch game live from clubrooms

Auckland City are hosting a day of football — live and on their television screens — at their Kiwitea Street headquarters.

The clubrooms will open at 1pm, and spectators will be able to enjoy live football between Central United Presidents XI and Mount Albert Ponsonby for the Brian Stanyer Memorial Trophy at 2pm.

READ MORE: Clubs get together for annual memorial match to remember Brian ‘Stan’ Stanyer >>>>

The club will screen the live FIFA+ stream of the OFC Champions League play-off from Wellington (see link below).


Game to be played on Saturday March 16, 2024

OFC Men’s Champions League

National play-offs — second leg

Wellington Olympic v Auckland City 
Martin Luckie Park, Wellington, 2pm
Auckland City lead 1-0 after first leg

READ MORE: Auckland City claim first leg OFC play-off win against Wellington Olympic >>>>

Download the match programme


Game played on Saturday March 9, 2024

National play-offs — first leg

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

Midfield battle … Wellington Olympic’s Gavin Hoy (left) and Auckland City captain Cam Howieson are expected to play key roles in the second leg. Photo: Andy Skinner / Phototek.


Wellington Olympic

Possible squad based on pre-season appearances:

1 Scott Basalaj (GK)
2 Gabriele Matanisiga
3 Adam Supyk
4 Dylan Wood
5 Justin Gulley
6 Tor Davenport Petersen
7 Jesse Randall
8 Edward Wilkinson
9 Hamish Watson
10 Oliver Colloty
11 Kallan Gould
12 Chris Kotrotsos (GK)
13 William Vincent
14 Jack-Henry Sinclair
15 Ben Mata (captain))
16 Joshua Apaapa-Preston
17 Devon Thurston
18 Luke Tongue
19 Samuel Mitrakas
20 Tamupiwa Dimalro
21 Isa Prins
22 Lukas Hallklas
23 Gavin Hoy
24 Jonty Roubos
25 Joel Coustrain
26 Ollver Davies
27 Kaelin Nguyen
28 Josh Rudiand
41 Alex Britton (GK)
42 Matthew King (GK)


Head coach: Paul Ifill
Assistant coaches: Ekow Quainoo, Taylor Hall-Jones
Goalkeeper coach: Alex Britton
Physio: Brogan Treanor
Team manager: Matt Kolic
Gear manager: Dave Graham

Auckland City

1. Conor Tracey (GK)
2. Mario Ilich
3. Adam Mitchell
4. Christian Gray
5. Timothy Boulet
6. Riley Sexton
7. Cam Howieson (captain)
8. Gerard Garriga
9. Angus Kilkolly
10. Dylan Manickum
11. Ryan De Vries
12. Regont Murati
13. Nathan Lobo
14. Jordan Vale
15, Caleb Moosbally
16. Joe Lee
17. Joe Ridley
18. Arreya Prasad (GK)
19. Liam Gillion
21. Adam Bell
22. Tong Zhou
23. Alfie Roger
24. Joe Wallis (GK)
25. Michael Den Heijer
26. Rayan Tayeb
27. Stipe Ukich


Head coach: Albert Riera
Assistant coach: Ivan Vicelich
Goalkeeper coach: Enaut Zubikarai
Strength & conditioning coach: Adria Casals
Physio: Matt Payne
Logistics: Keith Coton

More football stories