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Auckland City motivated by club World Cup

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 28/11/2016

<span style="font-size:13px;">Auckland City FC want to set the scene for the 2017 All Whites with a bold showing at the club World Cup in Japan.</span> © Michael Bradley/Getty Images Auckland City FC want to set the scene for the 2017 All Whites with a bold showing at the club World Cup in Japan. Success for Auckland City FC at the Club World Cup will give the All Whites a leg-up heading into a big international year says midfielder Clayton Lewis.

The Auckland outfit make their sixth successive appearance at the annual FIFA tournament next week when they play the opening match against a Japanese host club in Yokohama.

They were eliminated when they lost the equivalent game last year, going down 2-0 to Sanfrecce Hiroshima.

In 2014 they upset all predictions by finishing third, winning three of four games. A penalty shootout loss to South American champions San Lorenzo denied them a place in the final against Real Madrid.

All Whites international Lewis says something similar next month would resonate.

"A victory for us could change the way people in New Zealand view the game in general and we're desperate to make that happen," Lewis said.

"A good performance by us at the Club World Cup can give the game a boost and with the FIFA World Cup qualifiers and FIFA Confederations Cup coming up the timing is perfect."

Coach Ramon Tribulietx has named a squad featuring 10 players involved in their dizzying 2014 run.

He was forced to omit All Whites midfielder Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi, who has suffered a long-term knee injury.

Countering that is the return to fitness of one-cap New Zealand defender Harshae Raniga.

Auckland City FC will play two warm-up matches, the first against club opposition on Monday in Hong Kong, where they have a short preparation camp. The second is in Japan on Friday, against third-tier outfit SC Sagamihara.

Their opening opponents on Thursday next week will be either Kashima Antlers or Urawa Red Diamonds, who contest the two-legged J-League final this week.

Auckland City FC: Angel Berlanga (capt), Enaut Zubikarai, Takuya Iwata, Mario Bilen, Harshae Raniga, Reid Drake, Albert Riera, Darren White, Ryan De Vries, Fabrizio Tavano, Nicolai Berry, Alfie Rogers, Clayton Lewis, Ivan Vicelich, Dae Wook Kim, Joao Moreira, Danyon Drake, Micah Lea'alafa, Emiliano Tade, Harry Edge, Marko Dordevic, Jacob Spoonley, Sean Cooper.

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