Counter attack could be key for Hawke's Bay United when they take on Auckland City in the ASB Premiership at QBE Stadium in Albany on Thursday night.
That's the view of coach Ramon Tribulietx as he prepares to pick up his players after they coasted past Waitakere United albeit on a bobbly pitch covered in sand on Sunday.
Auckland stuck four past Waitakere in the space of 11 minutes, a feat Tribulietx says pleased him given the difficult surface.
"The conditions of the playing surface made the game very difficult and we lacked a bit of confidence when playing into the middle third.
"Our team showed good character and kept trying to play until we finally broke the deadlock through Joao Moreira's goal in the 76th minute," he said.
Hawke's Bay finished runners-up in the ASB Premiership last season but its been seven years since they last beat Auckland and Tribulietx believes counter-attack could be the key they rely upon to open the champions defence.
"Hawke's Bay United have been difficult opponents for us in recent times and they will be well organised defensively and probably look to hurt us on the counter attack.
"Their team has changed from last season, with new players up front like Hamish Watson and Sam Mason-Smith; they have also added our former defender Kohei Matsumoto and a good midfielder with experience of the ASB Premiership in Cory Chettleburgh," he said.
Counter-attack is just one weapon at Hawke's Bay's disposal according to Tribulietx while he says both teams will have to adjust to the novelty of a midweek match on live television with players in both teams turning out after finishing their day jobs.
"We will have to be very aware of Hawke's Bay's quick transitions into attack and their prowess at set plays.
"Playing this game mid-week makes tonight a bit unpredictable with players on both teams having day jobs to factor into the schedule.
"We will need to be very good in possession of the ball to make sure we channel the game our way," he said.