Jordan living the dream

As the tournament's rank outsiders and only amateur outfit, Auckland City have made a virtue of the fact that they can travel to Japan for next month's FIFA Club World Cup utterly unburdened by expectation.

If there is one exception to this rule, however, it is Keryn Jordan. The South African striker might not exactly compare with Ronaldinho et al in the competition's star stakes, but he is unquestionably the Kiwis' most potent and productive attacking threat and, if Auckland City are to cause an upset or two in Japan, Jordan will need to be at his opportunistic best.

This is the man, after all, whose hat-trick in the 3-1 Oceania Club Championship final win over AS Pirae booked the New Zealanders' spot at the FIFA Club World Cup in the first place, and whose recent return to form has helped propel his team back up the league in which he finished top scorer last season.

Nevertheless, the challenge awaiting the former Supersport United, Manning Rangers and Moroka Swallows striker when Auckland City face the CAF Champions League winners is incomparable to anything he has faced in domestic action and, speaking exclusively to, Jordan - who this week celebrates his 31st birthday - admitted he can hardly wait. Did you ever think moving to New Zealand would mean playing in a FIFA Club World Cup?
Keryn Jordan: Absolutely not. There was certainly no mention of it when I first got here. Once Australia left the Oceania Football Confederation for the AFC, it opened a lot of doors for the other countries in the region, New Zealand in particular. The combination of Allan Jones (Auckland City's previous coach) and Ivan Vuksich (club chairman) really stuck to building the team toward a common goal, and they've achieved that. For me personally, the timing was spot on.

What is the standard of New Zealand's domestic league compared to what you will face in Japan?
It's obviously not as high as it could be. A lot of the attitudes need to change for the game to become professional. It's all well and good for people to say players should play for loyalty, or play alongside their mates and have a few beers, but young players need something to aspire too to make a career in the game.

What do you know about Japan?
I think when we go it will be cold. The people are very passionate about their football and also very hospitable. And I love Japanese food. There is a sake bar in Manukau Road, just around the corner from Auckland City's ground and I enjoy eating sushi there. My partner is also very fond of it. When the restaurant is finished serving food, there is karaoke on and I enjoy the vibe there. 

Is the FIFA Club World Cup proving a distraction at the start of your domestic league?
It has been a bit of a distraction and it is difficult not to get caught up in the positive vibe. It's good, it's exciting, but we need to concern ourselves with the NZFC or we won't be in the next OFC Club Championship. It will definitely be a tough next few months for us.

You have intimate knowledge of the CAF Champions League football from your time in South Africa. What will Auckland City be up against?
I don’t actually know all that much about the two finalists in the African Champions League. But Egyptian and Tunisian football both have a very European feel to their game. It is possible that these teams could be very difficult to play against or possibly even underestimate us, so we shall see.

How has the team handled the change of coach, with Roger Wilkinson coming in to replace Allan Jones?
The coaching styles and systems have been quite different. All the players have felt a bit of a change, I think. Roger and Allan are two quite different personalities and have their own styles of how they approach the job.

You have a prolific goalscoring record in New Zealand and the OFC. Will you be able to replicate that at the FIFA Club World Cup?
It is too difficult to say. The FIFA Club World Cup will be a lot more competitive and I will have to work a lot harder to get even half-a-chance of a goal. But it is possible, even if a lot more difficult. The OFC Club Championship is very competitive as well. But that will be my aim, to replicate that NZFC form.