Must-win match for Auckland City

Auckland City FC. Photo / Dean Purcell.
Auckland City FC. Photo / Dean Purcell.

Defending champions Auckland City FC are facing a winner-takes-all encounter against Amicale in the final match of the group stages on Sunday afternoon.

The Navy Blues will go into their game against their old foe from Vanuatu knowing that a defeat could end their quest for a sixth successive title. In the day's earlier match the Solomon Warriors and Papua New Guinea champions Lae City Dwellers will both be keen to avoid a bottom rung finish.

The Solomon Warriors' return to the Champions League has been a mixed bag. They were comprehensively outplayed by Auckland City in their opening match before an impressive 1-1 draw with Vanuatu heavyweights Amicale.

The Solomon Islanders will be eager to finish their campaign with a win. Moses Toata believes his players can take a lot of positives out of their performance against Amicale.

"From this one we will be building on our game and will try and improve some aspects of our game.

Tactically we will need to work harder."

Meanwhile, Champions League newcomers Lae City will be desperate to create history by claiming their first ever win in the region's elite international club competition. And they have plenty of reasons to be optimistic.

The Papua New Guinea title holders showed glimpses of their potential in their 3-0 defeat to Amicale before an even more impressive performance against Auckland City in their second group game.

Peter Gunemba's charges pushed the seven-time champions all the way before a goal in the final minute of regulation time condemned them to a narrow 2-1 defeat. The coach is hoping his troops have saved their best for their final outing of the tournament.

"We'll give our very, very best against them and we hope to win that game and go home with heads high."

Auckland City have ruled the OFC Champions League with an iron fist since 2011. And Ramon Tribulietx's men are still on track for their sixth title in-a-row. They enter the final match day on top of Group A with two wins from their two matches. However they know a slip up against Amicale could end their dream of once again representing Oceania at the FIFA Club World Cup later in the year in Japan.

The Navy Blues will need to get at least a draw against Amicale to secure their passage into the final four. Having been drawn into the same group in the past three years the two sides will have a fair idea of what to expect. And Auckland City's Catalan coach Ramon Tribulietx is preparing for a tough challenge.

"Yeah, we know each other very well. Of course, it will be a different side from the one we faced last time but their basic structure, philosophy and style will be the same. They are experienced at this level and more importantly they are hungry for success. This will be a very tough match for us."

Amicale are in on a mission to make amends for failing to progress from the group stages in last year's Champions League in Fiji. And they signaled their intentions with a dominant 3-0 victory over Lae City Dwellers in their tournament opener.

However, Mauro Bertoni's men were far less convincing in their second Group A match against the Solomon Warriors. Still trailing 1-0 in stoppage time it took a brilliant free kick from Giorgio Bertacchi to give Amicale a share of the points.

Only a win against Auckland City will be enough for Amicale to qualify for the next stage of the 2016 OFC Champions League. But Italian boss Mauro Bertoni insists his charges will not change their game-plan against the pre-tournament favourites.

"Nothing will change for our plan because this is our football especially when you play against a team with such high quality like Auckland."

Solomon Warriors vs. Lae City Dwellers
QBE Stadium Oval
Auckland, New Zealand
Sunday 17 April, 2016
Kick-off: 1pm
#SOLvLAE #OCL

Auckland City FC vs. Amicale
QBE Stadium Oval
Auckland, New Zealand
Sunday 17 April, 2016
Kick-off: 3.30pm
#AKLvAMI #OCL

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf05 at 11 Dec 2016 23:47:10 Processing Time: 498ms