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Practice makes perfect for Ifill

Paul Ifill, third from left, is congratulated by teammate Daniel Allan after his long range goal. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

By Gary Caffell

Wairarapa United striker Paul Ifill had the last laugh when he hammered home a spectacular goal from almost halfway in his team’s 4-1 win over Taranaki in the Central League men’s football match at Memorial Park, last weekend.

Ifill had been the butt of some quips from teammates when he practised long range shots at training in the lead-up to the game but they were quick to offer their congratulations to the former Wellington Phoenix star when he made the most of his second half opportunity.

It wasn’t the first time that Ifill had scored for Wairarapa United from that sort of distance — he did the same in a 4-0 win over Wellington United the previous season.

For Ifill, it’s all about keeping aware of what is happening in front of him.

He was helped in his latest effort by goalkeeper Coey Turipa who noticed that his Taranaki counterpart was inclined to advance upfield to a point where his goal was well-exposed.

“I had seen it myself and when Coey mentioned it too, I thought I’d have a crack if I got the chance.

“And as it happened, the ball bounced up nicely and it came off the boot so well that I knew immediately it was going to be close. It’s a nice feeling when it all works out.”

Ifill is revelling in the fact that this season he can concentrate solely on his own individual performance for Wairarapa United after being their player-coach the last two seasons.

“As coach, there are so many other things you have to concern yourself with that it’s hard to think too much about your own game — now I can just go out there and focus on playing the best I can.”

Indeed, Ifill is enjoying his football so much these days he sees himself wearing the Wairarapa United colours for a few more seasons yet.

“While I’m fit and keen enough I don’t see any reason to stop, it’s all good.”

Pleasing Ifill too has been the early-season form of Wairarapa United, which has them leading the Central League by two points going into tomorrow’s sixth round encounter with Wellington United at Newtown Park.

And it’s not only the skill level of the individual players that has impressed him but also the strong team spirit within the squad.

“The attitude is fantastic, the guys all get on well on and off the field and that makes a big difference,” he said.

“I know it’s early days but there is no reason why we can’t go all the way, it’s definitely a possibility.”

Wellington United will be a stern challenge.

They have had some good results this season, including a win over Miramar Rangers and a draw with Wellington Olympic, the only side to have beaten Wairarapa United thus far.

Essentially the Phoenix reserves team, they contain many young players of huge promise.

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