Cam Howieson says his Auckland City FC team-mates are focused on only one objective – Wednesday’s opponents Al Jazira.
The former Burnley and St.Mirren midfielder has made a starting slot his own since joining the Navy Blues from domestic rivals Team Wellington in January and he says he can’t wait for tomorrow’s clash with the UAE champions.
“We’re looking forward to the game with Al Jazira. The friendly game we played with Al Ittihad was very physical but we were happy to get the legs moving after a long flight.
“Preparations have been very good and the facilities we’ve been exposed to here in the UAE are top class,” he told www.aucklandcityfc.com.
The Navy Blues have been training at one of Al Ain FC’s many academy facilities for the past four days, a facility the Oceania champions can only dream of owning. Its part of an experience that boggles the mind for the part-timers from Auckland but one that captures the imagination of Howieson and his team-mates.
“We enjoy being part of these big football events. I’ve played at the U-17, U-20 and Olympic football tournaments and this is my first FIFA Club World Cup.
“As a footballer you want to be playing in competitions of this size and I’m hopeful we can perform really well,” he said.
The 9-cap All Whites international was born in Blenheim but has already had a colourful journey through the world of football. It’s one he says he is lucky to have shared with room-mate and midfield rival Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi.
“Te Atawhai and I go back a lot of years from our days with the Asia-Pacific Football Academy so we have a good bond.
In our downtime we play a lot of FIFA or go to the pool and just relax. Its a bonus to be in a team with a mate you know really well but I’ll leave it to him to explain which of us is better at FIFA 17,” he said.
While tackling and beating Hudson-Wihongi at FIFA 17 appears to satisfy the competitor in Howieson, he is more diplomatic when he describes the strengths of tomorrow’s opponents or the prospect of progressing further into the tournament.
“Al Jazira’s front three are a potent attacking force and they have a lot of strength there but if we can frustrate them we could cause them problems over the course of 90 minutes.
“Its human nature to think about teams like Real Madrid and Urawa Reds but you’ve got to focus on what is in front of you first and for us thats Al Jazira.
“The biggest game of the FIFA Club World Cup is the first game you play and we have prepared well for this moment and can’t wait to show the world what we can do,” he said.
The match with Al Jazira kicks off at 9pm local time on Wednesday 6 December 2017.
FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017
Wednesday 6 December / Thursday 7 December
Al Jazira (UAE) v Auckland City FC (NZL)
Hazza Bin Zayed StadiumAl Ain City (UAE)
Kick-off: 9pm local time / 6am NZST