By Bob Pearce / asbpremiership.co.nz
AUCKLAND- Otago United will be fielding a weakened side against Auckland City on Sunday as the navy blues bid farewell to one of Kiwitea Street's favourite son Keryn Jordan.
Auckland have a special reason for a positive result against Otago. This weekend they farewell one of their greatest players, Keryn Jordan, who is returning permanently to South Africa as he battles ill health.
The former South African international, who appeared at two FIFA World Cups for Auckland, helped Auckland City win three ASB Premiership crowns, two Oceania club titles and appeared in an Oceania XI against the likes of Christian Karembeu, Zinedine Zidane and Youri Djorkaeff.
Otago United's triumph last week amid a flurry of goals and five red cards - two of them for Richard Murray' men - turned out to be something of a Pyrrhic victory.
On the plus side the 4-1 win lifted the Southerners off the bottom of the ASB Premiership table. But the cost was three players suspended, Matt Joy and Tom Connor for red cards and Craig Ferguson for an accumulation of yellows.
Add in to the defections of Joel Stevens, who is injured, and Tristan Prattley, who is off to Waitakere United, and coach Richard Murray is down to about Plan C in his preparations for the game.
“We were looking very good until the last 10 minutes against Manawatu and then a couple of players lost the plot,” said Murray. “That leaves us down on resources at the moment.
“It means a chance for some youth players. The youth team has a bye this weekend and it’s the club’s policy to push development of our youth, so this can be an opportunity.”
Despite winning only two games, Murray believes his team have performed better than their results would suggest.
“Apart from the Waikato game, where we conceded two soft goals and then got our heads down, we’ve competed pretty well.”
Their early-season home game with Auckland finished 3-1 to the visitors but only after a late goal rush inspired by Luis Corrales, who is unavailable for Sunday’s clash. When Otago travelled north to play Waitakere United at the Fred, the 4-1 scoreline was a poor reflection of a hard-fought contest.
One concern for Murray will be the potential for strength-sapping heat and humidity at Kiwitea St at this time of year. Good weather in Dunedin has given his players a bit of conditioning and to be fair Auckland has had plenty of wind to banish the humidity.
The Aucklanders, well rested after their FIFA World Club Cup exploits, have been purring along like a well-fed moggy after Christmas.
First they brought a reality check to Waikato’s revival with a 4-1 win in a catchup game at Ngaruawahia. Four days later they travelled to Christchurch and beat the hosts 3-1 to take second place in the Premiership.
“Two games, two wins, it’s been very positive,” said coach Ramon Tribulietx.
“With only three days in between it was difficult for the players and there were some tired legs.
“But our injuries have come from training. James Pritchett will be out for a couple of weeks but Taku Iwata is back in the squad.”
Auckland still have a game in hand but they’re five points adrift of leaders Waitakere, so is a repeat of their minor premiership still in their grasp?
“We can depend on ourselves not on other results. We still have to play Waitakere and we’ll have to win everything. It’s a tough ask but we’ll take it game by game.”
Jordan VALE and Takuya IWATA
Tim HORNER and Andy RIDDEN are restored to the squad
Craig FERGUSON, Matt JOY and Tom CONNOR are all suspended. , while Joel STEVENS is on the injured list.
Daniel KOPRIVCIC is set to make his 97th ASB Premiership career appearance. KOPRIVCIC has scored 36 career goals, three in this campaign.
New Zealand U-23 international Tristan PRATTLEY looks set to sign for Waitakere United before the transfer deadline on Friday
The navy blues can hold onto second spot if they win this match and – alongside arch rivals Waitakere – remain the only other undefeated ASB Premiership side this season.
Otago United hasn’t won back to back matches in the ASB Premiership since 2011/12 season when they won three on the bounce. The 4-1 win over YoungHeart Manawatu was Otago’s third biggest win in ASB Premiership history. Regan COLDICOTT is one caution away from suspension.
ASB Premiership - Round 9
12- Tamati WILLIAMS (GK)
1- Liam LITTLE (GK)
2- Simon ARMS
4- Ben FITZPATRICK
3- Takuya IWATA
6- Morgan DAY
5- Angel BERLANGA
7- Regan COLDICOTT
8- Chris BALE
8- Seamus RYDER
9- Manel EXPOSITO
9- Victor da COSTA
11- Daniel KOPRIVCIC
10- Ant HANCOCK
13- Alex FENERIDIS
11- James GOVAN
14- Adam DICKINSON
13- Scott GANNON
15- Ivan VICELICH (c)
14- Sam MEPHAM
16- Albert RIERA
17- Tim HORNER (c)
17- Pedro Santa Cecilia GARCIA
19- Geordie MANSFORD
18- Damien HIRST (GK)
20- Andy RIDDEN
19- Dan SARIC
21 - Aaron BURGESS
20- Emiliano TADE
22- Zayne OFFICER
21- David BROWNE
23- Cam ATTWOOD
22- Andrew MILNE
23- Jorda VALE