By John Donnachie / asbpremiership.co.nz
CHRISTCHURCH - Canterbury United's surprise close season capture, All White Cole Peverley, makes his home debut against Waikato FC at the revamped ASB Football Park on Sunday.
The Wellington based and former Hawke's Bay midfielder admits he is “never going to get used to earthquakes”, but the challenge of breaking the Auckland monopoly of the ASB Premiership, is too good an opportunity to pass up on.
“I chose Canterbury because I wanted to play for a club who are in contention for the league. The players we have are good enough to compete with Auckland City and Waitakere. While Auckland City will be hard to beat, I reckon Waitakere are definitely beatable.”
Peverley said the prospect of playing alongside Dragons midfield talisman Aaron Clapham, and winger Darren White, an old school friend, who joined him as an apprentice at the Hansa Rostock football academy in Germany, was another factor in his decision to join the Dragons.
“ I've played under 20s and under 23s with Claps (Aaron Clapham). So I'm sure we will do well. Also, I knew Darren was coming over from England to play too.”
Last February, Peverley went offshore and signed for the second tier American USL club Charleston Battery. Despite being a regular starter, his playing time was disrupted after he broke his ankle and he opted to come home.
He is still contracted to Charleston Battery and plans to head back depending on whether the Dragons' make this year's play-offs.
“I have an agreement to stay until February. But if we make the play-offs Charleston have given me permission to stay on,” he said.
The 23 year old who ranks Wynton Rufer as a big influence on his career is also keen to stay in Ricki Herbert's All Whites squad. His experience of last year's FIFA World Cup, has wet his appetite for more international honours.
“Making the Olympics team [Beijing 2008] was good but the real highlight for me, was getting the late call up to the All White squad, and been there all the time in South Africa with the team. I want to get back in for the world cup qualifers.”
In the meantime Peverley is focused on helping Canterbury become title contenders. And Dragons coach Keith Braithwaite sees Peverley as a welcome addition to his squad.
“We have gone for more attack minded players. Cole is a good passer. Has good vision, strength and pace.”
The Dragons fans however may have to wait before they see the new centre midfield partnership in action.
Braithwaite revealed captain Dan Terris, and versatile full back Nick Wortelboer are likely to miss Sunday's clash with Team Waikato.
This situation could see Clapham return to the back four in a full-back role as was the case in the Dragons impressive 4-0 opening day win at Palmerston North. Otherwise the availability of midfielder Paul Dirou remains unclear at this stage.
Visitors Team Waikato, will look to erase the recent memory of a 5-1 reversal at the hands of Auckland City. And coach Declan Edge promises an exciting encounter. While conceding he would be bringing a very inexperienced squad south he aims to win the game.
“Keith(Braithwaite) has assembled a strong squad, and most of our lads have barely been out the Waikato let alone been on a plane. But I can guarantee we will come to win - playing entertaining football .”
The match kicks off at 2pm at ASB Football Park. It has a new synthetic all weather playing surface -the first of its kind in the country.
Coach Declan EDGE welcomes back goalkeeper Mark FULCHER who will help shore up a defence that conceded five goals against Auckland City in round one.
Hamstring injuries have claimed Nick WORTELBOER and influential defender Dan TERRIS. Calvin OPPERMAN is not selected.
Matt WILLIAMS (Illness), Matteo BALLAN (foot), Mike KRAMER (groin) and Neil MOUNCHER (work commitments) are unavailable for selection.
Cole PEVERLEY and George SLEFENDORFAS make competitive home debuts for the Dragons.
Goalkeeper Mark FULCHER returns for his second spell with Waikato FC - it is also FULCHER's second spell with the same club under coach Declan EDGE.
Canterbury United has won one, drawn three and lost one of its previous five matches with Waikato FC on home soil. Canterbury’s last win over Waikato FC was a 2-0 success courtesy of goals by Aaron CLAPHAM and Jordan SWANEY notched in 2009.
Waikato has won five, drawn three and lost one of the last 9 encounters between the two teams.
ASB Premiership - Round 2
1- Tom BATTY (GK)
1- Mark FULCHER (GK)
3- Mark JOHNSTON
2- Tyler LISSETTE
5- Tom SCHWARZ
3- Jesse SMITH
6- Geoff MacINTYRE
4- Mohamed AWAD
7- Darren WHITE
5- David SAMSON
8- Aaron CLAPHAM
7- Jason HICKS
9- George SLEFENDORFAS
9- Daniel FRISCHKNECHT
10- Russell KAMO
10- Adam THOMAS (c)
11- Matt THOMAS
12- Max TOMMY (GK)
12- Andy BARTON
13- Mark JONES
14- Josh SMITH
14- Josh GREENE
15- Julyan COLLETT
15- Jesse EDGE
16- Joe MURRAY
16- Raymond HOW
17- Cole PEVERLEY
17- Mike THOMPSON
20- Ken YAMMAMOTO
19- Harry EDGE
22- Adam HIGHFIELD (GK)
21- Tyler BOYD
23- Te Atawhai HUDSON-WIHONGI
24- Ryan THOMAS