Team Wellington won't get many better opportunities to knock over Auckland City than tomorrow.
Oceania club champions City have lost two of their top players over the summer break, with gun Fijian striker Roy Krishna joining the Phoenix and talented Spanish midfielder Cristobal Marquez pursuing other opportunities overseas.
"Losing these two very classy players, we're certainly going to feel that," City coach Ramon Tribulietx said.
"But the strength of our team is our systems and our depth of talent. We have several players who can step in and make their mark."
Wellington have beaten City just five times in the competition's history, with the Aucklanders victorious on 20 occasions.
Matt Calcott's side sits second behind defending champions Waitakere United heading into round eight, although third-placed City lie just one point behind and have two games in hand.
Tomorrow's clash at Kiwitea St is a rematch of the round one encounter in Wellington, which City won 4-1.
But as expected Wellington have steadily improved throughout the season and beat Wanderers SC and WaiBop United before the Christmas break.
Krishna would have missed tomorrow's game anyway through suspension, while the highly regarded Tribulietx welcomes back All Whites goalkeeper Tamati Williams, Spanish defender Angel Berlanga and strikers Darren White and Daniel Koprivcic.
Calcott regains New Caledonia midfielder Roy Kayara while several of his players had a run for Phoenix A in Wednesday's 1-0 loss to Waitakere.
Elsewhere, leaders Waitakere host lowly Southern United, fourth-placed Canterbury United entertain WaiBop, and Hawke's Bay United pay a visit to the last-placed Wanderers.
AT A GLANCE
What: National football league, round eight
Where: Kiwitea St, Auckland
When: 2pm tomorrow
Referee: Nick Waldron
Head to head: Auckland 20 wins, Wellington five wins, three draws
Auckland (from): Tamati Williams, Takuya Iwata, Mario Bilen, Angel Berlanga, John Irving, James Pritchett, Chris Bale, Darren White, Ryan De Vries, Daniel Koprivcic, Alex Feneridis, Adam Dickinson, Ivan Vicelich, Adam McGeorge, Louie Caunter, David Browne, Emiliano Tade, Sam Burfoot
Wellington (from): Jacob Spoonley, Justin Gulley, James Musa, Adam Cowan, Cam Lindsay, Colin Murphy, Cole Peverley, Cory Chettleburgh, Charlie Henry, Henry Fa'arodo, Hamish Watson, Daniel Clarke, Tom Doyle, Tobias Bertsch, Tamupiwa Dimairo, Andrew Blake, Clayton Lewis, Roy Kayara, Sam Mason-Smith, Jamie De Abreu, Joel Stevens
- The Dominion Post
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