Soccer: Top four teams feature in double header

By Terry Maddaford

Auckland City. Photo / Natalie Slade
Auckland City. Photo / Natalie Slade

Super City fans have been handed a mouth-watering start to the new ASB Premiership season with a rare double-header and, as a bonus, two games featuring the top four teams from last season.

Defending minor premiers Auckland City host Keith Braithwaite's Canterbury United at Kiwitea St today in the season opener and grand final winners Waitakere United are at home to Team Wellington at Fred Taylor Park tomorrow.

The odds makers have City as favourites against the team they headed in last season's minor premiership but Canterbury have often been a handful for City who will be determined to continue their unbeaten season run which included all matches in the 2011-12 season.

With only a couple of changes from last season's team - losing All Whites David Mulligan and Chad Coombes to Waitakere but gaining Chris Bale who went in the other direction and former Charleroi midfielder Pedro Garcia - coach Ramon Tribulietx has a settled line-up as he builds towards next month's Fifa Club World Cup in Japan.

Losing to Waitakere in last Sunday's ASB Charity Cup was not an ideal start for City but there is the feeling they will quickly bounce back.

Canterbury have fashioned a solid squad with All Whites midfielder Aaron Clapham and goal-grabbing Russell Kamo key to their chances now last season's golden boot George Slefendorfas has joined Waitakere.

With a first-up win in the Charity Cup, new Waitakere coach Paul Marshall wants to go on with it.

They claimed that late victory without Roy Krishna and his return tomorrow along with a full game from Ryan de Vries and more game time for Papua New Guinea-born Slefendorfas promises a testing time for the Team Wellington defence.

Tomorrow's match is a replay of the grand final this year when Waitakere, with goals from Krishna (2), Allan Pearce and captain Jake Butler, won 4-1 with Team Wellington's solitary reply from Henry Fa'arodo who is back in the Capital.

Given the link between the club and the Wellington Phoenix School of Excellence, coach Matt Calcott has plenty of talent to call on and will see tomorrow's game as the chance to show they are capable of ending the Auckland domination of the Premiership. There will also be interest in tomorrow's game at Porritt Stadium between two teams who, on paper at least, have bolstered their squads as Waikato FC host Hawkes Bay United.

* Auckland City v Canterbury United
Kiwitea Street, today 2pm

* Waitakere United v Team Wellington
Fred Taylor Park, tomorrow 2pm.

- NZ Herald

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