‘Freakish’ incident sidelines Spaniard from City side
Auckland City and reigning Oceania Champions League title-holders Waitakere United kicked off the 20089 version of the competition with a typically fierce 2-2 draw on Sunday.
City’s captain Ivan Vicelich and former Barcelona player Xavi Roca made their respective debuts for the club at its Kiwitea St base.
But the Spaniard didn’t see out the game after he was stretchered from the park 10 minutes before halftime thanks to a knee injury incurred in a tackle.
“He’s fitted in really well. It’s a real shame, but it’s one of those freakish things,” City coach Colin Tuaa says.
The extent of Roca’s injury isn’t clear, although he’s expected to be out of action for at least the next couple of weeks.
Waitakere drew first blood on the scoreboard with Aaron Scott and Daniel Koprivicic combining to present Benjamin Totori with a scoring chance, which he converted in the 21st minute.
But it wasn’t long before City replied thanks to super- Keryn Jordan, who entered the fray as Roca’s replacement and immediately made an impact.
After twice going close inside the next 10 minutes, he equalised on the stroke of halftime, racing through on goal before rounding Richard Gillespie and tucking the ball into an empty net.
Four minutes after the interval, Jordan fired City in front, rifling home a 20 yarder after evading the challenges of Danny Hay and Neil Emblen.
Soon after the goal, Grant Young rattled the Waitakere crossbar, as the reigning champions reeled under a spell of City pressure.
Although Waitakere’s new Brazilian-import Adriano Pimenta missed a penalty 18 minutes from time, Paul Seaman tied things up for the visitors one minute later.
With the absence of Roca for the next few matches, Tuaa says he’ll need to adjust his game plan, starting with City’s opening New Zealand Football Championship match against Otago on Sunday.
It takes place at Kiwitea St with kick-off from 3pm.