Manukau Courier : January 24th 2014
www.manukaucourier.co.nz SPORT MANUKAU COURIER, JANUARY 24, 2014 Tough test ahead for United team By SIMON KAY A 1-1 draw with Hawke’s Bay last weekend continued Auckland United’s encouraging start to football’s ASB Youth League but the new team’s toughest test awaits on Sunday with a game against Auckland City. City were undefeated in last season’s competition, winning seven and drawing one of their eight Northern Conference games before beating Southern Conference champions Otago United 3-0 in the final. The defending champions have again started strongly, winning 6-2 against Wanderers, the New Zealand Special guest squad preparing for next year’s Fifa Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand, and 3-1 against Waikato-Bay of Plenty in Cambridge last weekend. Auckland United coach Mauricio Rojas is taking a team that played its first competitive match just two weeks ago up against the country’s strongest club. He recognises the odds are in Auckland City’s favour. ‘‘This is going to be a tough game. We’re going in with a winning mentality and we’ll give them a run for their money but they’ll definitely be the favourites,’’ he says. He’s hoping to have captain Cameron Emerson back for Sunday’s match which kicks off at the Croatian Cultural Society ground in Te Atatu at 11am. Emerson was probably the best player in United’s debut 3-1 win over Waitakere but was injured at training last week and missed last Sunday’s game against Hawke’s Bay at Mangere’s Centre Park. His absence didn’t look too costly at first as Auckland United took the lead with a well-taken eighth-minute goal from Soheb Sheik, set up by a no-look pass from Alex Waimora, and completely dominated the opening half hour. But an injured Scott Booker had to be replaced before halftime, which left United without both firstchoice holding midfielders. Hawke’s Bay proved more competitive after the break and goalkeeper Eamon Goodin made two good saves early in the second half. Auckland United often struggled to retain possession and resorted to knocking it long from the back. Hawke’s Bay are a direct, physical side and many of their best attacks came when United gave away the ball in their own half. United’s chances were enhanced when Hawke’s Bay striker Angus Kilkolly was sent off for a bad tackle in the 67th minute. United created several good scoring chances throughout the game but failed to convert any more, which proved costly when Hawke’s Bay equalised in the 79th minute. Based on the scoring opportunities, a draw was probably a fair result. But given Auckland United led for 70 minutes, were so dominant early on and squandered chances it felt more like two points dropped for the South Auckland hosts. ‘‘It was good experience for the boys and we’re going to learn from it,’’ Rojas says. ‘‘We didn’t lose. We could have put it out of their control but we weren’t capable or confident enough to play to our strengths.’’ Rojas says the ultimate goal of Auckland United, which has a three-year licence to compete in the ASB Youth League, is to win the competition but it’s still early days. ‘‘It’s all about learning and getting stronger. It’s the first time some of these boys have played at this level and it’s the first time we’ve played these teams. It’s a steep learning curve. ‘‘We want to win as many games as we can and play our style of football. This team is here to show that South Auckland has got a lot of talent.’’ 11 lightens up team training There was a lighter moment at training for Auckland United’s young players on Tuesday when 2008 Iron Man world champion Terenzo Bozzone popped in for a visit. Fresh off from his third placing at the 70.3 Ironman Asia Pacific Championship race in Auckland last weekend, Bozzone was there for a footballing lesson from Alex Waimora. The Auckland United striker won a competition where part of the prize was to show the Kellogg’s NutriGrain ambassador what he could do with a football. In return Bozzone showed Waimora tricks triathletes use in transition. Bozzone, who was made Special guest: Former World Ironman champion Terenzo Bozzone, seventh from right, is at Auckland United training on Tuesday night. an honorary team member for the day, left with an Auckland United jersey with his name and the number three on it. The number was representative of his sport. Drill: Triathlete Terenzo Bozzone right, gives juggling a crack in the company of Auckland United player Alex Waimora. What? Alex Waimora, left, and triathlete Terenzo Bozzone crack up as they watch Waimora’s Auckland United team mate George Ladoga juggle a football while seated.
January 23rd 2014
January 28th 2014