Wednesday, May 22, 2024
10.1 C


My Account

- Advertisement -

Ifill coach for key match

Paul Ifill . . . back on deck for Wairarapa United this coming weekend and will fill in as coach as well. PHOTO/FILE

By Gary Caffell

There was a notable new face in the Wairarapa United line-up who maintained their lead in the Central League men’s football competition with a 4-1 win over Stop Out at Hutt Park on Saturday.

Taking the place of the unavailable Paul Ifill at striker was Swede Ermal Hajdari, who was a member of the Tasman United squad in the 2017 national league.

Wairarapa United coach Phil Keinzley said the 24-year-old Hajdari had been on his radar for some months and when the playing resources were stretched for the Stop Out match, it was his Tasman teammate Ifill who worked hard to have him join the Wairarapa United squad in time for that game.

“We had limited numbers to pick from up front anyway and he (Hajdari) certainly gives us an extra option — we’re rapt to have him on board,” Keinzley said.

Hajdari signed up with Tasman United after a stint with Estonian premier league club FC Infonet, scoring six goals in 24 games for them and helping them to reach the Europa League qualifying rounds for the very first time.

Earlier, Hajdari had been selected into the Nike Academy in the United Kingdom and for them he scored 16 goals in 22 matches, impressing enough to eventually earn his professional contract in Estonia.

While he did not score as often as he would have liked in his initial season with Tasman United, Hajdari still made a big impression with his attacking skills and, interestingly, in a recent interview he paid a lot of credit to Ifill for making him a more-rounded player.

“He’s (Ifill) very good on teaching and learning.

“Every training and every game I’ll ask Paul, ‘What did I do right, what do I need to improve on’, and he’s an honest guy.

“He tells you straight.”

Once the national league was over Hajdari moved across the Tasman to seek opportunities to play in the A-League but he was not picked up making him still available when Ifill came calling.

Keinzley concedes that Hajdari did struggle to some degree with the team’s systems in his first game but there were enough nice touches from him to suggest that once he came to terms with their tactical approach he would be a real handful for opposing defences.

“He’s obviously a classy player and I’m confident he will do a great job for us.”

Queen’s Birthday weekend will see Wairarapa United playing two important games over three days.

On Saturday, they will meet the rapidly-improving Miramar Rangers in a Central League match and then, on Monday, they will confront Island Bay United in a second-round Chatham Cup fixture, both matches being played in enemy territory.

Coach Keinzley will not be present at either of those games due to his son Niki getting married in Latvia but he knows the side is in safe hands with stand-in coach Ifill who will have a full squad to pick from, now that he is back from his commitment in Hong Kong and Cory Chettleburgh has served his two-match suspension.

The first-round clash between these two old foes saw Wairarapa United score a comfortable win but Miramar Rangers were missing their Team Wellington players then and they are expected to be on deck on this occasion.

“It will be a tough match, they (Miramar) have made a habit of playing well against us in the past and they badly need to win to keep themselves in the hunt for the league title this season.

“And us being on top will make them even more desperate to stop us picking up any points at all.”

Related Articles

- Advertisement -
overcast clouds
10.1 ° C
10.1 °
9.9 °
93 %
100 %
10 °
11 °
11 °
12 °
9 °