Today’s official FIFA media conference for Waitakere United ahead of participation at the FIFA Club World Cup was full of references to ‘lessons learned’ and ‘second opportunities.’
Waitakere United will attend the tournament in Japan next month for the second consecutive year and Head Coach Chris Milicich admitted to mistakes last year that must not be repeated.
“Last year we went straight from the NZFC on a Saturday to the World Club Cup on the Thursday and the gap was just too big, a jump we couldn’t make. We spent the first half of the match against Sepahan trying to come to terms with the pace and shape of the game.
“This year we are doing things differently. We will have had the benefit of two games against Auckland City (tomorrow night in the NZFC), a couple of in house games next week before we leave and then a match in China that is expected to draw a crowd of 40,000.
“The plan is when we step out against Adelaide on December 11 that we are as ready as we can be to play at that higher level and to give ourselves every chance of success.”
The FIFA hosted press conference saw further support offered by Oceania with General Secretary Tai Nicholas acknowledging that more funds had to be directed to the Oceania representative to allow them every chance of success.
“The club stands to earn US$500,000 (money that is then shared with NZF and the NZFC clubs) and Oceania also picks up that same amount from FIFA. This money is currently put towards the O-League but our Board understands the need to contribute more to the successful club to allow them to prepare, sign players and be competitive at the Club World Cup.”
Waitakere United Chairman Rex Dawkins spoke of the club’s pride and understanding of who they are representing in Japan.
“We are a regional club, one that is proud to represent the people, clubs and players of Waitakere and the wider region. We have left no stone unturned in our efforts to improve on last year’s performance (3-1 loss to Sepahan) and have received great support from The Trusts and our sponsors and commercial partners.”
Milicich will name his full complement of 23 players for the tournament but stressed that this was no guarantee of a seat on the plane to China next Wednesday.
“This is not a trip for passengers or injured players. Every one of them must prove they are fit for the games and ready to contribute 90 minutes if required. The squad has not been named yet, we have Auckland tomorrow night and then some thinking to do as we look back over our preparation to this point.”
Waitakere play Auckland City at Kiwitea Street tomorrow night (5.45pm KO) before hosting Canterbury at Douglas Field on Saturday. The players will then come into camp on Monday to begin preparation before departing for China later in the week and eventually arriving in Japan on December 7th to prepare for their match against Adelaide United on December 11th at the National Stadium.