By John Donnachie / asbpremiership.co.nz
CHRISTCHURCH - Canterbury United coach, Keith Braithwaite, celebrates his 50th game in charge with the visit of old adversaries Auckland City on Sunday.
Braithwaite, in his fourth consecutive season at the helm, is the longest serving coach currently in the ASB Premiership.
He was unaware he had reached the milestone, but said it was fitting that the game was against a club he has enjoyed titanic struggles with in the past.
“Everyone needs to look at them. They have been the top team for many a year. I think we have closed the gap on them and Waitakere, but we did have bad result against them (Auckland) the last time,” he said.
Braithwaite said the progress the Dragons had made during his tenure has brought great satisfaction and keeps him motivated.
“Working with good players from Canterbury, watching them improve and performing in games, is great to be part of,” he said.
While passionate about coaching the Dragons, the former All White striker, said interests outside the game remained priority. His job came first and he had no plans to coach at a higher level.
Looking ahead to Sunday, Braithwaite is pondering his options. Bulgarian brothers, Dimitar and Vladimir Bayrev, have left Christchurch after failing to settle.
In addition, the recent disappointing home defeat to champions Waitakere United (3-1), has exposed the limitations of his squad and he is looking to strengthen.
He said there were potential replacements in mind when the transfer window opened next week, but was looking for those on the fringes to step up.
“Ash Wellbourn, Chris Murphy and Julyan Collett have come in recently and we are looking at them to stake a claim now,” he said.
Braithwaite, otherwise was hopeful he would have a strong squad to choose from, though mindful of the excesses a festive diet can have on players.
Auckland City come south in good spirits, after out-classing Waikato FC 4-1 in Ngaruawahia, in a catch up game on Wednesday.
Coach Ramon Tribulietx, said it was good to get a game under their belts after the festive break, but then they only had three days to prepare before visiting the Dragons den.
He is also wary of playing on the ASB Football Park's synthetic surface. Previously, they had trained on similar pitches in Auckland in preparation for matches in Christchurch.
But because of the short turnaround and travel, they would not have the time.
“It can get bumpy and take time to find your touch especially if it's hot weather,” he said.
The Aucklanders have a couple of injuries. Defenders James Pritchett and Takuya Iwata rolled ankles and are not expected to play. Striker Adam Dickinson however is available again.
The match kicks off at 2pm.
Chris MURPHY and Michael FIFII return to the squad.
Riki van STEEDEN is drafted into the squad alongside Takuya IWATA and Adam DICKINSON. An extended squad is named with two games in the space of five days.
as Vladimir and Dimitar BAYREV return to Bulgaria. Tristan NICOL is also omitted from the squad.
David BROWNE (calf), James PRITCHETT (hamstring) and Dan SARIC (foot) are all bracketed.
Canterbury United’s last win over Auckland City was a 1-0 success courtesy of a Ken YAMAMOTO goal in the 88th minute of their 2010/11 clash at Kiwitea Street. YAMAMOTO was a late substitute.
Manel EXPOSITO is a player in form with two goals in Wednesday’s 4-1 away win over Waikato FC.
Aaron CLAPHAM has scored four goals in seven games and has three yellow cards, just one card away from a one match suspension.
EXPOSITO has scored 31 goals for Auckland City since arriving at the club in 2010/11 season. He is 4th in the list of all-time top scorers for his club behind Paul URLOVIC, Grant YOUNG and Keryn JORDAN.
ASB Premiership - Round 8
Sunday 13 January, 2013
1- Tom BATTY (GK)
1- Jacob SPOONLEY (GK)
2- Dan TERRIS (c)
2- Simon ARMS
4- Nick WORTELBOER
3- Takuya IWATA
5- Tom SCHWARZ
4- Riki van STEEDEN
6- Chris MURPHY
5- Angel BERLANGA
7- Darren WHITE
6- Jason HICKS
8- Aaron CLAPHAM
7- James PRITCHETT
9- Russell KAMO
8- Chris BALE
11- Michael FIFII
9- Manel EXPOSITO
12- Andy BARTON
10- Luis CORRALES
14- Josh SMITH
11- Daniel KOPRIVCIC
15- Julyan COLLETT
12- Tamati WILLIAMS (GK)
16- Ashley WELLBOURN
13- Alex FENERIDIS
19- Louie BUSH
14- Adam DICKINSON
20- Ken YAMAMOTO
15- Ivan VICELICH (c)
22- Adam HIGHFIELD (GK)
16- Albert RIERA
17- Pedro Santa Cecilia GARCIA
18- Liam ANDERSON (GK)
19- Dan SARIC
20- Emiliano TADE
21- David BROWNE
22- Andrew MILNE
- six to be omitted.