Peter Staunton in Marrakech, writing for Goal:
There is much to be admired about Auckland City – not only their inventive methods of keeping in touch with friends and families back home when on the other side of the world. While Real Madrid’s millionaires are assigned a bodyguard each to walk past the media in the post-match interview zone, Auckland are happy to stop and chat. They even carry their own kits, water bottles and other equipment. There are no airs and graces. They don’t seem to realise what an impact they’ve made here in Morocco, finishing third behind only Real Madrid and San Lorenzo, whom they deserved to beat.
This is a community club like you’d find in any town or city across the world. There is no scouting network; it acts as somewhat of a refuge for players and indeed coaches from all around the world. Players are often recruited simply because they are in New Zealand and they want a game of football. Takuya Iwata, from Japan, drives a truck for a living and moved to New Zealand to learn English. As did Korean Kim Dae-Wuk. There is Sanni Issa, signed six days before the Club World Cup started after falling out with teams whom he joined in Fiji and Vanuatu. The goalscorer in the third-place game, Ryan de Vries, recalibrates Japanese import cars when he’s not training.
Amazing. So happy for them.