AUCKLAND – Waitakere United Chairman Rex Dawkins says that the FIFA Club World Cup – Japan 2007 will be a fillip for football in Auckland’s western suburbs after years in the
doldrums. Dawkins – who has been at the vanguard of the Waitakere United revival that saw the NZFC franchise claim its first ever OFC O-League title in a play-off win against Ba earlier this year –
is bracing himself for what he sees as a shot in the arm for the game in West Auckland and throughout New Zealand including Oceania. Dawkins made the comments at Waitakere United’s FIFA Club World
Cup press conference moderated by FIFA Media Officer John Schumacher on Monday.
Waitakere United has named its 23-man strong squad for the FIFA Club World Cup qualification play-off against Iranian champions Sepahan with very few surprises ahead of the match
scheduled for early December. Former professionals Danny Hay, Darren Bazeley, Neil Emblen, Jonathan Perry will be relied upon to carry through an essentially amateur club against a Sepahan side
that was unlucky when it missed out on the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League title in a two-legged playoff against J.League champions Urawa Red Diamonds.
Coach Chris Milicich said naming the 23-man squad was a difficult process but he was confident the right personnel were in place to achieve a positive result in Japan.
“We are fortunate to have the likes of Danny Hay, Neil Emblen, Darren Bazeley, Neil Sykes, Jonathan Perry and others who have experienced international football for club or country.
They are our leaders and will be charged with keeping the focus strong on and off the field. This is not a holiday, this is the football experience of a lifetime for some of the players, and it is
up to the management team and senior players to ensure they don’t get stars in their eyes.”
Waitakere United Executive Chairman Rex Dawkins (pictured above) says the club is aware of its responsibilities while away in Japan.
“The eyes of the football world will in many ways be on us in Japan as we look to justify once again the inclusion of an Oceania team on the world stage. We are not hiding from that but we are also
well aware of the mountain we have to climb against Sepahan. We will play on behalf of New Zealand and Oceania with pride and determination and do our utmost to represent the region with
distinction on and off the field.”
Milicich said the toughest decision was notifying those that had missed out, in particular the younger players who have worked so hard to earn the trip of a lifetime.
“Our academy players have been tremendous and have great futures in the game but Japan will be no place for the faint hearted and this was not about giving places in the squad away, they had to be
earned by the best 23 players we have available. Young Arran Rowley and Tom Webb will represent their academy team-mates with distinction, for the others, their time will come.
Waitakere United has one more NZFC assignment against Youngheart Manawatu at Fred Taylor Park before flying out to Japan to prepare for the match with Sepahan.
The full squad:
1. Richard GILLESPIE; 2. Jonathan PERRY; 3. Shane PASCOE; 4. Matt CUNNEEN; 5. Danny HAY (c); 6. Darren BAZELEY; 7. Jason HAYNE; 8. Commins MENAPI; 9. Benjamin TOTORI; 10. Allan
PEARCE; 11. Neil SYKES; 13. Daniel KOPRIVCIC; 14. Hoani EDWARDS; 15. Christopher BALE; 16. Neil EMBLEN; 17. Jake BUTLER; 19. Mikael MUNDAY; 20. Jason ROWLEY; 21. Graham PEARCE; 22. Simon EADDY; 27.
Tom WEBB; 28. Aaran ROWLEY; 33. Paul SEAMAN.
Coach: Chris MILICICH.