Waikato still seeking right balance
Declan Edge is literally correct when he states his side is "not the same old Waikato FC".
A swag of personnel changes means the team that faces Team Wellington at Hamilton's Porritt Stadium tomorrow bears little resemblance to the Waikato starting XI that contested the season-ending White Ribbon Cup against the team from the capital on April 1.
The problem for Edge and the side's few followers is that results so far in the 2012-13 ASB Premiership have been sadly reminiscent of last season.
Waikato are pointless after two matches, and while tomorrow's opponents have also yet to get on board in the new campaign, Wellington will prove a major stumbling block.
Waikato haven't beaten Wellington in their last seven encounters and the visitors are expected to feature a number of talented young players from the Wellington Phoenix "School of Excellence" - although not former Waikato star Tyler Boyd, who will be on first team duty in Newcastle.
Waikato, however, will be without key contributors Adam Thomas and Tyler Lissette, and that duo are joined on the injury list by Harry Edge and David Parkinson.
Edge's team are capable of springing upsets should they put their best foot forward, but as the coach pointed out after last weekend's encouraging narrow away defeat to defending champions Waitakere United, they need to be able to field close to a full-strength lineup.
Edge is also trying to integrate a group of newcomers into a flowing unit, with the 10 new faces in the squad.
"It's not the same old Waikato FC like some people in the press are saying," Edge said. "There are only two players who started against Waitakere [Jesse Edge and Ryan Thomas], who also started for us in the White Ribbon Cup final last season."
Waikato have yet to find the net in their two matches and Edge is aware that they need to add a clinical aspect to tidy buildup work.
"We're trying to play a good brand of football, like Brisbane or Melbourne or Barcelona," Edge said.
"Even they have problems trying to score. We're trying to find that nice balance."
Wellington coach Matt Calcott acknowledged what his rival was trying to achieve,
"They try and play in a real positive manner - it's a matter of finding the balance, like any team.
"Both teams will try and play. It may come down to how either side defends or who's prepared to do the tough stuff."
Wellington have included in their squad Phoenix youngsters Scott Basalaj, Luke Rowe, Tom Doyle, Hamish Watson, Tom Biss and Alec Solomons, while unpredictable striker Henry Fa'arodo should be cleared to play after visa problems ruled him out of last weekend's defeat to Canterbury United.
- Waikato Times
How excited are you about the 2014 Commonwealth Games?Related story: After the hype, time to let the Games begin