Josh Rudland … quad injury. PHOTOS/FILE Nina Kondo.

FOOTBALL

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

Wairarapa United men’s coach Davor Tavich has no intentions of getting the team to sit back and play for a draw against Miramar Rangers today at Dave Farrington Park, Miramar.

Miramar are stacked with Team Wellington players and are third in the Central League with three wins from their four games, whereas United are sixth with a win and a draw.

Tavich said United must be positive against the “so-called big teams”.

“We just have to go for it I think and try to get anything from this game,” he said.

“We’re just going to have to be brave and see where it takes us. We’ll start on the front foot and try and match them. Miramar are a strong team and the challenge is there for us to overcome.”

Impressive left wingback Liam Heard is unavailable, and Josh Rudland is out with a left quad injury that has been niggling him for the past few weeks.

Tavich was uncertain if veteran Seule Soromon, who scored a late equaliser and was a constant nuisance to the Petone defence when coming on a substitute last Sunday, will be available, but was working on having the former Vanuatu international in the squad.

The experienced coach was happy the team’s progress.

“They’re more confident, have more match fitness, and more understanding of each other’s game. They’re getting used to the pace of the league as well and we should improve even more over the next couple of games.”

One player keen to make his presence felt is veteran playmaker Paul Ifill, who will make a quick trip from Porirua, where the Tumu ITM Wairarapa United women’s side he coaches will play Western Suburbs in a crucial W-League match.

United, who were second in the league in the past two seasons, have made a woeful start to the championship having secured three draws from their four games, and are nine points behind leaders Wellington United Diamonds.

Ifill said it’s a must-win if the team want to challenge for a top-two finish and he intended to make some changes.

Nina Kondo.

Those could include dropping Amber Phillips back to defence, where she has performed admirably in the past, and pushing 17-year-old Nina Kondo into a more attacking role.

Ifill said Kondo’s ability on the ball might be able to unlock defences, however he believed not a lot needed to be changed.

“I’ve looked back on the videos and we’ve created nearly 60 chances in three games, so I don’t think too much is wrong actually. We just need to start getting the ball in the back of the net,” he said.

A loss though would almost end United’s title prospects.

“If we don’t win this weekend, the title has gone. I don’t think there’s anybody in the league good enough to beat Welly two or three times, which is what we would need to catch them,” Ifill said.

Veteran Meisha Boone, who missed last Saturday’s game with a knee injury, midfielder Michelle Bgoni, and striker Darby Lambert are out of today’s game.

Ifill was confident of recording their first win of the league against Wests, who United beat 2-1 in a Kelly Cup match last month.