James Pritchett is all for goal-line technology as he gears up for his fourth FIFA Club World Cup with Auckland City. The 30-year-old, who has four senior New Zealand caps to his name, believes FIFA's pioneering of goal-line technology is the way forward.
"If the technology is there, I think it should be used,” Pritchett told FIFA.com. “But it's important that the way the technology is implemented is short and sharp and doesn't disrupt the flow of the game. It could only be an issue if there are starts and stops that continually break up the flow of the game."
Auckland City lost 2-0 to Japanese side Kashiwa Reysol in the play-off match last year, though it could have been better for the Oceania representatives had an Ivan Vicelich header not been brilliantly plucked off the line by goalkeeper Takanori Sugeno. Pritchett believes Auckland could have done better on that occasion..
"We could have started the game better,” he reflected. “We were a bit nervous coming out of the blocks, even though we knew what to expect. But we defended well, though maybe we could have pushed a lot higher up the pitch too."
I played Al Ahly six years ago and my outstanding memory of that game was how good Aboutrika was. He scored from a free-kick in the second half and was everywhere.
Not one to dwell too much on the past, Pritchett prefers to focus on 6 December, when Auckland meet Sanfrecce Hiroshima for a place in the quarter-finals. "We only have a 14-game domestic season, and the Oceania Champions League has been rescheduled to the start of next April, so that is something we have to try to overcome playing on the international stage," he said.
The influence of Pritchett's family both personally and professionally has rubbed off on him. His father Keith was the New Zealand coach between 1996 and ’97. James’s affection for Auckland City also runs deep. "This is my fourth FIFA Club World Cup and my main aim is to do well for the club, myself and my family,” he said. “I've spent an enjoyable nine years with the team and played 170 games for Auckland City, so I'm happy to keep going for as long as my legs will allow me to do so."
But Pritchett knows that earning success against a quality side like Sanfrecce Hiroshima is a big ask, and talk of a re-match with Al Ahly is limited to memories of Auckland's last game with the Egyptian champs in 2006. Only Pritchett and fellow veteran Riki van Steeden remain from Auckland City's 2006 squad at the FIFA Club World Cup.
Pritchett said: "I played Al Ahly six years ago and my outstanding memory of that game was how good Aboutrika was. He scored from a free-kick in the second half and was everywhere. However, our focus is very much on the game in front of us, and that is Sanfrecce Hiroshima.”
With a testimonial season with Auckland looming next year, the right-back is clear on the qualities required for such longevity. After a short stint at Aberdeen under Ebbe Skovdahl, then Cambridge United earlier in his career, Pritchett eventually returned to New Zealand and joined Auckland City under Allan Jones. But the man Pritchett credits with having the biggest influence on his career is his dad, whom he played under for his country.
"My dad has been a huge influence on my career so I've always been a pretty loyal guy, but I never expected to be at Auckland City for so long,” Pritchett said. "Ever since I was four or five years old, I was at training with dad and always kicking a ball around, but dad has never been one to push me into things. I've always been able to do exactly what I wanted to do with my football. With dad being involved in top-level football as a coach, he's been a huge influence on my career."