Auck­land City make fi­nal

Auckland City Harbour News - - SPORT - By TOM CARNEGIE and SARAH HAR­VEY

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.

to the

Photo: SHANE WENZLICK/ PHOTOTEK

Auck­land’s goal hits the back of the net.

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