» WaiBOP United head to Napier for final preparations

WaiBOP United travels to Napier on Saturday for their final pre-season friendly ahead of the start of the 2015/16 ASB Premiership season. The franchise has also announced the final three players to be added to the squad prior to the big kick-off.

Head Coach, Peter Smith, is looking forward to Saturday’s match against 2014/15 finalists, Hawkes Bay United, which is set for a 2pm kick-off at Bluewater Stadium. “We’ve played them already this pre-season [a 2-1 defeat at Crown Park, Taupo, on October 17] and I thought we did okay then in what was our first match together,” said Smith. “We were good during the first half, in particular, but I’ll be looking for more consistency this time. I guess this match will be a good opportunity to see how the squad has improved since then. I think we’ve come a long way in a few weeks, but the proof will be in how we play on Saturday.”

While Smith is looking for a good performance he’s also conscious of giving as many players as possible some game time. “There are a few lads I’ll be looking at to prove to me that they are worth a place on the park against Team Wellington next weekend,” explained Smith. “I have a fair idea who’ll be on the team sheet, but things can change quickly in this game. So it’ll be up to everyone who travels to Napier to prove they deserve to be there.”

Smith has also confirmed that defenders Diego Viera and Israel Whitley, and midfielder, Cory Mitchell, will be part of his squad. “Diego has come to us through contact with Feddy and Ale [striker Federico Marquez and midfielder Alexia Varela]. He’s a Uruguayan lad who was previously with the Oriental de la Paz club in his homeland,” said Smith. “Diego’s a left sided player who we’ve had a good look at during pre-season. We like what we see.”

Mitchell has been involved with Canterbury United during previous ASB Premiership seasons. “He moved up to the Waikato earlier in the year and had a good season with Hamilton Wanderers,” said Smith. “He’s a young lad with bags of energy and enthusiasm. I expect to see him push our more established players for a spot in the match day squad. Israel is another young lad I think will be a solid player for WaiBOP United. He’s coming off an excellent season in the NRFL with Forrest Hill Milford and we’re keen to see what he can do at this level.”

Smith is pleased to have built a strong squad of players. “If we’re to be successful this season it’ll be because the whole squad, not just each week’s starting eleven, have contributed,” said Smith. “We have quality and depth, hunger and experience, and now I need to see performance and attitude every week, both during games and on the training field. The boys have to push each other hard all the time. If that happens I’ll have a very difficult job, but I’d much prefer that than the opposite.”

WaiBOP United hosts Team Wellington in the opening game of their 2015/16 ASB Premiership campaign. The match, to be played at Hamilton’s Gower Park, the home ground of Melville United, is on Sunday November 15 and kicks off at 4.35pm. It will be broadcast live on Sky Sport, along with five further home games. In total, ten of WaiBOP United’s fourteen regular season matches (six home and four away) will be broadcast live on Sky Sport.

The 2015/16 ASB Premiership kicks off this Sunday when Waitakere United host defending champions, Auckland City, at QBE Stadium in this season’s first edition of the Super City Derby. The match kicks off at 4.35pm and will be shown like on Sky.

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