Football: Exams affect Southern United

Luiz Uehara
Luiz Uehara
Some of Southern United's key players will be sitting in university classrooms today while team-mates test themselves against Canterbury United in a pre-season match in Timaru.

Preparation for the ASB Premiership is vital. The first match in Dunedin against champion side Waitakere United is only one week away, and coach Luiz Uehara is sweating on his most effective team combination for the opener.

Uehara is philosophical regarding the situation.

''Ideally, we should have our strongest selection on the field, but it gives those who travel to Timaru a chance to press their case for first team selection,'' he said.

Logan Wright-Webb, Aajay Cunningham, Peter Overmire and Geordie Mansford are all unavailable because of exams.

Canterbury has also had its problems. A Wellington pre-season match was cancelled, but a replacement fixture was arranged against Nelson.

Southern United - formerly Otago United - has a team of fitness experts led by Carl Bradford, which has worked the squad in early morning and evening gym sessions, as well as regular training at Tahuna Park, several times a week.

Yet even fitness experts realise the value of game time in reaching match fitness, and players' sharpness and pace will be keenly observed.

Uehara and assistant Darren Hart will be watching through football tactician eyes, looking for patterns of play to emerge, and combinations to be forged in their squad.

Possibly, the coaches had nearly confirmed thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses of their squad, but the recent arrival of three new players has caused a re-assessment.

Brazilian striker Henrique Alves Viana played professionally with Corinthians in Sao Paulo, and looks a good acquisition. He has pace, and sharp acceleration, and appears to time runs into the penalty box well. Of course, the absolute assessment of a striker is whether he can he score goals.

New German defender Jakub Schneider also played professionally, for the Carl Zeiss Jena club, and another dominant defender would please Uehara, who - even with Singaporean defender David Low available - might need more depth.

Its ominous that the highly experienced Patrick Ebanda, a former Kiev player from Cameroon, who has played well in training, picked up an injury and will also not play in Timaru.

An ideal situation will be if the tried and trusted locals such as Matt Joy, Regan Coldicott, Morgan Day and Peter Overmire can combine with the new players to merge into a side that is greater than the sum of its parts.

It would also be morale-boosting to beat Canterbury, pre-season match or not. Last year, in a similar fixture, Canterbury won 1-0.

Southern United: Squad for friendly
Tom Batty, Jefferson Potrich, Campbell Higgins, Matt Joy, Jakob Schneider, David Hayman, David Low, Nick Hindson, Morgan Day, Henry Flood, Andrew Ridden, Sam Mepham, Campbell Attwood, Peter Rae, Taylor McCormack, Regan Coldicott, Henrique Alves Viana, Daniel Morris.


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