By Rab Smth / www.asbpremiership.co.nz
DUNEDIN -After a dismal show against Manawatu last week losing 3-0 Richard Murray and his coaching staff had a major rebuild on their hands this week, to prepare for classy visitors Auckland City.
Aukland is on a charge, full of confidence and at full strength after notching its second win in four days by beating a Phoenix A team 3-1 and Canterbury United in the league 5-2.
So there is a giant difference between the clubs, as Otago licks its wounds and examined what went wrong at the Forsyth Barr stadium
' Some frank discussions cleared the air a bit,' said Murray, and he is sure that his team can produce something more like their real form on Sunday.
Certainly last weeks first ten minutes were sharp and penetrating producing sustained pressure on the Manawatu goalmouth, but reaped no reward
Instead the visitors goal robbed Otago of the confidence that had fuelled its earlier play, and as Manawatu became stronger, and played well, Murray's mob lost shape and played ragged football.
' We have a young side, and they are hurting,' said the coach,' but we are looking to harness that emotion, and make it positive against Auckland.'
Certainly Otago will make changes, looking to stabilise the squad, but at a mid-week training session experienced fullback Craig Ferguson and midfielder Seamus Ryder pulled up lame, giving Murray more problems.
The squad could be freshened by the inclusion of youngster Joel Stevens, whose pace and tight control deserve a start. Recalled to the bench at least, James Govan combines body strength with pace, and has already scored goals this season.
Whether they can displace experienced frontrunners Aaran Burgess and Ant Hancock, is debatable, but against Auckland - a side which bookies rightly make odds-on favourites - perhaps Murray will unleash the youngsters at some stage.
Other bench warmers who could get a start are the tough tackling midfielder Sam Mepham, the explosive Benjudah Fitzpatrick, and quality passer Australian Scott Gannan.
Frustratingly there were no real duds in Otago's last performance, just fluctuating performances, and as Murray said, ' some really naive defending.'
So, its likely to be 'back to basics,' for Otago.
Possibly taking the advice given by Alex Ferguson to a young defender at Old Trafford.' Just win all your tackles son, win all yer headers, and make sure your passes go to your team mates and you'll be OK.'
Football is really a simple game.
The match kicks off on Sunday at 2 pm, on the superb playing surface at Forsyth Barr, and for once, perhaps Otago might have preferred some traditional ankle deep mud as a leveller.
Scotsman Craig FERGUSON returns to the Otago squad with James GOVAN also named in an experienced line-up.
Manel EXPOSITO returns from suspension.
Manel EXPOSITO returns from suspension.
Tim HORNER, Otago’s most capped player, has not been selected.
Riki van STEEDEN is dropped as part of a rotation policy. Jacob SPOONLEY.
Tristan PRATTLEY will make his 60th ASB Premiership career appearance, if selected
Daniel KOPRIVCIC will make his 90th ASB Premiership career appearance, if selected.
Otago United last defeated Auckland City six years ago when they downed the navy blues 1-0 in Round 17 of the 2005/06 season.
Auckland City is undefeated in their last 14 meetings with Otago United. That record includes five wins, one draw and one loss on their last seven visits to Dunedin.
ASB Premiership - Round 2
Sunday 11 November, 2012
1- Liam Little (GK)
12- Tamati Williams (GK)
2- Jake Morrison
2- Simon Arms
3- Tristan Prattley
3- Takuya Iwata
4- Ben Fitzpatrick
5- Angel Berlanga
5- Matt Joy
6- Jason Hicks
8- Seamus Ryder
7- James Pritchett
9- Victor da Costa
8- Chris Bale
10- Ant Hancock
9- Manel Exposito
11- James Govan
10- Luis Corrales
12- Aaron Burgess
11- Daniel Koprivcic (bracketed)
14- Sam Mepham
13- Alex Feneridis
15- Tom Connor
14- Adam Dickinson
16- Aajay Cunningham
15- Ivan Vicelich
21- Joel Stevens
16- Albert Riera
22- Peter Evans (GK)
17- Pedro Garcia
24- Andy Ridden
18- Liam Anderson (GK)
25- Craig Ferguson
20- Emiliano Tade
26- Scott Gannon
22- Andrew Milne
28- Morgan Day