The Wellington Phoenix are heading north to play in Auckland for the first time.
In a match which will give New Zealand Football Championship franchises a clear indication of the relative strengths of the country's top sides, Ricki Herbert will put out New Zealand's only fully professional team against NZFC champions Waitakere United at Trusts Stadium on November 15.
The Cuesports Challenge is seen as vital in United's preparation fortheir second appearance at Fifa's World Club Cup in Japan in December.
"After last season, it was clear we needed a more thorough preparation before taking on full-time professional clubs in Japan," said Waitakere chairman Rex Dawkins yesterday. "This match, only made possible by support from the trusts and Cuesports, gives us the chance to test ourselves against top opposition without breaking the bank.
"With an 80 per cent chance, we will face Adelaide United in Japan if they, as expected, come through the Asian Champions League. Playing the Phoenix is an ideal test for us and a gauge on the likely standard of opposition we can expect at the World Club Cup."
The match will follow Waitakere's O-League fixture away to perennial rivals Auckland City on November 2 and their first NZFC outing against Team Wellington in Wellington a week later. A week after their game with the Phoenix, Waitakere will play their second O-League game against Port Vila Sharks.
In welcoming the chance to play the Phoenix - there is a break in the A-League for a Fifa window that weekend - Dawkins said Phoenix chief executive Tony Pignata had been most accommodating in agreeing to play Waitakere and in agreeing to allow players to spend time with West Auckland youngsters at a training session on the day before the match.
Herbert said the match was a fantastic opportunity to continue the growth of football in New Zealand.
For Waitakere coach Chris Milicich, it will be another opportunity to cast his eye over players he will be looking to take to Japan.
The club yesterday named a squad of 30 players, of whom up to 23 can travel.
Like all clubs, Waitakere have named a number of younger players in their squad including ex-Waikato FC defender Aaron Scott, who captained the New Zealand under-23 Olympic team. Tim Myers returns and is likely to press his claims but will find it difficult to force his way into any starting XI given Danny Hay's return to full fitness which will see him and another former All White, Jonathan Perry, as the likely centre-back pairing.
Ash Solly, who made his mark at MAGS under Kevin Fallon, is another of the young players.
Exciting Fijian striker Roy Krishna returns, as does Solomon Islands international Benjamin Totori.
With Simon Eaddy committed to his role as goalkeeping coach with New Zealand Football, former Waikato FC custodian Dan Robinson provides the back-up for Richard Gillespie with Sean Dowling named as the third goalkeeper.
After stints at other clubs, internationals Jeff Campbell and Daniel Ellensohn have returned to Waitakere.
Waitakere United Squad:
Goalkeepers: Richard Gillespie, Dan Robinson, Sean Dowling.
Defenders: Jonathan Perry, Aaron Scott, Tim Myers, Danny Hay, Hone Fowler, Neil Emblen, Ian Hogg, Mikael Munday, Jason Rowley, Ash Solly.
Midfield: Daniel Ellensohn, Paul Seaman, Allan Pearce, Neil Sykes, Jeff Campbell, Chris Bale, Adriano Pimenta, Jake Butler, Cory Hitchen, Jacob Mathews.
Strikers: Benjamin Totori, Roy Krishna, Daniel Kopricvic, Kayne Vincent, Blair Konik, Jono Key, Matt Wallace.