Youth team boosted for league opener

Nelson Mail - - SPORT - PHILLIP ROLLO

Tas­man United will have the ser­vices of first team play­ers Cal­lan El­liot and Labu Pan for their open­ing game against de­fend­ing Na­tional Youth League cham­pi­ons Hamil­ton Wan­der­ers.

The avail­abil­ity of the two teenagers off­sets the ab­sence of David Maisey, Van Roland Hlawn Ceu and PJ Stephens, who are all unavail­able for to­mor­row’s match at Por­ritt Sta­dium in Hamil­ton.

Pan, a 19-year-old left-back who has spent the en­tire pre-sea­son with the ISPS Handa Pre­mier­ship squad, will see out the NYL cam­paign be­fore re­join­ing the first team in De­cem­ber.

Coach Rob An­der­son said El­liot and Pan, who both scored against the first team in a warm-up match on Thurs­day, would give Tas­man a sig­nif­i­cant boost as they look to get their new sea­son off to a promis­ing start.

‘‘With that kind of cal­i­bre com­ing down it’s a good op­por­tu­nity for the other boys to step up as well. We had a good turnout in the game against the se­nior team and it was good in the first pe­riod to see them all work to­gether,’’ An­der­son said.

‘‘We have a few boys who aren’t here for this week­end but the other boys will step up, that’s just the way it is in youth foot­ball.’’

Tas­man fin­ished eighth in the NYL last year with a record of three wins and six losses.

De­spite plac­ing more em­pha­sis on player de­vel­op­ment this sea­son, An­der­son was still hop­ing for bet­ter in 2017.

‘‘This is a new sea­son with new play­ers and new coach­ing staff but for us our ob­jec­tive is to fin­ish as high as we can in the league but in a way where we play pos­ses­sion­based foot­ball that is cre­ative and cre­ates an op­por­tu­nity for our play­ers to play for the first team,’’ he said.

With Hamil­ton Boys’ High School win­ning the New Zealand sec­ondary schools foot­ball cham­pi­onships last month, An­der­son was ex­pect­ing Hamil­ton Wan­der­ers to be one of the strong­est teams in the league.

‘‘We know it’ll be tough but at the same time it’s an op­por­tu­nity to find out where we are at and gives us some frame­work to work with.’’

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