Veteran defender lured back by United

Blair Scoullar
Blair Scoullar
Otago United has called in veteran defender Blair Scoullar for the forthcoming New Zealand Football Championship season.

Scoullar, who made one appearance for the All Whites against Oman in 2000, has been lured back to play for the province after spending the last two seasons playing for Canterbury.

The opportunity to link up with Dunedin Technical team-mates Aaron Burgess and Andy Coburn was too good to miss, Scoullar said.

"I saw a few friends were coming back into the Otago team and thought, `well, it might be a good time to come back in'," he said.

"I'll give it another nudge and see if we can inflict any damage."

The 29-year-old played for Otago United in 2004 and 2005 but transferred to Canterbury for the 2006 and 2007 season.

A broken kneecap hampered his first season with Canterbury and he only played the first half of '07 before taking the rest of the summer off.

The Cromwell-based sales representative believes the changes to the format should suit Otago.

New Zealand Football yesterday announced the league would be shortened from three rounds to two.

Play-offs, which previously involved the top three teams, will now be contested by the top four teams in home-and-away semifinals, with the winners going on to the final.

By reducing the length of the tournament, organisers hope to ease the financial pressure on some of the franchises which are struggling in the current economic environment.

"I think it probably works in our favour," Scoullar said.

"Normally, the longer it drags on, our resources get stretched with people going away on holiday, getting injured, with suspensions, and just losing players for various reasons has cost Otago.

"We've been paper thin in the past. So I think it will suit us that it is a shorter season and might give us another incentive to go that little bit harder."

Otago United coach Terry Phelan has named a squad which has more experience than in the past couple of seasons and he was optimistic about the forthcoming campaign.

"We've got experience in there and that is what we've been lacking," Phelan said.

"But it is about them producing the goods in the big games, he said."

Four overseas players will be added to the squad.

Phelan said two players from Germany and two from the UK were joining the side in the next two weeks but they would be on trial.

If they shaped up the franchise would sign them for the season.

The draw for this season will now be revised but play is still expected to begin November 8, with the final on April 4.



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