SI league target for club sides
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.