Auckland City and Waitakere United dominated the ASB Premiership monthly awards adding extra spice to the ASB Premiership Super City derby on Saturday at Kiwitea Street.
Navy blues coach Ramon Tribulietx was named top coach for January after he guided his team to three wins and a draw from four games, scoring 11 goals and conceding just four, no mean feat following an arduous FIFA Club World Cup campaign.
"Psychologically and physically after a tournament like a Club World Cup, which demands the best out of every individual, there's a low.
"Also the motivation is not the same, but once again our players have shown that they love the game and they still have the ability to switch back on to the local competition and perform at a high level," Tribulietx said.
Another key challenge was the loss of key players Angel Berlanga and Luis Corrales in the transfer window.
"The strength of our squad is definitely being tested here. We have a few young players who have been training with us for quite some time and can now have more game time.
"They have shown they have the ability to play our style and they have a good opportunity now. I believe that the strength of the team will remain good," he said.
January's Player of the Month award went to Fijian international and Waitakere United goal-getter Roy Krishna, who lit up the ASB Premiership with seven goals in just three matches, including a hat-trick versus Waikato FC and two braces against Team Wellington and YoungHeart Manawatu.
The softly spoken Krishna was quick to credit his teammates Ryan de Vries and Allan Pearce for his glut of goals, especially after a shortage last season.
"We still play with three up front under Marshy (Paul Marshall) but this season we're clicking better and taking our opportunities. I had a lot of chances last year but couldn't score but with hard work on the training pitch the goals are coming now," Krishna said.
Like Krishna, Waitakere is on a hot streak unbeaten in 12 competitive matches, and the Fijian flyer is hoping he will be a part of the upcoming action with a hotly-contested Super City derby on the horizon.
"We've started well and we can score more goals, I have to be careful though because I'm on three yellow cards at the moment and I don't want to miss any matches."
Krishna also had the opportunity to catch up with his close friend and ASB Premiership alumni Benjamin Totori this week with the Wellington Phoenix in town for their A-League clash with Perth Glory. The Fijian marksman hoped his run of form would rub off on his former teammate.
"I'm very proud of Benji and what he's doing for Pacific Island players, hopefully he can score like I am at the moment and get some more game time," Krishna quipped.
The ASB Premiership Team of the Month was again spread among the competition's eight franchises.
Goalkeeper Scott Basalaj caught the eye as resurgent Team Wellington rekindled their playoff hopes, Basalaj outstanding in the 1-0 win over Waikato FC on Sunday.
Teammate Luke Rowe was recognised for his performances in yellow and black, while Super City trio Ivan Vicelich, Tim Myers and Aaron Scott complete a formidable looking back four.
Hawke's Bay United's midfield general Cole Peverley was a mainstay for the Bluewater Stadium boys this month, and is surrounded by YoungHeart Manawatu's excitement machine Alex Rufer and Auckland City's midfield metronome Albert Riera.
Krishna leads the frontline flanked by fleet-footed Regan Coldicott who bagged three goals, including a superb right foot volley against Auckland City, while Rory Turner gets the nod for his performances in a struggling Waikato FC side.
There were honourable mentions for veteran striker Allan Pearce, Canterbury United pair Aaron Clapham and Josh Smith, and Waitakere United defensive rock Brian Shelley.
The awards are voted on by coaches and reporters at each match over the course of each month.
Tribulietx and Krishna will receive their awards prior to Saturday's ASB Premiership match between Auckland City and Waitakere United at Kiwitea Street.
The match kicks off at 1pm.
ASB PREMIERSHIP COACH OF THE MONTH
Ramon TRIBULIETX (Auckland City)
ASB PREMIERSHIP PLAYER OF THE MONTH
Roy KRISHNA (Waitakere United)
ASB PREMIERSHIP TEAM OF THE MONTH
Scott BASALAJ (Team Wellington)
Aaron SCOTT (Waitakere United)
Ivan VICELICH (Auckland City)
Tim MYERS (Waitakere United)
Luke ROWE (Team Wellington)
Alex RUFER (YoungHeart Manawatu)
Cole PEVERLEY (Hawke's Bay United)
Albert RIERA (Auckland City)
Rory TURNER (Waikato FC)
Roy KRISHNA (Waitakere United)
Regan COLDICOTT (Otago United)