Soccer: Auckland City 'mentally ready' for Hiroshima

Auckland City will face Sanfrecce Hiroshima for a place in the quarter-finals of the FIFA Club World Cup. Photo / Getty Images.
Auckland City will face Sanfrecce Hiroshima for a place in the quarter-finals of the FIFA Club World Cup. Photo / Getty Images.

One final training session at Yokohama International Stadium is all that lies between Auckland City and the biggest game of their lives - the winner takes all playoff with Sanfrecce Hiroshima for a place in the quarter-finals of the FIFA Club World Cup.

After an intensive training schedule over the course of a week in camp in Japan, Auckland City were given the chance to refresh and recharge their batteries today with just a solitary morning session.

It turned out to be their final run out in Yokohama - the official walkover at the match venue on Wednesday night is still to come - but coach Ramon Tribulietx has sensed his players are mentally and tactically prepared and is now taking steps to ensure their overall readiness.

"We have done our job in the background and for a long time we have been watching Hiroshima and Sendai.

"I expected Hiroshima to win the league because they have been the best team and we have learned most things from them

"They are a very technical side and very good in possession. They have got very good players: Hisato, the No. 11 who plays up front and the top goal scorer in the league, and Mikic is a very important player for them. Morisaki the playmaker is very good," Tribulietx said.

The match is another first for Auckland City as new goal line technology gets its first official hit out in a FIFA tournament.

Auckland City was also the first team in the world to kick a Jubulani ball when they faced Al-Ahli at the FIFA Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi three years ago.

Captain Ivan Vicelich believes goal line technology is a must-have.

"It's a good feature to have - we sometimes see goals missed at major tournaments. Any help match officials can get is better for the result in the end," he said.

"It's technology a lot of sports have brought in and I think football can adjust to that as well."

Hiroshima captured their first league title with a total of 64 points, ahead of Sendai on 57, although Hiroshima did lose eight games en route to their maiden championship.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima won their last game of the J.League season with a 1-0 triumph over Vissel Kobe, a result that relegated their opponents on the final day.

Croatian midfielder Mihael Mikic and striker Hisato Sato are the dangermen for the home side, with Sato named the J.League's MVP for 2012 last night.

Last season Auckland City lost 0-2 to Kashiwa Reysol at the same stage of the FIFA Club World Cup but victory this time would set up a quarter final repeat of their 2006 clash with Egypt's Al-Ahly.

Tribulietx is due to name his starting eleven on Thursday evening (NZ time).

- APNZ

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