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NZFC set to open with battle of Bombay Hills

The solitary fixture on opening weekend is characteristic of a busy three-front season for Paul Posa’s Auckland. They begin their defence of the OFC Champions League (O-League) title on October 17 and face a trip to Abu Dhabi for a second crack at the FIFA Club World Cup in December.
When the NZFC swings into full action on November 1, last season’s beaten semi-finalists Team Wellington and YoungHeart Manawatu clash at Newtown Park, Auckland travel to Carisbrook to meet Otago, Waitakere host Canterbury United at Fred Taylor Park and Waikato welcome Hawke’s Bay to Ngaruawahia.
An expanded O-League with two final groups of four teams will see Auckland and Waitakere United play two extra continental fixtures each and has been accommodated domestically by the introduction of O-League windows into the NZFC draw.
Waitakere – under new player-coach Neil Emblen – start their quest to regain the O-League title in Noumea against New Caledonia champions AS Magenta on October 17.
The home leg of the All Whites’ crucial FIFA World Cup playoff against Bahrain in Wellington on November 14 has also been factored into the NZFC draw with only Team Wellington and YoungHeart Manawatu playing at home that weekend.
Wellington’s match against Auckland on the Saturday is being marketed as an appetiser for football fans in the capital to watch New Zealand’s shot at World Cup qualification, while fans of Manawatu and Waitakere can watch their teams clash in Palmerston North the next day.
The sixth season of the NZFC would also see more Sunday matches and a default kick-off time of 2pm with New Zealand Football’s Competitions Manager Glyn Taylor said the introduction of were designed to encourage regular attendance.
“The Sunday afternoon time slot is friendlier to families with kids who play Saturday sport but we also think the consistency allows fans to incorporate watching NZFC games into their summer routine,” Taylor said.
The home-and-away semi finals format introduced last season has been retained and will be played over the first two weekends in April, with the winners progressing to the final on Anzac Day.
Story courtesy of NZF Media
For the full NZFC draw visit www.nzfootball.co.nz

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