Waitakere United head into Saturday’s O-League clash against Vanuatu champions Port Vila knowing they must focus on the job in hand if they are to play anywhere near their potential in what has so far been a scratchy start to the season.
After an opening O-League 2-2 draw with intercity rivals Auckland City, Milicich is wary of just how important points against Port Vila could prove, and shrugged off suggestions that his players focus could be on the impending FIFA Club World Cup appearance in Japan.
“There is absolutely no danger of us taking this game lightly,” he said. “We’ve become past masters of focusing on the game at hand, and I’m expecting a torrid match against a quality side.
“I expect a game that will test us all over the park and I think it would be fair to say that this is a year when a team from outside of New Zealand has a very good chance of rolling us or Auckland, and I don’t want it to be us.”
Milicich said he is confident to have experienced defenders Danny Hay and Neil Emblen back in the squad after feeling their absence in his side’s 7-0 loss to the Wellington Phoenix last weekend.
“I haven’t been happy with the way the sides been playing, we’ve been our usual pragmatic selves picking up points and winning games but against the Phoenix we were poor in execution and poor in thought, and we’re going to have to go back to basics to make sure people understand their roles a bit clearer.
“Training has been very intense, and there is definite drive there. Some people knew that on the weekend they let themselves down and they now have three games to impress me before the Club World Cup and to do the job they’re given.
Port Vila arrived in New Zealand on Wednesday and Manager Stephen Felix said there is a real buzz in the camp leading up to the game.
“The boys are mentally prepared, and are looking forward to doing their thing on Saturday,” Felix said.
“This is the first O-League game for the Port Vila Sharks, but a lot of the players have O-League experience having played for Tafea FC in last year’s competition.
“We have a couple of new players coming in, but for the most part the team is full of experience so won’t be overawed.
Felix said a number of his squad have played overseas in Tahiti and Australia, and are also current Vanuatu internationals who will be guiding the younger players.
“We have watched a few DVD’s of Waitakere’s games, including the final they played against Kossa in Auckland and we are aware of how dangerous they can be, but it is up to the players and the coach to counter their attack and I am confident we can do it.”
The match kicks off at the later time of 5pm at Douglas Field tickets just $10 for adults, $5 for children and seniors with a free match programme.
Waitakere United v Port Vila
Saturday 22nd November
Douglas Field, Trusts Stadium
Reporting courtesy of www.oceaniafootball.com