With just two regular season games to go in this season’s Stirling Sports Premiership, there’s still a lot to play for – and that’s just looking at Auckland. With City now three points clear at the top, having roared back from a lowly 6th in their catchup fixtures, they play their cross town rivals in the final two games.
Eastern Suburbs started the season brightly, but suffered an exodus of players over Christmas and have been in patchy form since the turn of the year. They’re currently filling the final play-off spot just point ahead of Hawkes Bay United, coached by the angriest man in New Zealand football.
Waitakere on the other hand have kept, and indeed set the, pace this season – even topping the table for a brief period. Their transformation into title contenders is particularly notable given the absolute horror-show of the 2015/16 season. Just two points behind second placed Team Wellington, they’re hoping to hit form in the final stretch.
Speaking of Team Wellington, Jose Figueira’s side may be struggling financially but they’re certainly profiting in front of goal. They’ll be relying on Waitakere and Eastern Suburbs pulling points away from Auckland City in the final two games if they are to add the Minor Premier title to last season’s Championship.
In between the final games for Team Wellington and Auckland City lie the OFC Champions League – with the Wellingtonians having to head to New Caledonia for their group games. City will be relocating to the glorious Centre Park Mangere for their matches, and both sides will then switch from the Champions League back to the playoffs and the NZFC before the two-legged Semi-Final and Final of the the Champions League. Phew.
I never had March pegged as a blood and thunder month for football but with the fate of Auckland’s three clubs in the balance, the engaging continental competition and perhaps the existence of Team Wellington at stake – maybe it’s time to reconisder. Bring on Mad March.