Canterbury United forward Russell Kamo is almost certainly out of the first round of a new national football competition.
New Zealand Football has introduced a series for the six ASB premiership teams not involved in the Oceania Champions League (O-League).
The cup competition will be played in two sections with Canterbury, Team Wellington and Otago United forming the southern conference and Youngheart Manawatu, Hawke's Bay United and Waikato FC in the northern conference.
Each team will play two conference games with the winners of each section playing off in a national final.
Canterbury open their campaign on Sunday in Wellington against Team Wellington, who they beat 1-0 in a premiership match in Christchurch last Sunday. They will play Otago in Christchurch in January.
But Kamo, who has been Canterbury captain while Dan Terris has an injury-enforced absence, is an unlikely starter. He suffered concussion on Sunday after an accidental blow to his temple when colliding with an opponent's elbow.
"It's highly unlikely Russell will be on course for the weekend," Canterbury coach Keith Braithwaite said. "He wasn't feeling too flash after the game or the day after, but he's on the mend now."
Braithwaite said it was good to have the new cup competition confirmed after "it was on, then it was off". "It gives us an opportunity to try a few different things in the cup and give some of the squad players a run to keep their fitness levels up."
Terris, who has not played this season after hamstring and ankle injuries, may return on Sunday.
"This is the type of game where we could ideally look to give him and Nick Wortelboer half a game each," Braithwaite said.
Fullback Wortelboer – Canterbury's player of the year last season – has also missed the first four national league matches with a hamstring injury.
New Zealand Football national league manager Glyn Taylor said the cup competition was designed to play on O-League dates.
National league clubs have been keen on the subsidiary cup competition concept because of the stop-start nature of the premiership.
Mike Coggan, chief executive of Mainland Football which runs Canterbury United, said earlier this month that the six remaining clubs were at a disadvantage because New Zealand O-League representatives Auckland City and Waitakere United were playing football every week and were able to maintain momentum.
- © Fairfax NZ News