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Vicelich: Attitude vital at club World Cup

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 6/12/2016
Image of Ivan Vicelich © Christophe Ena / AP Images Image of Ivan Vicelich

Former Auckland City FC captain Ivan Vicelich hopes their remarkable achievement at the club World Cup two years ago can provide inspiration in Japan.

The Oceania club champions contest the opening game of the annual FIFA tournament against Japanese champions Kashima Antlers in Yokohama on Thursday, wary that they fell in the equivalent game last year.

A 2-0 loss to Sanfrecce Hiroshima meant there would be no repeat of the dizzying run to a bronze medal a year earlier in Morocco which assistant coach Vicelich prefers to reference.

The semi-professional club captured global interest when they won three of four games and narrowly missed a place in the final against Spanish giants Real Madrid.

"2014 was one of the biggest accomplishments in New Zealand sporting history, never mind football," Vicelich said.

"It showed us that professionalism can be an attitude and just why the FIFA Club World Cup is important to our club and the game in general.

"For a club of our size to finish with a bronze medal was an unbelievable achievement."

More than half of Auckland City's 2014 squad are back for their sixth successive appearance at the tournament.

They are aware it is fruitless looking beyond the opening game, against opponents Vicelich says are fast and technically skilled.

A veteran of 88 All Whites internationals, Vicelich retired from playing this year.

However, the 40-year-old revealed he is available to pull on the boots in Japan if injuries continue to impinge.

They are already without All White Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi while another defensive midfielder, Croatian Mario Bilen, is in doubt with a hamstring niggle.

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