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Kaltak ready for United action

Brian Kaltak in action for Vanuatu in an age group international against New Zealand. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

By Gary Caffell

Vanuatu international Brian Kaltak will be available for table-toppers Wairarapa United when they meet Wellington United in a Central League men’s football fixture at Newtown Park on Saturday.

Kaltak arrived in the Wairarapa on Wednesday with his clearances complete after ending his commitments with Vanuatu-based club, Erakor Golden Star in the Oceania league.

A versatile player best known as a defender, but also able to play in midfield and at striker, Kaltak had a brief stint with Wairarapa United in 2013 and so impressed was coach Phil Keinzley with his contribution that he has been keen to regain his services ever since.

“He’s one of those players you can virtually put anywhere and know you will get a quality performance, he gives you a lot of options.”

Kaltak’s previous involvement with Wairarapa United wasn’t without its share of controversy though.

He came off the reserves bench for the last 10 minutes of a Chatham Cup fourth-round match in which Wairarapa United beat Napier City Rovers 2-1 but New Zealand Football ruled that Kaltak was ineligible to play because of clearance issues.

They booted Wairarapa United out of the competition and a later appeal against their expulsion was turned down.

Talented as he is, Kaltak is no certainty to come straight into a starting line-up which has stayed pretty much the same in a campaign which has seen Wairarapa United score four wins in five games, and lead the competition table by two points.

“We’ll have a close look at things at training tonight — obviously it’s hard to drop anybody when things are going so well,” Keinzley said.

Another new face about to join the Wairarapa United squad is defender Andrew Coad, who was part of the Lower Hutt team who were runners-up in the 2012 Chatham Cup final.

He has been playing his recent football in England and has been encouraged to join up with Wairarapa United by current squad member and good friend Taylor Hall-Jones whose own appearances this season have been significantly restricted by injury.

However, he is now fully recovered and fit for selection this coming weekend as well.

Meanwhile, Wairarapa United will be aiming for a repeat of their heroics of 2011 when they contest this year’s IPS Handa Chatham Cup football competition.

Six years ago, Wairarapa United achieved what looked like mission impossible by battling their way to the grand final and then lifting the coveted trophy with a 2-1 victory over Napier City Rovers.

The first goal for Wairarapa United in that game was scored by striker Seule Soromon, who along with fullback Carl Shailer is still a part of the current squad, and the second by Fijian international Pia Rabo whose memorable diving header came just four minutes from the game’s scheduled end.

The Chatham Cup has been the centrepiece of New Zealand’s domestic football schedule for almost 90 years.

It was gifted to the then New Zealand Football Association in 1922 by the crew of HMS Chatham as a token of appreciation for the hospitality they had encountered on a visit to New Zealand.

Steeped in history and tradition, it is open to every single club in the country and with 128 teams entered for this year, its popularity shows no sign of waning.

When Wairarapa United succeeded in 2011 it was their first appearance in a final and that was the same for Birkenhead when they scored a 3-2 extra time victory over Waitakere City in last year’s dramatic final played in Christchurch before more than 5000 spectators.

The most successful team in Chatham Cup history is Mount Wellington, who have won the trophy on seven occasions while Christchurch United, North Shore United and Eastern Suburbs have won it six times.

The preliminary round of this year’s competition was completed on Anzac Day with Wairarapa United being one of 25 teams in the Central/Capital region to have the bye.

Just who they will meet when second round matches are played on the weekend of May 13 and 14 has yet to be confirmed.


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