Auckland City make final
Auckland City FC are into their fifth consecutive Oceania Champions League final after beating newcomers FC Gaitcha of New Caledonia 1-0 in Fiji on April 21.
Having won each of their pool matches 3-0 the Sandringham-based football club looked a little bereft of ideas in the first half of the semifinal in Suva, despite never having been beaten by a New Caledonia-based club.
They threatened whenever they got near the Gaitcha goal but they were not able to convert, largely due to their opponents’ scrambling defence and a short two-day turnaround from their win over Amicale.
FC Gaitcha, who qualified for the last four as the group stage’s best runner-up, rarely troubled Auckland. New Caledonian international Bertrand Kai and young striker Jim Ouka were their main goal threats.
In a first half where the teams created only one clearcut chance each it was the Navy Blues who were left most frustrated when Marko Dordevic saw his header cleared off the line.
In the second half, however, despite a more aggressive approach from Gaitcha, it seemed only a matter of time before Auckland City would score with Gaitcha constantly fouling their much fancied opponents.
The breakthrough finally came for Auckland City in the 72nd minute when defender Dordevic got his reward, heading a Daewook Kim freekick into the back of the net over the head of Gaitcha keeper Rocky Nyikeine.
Auckland City coach Ramon Tribulietx says he is delighted with the result and is not surprised by how closely contested the semifinal was.
‘‘I’m happy with the result. These one-off games are tough. In the first half we didn’t break that high line of pressure but when we did we had a player running in behind their back four,’’ he says. ‘‘The second half we created a lot of chances throughout the game and we’ve won through final.’’
Auckland City will meet another New Zealand club, Team Wellington, in the final.
Wellington are through for the first time ever after beating host side Ba FC 2-0.
The lads from the capital city were direct and decisive as they applied pressure from the outset for their win.
The Champions League final will be held on Sunday, at ANZ Stadium in Suva, Fiji from 7pm.
Auckland’s goal hits the back of the net.