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Keinzley back at the helm, aiming high with Wai Utd

Phil Keinzley raises the Chatham Cup in triumph. PHOTO/FILE


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A change in the national league format was all the motivation Phil Keinzley needed to have another crack at coaching the Wairarapa United senior men’s team.

New Wairarapa United chairman James Taylor confirmed on Tuesday Keinzley’s appointment, replacing Davor Tavich, who returned to Nelson after one season in the role.

Taylor said Keinzley, who has a one-year deal, shared the club’s philosophy of developing the region’s younger players, and that was one of the main reasons he got the job.

“We think Phil brings a number of good traits to the club,” Taylor said.

“He’s a local guy, he wants to win – which is really important – and he understands the importance of nurturing and bringing young players through.

“Local youth development is going to be really key for us going forward and given that’s going to be the heartbeat of the team, we want to make sure we have strong foundations and develop our junior set up, so they go through to our Under-17s, Under-19s, and the first teams in both men and women.”

NZ Football last month confirmed it would scrap the national league and replace it next year with a 10-team national championship involving the top teams from three regional conferences, with the two finalists going on to the Oceania Champions League.

The new championship requires at least two players aged under 20 start each game, and teams are limited to four imports, plus one extra player from an Oceania Confederation country.

Taylor said the new league will encourage players to work harder on and off the field.

“It gives them a bigger goal to aim for, so when you are maybe sitting fourth with two or three games to go, the draw of finishing third in the Central League isn’t that appealing,” he said.

“But now finishing third and going to play in the national league, and then potentially in the OFC [Oceania Champions League] is huge, so I think that’s really good.”

Keinzley returns to the head coach role after two years away.

He previously coached the team from 2003 to 2013, winning promotion to the Central League in 2008, with his crowning glory lifting the 2011 Chatham Cup with a 2-1 victory over Napier City Rovers in the final. He then returned for a two-year stint in 2017-18.

The priority now is for Keinzley to secure the commitment of players from the 2020 squad for next year.

“Since the national league announcement, they are being hunted high and low, and with others potentially not playing, there’s not one player is a definite yes at the moment,” he said.

“If our players are already being approached, it shows how hard it’s going to be to retain players and attract new players, and I’m intending to get in touch with all this year’s players this week.”

Talented youngsters Jonty Roubos, Noah Boyce, Josh Rudland, outstanding goalkeeper Scott Morris, and influential French midfielder Hugo Delhommelle are among the players Keinzley is keen to retain at United.

Keinzley also said there are two or three local league players good enough to step up to the Central League, and he will be contacting all the colleges to give their better players a chance to develop their games.

However, he said United needed to set their goals high to attract other players and be competitive.

“For getting import players, if you don’t have that ambition, they won’t come here, because they will want to be in the bigger picture come the end of the season.”

“It’s also Wairarapa United’s 25th anniversary, and 10 years since winning the Chatham Cup, so we want to try and make it a memorable year, and I’m really looking forward to it.”

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