Otago sides draw home matches in cup playoffs

Photo: File
Photo: file
Both Otago clubs left standing in the premier national cup competitions have drawn home games in the next knockout rounds.

The Dunedin City Royals will host Western Springs in the Kate Sheppard Cup semifinals on August 17, while Otago University will host powerhouses Auckland City in the Chatham Cup quarterfinals on July 27.

Both clubs will likely start firm underdogs, but home advantage and a heap of southern grittiness can go a long way at this stage of the competition.

The Royals women have not reached a Kate Sheppard Cup final yet, but one of their founding clubs, Dunedin Technical, won it in 2018.

Getting a home draw for a semifinal was a massive boost, Royals captain Rose Morton said yesterday.

"The last time we were in the semifinals, we were away in Auckland, so having a home draw is awesome," she said.

"It means our supporters can come and watch us, and we have home-field advantage, which is fantastic."

The Royals will need all hands on deck if they are to reach the final.

Western Springs are the defending champions, having beaten Wellington United 2-1 in the final last year, and a fixture in the national league, although Southern United — containing several Royals — finished above them last season.

"They’re obviously really quality opposition, and we’ve played them a bit, especially for Southern," Morton said.

"We know they’re really good. I think maybe they’re looking a little bit weaker this year. A few of the players up in Auckland have moved around a bit.

"If we perform well we can beat any team. It should be a really good game."

The other Kate Sheppard semifinal is between the Phoenix Reserves and 2022 champions Auckland United.

Otago University players will get the ultimate test when they host Auckland City in the Chatham Cup quarterfinals.

The Aucklanders, cup champions in 2022, have immense resources and the results to show for them: nine national league titles, 12 Oceania Champions Leagues and regular appearances at the lucrative World Club Cup.

The other Chatham Cup quarterfinals are Hibiscus Coast v Coastal Spirit, Wellington Olympic v Manurewa, and Napier City Rovers v Birkenhead. Defending champions Christchurch United were knocked out in the second round.