With the distractions of appeals and delays over the NZFC behind them, Waitakere United head away to New Caledonia this week for a crucial away tie in the Oceania Champions League.
The match on Sunday against Mont Dore begins the most important and demanding fortnight in the history of the club, with fixtures against Auckland City in both the O-League and the NZFC Grand Final still to come.
Head Coach Steve Cain says his players have been well prepared for the demands of away travel.
“We have spent a great deal of time preparing the players for everything that such a trip can throw at them. The travel will be tiring and the lure of the swimming pool and beaches will be an unwanted distraction from the job at hand – and that is before we even get to the match itself.”
“We have enjoyed a successful season to date but just how we will look back on the past 6 months will largely depend on how we perform over the next few weeks. We are under no illusions that Mont Dore will be a different proposition at home and at full strength.”
Cain will travel without his club captain with Danny Hay (international duty) but will otherwise take a full strength squad to Mont Dore. Daniel Ellensohn, Michael White, Marcel Isakowitz and Mikael Munday are not eligible for the O-League but such is the depth in the squad this season, Cain is confident others are ready to perform.
“Much of what we have achieved this year has been down to the depth in the squad and the experience we have been able to call on. Former youth international Jason Rowley is back after another injury lay off and has been training well and I have every faith in George Suri and Rupesh Puna to lead the side defensively in Danny’s absence.”
Waitakere are not concerned either with mathematical calculations with regards winning Group A. A win over Mont Dore will leave Waitakere needing a draw against Auckland in their final game and that is the bottom line for Cain, winning.
“Nothing less than a win is our goal on Sunday and while we must play with a degree of caution as the away side, we will be targeting three points. In doing so we must overcome the travel, hot conditions and the intimidation of the local fans but I am confident we can come away with the right result.”
Waitakere will return and without delay face Auckland City in the final group match at Kiwitea Street on Wednesday April 4th in what promises to be one of the most demanding and exciting club matches in the history of New Zealand Soccer. Quite possibly it will be winner takes all in terms of qualification to the home and away O-League finals against Fijian champions Ba.
Waitakere United squad to travel to New Caledonia today (1.15pm NZT departure):
021 323 557
For information while in New Caledonia contact:
Head of Delegation
021 939 847