Otago United faces top side Waitakere tomorrow in a fifth
round that has seen other struggling franchises already wield
the axe on coaching staff.
Waikato sacked coach Declan Edge this week and replaced him
with youth team coach Mark Cossey after only four games
played this season.
The flamboyant Edge was in his second season, preaching
long-term targets to young players and concentrating on good
technique and ball possession, instead of a "route one" long
But Waikato has lost all four matches in the ASB Premiership
this season, after winning just two of its 14 league matches
under Edge the previous summer.
Waikato has not won a home match for almost two years.
Otago coach Richard Murray will be looking over his shoulder
since the United franchise has a similar record, and will
need to find improved form to gain points from unbeaten
Waitakere in tomorrow's away game.
However, Otago United board member John Mathias confirmed the
franchise had every confidence Murray could lift United out
of its lowly position.
"Richard has the team playing well and but for some debatable
refereeing decisions, we could have had several points on the
board," Mathias said.
There a few silver linings in the cloud that hovers over
Otago at the moment.
Centreback Matt Joy is on a rich vein of good form which
earned him a place in the ASB Premiership team of the month.
If the rest of Otago's squad can show the improvement Joy has
achieved this season, Murray will be a happy man.
Otago defender Tom Connor has also passed a career milestone
in playing his 50th game, and he adds a sharp edge to
United's attack with his runs up the flanks.
Keeper Liam Little's return will strengthen the squad and
striker Ant Hancock, back from injury, will add thrust to
United's attack. But French midfielder Victor da Costa is
still sidelined by a knee problem.
Murray is well aware of what awaits his team at Fred Taylor
"We conceded 11 goals in two games against them last year,"
he said ruefully. "We've got to get in their faces and deny
them space. If we don't, they have the speed to punish us."
Results have been disappointing but Murray believes his team
is better than the Premiership table would indicate.
Only a late flurry of goals and a controversial red card
allowed Auckland City to fly out of Dunedin with three
points, and last weekend in Napier, Otago was well in the
hunt until halftime.
"We've missed out on a bit of luck," Murray said.
"We played really well up to halftime against Hawkes Bay but
then lost our concentration after the break. We had the
beating of Auckland all game but lost out to a decision by
the man in the middle."
Otago will need all its courage and spirit to reverse some
intimidating statistics. It has travelled to west Auckland 10
times and lost 10 times. A 16-match winless streak against
Waitakere includes two draws and 14 losses stretching back to
Footballsouth coach Nick Rzepecky hopes his side can finish
the season with a flourish and grab a rare away win against
The women's team has improved this season and would love to
be rewarded with a result in Wellington.
"There is still lots of work to do but we are getting closer.
Once we get that first win under our belt, there will be no
stopping Footballsouth," Rzepecky said.
"We are off to Capital with nothing to lose. We will throw
everything at Capital to ensure we can claim that win and
spoil the party for somebody."
Otago United v Waitakere
Auckland, tomorrow, 2pm
Otago: Liam Little, Tristan Prattley (captain), Ben
Fitzpatrick, Matt Joy, Seamus Ryder, Ant Hancock, Aaron
Burgess, Sam Mepham, Tom Connor, Tim Horner, Scott Gannon,
Andy Ridden, Joel Stevens, Regan Coldicott, Craig Ferguson,
Waitakere: Danny Robinson, Aaron Scott, Jack Beguely,
Tim Myers, Brian Shelley, Matt Cunneen, David Mulligan, Chad
Coombes, George Slefendorfas, Allan Pearce, Roy Krishna,
Maksim Manko, Jake Butler, Ryan de Vries, Dylan Stansfield,