YoungHeart Manawatu coach Stu Jacobs has likened tomorrow's clash with Waitakere United to Wigan playing Manchester United or Chelsea.
After a 3-0 win over Otago United and a 4-2 loss to Hawke's Bay United, YoungHeart host national league champions and perennial heavyweights Waitakere at Memorial Park.
After two differing results, Jacobs didn't think Waitakere was the right team to test where YoungHeart were at. "Possibly, I mean we gauge ourselves on ourselves," he said.
"It's a little unfair if the public go out and try to gauge us on Waitakere and Auckland City.
"It's like Wigan playing Manchester United and Chelsea.
"It's not apples and apples.
"But on any good day, as Celtic did to Barcelona, you get things right and tactically right [and win]," he said.
"Where we sit at the moment, we're good enough to beat teams."
YoungHeart are paying $10 to win at the TAB, so not many people outside Manawatu are giving the home side a chance tomorrow.
But Jacobs believed things were different this year and said there had been games last season where they went in questioning whether they could compete but not this year.
"We can take advantage of these teams when they aren't on their game. I think it will be an indicator for us but more to the point, it's more about how we go out to games."
Last season, Manawatu conceded 13 goals from their two games against the west Auckland side and Jacobs would be very disappointed with a repeat.
"Go out to put YoungHeart Manawatu back in some sort of shape.
" If we beat Waitakere, that's a step forward, if we draw that's a step forward, if we lose 1-0 that's a step forward."
Aside from last week's first half against Hawke's Bay, Jacobs felt the franchise was starting to head in the right direction.
"The reality is, for us, getting points on the board. We're a long way away from where we were last year. We're not even looking back."
They have better depth in the squad this year and Jacobs was sticking with most of the team who played last year.
Former captain Nathan Cooksley should expect a start after shoring up the defence when he came on at halftime last week and the experienced Matt Kennedy could get a run having recovered from a groin strain.
Young striker Michael Fraser is still on the sidelines with his groin strain.
Waitakere have eight wins and a draw from their past nine encounters. Manawatu's last win was in the 2007-2008 season.
Kickoff is at 2pm.
HOW THEY LINE UP
YoungHeart Manawatu (from): Matt Borren, Liam Higgins, Kade Schrijvers, Matt Kennedy, Josh Chettleburgh, Seule Soromon, Adam Cowan (captain), Tom Mosquera, Michael Fraser, Billy Scott, Jordan Martens, Dale Higham, Ben Wilkes, Sam Redwood, Grant Robson. Waitakere United (from): Danny Robinson, Aaron Scott, Jack Beguely, Tim Myers, Brian Shelley, David Mulligan, Chad Coombes, George Slefendorfas, Allan Pearce, Roy Krishna, Maksim Manko, Jake Butler (captain), Daniel Morgan, Ryan de Vries, Louie Caunter, Harshae Raniga.
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