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It has been a tricky lead-up but Southern United is ready for the next round of the national futsal league.
The side travels to Christchurch tonight, where it will play Central and Capital twice each in the Southern Travelling Series. A win and a draw in its opening games against Canterbury United has left it in a handy position early on.
Coach Darren Hart said the team was tracking well, although he admitted it had been a difficult period in between tournaments.
Many of the players had exams and therefore stress levels were up and players had to miss the occasional training session.
Alongside that, the drive to Christchurch, as opposed to a flight to the North Island, made the travel tougher, too.
Both things typically made it something of a ‘‘bogey tournament’’ for Southern.
However, Hart said the team was taking a new approach to try to ease the travel effects this year.
It would travel north tonight, arriving late, but would be ready to go on game day.
That was opposed to being up early to travel to Christchurch, play a game, check in to the hotel and then play another game that night.
The change might be good in breaking another trend — Capital won both games against Southern last year.
Indeed, Capital was the form team throughout last year before losing in the semifinals.
It retained the majority of its players from that side and Hart expected it would be tough.
Central, an amalgamation of the Manawatu and Hawke’s Bay teams from previous years,
tended to be a more physical side and a bit less structured, given the large geographical area made it difficult for its players to travel as much.
Hart said Southern was capable of winning all four games, although he would be happy to return with three wins.
Southern brings good form into the weekend. After a 4-4 draw in the first game against Canterbury, it ran away with a comfortable 6-2 win a day later.
That yielded four points, the same number the team got from the matches last year when it went on to become champion.
However, Hart felt the players had been disappointed to not claim two wins.
Southern had led 4-1 in the first game, before some mistakes cost it.It had bounced back well and impressed in the second game, however.
Today’s first game is against Central at 1.30pm, followed by one against Capital at 7pm.Tomorrow it plays Capital at 9am and Central at 1.30pm.