SI league tar­get for club sides

Otago Daily Times - - SPORT - JEFF CHESHIRE

CAVERSHAM has set the pace in re­cent years but club foot­ball will be a whole new game as the sea­son starts to­day.

The re­turn of a South Is­land league acts as the fo­cal point, with eight teams play­ing for a big­ger prize later in the sea­son.

In that league, ev­ery team will play each other once and the high­est­placed team on the ta­ble will be the win­ner.

How­ever, qual­i­fi­ca­tion for that is the im­me­di­ate goal. The top three teams from the first round of the Foot­ball South Premier League will ad­vance.

Those places will be closely con­tested but Caversham must en­ter as favourite.

It has won 12 of the past 14 pre­mier­ships, al­though it is ex­pect­ing a tougher chal­lenge this year.

In Sam Col­lier, Sam Cos­grove and Tore Waechter it has lost three play­ers who have gone to Welling­ton, and goal keeper Liam Lit­tle has headed over­seas.

De­spite that, it re­tains a wealth of tal­ent, in­clud­ing the likes of South­ern United play­ers Jared Grove, An­drew Rid­den and Ben Wade.

There are also sev­eral new faces, notably Ben Kiore, Matt Mitchell and Con­nor Neil.

At the top of last year’s chas­ing pack was Green Is­land, which re­turns as a co­he­sive team with strong ball­play­ing abil­ity.

Sev­eral younger play­ers have stepped up to its top team, while Aaron Al­lan, An­drew Cromb and Chris Kes­sel have all linked with the club.

How­ever, it has one no­table loss in last year’s cap­tain Matt Mitchell, head­ing to Caversham.

Also in the chas­ing pack will be Roslyn Wakari, which has made some sig­nif­i­cant gains.

South­ern United de­fender Kris­tian Gib­son is its mar­quee pick­up, while Alex Cox and Cam An­der­son both join the team and Ben O’Far­rell is back af­ter a stint in Europe.

It also has plenty of fa­mil­iar star power in Ten­nessee Kinghorn, Tom Stevens and Har­ley Rodeka.

No­table among its losses are Tom Con­nor, Mike San­num, Fraser Hunter and Kiore.

South­land United shapes as a dark horse, hav­ing added seven for­eign play­ers in key po­si­tions.

Among them are Amer­i­cans David Schip­per and An­gel Garcia, Aus­tralian Liam McLure and a four­player Ja­panese con­tin­gent.

With more ex­pe­ri­ence and in­creased qual­ity, the team should do bet­ter than its sixth plac­ing last year.

Dunedin Tech­ni­cal fin­ished third last year and with very lit­tle player turnover, it hopes to build on that.

Key among its squad is last year’s player of the year Tim McLen­nan.

Mos­giel also boasts sev­eral handy play­ers, in­clud­ing Mor­gan Day, Cam McPhaill and Ri­ley An­der­ton, al­though it has no­table losses in Cody Brook and Sam Ma­cauley.

The Queen­stown Rovers im­pressed in a re­turn to the league last year and will be look­ing to build on that.

Otago Uni­ver­sity and North­ern brought up the rear last year and will be look­ing to work their way fur­ther up the ta­ble this time around.

In the first round of games, Mos­giel plays Green Is­land at Me­mo­rial Park, Otago Uni­ver­sity plays Dunedin Tech at Lo­gan Park, Roslyn Wakari trav­els to Queen­stown, and South­land United hosts North­ern.

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