AFF, Auckland Council praise Cup win

Auckland City Councillor Desley Simpson believes Auckland City FC’s win at the Nike Lunar New Year Cup in Hong Kong is a big boost for the city and New Zealand.

Auckland City FC were a last minute inclusion in the four team international event but made a big impression after they defeated Korea Republic champions FC Seoul 1-0 in the semi-finals.

The Ramon Tribulietx-coached team then defeated host club and Hong Kong champions Kitchee SC 1-0 in the final at Hong Kong International Stadium to take out the trophy.

Simpson was delighted by the achievement and says its put not just the club but New Zealand and Auckland as a city firmly in the international spotlight.

“It was an outstanding win for Auckland City FC and also a win for Auckland City Council and as a region.

“Football is such a high participation sport among our young people and with role models at this level it is very encouraging for everyone.

“Auckland Council is committed to sport so that our facilities are kept up to speed so they can be played on at all sorts of levels as well as the elite.

“There are more economic benefits thans meets the eye. The relationship between Auckland and many of the Asian countries is strengthening as we go forward.

“To have a team like this from New Zealand helps both sides economically for the city and the region and the countries that they work with.

“Auckland City FC has done everyone proud and I’m certainly proud of them,” she said.

Auckland Football Federation Competitions Manager Angela Wallbank was also in attendance at the club’s photocall at Kiwitea Street and told Sky Sport the win lifted the profile of the sport in the region.

“Auckland Football Federation has a Memorandum of Understanding with both Auckland City FC and Eastern Suburbs AFC to support promotion of these teams in the Stirling Sports Premiership.

“Many of the players at both set-ups also compete in our winter league competition the Lotto NRFL so there are strong links to clubs like Eastern Suburbs AFC, Onehunga Sports, Central United, Mangere United and many more.

“So to see one of these sides compete and win at an international level is very encouraging and its also a boost when we see Auckland City FC and Eastern Suburbs AFC both pushing for a playoff spot in the Stirling Sports Premiership,” she said.

Auckland City FC chairman Ivan Vuksich was understandably pleased with the win in Hong Kong and about the possibilities for further competition for his team in Asia.

“I’m very proud of the players and staff and its given us a very good gauge of how much people know about New Zealand as a country.

“When you speak to people in that part of the world you realise how little they know about our country even though we like to think they do.

“Our win has lit a few candles and talks are underway for possible junior team tours to Korea Republic and Thailand at tournaments and there’s a possibility we may be invited back to defend our Cup win in Hong Kong next year,” he said.

Auckland City FC’s next match is with Wellington Phoenix U-20 in the Stirling Sports Premiership on Sunday 12 February, 2017.

The match kicks off at 4.35pm and is live on Sky Sport.

Eastern Suburbs AFC travel south to face Southern United on the same day.