» Preview: Auckland City (h)

We’re back in Cambridge this Wednesday for our latest ASB Premiership clash against league leaders, Auckland City. The match, rescheduled from earlier in the season, gives local fans the opportunity to watch us pit our skills against the FIFA Club World Cup bronze medal winners on what promises to be a balmy summer evening.

Both sides are in good form. We’re on a run of five wins from seven games, while the visitors have eased nicely back into the ASB Premiership after their Morocco heroics, winning five on the bounce. They re-claimed the league lead from Team Wellington after their 3-0 win over the men from the capital last weekend.

As with all matches of this stature, WaiBOP United head coach, Pete Smith, is looking forward to taking on the visitors. “I probably don’t need to remind anyone that Auckland City continue to set the standard for the domestic game in New Zealand,” smiled Smith in the lead up to the match. “Their efforts in Morocco were, of course, a highlight but that was no accident. They are an incredibly well run organisation and have led the way in this league for over a decade. As always, they’ll be daunting opponents, but we’re really looking forward to taking them on.”

Smith is pleased with the efforts and, as importantly, the results of his own team. “We’re on a decent run. The lads are playing well and we’re getting the results our performances deserve,” he said. “That’s not always the case in football, so it’s important we focus only on this game, trust in the system and keep fighting for each other. If we do that, the results and, ultimately, our wider goals will take care of themselves.

“We learnt a lot from the match at Kiwitea Street a few weeks ago. It’s so important to keep focussed as the best teams will punish you if you switch off. Auckland is one of the best so we’ll find out tonight if we’ve learnt our lessons.”

Playing on a week day evening will be something new, particularly for us. “The evening game will be a bit of a challenge, probably for both teams, with things like work and other commitments,” explains Smith. “But on the other hand, it could be a great opportunity for the fans to get along after work, make the most of the hospitality area and support the team like they have in recent weeks. The crowd involvement during the Canterbury and Wellington games was top class and it would be fantastic if we see something similar on Wednesday.”

The match kicks off at 6pm at John Kerkhof Park on Wednesday February 18.

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