Paul Ifill . . . wearing two hats this season with Wairarapa United. PHOTO/FILE
Barbados international Shaquille Belle was to make his debut for Wairarapa United in their Central League match with Stop Out at Hutt Park, Wellington today.
Belle is a striker who has been a prolific goal scorer in his homeland and he should add sting to a Wairarapa United attack also likely to feature a couple of old heads who also know how to turn scoring opportunities into goals, Paul Ifill and Seule Soromon.
Wairarapa United coach Phil Keinzley is confident Belle will be an asset to his team, even though he only arrived in Wairarapa on Friday morning and will have had only the one training run in preparation for today’s match.
“Obviously he will get better as he understands better the type of football we want to play, but with the experience he will have around him, he should slot in comfortably,” Keinzley said.
Other than Belle’s introduction, the Wairarapa line-up is expected to be much the same as the one that fought out a 1-1 draw with defending champions Western Suburbs last weekend although Keinzley admits he is giving serious thought to starting with youngster Jonty Roubos in the midfield, so impressive has he been in his two appearances off the bench this season.
“I’ve really liked the way Jonty has been prepared to work hard on and off the ball – he’s certainly played well enough to deserve a start and that could happen.”
Stop Out, for their part, have started their 2018 campaign well with wins in their first two matches and share the competition lead with Napier City Rovers and Wellington Olympic, all of them having the maximum six points.
Keinzley expects Stop Out to play their usual no-frills type of football and is optimistic Wairarapa United can knock them off their perch although he suspects the result could depend largely on which of the two sides adapt best to ground conditions – almost certain to be heavy after the inclement weather of the past week.
“If the ground cuts up and the bounce becomes variable, it can be difficult to get any continuity into the game, patience and discipline are very important then and it could be a case of which of us best handles that challenge.”
The Wairarapa United women’s team was to take on defending champions Upper Hutt City in a W-League match at Maidstone Park today with high hopes of building on the 3-0 victory they scored over Western Suburbs last weekend.
Coach Paul Ifill was “very pleased” with the way his Wairarapa United side stuck to a game plan against Wests which revolved around holding possession for long periods and getting in the face of their opposition whenever they had the ball.
“Basically, we wanted them to put pressure on their opposition on attack and defence and I thought they managed that well,” Ifill said.
“There is still scope for plenty of improvement, but it was an encouraging start.”
No players better typified the Wairarapa United ethic of commitment than a couple of youngsters Tui Dugan and Dylen Kingi. who both showed that despite a lack of bulk this level of football will hold no fears for them.
And there was a lot to like too about the assertive approach of newcomers Anna McPhie and Gorji van Lienan.
Wairarapa United will be missing Danielle Turton and Kelsi Rutene for today’s game but the effects of their absences have been softened with Chontelle Laban, Olivia Brown and Amber Phillips being on deck after missing last weekend’s match.