Off-season signings, and in particular three players' switching clubs, adds some spice to tomorrow's season-opening ASB Charity Cup match between long-time adversaries Waitakere United and Auckland City.

And, the changes do not end with last season's player of the year Chris Bale switching from United to City, and Chad Coombes and David Mulligan catching the bus in the other direction.

Paul Marshall, in a move that surprised some, has taken the coaching Waitakere job from Neil Emblen in what promises to be a much-scrutinised move by the defending ASB Premiership champions.

Marshall, who steered City to the title in 2007 after some rocky times at Kiwitea St, has brought in a number of new players including a handful from the Three Kings United side he coached in the winter.

Most interest, however, will centre on defender Brian Shelley who has joined Waitakere from Australian club Ballarat Red Devils where the League of Ireland XI representative was player/manager.

Marshall is happy with the build-up, which has included three wins over fellow premiership sides.


"We want to win every game," said Marshall. "But there are no points at stake in this one but there is a little bit of pride. We are eight weeks into our campaign and I'm happy with where we are at."

He has some selection issues with a number of newcomers pushing for places especially on defence where incumbents Aaron Scott and Tim Myers could be challenged by Salesh Kumar, Jack Beguely, Godwin Darkwa and Daniel Morgan.

Club chairman Peter Bult is emphatic that the changes are good for the club and, like their supporters, is looking forward to the new era. Like Waitakere, City have gone offshore for their major signing, with Pedro Garcia, 29, arriving at Kiwitea St after stints at Sporting Gijon and Charleroi.

"Pedro has played top-flight football in Spain for Sporting Gijon for a few years and recently in the Belgian Premier League for Sporting Charleroi," said City coach Ramon Tribulietx.

Ivan Vicelich, New Zealand's most-capped All White and a former Waitakere player, will again lead City in what promises to be another keenly contested derby.

The details
ASB Charity Cup
Waitakere United v Auckland City
Fred Taylor Park
Tomorrow 2pm
Referee: Nick Waldron

ASB women's league
Auckland v Northern-based NZ U-17
Bill McKinlay Park
Today 2pm
Referee: Nadia Browning

Northern v Waikato-BOP
Fred Taylor Park
Tomorrow 4pm
Referee: Mel Knight