Auckland City 2 Team Wellington 0
(ACFC win 5-0 on aggregate) 
Oceania Champions League (2nd Leg)
David Farrington Park, Wellington
Sunday 7th May 2017
Attendance : 1000 

Auckland City OCL champions for the 7th time The JourneyFan
This game was probably the biggest ever competitive club game played in Wellington. Some may say the Phoenix in the A-League semi-final was bigger, but this game was the at federation level and the Champions League (the final no less). The winner of this game goes to the Club World Cup and as well as making a wad of cash for themselves, also partly fund New Zealand Football, Southern United & Canterbury United (.....oh and the other National League clubs) for the next season.

I did think about writing a report on the game, but as it was a "big" game the proper media were in attendance, and as they have deadlines and I don't (or they get paid and I don't) the reports were out there on the evening of the game and there is a good chance that if you are reading this you would have read at least one of those reports or had been at the game

So I was trying to think of a different angle. I started with the idea of talking to fans of both teams to find out what the game meant to them. As I was meeting my Auckland City pals in Wellington's premier rooftop bar, Dirty Little Secret, I put the idea to them and it was met with great enthusiasm, then one of them came back to the table with a couple of jugs of beer and several Singapore Slings and that was the end of that!

So instead here are some thoughts on the game and the teams involved

1. Ramon Tribulietx 

Ramon Tribulietx The JourneyFan
If Asterix creators Gonscinny and Uderzo had created a football coach, they probably wouldn't have called him Tribulitex, but they should have. Ramon has an outstanding knowledge of football, and an outstanding record, he has won 7 Oceania Champions Leagues, 4 premierships (IE the league for old school people), 2 grand finals and finished 3rd at the Club World Cup. He can adapt teams to suit the situation as he showed over the 2 legs of this game. He has essentially run a professional club in an amateur environment for the last 7 years. It would be great to see what he could do with players whose only job was to play football. He is without a doubt one of the best coaches we have ever had in New Zealand and it would be a real shame to lose him overseas.

2 The new format

This year saw a new format for the Champions League. The Group stage was split into 4 and each group was played in one location, unfortunately Oceania's contribution to the costs is nominal leaving the bulk of the costs to be carried by the host club (which is why we didn't get to see a group in Wellington). The 4 winners then play home and away in the Semi Finals and then the final. Oceania said this was to allow fans to get to see their teams and it works, 1000 turned up to this game, despite it being effectively over after Auckland City won 3-0 at home the week before.

3 Enaut Zubikarai

 Enaut Zubikarai with the OCL trophy and Golden Glove award The JourneyFan
Auckland City's outstanding goalkeeper, who has played over 100 games for Real Sociedad (A & B teams) conceded only one goal in the Oceania Champions League and deservedly won the Golden Glove award. In the Stirling Sports Premiership he conceded only 15 goals in 18 games (and four of those were in one match).

His shot stopping, positioning and distribution is excellent. Auckland City coaching staff love having him around as he is very professional and won't accept anything but the best, which has been rubbing off on his team mates.

With the Wellington Phoenix on the lookout for a keeper for next season they could do a lot worse than signing Zubikarai.

4 Team Wellington  

Team Wellington The JourneyFan
 Team Wellington have had a fantastic season under new coach, Jose Figuera, scoring an incredible 75 goals in 25 games in the Premiership and OCL. They defended their Grand Title and made it to their 3rd Oceania Champions League final in a row. Waitakere United used to be Auckland City's main rivals but have fallen away in recent years, Team Wellington have definitely stepped up and taken on the challenge and look to be setting themselves up to do it for many years to come.
5 Emilano Tade's goal

Love him or hate him, there is no denying that Argentinian Emilano Tade is a fantastic player. He was getting a lot of stick form the Yellow Fever Team Wellington fans, maybe because he used to play for Team Wellington or maybe because like Team Wellington's Ben Harris he tends to go to ground rather easily, whatever he answered the cat calls perfectly with a beautifully placed curling shot into the top corner.

6 The Fans - Team Wellington's Yellow Fever v Auckland City's 248 crew

Team Wellington's Yellow Fever fans The JourneyFan

The Yellow Fever are Wellington Phoenix fans, but several of them get themselves along to Team Wellington games which is great to see, especially when they turn up with flags and drums (although they really needed to hit it more than once during the game!) as they did on Sunday. However it was Auckland City's 248 crew that won the day on this one (OK it was helped by their team winning) but when they start singing they don't stop. Although a shout out needs to go to the 2 young girls in the front of the stand who tried to get some Team Wellington chants going in the 1st half.

So that's the Stirling Sports Premiership and Oceania Champions League over for another season, some players are transferring to winter clubs, some are going home to see families. Ramon Tribulietx is off contract at Auckland City and could be looking for a new job (hint hint Wellington Phoenix). It's been a great season and I'm already looking forward to the next one.