Big challenge ahead for champs

Coral Seath relaxes at Culling Park this week in the lead-in to tonight’s Kate Sheppard Cup...
Coral Seath relaxes at Culling Park this week in the lead-in to tonight’s Kate Sheppard Cup quarterfinal. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
Coral Seath knows Dunedin Technical's greatest challenge is approaching.

A year after leading the club to Kate Sheppard Cup glory, she is about to lead the team again - this time into the toughest game of its title defence yet.

Christchurch's Coastal Spirit is its opponent - the side Technical has beaten in the quarterfinals each of the last two years.

However, things will be slightly different at Logan Park tonight.

Tech is no longer an underdog.

Last year's win may have been a surprise, but this year the top teams in the country will have eyes on the side.

For Seath (24), in her last year before going travelling, that just provided more motivation.

"Looking back on it now, it's like `that did happen, we've got the Kate Sheppard Cup and now we really want to keep it'," the team's captain and defender said.

"That feeling of wanting to keep it is up there at the moment.

"The excitement levels are huge and same with the nerves.

"It's hard to win the cup, but it's harder to keep it."

Seath arrived in Dunedin from Palmerston North seven years ago to study a Bachelor of Design.

She originally had planned on staying five years.

But she loved Tech so much she has stayed an extra two, and is now working as a duty manager at Nova Cafe.

That was contrary to the beginning, when football was not a reason for coming.

Indeed she nearly became a Roslyn Wakari player, before a friend got her to Tech.

She has also played for Southern United at the national league level.

Football in the region has taken great strides, and she felt the coaching and recruitment had come a long way.

She also felt the national body was yet to catch up.

The Forrest Hill Milford side Tech beat 4-2 in last year's final had several New Zealand representatives.

Yet she felt the southern players did not get looked at seriously for national sides, leading many to head to the United States.

She said there was more talent in the south than she had seen when in the North Island.

While the set-up in Auckland was fantastic, it was something New Zealand Football needed to spread.

"It's frustrating for the girls, they're incredible.

"Some of them get the opportunities, the younger ones, they get to go to camps.

"But that's all that happens.

"They go to these camps, get a bit of feedback and then never really hear back.

"It's nice to prove a point, that South Island teams can compete and win, and there's a reason why that's happening."

In Craig Johnston, Tech has a new coach, although Graeme Smaill still attends games.

It has some useful newcomers too, notably Hannah MacKay-Wright and Rose Morton.

Kickoff is at 6.30pm.

Meanwhile, Roslyn Wakari hosts Caversham in the Chatham Cup at Ellis Park tomorrow at 2pm.

Kate Sheppard Cup

Dunedin Tech v Coastal Spirit

Logan Park Turf, tonight, 6.30pm

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