By Niall Anderson / asbpremiership.co.nz
NGARUAWAHIA - It may be the ASB Premiership’s David v Goliath showdown but Waikato FC coach Mark Cossey is confident his young squad can overcome Auckland City on Wednesday.
Auckland have proven themselves to be the gold standard for success in the ASB Premiership, winning four titles whilst never finishing lower than third, and hold many advantages on and off the field over a plucky Waikato side which has rebounded well after the departure of Declan Edge.
The contrast between the two sides is evident just by looking at the respective squads, with City having ten foreigners present, while Waikato were forced to put out ads for potential players after the defection of Edge’s faithful.
Historically, the difference is vaster, with Auckland top goalscorer (Grant Young) having scored more goals in a single season than Waikato’s top striker (Steven Holloway) scored in his ASB Premiership career, with Auckland also having recorded 13 more hat-tricks than Waikato.
The navy blues four visits to the FIFA Club World Cup is also a firm reminder of the gap between the two clubs.
Despite these stark differences between the two outfits, Waikato have reason to believe they can get something out of the game, having gathered good results in the past.
Last season Waikato secured an unlikely point at Kiwitea Street, while also drawing 2-2 in a fiercely contested pre-season outing in Cambridge.
Cossey believes that his side has what it takes to get a result.
“We have huge respect for sides like Auckland and Waitakere, but respect ends when you get on to the field. Our players have to be confident in their abilities, and if we take our chances then we can get a point, or even points.”
Getting the full allotment may be difficult considering Auckland currently hold the record for the longest unbeaten streak in ASB Premiership history, having not lost during the regular season since March 2011, a streak of 19 games.
The four-time OFC Champions League champions currently sit fourth on the table with two games in hand on the sides in front of them, and will be hoping to build on the momentum of their pre-break 4-0 victory over Manawatu.
Waikato FC’s squad could be further depleted with the rumoured loss of Michael Kramer and Adam Wallis, while former Waikato player Nathan Palmer has been brought in to add depth to the side before the transfer window, joining fellow Auckland-based striker/midfielder Robbie Greenhalgh.
Despite this, Cossey is expecting few changes to the side.
“Robbie’s been great, training well, and Nathan started training on Wednesday, but we have to be wary that these players haven’t been playing football since the Northern League ended.
“It’ll be tough, Adam Dickinson up front is a good player, they have good attack down the right, obviously every player is quality - they have threats all over the park.”
The game kicks off this Wednesday at Centennial Park, kick-off is 5.30pm.
Elliot COLLIER and Nathan PALMER join the squad.
Nathan PALMER rejoins Waikato FC for his second stint with the club.
James PRITCHETT, Pedro Santa Cecilia GARCIA and Jason HICKS all bracketed.
Waikato FC has scored nine goals in two matches under new coach Mark COSSEY but faces an uphill task to keep that run going – Waikato has not beaten Auckland for seven years. Their last win over the navy blues was a 1-0 win at Kiwitea Street in 2006.
Auckland City have fallen behind in three of their five games this season and came back to win only one of those fixtures – Otago United away - the other two matches have ended in draws.
ASB Premiership - Round 6 Catch Up Match
1- Matt UPTON (GK)
12- Tamati WILLIAMS (GK)
5- Eder FRANCHINI
2- Simon ARMS
6- Sam JASPER
3- Takuya IWATA
8- Robbie GREENHALGH
5- Angel BERLANGA
9- Rory TURNER
6- Jason HICKS
11- Jack HOBSON-McVEIGH
7- James PRITCHETT
12- Neil MOUNCHER (GK)
8- Chris BALE
13- Mike KRAMER
9- Manel EXPOSITO
14- Sam MARGETTS
10- Luis CORRALES
11- Daniel KOPRIVCIC
18- Alexi Caroama VARELA
13- Alex FENERIDIS
19- Dave PARKINSON
15- Ivan VICELICH (c)
21- Raymond HOW
16- Albert RIERA
22- Jordan SHAW
17- Pedro Santa Cecilia GARCIA
23- Hone FOWLER
18- Liam ANDERSN (GK)
24- Adam WALLIS
20- Emiliano TADE
TBC - Nathan PALMER
21- David BROWNE
22- Andrew MILNE