English in action: FIFA Club World Cup

Auckland City, with four Englishmen in their ranks, stunned football fans across the globe as they finished third in the FIFA Club World Cup.

The tournament, which sees the winner of each continent’s premier competition take on each other, was held in Morocco from the 10th to the 20th December.

Auckland qualified as winners of the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Champions League and were involved in the first match of the tournament as they took on the host country’s entrant Moghreb Tétouan. The winner would qualify for the quarter-finals of the tournament.

The match went all the way to penalties and it was the New Zealand side who held their nerve, winning 4-3 on spot-kicks. Both Englishmen who featured, John Irving and Darren White, were successful converting from the spot. See the highlights here.

In the next round, Auckland were pitted against Africa’s champions, Algerian side ES Sétif.

In another tight encounter, it was Irving who was the hero, with his goal in the 52nd minute securing a 1-0 win, and passage to the semi finals. Darren White also featured as a late substitute. See the goal here.

San Lorenzo were next up for Auckland, and they stood between them and a place in the final against Real Madrid.

The South American champions were a significant jump in quality compared to the two sides Oceania’s champions had already defeated but they battled well, taking the game to extra time following a 1-1 draw in regulation time.

However, the professional side were to be a step too far for Auckland, as San Lorenzo secured a 2-1 victory with a goal in the first half of extra time. Again, Irving started and Sam Burfoot also featured for the first time. See the highlights here.

Despite the loss, there was still one more game for Auckland to play, as they took on North America’s top club Cruz Azul in the 3/4 playoff.

The Mexican side has just been defeated by Real Madrid 4-0 in the semi-finals so were looking to end their tournament on a high.

However, Irving, White, Burfoot and co. made sure it would be them who would go home happiest as a 4-2 win in their second penalty shoot-out of the tournament secured them third place after a 1-1 draw in normal time. See the highlights here.

English goalkeeper Louie Caunter was on the bench for all the games.

For a semi-professional side, Auckland did themselves and the Oceania confederation proud, beating side’s with vastly superior budgets and reputations.

This year was the sixth time Auckland had ever played in the FIFA Club World Cup and their third place finish was by far their best ever result.

 

 

 

 

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English in action: OFC President’s Cup

Last week, Auckland City and their three Englishmen took part in the inaugural OFC President’s Cup.

The competition included the current OFC Champions League holders, Auckland, as well as the OFC Champions League runners-up and four additional sides who were all invited to the tournament.

All matches in the competition were to be held at the Trusts Arena in Auckland.

Monday 17th November: Auckland City 4-0 Singapore U23 (Group A match)
Against a youthful Singapore side, Auckland strolled to a comfortable win. They scored a couple of goals in each half being helped by the dismissal of Ali Hudzaifi, who was sent off for the visitors in the 20th minute.

English defender John Irving started the match and played the entire game. Compatriot Sam Burfoot played 73 minutes before being replaced and English forward Darren White came on off the bench for the final thirteen minutes of the match.

Friday 21st November: Auckland City 9-0 Bodden Town (Group A match)
Four days later, Auckland took on Cayman Islands side Bodden Town in a largely one-sided affair.

Irving and Burfoot started once again, with White coming on as a first half substitute. Incredibly, at half time it was just 2-0 but the superior fitness of the home side showed in the second 45, with an additional seven goals.

Both White and Burfoot were on the score sheet, they scored the second and eighth goals respectively.

Sunday 23rd November: Auckland City 2-1 Amicale (Final)
Having cruised their way through the group stages, Auckland made the final against group B winners Amicale, who had also won both of their games so far. The match was a repeat of the OFC Champions League final back in May, which the New Zealand side won 3-2 on aggregate over two legs.

This game saw Irving start once again with White handed his first start of the competition. Burfoot missed out on the game through injury.

Amicale took a surprise lead four minutes before half time and held onto their lead for over twenty minutes before Argentine forward Emiliano Tade equalised.

The momentum was then all with the hosts and they took the lead for the first time in the match, with a goal eleven minutes from time scored by Ryan de Vries.

Auckland held onto the lead to win the very first OFC President’s Cup. Both White and Irving played the full ninety.