Auckland City FC’s push for the Stirling Sports Premiership minor title intensifies when the Navy Blues tackle Hamilton Wanderers for the second time in four days on Sunday.
Auckland City FC blew the doors off Hamilton Wanderers on Wednesday scoring five unanswered goals in a win that saw the Navy Blues climb four places into top spot.
Key to Auckland City FC’s continued ascent will be careful squad rotation with Southern United due to visit Kiwitea Street on Wednesday followed by what looms as a crunch match-up with arch-rivals Waitakere United at the same venue the following Sunday.
The fixture backlog has built up due to Auckland City FC’s successful participation at the Nike Lunar New Year Cup in Hong Kong in January but despite the physical rigours there are few complaints coming from the squad.
Striker Ryan De Vries says the wins over FC Seoul and Kitchee SC provided the perfect platform to boost the club’s domestic and regional ambitions.
“It was a special moment for our team and all the players to travel to Hong Kong and play the Korean and Hong Kong champions. It showed just what this group can do.
“We can compete at a top international level and do well. Domestically, we’ve been a bit unlucky prior to Wednesday in some games where we’ve not made the most of our opportunities.
AUDIO – Ryan De Vries
“Teams have taken a different approach to us this season and sit deeper.As a team we’ve just got to work harder on and off the ball. When things click like they did on Wednesday we can be hard to stop,” he said.
De Vries was on target in the midweek victory alongside braces from Joao Moreira and Emiliano Tade in the Navy Blues biggest win of the season.
The Navy Blues favourite says recovery during a busy period of fixtures is key to success.
“Recovery is a important for us because we’ve got so many games in such a short period of time. We need to stay on top of that part of our preparation and make sure we don’t burn out. Its important we pick up another three points on Sunday.
“Everyone wants to play in every game and it can be tough if the squad is rotated but at the end of the day its the coaches decision whether a player needs a rest or he thinks someone else can give something else to a particular game.
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re on the bench or starting games you must give 100 percent and we have a good group of players that get on well with each other and support each other on and off the pitch,” he said.
Sunday’s game takes on even more importance with Eastern Suburbs AFC away to struggling Tasman United, Team Wellington away at Southern United and Waitakere United facing a crunch match away at Canterbury United.
Auckland City FC’s game with Hamilton Wanderers kicks-off at 4.35pm NZST on Sunday 19 February.
Stirling Sports Premiership
Sunday 19 February 2017
Auckland City FC v Hamilton Wanderers
Kiwitea Street, Sandringham
Kick-off: 4.35pm NZST