By John Donnachie / asbpremiership.co.nz
CHRISTCHURCH - The latest chapter in mainland football rivalry resumes on Sunday with Canterbury United entertaining Otago United at ASB Football Park.
In previous seasons the home team has prevailed in the southern derby, and while Canterbury start as favourites, Otago will be no pushovers, after going down valiantly to Auckland City last weekend.
Dragons' heroes, Aaron Clapham and Russell Kamo will make their 50th appearances for the hosts in what promises to be a lively season opener for the red and black faithful.
Canterbury coach, Keith Braithwaite, said his players deserved all the accolades they received.
“Both are good guys. They are winners, and are dedicated to the Canterbury cause. They are always the first names on the team sheet.
Kamo, the Dragons leading all-time goalscorer, with 23 goals,scored twice the last time the teams met in Christchurch, and he is keen to open his account this season on Sunday.
The selfless striker said “I am chomping at the bit to get out there and score, as it will be my 50th match for Canterbury in front of family and friends.”
He said the occasion would be all the more special, as he would be sharing the milestone with long-time friend and team-mate Aaron Clapham.
Kamo, hoped he would reach double figures this season, after an outstanding last season when he finished with 9 goals.
Looking ahead to Sunday, Kamo expects a typical all action derby. He believes a good start will be the key to breaking the visitors resolve.
“They will come and have a go. I think if we get an early goal, we should be okay. But the longer the match goes on without us scoring, the harder it will be for us.”
Braithwaite is also expecting a tricky encounter. “We have slipped up in the past against them. It will be a difficult match. We have to be focused, in this competition anyone can beat anyone on the day,”he said.
Canterbury should be at full strength. Braithwaite revealed there were no injury worries after a light training run on Tuesday.
Otago meanwhile will reshuffle the pack. Midfielder Victor De Costa misses out with a knee injury, while Regan Coldicott is suspended following last week's red card.
Coach Richard Murray, is optimistic is team can bounce back after two consecutive home defeats. He said last week's defeat was tough to take in the circumstances; it just meant they had to start picking up points now.
“We really need to get something from this game, if we want to stay in contention,” he said.
Action starts 2pm at ASB Football Park.
There are call-ups for Sam MEPHAM and Benjudah FITZPATRICK.
Regan COLDICOTT is suspended, James GOVAN is unavailable and Victor da COSTA (knee) is on the injured list.
Russell KAMO and Aaron CLAPHAM will notch their ASB Premiership career half centuries and join Nick WORTELBOER and Adam HIGHFIELD who raised their 50th matches in last Sunday’s win over Team Wellington.
The last time Otago United defeated Canterbury was when Aaron BURGESS hit a brace in a 2-1 win three years ago.
Derby honours have been split evenly over the past two seasons with Canterbury winning two games (home) and losing two (away). Canterbury have won the last three home derby fixtures 3-0 (2011/12), 3-1 (2010/11) and 2-0 (2009/10).
Otago United are now 11 ASB Premiership matches without a win but can view a derby match with their nearest neighbours as the ideal chance to turn that barren run around.
ASB Premiership - Round 3
Sunday 18 November, 2012
1- Tom BATTY (GK)
1- Liam LITTLE (GK)
2- Dan TERRIS (c)
2- Jake MORRISON
3- Vlad BAYREV
3- Tristan PRATTLEY (c)
4- Nick WORTELBOER
4- Ben FITZPATRICK
5- Tom SCHWARZ
5- Matt JOY
7- Darren WHITE
8- Seamus RYDER
8- Aaron CLAPHAM
10- Ant HANCOCK
9- Russell KAMO
14- Sam MEPHAM
10- Dimitar BAYREV
15- Tom CONNOR
11- Michael FIFII
18- Scott GANNON
14- Josh SMITH
20- Andy RIDDEN
15- Julyan COLLETT
21- Joel STEVENS
16- Ashley WELLBOURN
22- Peter EVANS (GK)
20- Ken YAMAMOTO
25- Craig FERGUSON
23- Aaron SPAIN
27- Morgan DAY
22- Adam HIGHFIELD (GK)
12- Aaron BURGESS