Soccer: Wanderers SC make their grand debut

By Kris Shannon

Darren Bazeley (L) is at the helm of the Wanderers. Photo / Getty Images
Darren Bazeley (L) is at the helm of the Wanderers. Photo / Getty Images

Another step on the road to the Under-20 World Cup in 2015 happens tomorrow with the first sighting of Wanderers SC in the ASB Premiership.

New Zealand will host the tournament, the second-largest in Fifa's considerable stable, and they are taking every measure to ensure they will be competitive.

The most prominent of those measures is the inception of Wanderers - a team of Kiwi players who will be eligible to represent the Junior All Whites in two years.

With Darren Bazeley at the helm, Wanderers have replaced YoungHeart Manawatu and will be the third Auckland-based side in the ASB Premiership, calling North Harbour Stadium home.

They open their campaign by hosting Canterbury tomorrow, a tall order for a side seriously short of experience. With 14 of the 15-man squad yet to make their debut in the competition, Wanderers may struggle initially but the national side will benefit in the long term.

Only Reilly O'Meagher, with two games for Hawkes Bay, has previously played in the ASB Premiership, while tomorrow's team also includes 10 members of the Young All Whites who competed at last month's Under-17 World Cup.

Bazeley also led that side, who bowed out of the tournament after three defeats, and the former English professional and New Zealand Knights defender will again have his work cut out against Canterbury.

Last season's semifinalists were surprise 2-1 losers against another new entity, WaiBOP United, in last weekend's opening round and they will again be missing talismanic midfielder Aaron Clapham on international duty.

The two other Auckland clubs have their opening home games of the season tomorrow, with Auckland City welcoming WaiBOP to Kiwitea St and Waitakere United hosting Team Wellington at Fred Taylor Park.

Auckland began their campaign with a 4-1 win in Wellington. The match will be a real test of whether WaiBOP will offer more than predecessors Waikato FC but, on paper at least, Auckland should have too much firepower.

- APNZ

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