Auckland coach calls for professional league
Auckland City's coach said New Zealand badly needed a professional football league after his amateur side were knocked out of the Club World Cup at the first hurdle.
Ramon Tribulietx was speaking after his team of part-timers, who enjoyed two stunning wins at the intercontinental tournament two years ago, were floored 2-0 by Japanese champions Kashiwa Reysol late on Thursday.
Auckland, a side of workers, students and even a former backpacker, were on the back foot during the first period at Japan's Toyota stadium and conceded twice before half-time, ending their participation in the competition.
"What we definitely need is to have a professional league in New Zealand," a disappointed Tribulietx said. "That's for sure you know because we need to get more games.
"Unfortunately, we only get to play 14 games a year in the national league plus I consider we are lucky to be playing in the Oceania champions league, that gives us more games.
"But the amount of games is probably not good enough.
"We definitely need to go one step up in New Zealand and probably the way to go is by playing more games and playing more professional, that would probably be the best way and the path to follow from now.
"I hope one day that happens."
It was not all bad news for the New Zealand outfit, who enjoyed far the better of the play in the second-half, only to be denied by home goalkeeper Takanori Sugeno on at least two occasions.
Auckland skipper Ivan Vicelich said football was on the up in rugby-mad New Zealand after the All Whites' eye-catching showing at last year's World Cup, where they were undefeated in their three group games.
"Theres a buzz about football in New Zealand, kids are loving the game at the moment, and the more exposure we can give it, the better," Vicelich said.
"What we achieved in 2009 (at the Club World Cup) and the national team managed last year has taken the game to a new level back home, and the challenge for everyone is to keep that going."
National stalwart Vicelich knows very well the benefits of playing full-time -- he spent seven years as a professional in the Netherlands.
"We have the (Wellington) Phoenix playing in the (Australian) A-League, and thats another pathway for our countrys youngsters," the 35-year-old told FIFA.com.
"Possibly having more New Zealand teams in the A-League is the way to go, although ideally we would love a fully professional league of our own. Either way, we need to keep pushing on.
"Making an impact here in Japan would have helped and were disappointed that hasnt happened."
At the 2009 Club World Cup, Auckland beat UAE champions Al Ahli and later shocked African title-holders TP Mazembe 3-2 in the play-off for fifth place.
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