PREVIEW: Auckland City look to turn pressure into positives for semi-final

Defending champions Auckland City face old foes AS Magenta in Thursday’s semi-final at the OFC Men’s Champions League in Tahiti.

New Caledonia’s AS Magenta beat Auckland City at the same stage of the 2019 tournament, but the New Zealand side go into the 2024 match as favourites to win.

Auckland City coach Albert Riera’s side are looking to win a record-extending 12th Champions League title.

Riera is confident his team will thrive under the pressure that comes with being favourites.

“When you’re playing in these games, it’s the pressure that you want to have, it’s a positive pressure,” Riera said.

“For clubs like us, when you play in these games with a lot of pressure, it’s where you play your best.”

Main photo: Albert Riera … confident ahead of his side’s semi-final. Photo credit: OFC Media / Phototek.

Germain Haewegene … Player of the Match after his five goals. Photo credit: OFC Media / Phototek.

Opponents AS Magenta have had little time to recover, having played their final group stage match on Tuesday (NZT).

Coach Pierre Wajoka is conscious of the importance of recovery for his squad.

“The preparation really has to do with care and recovery. A lot of recovery,” Wajoka said.

“Football can be complicated, and we don’t want to make it any more complicated, so I would say the keywords for us are care and recovery.”

The main threat for Magenta is in-form striker Germain Hawegene who led the scoring charts in the New Caledonian Premier League with 11 goals in eight matches and who scored five goals against Vaivase-Tai in their group game.

The day’s second semi-final sees host nation side AS Pirae face Fiji’s Rewa at 4pm at Stade Pater in Papeete.

AS Pirae’s Sandro Tau. Photo credit: OFC Media / Phototek.

For AS Pirae, the tournament represents an opportunity to use their position as hosts to their advantage and go one better than last year’s semi-final place.

Coach Vatea Terai is confident his players will be aware of the opportunity in front of them.

“Of course, the players are determined to fly the flag for the club and for country. On that note, we’re still hoping that the public will come out to support us tomorrow evening for the semi-final,” Terai said.

“The message [to the players] remains the same: stay the same, play the same way, put the ball in the net as we’re used to doing, and above all believe in ourselves and be effective tomorrow night.”

Rewa coach Rodeck Singh knows very well the challenge that his team will be up against in their bid to make the final.

“I’ve seen them [AS Pirae] through all their group matches and they’re a quality side,” Singh said.

“They know what they are doing, everything they do is well planned, well trained, and for us to play them is a great opportunity to test ourselves as individuals, test me as a coach, test us as a district, and also we need to be top quality to match them.”


We are grateful for the help of OFC Media in providing the information for this story.


Games to be played on Thursday May 23, 2024 (NZT)


Auckland City v AS Magenta
Stade Pater, Papeete, 12pm (NZT)

AS Pirae v Rewa
Stade Pater, Papeete, 4pm (NZT)

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