Coach Paul Posa enters his second season at the helm of Oceania club champions Auckland City with plenty of optimism going into the FIFA Club World UAE 2009. The club has achieved remarkable success under Posa winning both the domestic title and the continental crown last season, and who are now aiming to improve on their previous showing at the FIFA Club World Cup three years ago.
The New Zealanders will open their campaign on Wednesday in the tournament’s opening match against host nation club Al Ahli. FIFA.com caught up with Auckland City FC’s double winning coach and discovered a man who believes UAE 2009 could prove a career highlight for his players.
FIFA.com: Paul, is this Auckland City squad in a much better position going into the FIFA Club World Cup than they were three years ago?
Paul Posa: I can’t compare previous squads. But the attitude has been excellent and their application to the task at hand has been tremendous. We had good preparations and we had a friendly game against Al Fujairah. Everything is perfect as the facilities and the hotel are first class.
How will your players view the tournament and the chance to face some of the big names of world football?
The FIFA Club World Cup is a chance for our players who are not professionals to improve their performance. We don't have 'professional' players but we surely have players who have a professional attitude. The players want to prove themselves on such a big world stage.
What is the mindset and confidence of the players like heading into the tournament?
It's been a good year for New Zealand as the youth team qualified to the second round of the FIFA U-17 World Cup, while the national team qualified for the FIFA World Cup™ for the first time since 1982. We have some confidence and we are looking forward to having a good tournament as we have to believe in ourselves.
Most of the players have limited international football experience so what has their approach to the tournament been like?
Our players are amateurs as they are students or they have jobs and they train at the night. However, they have a professional attitude as being a professional is not only about the money. The beauty of the tournament for our players is that it's giving us a fantastic opportunity to play at the world stage. The dedication of the players is big and they are learning to raise their standards all the way. I'm grateful that we got this opportunity and we are learning a lot from these opportunities.
How have the club approached preparation this time as opposed to 2006?
Past experience has shown us that we just weren’t quite as fit as we might have been. I think because we’ll be playing in the evening in the UAE winter, that it won't too daunting for us. I don’t think it’s going to be as bad as it could be if we were going to be playing in the middle of the day where the conditions might otherwise be quite oppressive.
What knowledge do you have of your first opponent Al Ahli?
We tried to study Al Ahli before and they showed that they have attacking strength. Their Brazilian playmaker Bare is the main source of threat in the team but they also have a lot other classy players. They have a fast midfield and they play a very nice brand of football. We think that they have a lot of strengths but they also have weaknesses which we will try to exploit.
Do you believe Auckland City has what it takes to register a win in the FIFA Club World Cup?
We’ve got to believe that we are going in to achieve a positive result. We’ve got talent in our squad – at least half a dozen have been professionals in their careers so I believe we can do well. More importantly they believe they can do well and until I see evidence that says otherwise then I will continue to believe that we can go out there and get a result.