Soccer: ASB Premiership draw confirmed

The ASB Premiership kicks off on the weekend of November 3 and 4. Photo / Shane Wenzlick
The ASB Premiership kicks off on the weekend of November 3 and 4. Photo / Shane Wenzlick

The 2012/13 ASB Premiership will kick off in the first weekend in November, with the addition of three curtain-raiser fixtures to Wellington Phoenix home football matches a new feature of the draw.

Team Wellington will play two fixtures in November and December against Canterbury United and Otago United respectively, while YoungHeart Manawatu will also travel down the road for a match with Waikato FC on December 2.

Prior to the A-League curtain-raisers, the opening weekend pits minor premiers Auckland City against Canterbury United at Kiwitea Street on Saturday, November 3.

Both sides were beaten semi finalists last season and will hope to start their campaign with three points.

The remaining three matches of the opening round will kick off on Sunday with the feature clash undoubtedly the replay of last season's final with defending champions Waitakere United entertaining Team Wellington at Fred Taylor Park.

Much interest will surround the coaching debut of Paul Marshall at the West Auckland franchise as he becomes the first person to lead both Super City clubs in the nine-year history of the league.

The impressive indoor arena at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin will also host action on the opening weekend with Otago United facing last season's wooden spooners YoungHeart Manawatu.

The Palmerston North-based club will hope their on-field exploits match the positive moves the franchise has made off the pitch.

Finally, the clash between Waikato and Hawkes Bay rounds out the opening weekend with Declan Edge again looking to field a largely local-based and youthful side as was the case last season.

Hawkes Bay will no doubt be looking to break their playoff hoodoo and qualify for post-season football for the first time in franchise history.

The ASB Premiership concentrates the best amateur domestic football talent across eight teams but with an increased focus on developing emerging young players.

This premise has been given life in recent months with the establishment of the Wellington Phoenix 'school of excellence' in which eight players - the majority of whom played in the Premiership last season - have had the opportunity to further develop their abilities.

Tyler Boyd, formerly of Waikato, and Team Wellington's Louis Fenton have since been successful in picking up full-time contracts with the A-League franchise.

In addition, Auckland City's Ian Hogg and James Musa of Team Wellington as well as Luke Adams of Waitakere United have recently signed for the Portland Timbers in the USA and Fulham and Derby County in England respectively.

Earlier this year New Zealand Football reviewed the league and have decided to maintain the existing format and number of teams meaning that the league will again be contested over two full rounds with two-legged semi finals and a one-off grand final on March 17.

Auckland and Waitakere will again square off the weekend prior to the premiership for the Charity Cup to open the domestic season.

The Super City clubs will also once again represent New Zealand in the reformatted Oceania Champions League which will be played in a new window at the conclusion of the national league.

Auckland City will also travel to Japan in December to contest the Fifa club World Cup as Oceania's representatives.

The league kicks off on the weekend of November 3 and 4.

- APNZ

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