Pre-season starts for coach Steve Corica and his growing Auckland FC squad

posted in: A-League (Men), News

By Harrison Ryburn

With about four months till their men’s A-League debut, Auckland FC have started pre-season training at North Harbour Stadium in Albany, albeit with a small but growing squad.

Only 13 of the club’s 17 announced players featured in Tuesday morning’s training session, with Adama Coulibaly, Oliver Middleton, and Finn McKenlay all on duty with Chris Greenacre’s New Zealand U-19 side at the OFC U-19 Men’s Championship in Samoa.

Experienced defender Tommy Smith was also absent after participating in the All Whites OFC Men’s Nations Cup campaign in Tahiti 10 days before.

Notably, goalkeeper Michael Woud was joined by youngsters Oscar Mason (Western Springs) and Joe Knowles (Eastern Suburbs), despite not yet having contracts, as experienced goalkeeper coach Jonathan Gould put them through their paces.

READ MORE: Auckland FC recruit former Phoenix staffer Jonathan Gould for coaching role >>>>

Main photo: Steve Corica … ‘We need to set the standards from the start.’

Newly-recruited goalkeeper coach Jonathan Gould puts Michael Woud through his paces.

Head coach Steve Corica was happy with the way the first four training sessions had gone, with a clear focus on building fitness in these early stages.

“It’s a very long pre-season (four months), so it’s normal in the first week or two to take a bit of time for them to get up to speed, and we’re slowly building them up,” he said.

“It’s good to see them all under our guidance now. I’ve watched a lot of them play, but it’s good to see them in their training sessions now and their qualities first-hand.”

Corica has also spoken of implementing a winning culture within the squad, and that competitive nature was evident within the drills at Tuesday’s training.

“Obviously, starting a new club takes time to build culture, but we need to set the standards from the start and what we expect, and the culture will build from there.”

With a core group of players already familiar with each other from the New Zealand domestic leagues, particularly the Northern League, he believes creating that culture may be easier.

Tuesday’s session also saw the announcement of former Johnny Warren medalist Jake Brimmer from Melbourne Victory, and the midfielder was thrust straight into the training drills with his new teammates, despite having only recently recovered from a dose of ‘flu.

READ MORE: Johnny Warren Medal winner Jake Brimmer joins A-League newcomers >>>>

Corica was visibly pleased with Brimmer’s arrival and believes he will be an influential member of Auckland FC’s inaugural squad’s leadership group.

“He’s come to a good age now, he’s got good experience in the A-League, and he’s a quality player.”

“I think he can be a leader and obviously help the younger boys to become good professionals, and help us to get to where we want.”

Harrison Ryburn

Harrison Ryburn is a Canterbury-based football writer.

This story was first published on July 10, 2024.

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