Football: Auckland City in great shape for Club World Cup

Darren White (9) takes on Dyland Manickum (12) and Tristan Prattley. Photo / Dave Mackay.
Darren White (9) takes on Dyland Manickum (12) and Tristan Prattley. Photo / Dave Mackay.

Defender Darren White says Auckland City FC are in great shape ahead of the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan starting next Thursday.

White, a veteran of the Oceania champions romantic run to a bronze medal finish two years ago, was a stand out in Auckland City FC's 4-1 win over Hong Kong Rangers on Tuesday, a result that came on the back of a 1-0 win over Hawke's Bay United on Saturday.

Auckland City FC now face a second friendly match when they take on J.League 3 outfit SC Sagamihara in Yokohama on Friday at 2pm local time (6pm NZST) and White is raring to go.

"We've got a few more players who have experienced these types of games before," White said.

"Especially the likes of Albert Riera who has the type of experience that can help us for whats coming up.

"Playing in these games is a huge motivator to perform at your best because its what you've always dreamed of doing.

"The chance to play in front of teams like this and crowds to match don't come along very often so its important to make the most of the opportunity."

SC Sagamihara enjoyed a strong start to their domestic season but ran out of steam to finish 11th in the 16-team competition.

Coach Ramon Tribulietx gave 19 players of his 23-man squad a run out in the win over Hong Kong Rangers with only assistant coach Ivan Vicelich, goalkeeper Jacob Spoonley and Harshae Raniga missing out, Raniga due to arrive in Japan the day of the match after staying in New Zealand for work reasons.

With the squad likely to be rotated further for this second friendly, Navy Blues right back White says the future is bright for Auckland City FC.

"We've got a few more experienced heads this year. Myself and a few other boys have been around a while and you can really sense with this squad that it's got the depth and youth you want in a squad.

"We've worked on a few things we've been doing for the past six weeks so its good to be out there and build up some momentum going into the game on December whoever it may be."

Auckland City FC open their campaign next Thursday against the J.League winners at Yokohama International Stadium.

The identity of Auckland City FC's opponents won't be decided until December 3 when Urawa Red Diamonds face Kashima Antlers in the second leg of the J.League final.

Urawa defeated Kashima 1-0 away in the first leg.
The winner of the FIFA Club World Cup playoff meets African champions Mamelodi Sundowns in the quarter-finals in Osaka on December 11.

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