Coach hopes team can speak for itself

IAN ANDERSON
Last updated 05:00 24/11/2012

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Waikato FC coach Declan Edge will be looking for his team to do the talking for him tomorrow.

Edge has been gagged by the franchise ahead of their ASB Premiership clash against Canterbury United at Ngaruawahia's Centennial Park.

The colourful coach fell foul of New Zealand Football for his complaints over how Waikato's matches had been officiated.

It is understood Waikato FC were fined $500 by NZF as the result of Edge's comments but that was then reduced to a suspended fine.

Waikato FC chairman Brendon Coker said he couldn't talk about sanctions, and now neither can Edge, who has been told by the franchise not to talk to the media.

Instead, Edge will be hoping his players can cause a talking point by upsetting Waikato.

Waikato have yet to gain a point from their opening three matches of the 2012-13 season. While they've undeniably been on the wrong side of two questionable refereeing decisions in their past two outings, Waikato have also been unable to find the combination of skill and steel to overcome those setbacks.

Turning affairs around against a Canterbury side that finished second in the 2011-12 regular season only to get knocked out in the semifinals by eventual champions Waitakere United will be tough. Canterbury have already scored wins over Team Wellington and Otago United this season after a first-up away loss to Auckland City.

"We've definitely got room for improvement," warned coach Keith Braithwaite.

"We're aiming to improve with every game. We do have some new faces, and are trying some new formations and players in different positions."

Last season's top scorer George Slefendorfas - who netted four times in Waikato's away hammering by Canterbury last season - has joined Waitakere, but Braithwaite felt his team has enough firepower to compensate for his absence.

"We were disappointed to lose George, but that was his choice and not ours. Aaron Clapham was in great scoring form for us last season, Russell Kamo's a good goalscorer, and we have others who can chip in."

With the noon kickoff tomorrow, the hosts will be keen to catch Canterbury on the hop in another taxing away trip that Braithwaite acknowledged took its toll.

"Sometimes you're getting up at 5 or 6am and not getting back till 9 or 10 at night. But you have to go with what's been dealt to you," he said.

Braithwaite praised his rival coach but also believes his team is prepared to stifle Waikato's gameplan.

"Declan's doing a good job and he has Waikato playing the way he wants to see the game played.

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"We just have to be patient when we don't have the ball and then do something destructive when we get it."

Waikato still have key performers Adam Thomas and Tyler Lissette sidelined through injury.

- Waikato Times

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