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You get a semi-final!

Manukau United 1, Cashmere Technical 2
Centre Park, Auckland, August 4 2018

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“Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.”

The Chatham Cup quarter finals are a magical time of year. It’s the time when north meets south and all the points in between become one, link arms and sing Kumbaya up and down the country. Except when I say sing Kumbaya I mean kick the crap out of each other on the football pitch.

For this is when Te Cup enters Te National Phase. Rather than the draw being split into regions, anyone can play anyone. Auckland teams can travel to Dunedin, or not as is usually the case – fuelling lots of great tinfoil ensconced conspiracy theories.

“The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams.”

But the greatest virtue of the quarter finals is they give everyone a unique opportunity that only Te Cup bestows upon us – to assess the relative strengths of our regions against others we barely ever get to witness if at all.

And this year’s draw seemed to have something for everyone. Wellingtonians got a game that was a short road trip away, Aucklanders got two local fixtures and even the South Islanders got a tie in Nelson to sink their teeth into if they were so inclined.

“Everyone gets a car!!!”

The end result was carnage for Auckland football supporters. Unusually only one club survived from the City of Sails, and that club was 2016 champions Birkenhead United – who are currently in a major rebuilding phase with a team full of teenagers and will be far from favourites to lift the silverware.

While they were scraping through 2-1 against Wairarapa in Masterton, the current cup holders Onehunga Sports succumbed 4-1 to Declan Edge’s Western Suburbs at Waikaraka Park. Nelson Suburbs were the only home side to progress as they dispatched East Coast Bays 1-0 today and in the fixture I chose to take in, Cashmere Technical deservedly ended Manukau United’s first ever Chatham Cup campaign.

“Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness.”

Sanni Issa (who’s player profile in the match day programme interestingly lists “Oprah” as his favourite TV show) was the man who struck the game’s opening blow in the 14th minute after he cut inside from the left of the penalty area and slotted. Manukau had a couple of great chances to double their advantage but instead it was the visiting side who capitalised on theirs in the 25th minute with a close range header from Lyle Matthysen to level up the scores.

The second half largely belonged to Cashmere as they probed the Manukau defence looking for a goal that would complete their comeback. It came six minutes post the hour mark when Dan Schwarz won an aerial battle with his opposite number and lobbed a looping header over Jono Mannes and in at the back post from an acute angle.

“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.”

The home side fought until the end as coach Kevin Fallon and his bench urged them on from the sidelines but ultimately after a very hard fought and at times exceptionally physical encounter it hadn’t been their day.

As an aside, I overheard grumblings from staff and players of both sides that the referee had been on the payroll of the opposite team – which probably means he was reasonably even handed!

“Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.”

Like Manukau, Cashmere Technical are a fairly recent amalgamation, having been formed just six years ago as an amalgamation of Christchurch clubs Cashmere Wanderers and Woolston Technical. Since their merger they have won back to back league/cup doubles in 2013 and 2014 so there is a model there for their vanquished South Auckland foe to follow in future years!

It’s also worth noting that Cashmere have won both finals that they have appeared in so if they manage to get past their semi in a few weeks’ time one could almost speculate that we might as well engrave the trophy then and there!

“Turn your wounds into wisdom.”

Categories: NZ Chatham Cup

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots football enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent club on earth - A.S. Roma. More info (including e-mail address) can be found here: http://in-the-back-of-the.net/about/

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