Tasman United ready for kickoff as National Youth League begins
Tasman United will have the services of first team players Callan Elliot and Labu Pan for their opening game against defending National Youth League champions Hamilton Wanderers.
The availability of the two teenagers offsets the absence of David Maisey, Van Roland Hlawn Ceu and PJ Stephens, who are all unavailable for Sunday's match at Porritt Stadium in Hamilton.
Pan, a 19-year-old left-back who has spent the entire preseason with the ISPS Handa Premiership squad, will see out the NYL campaign before rejoining the first team in December.
Coach Rob Anderson said Elliot and Pan, who both scored against the first team in a warm-up match on Thursday, will give Tasman a significant boost as they look to get their new season off to a promising start.
"With that kind of calibre coming down it's a good opportunity for the other boys to step up as well. We had a good turnout in the game against the senior team and it was good in the first period to see them all work together," Anderson said.
"We have a few boys who aren't here for this weekend but the other boys will step up, that's just the way it is in youth football.
Tasman finished eighth in the NYL last year with a record of three wins and six losses.
Despite placing more emphasis on player development this season, Anderson was still hoping for better in 2017.
"This is a new season with new players and new coaching staff but for us our objective is to finish as high as we can in the league but in a way where we play possession-based football that is creative and creates an opportunity for our players to play for the first team," he said.
With Hamilton Boys' High School winning the New Zealand secondary schools football championships last month, Anderson was expecting Hamilton Wanderers to be one of the strongest teams in the league.
"We know it'll be tough but at the same time it's an opportunity to find out where we are at and gives us some framework to work with."