The New Zealand Football Championship’s two most successful clubs will meet head on in the league’s fifth grand final on Sunday.
Auckland won the first three championships but lost their crown to Waitakere last season, after stumbling in the preliminary playoff.
Waitakere, who have already confirmed their third straight minor premiership, would cement their place as the undisputed kings of New Zealand domestic football with a second grand final victory.
Meanwhile Auckland can stop the balance of power shifting even more to the West of the city, and have their big game players hitting form and fitness at the right time.
After coasting to the minor premiership, Waitakere may have stuttered at the back end of the season but their 6-0 aggregate thumping of a previously in-form Wellington was a warning, if one was needed, that the defending champions and their own big-game players are ready to fire at the business end of the season.
Auckland suffered a scare in Palmerston North before successfully navigating their semi final, and won’t lack motivation in trying to wrestle the NZFC trophy back to Kiwitea Street, and ending a Waitakere hoodoo that extends over two seasons.
2007-08 Grand Final:
Waitakere United 2 (Karl Whalen own goal 45, Allan Pearce 66)
Team Wellington 0
2006-07 Grand Final:
Waitakere United 2 (Commins Menapi 21, Jeff Campbell 93)
Auckland City 3 (Liam Mulrooney 16, Paul Urlovic 51, Neil Sykes 78)
2005-06 Grand Final:
Auckland City 3 (Grant Young 45+2, Keryn Jordan 63, Chad Coombes 78)
Canterbury United 3 (Stuart Kelly 59/85 Ross Nicholson own goal 75)
3-3 a.e.t. Auckland won 4-3 on pens
2004-05 Grand Final:
Auckland City 3 (Grant Young 48/90, Liam Mulrooney 81)
Waitakere United 2 (Daniel Ellensohn 31, Keryn Jordan 70)
Visit www.nzfc.co.nz for full coverage
Waitakere United v Auckland City
Douglas Field, Henderson
Sunday 29 March, 2009
Live on Sky Sport 2 from 2pm
Referee: Mike Hester (Auckland)
Head to head (NZFC): Played 16, Waitakere 5 wins, Auckland 9 wins, 2 draws.
Previous playoff meetings:
2006-07 Grand Final: Waitakere United 2 Auckland City 3
2004-05 Grand Final: Auckland City 3 Waitakere United 2
O-League (Nov 2) Auckland City 2 Waitakere United 2
NZFC Round 3 (Nov 26) Auckland City 1 Waitakere United 2
NZFC Round 10 (Jan 24) Waitakere United 4 Auckland City 2
Last five games WWDWW Last five home WDWWW
The players: Aaron Scott’s All Whites call up rules him out of what would have been his first grand final. Zane Sole return s from U-17 duty ad is in contention to match the match day squad. Neil Sykes scored for Auckland against Waitakere in the 2006-07 Grand Final.
The vital statistics: Waitakere’s unbeaten home run now stretches to 18 NZFC matches. Waitakere have only lost one competitive match in New Zealand this season. Waitakere have not lost to Auckland in two years (the 06-07 Grand Final). They have since met eight times in the NZFC and O-League (Waitakere winning 5, and drawing 3.
Squad list: 1-Richard Gillespie (GK), 4-Tim Myers, 5-Danny Hay, 6-Hone Fowler, 8-Paul Seaman, 9-Benjamin Totori, 10-Allan Pearce, 11-Neil Sykes, 12-Roy Krishna, 13-Daniel Koprivcic, 14-Jeff Campbell, 15-Christopher Bale, 16-Neil Emblen, 17-Jake Butler, 18-Zane Sole, 21-Kayne Vincent, 22-Danny Robinson (GK), 24-John Chisholm. (Two to be omitted)
Contact: Chris Milicich (Football Manager) 021 222 6959
Form: Last five games WDWLW Last five away LWLDL
The players: Liam Mulrooney has scored in each of Auckland’s Grand Final wins over Waitakere but doesn’t make the matchday squad as Paul Posa and Ramon Tribulietx keep an unchanged squad. Keryn Jordan scored for Waitakere in the 04-05 Grand Final loss to Auckland. Grant Young scored a double in the 04-05 Grand Final win.
The vital statistics: Auckland have won just two away games this season. Auckland have won all three grand finals they have played. Keryn Jordan has scored more playoff goals (8) than any other NZFC player. Team mate Grant Young is next on the list with six. Auckland have kept eight cleansheets this season, only one fewer than minor premiers Waitakere.
Squad List: 3-Matt Friel, 5-Matt Williams, 6-Ki-Hyung Lee, 7-James Pritchett, 8-Chad Coombes, 9-Paul Urlovic, 10-Grant Young, 12-Jacob Spoonley (GK), 13-Alex Feneridis, 14-Keryn Jordan, 15-Ivan Vicelich (Captain), 20-Greg Uhlmann, 21-Riki van Steeden, 24-Miloš Nikoli, 25-Adam McGeorge, 29-John Fletcher (GK).
Contact: Ivan Vicelich (Captain) 021 179 3914
Facts and Figures
Waitakere United (Q,P)14103130121833
Auckland City (Q)1481527151225
YoungHeart Manawatu (Q)147252219323
Team Wellington (Q)147252828023
Hawke's Bay United147162417722
Otago United 1422101632-168
Canterbury United 1422101132-218
P=Minor Premiers, Q=Qualified for the playoffs
Golden Boot Winner (regular season only)
12 - Luis Corrales (Wellington)
9 - Jason Hayne (Manawatu) (11 goals including playoffs)
8 - Roy Krishna (Waitakere) (11 goals including playoffs)
7 - Benjamin Totori (Waitakere) (8 goals including playoffs)
5 - Keryn Jordan (Auckland) (7 goals including playoffs)
5 - Allan Pearce (Waitakere)
5 - Paul Urlovic (Auckland)
All-time top scorers: goals/games
Keryn Jordan (Auckland) 61/66
Grant Young (Auckland) 52/86
Benjamin Totori (Waitakere) 51/66
$1.42 - Waitakere United
$2.75 - Auckland City
Head to head (90 mins)
$1.90 - Waitakere United
$3.90 - Auckland City
$3.20 - Draw