Saturday’s Chatham Cup quarter-finals will keep alive — or demolish — the hopes of clubs chasing league/cup doubles or, in the case of Auckland City, the chance of a spectacular treble.
Auckland City, Miramar Rangers, Wellington Olympic and Cashmere Technical are all in with a shot of Chatham Cup/regional league doubles and the draw means three of these could go into the semi-final draw.
But first they have to deal with cup opponents chasing their own dreams.
Here’s how the quarter-finals shape up on Saturday (July 30):
Waiheke go into quarter-finals as the people’s underdogs
Imagine a Chatham Cup final with Waiheke United’s fans chanting from behind their wall of flags and banners …
It would certainly add colour to an already-grand occasion and that’s why many neutrals will no doubt be willing Waiheke to add the Lilywhites to their Chatham Cup scalps.
In the last round, Waiheke upset favourites Melville United, beating them 2-1 at Gower Park and, in typical anything-can-happen cup fashion, their goalkeeper, Sebastian Ciganda, scored the winner.
If Ciganda can keep a clean sheet against Suburbs this weekend, he could easily become part of Chatham Cup folklore.
READ MORE: How Ciganda won the game for Waiheke United >>>>
Meanwhile, Eastern Suburbs arrive as one of New Zealand football’s aristocrats.
They have won the trophy six times, though only once this century (2015).
Their Northern League season has been patchy, to say the least, and a strong cup run is their best shot at turning 2022 into a memorable season.
It’ll be tight — and it certainly has the makings of a game that will end in drama.
You can watch the live stream of this game here:
Mixed emotions for Ranger’s Herbert
For four seasons, Kale Herbert was head coach of an ambitious Hamilton Wanderers, eagerly looking for the chance to bring the club its first national trophy.
On Saturday, after a relocation to the Wellington region early this year, Herbert will be sitting in the Miramar Rangers dugout as the club’s assistant coach.
It’ll be an emotionally-charged game for Herbert as Rangers go after their fifth Chatham Cup — they last won the trophy in 2010.
Rangers deserve to start as favourites, having lost only once in their 13-game Central League programme this season.
They have the most potent strikeforce in the league, having scored an average of four goals per game this year.
Wanderers, meanwhile, look as though they could be the side that just misses the cut for National League qualification, as they sit fifth in the Northern League.
Consistency has been their issue, dropping eight valuable points in draws, but they’ve shown they are more than capable at their best.
And their desire to put a trophy in the cabinet at Porritt Stadium will have them fired up at David Farrington Park.
Long trip for Auckland City
Northern League champions-elect Auckland City have the chance for a spectacular treble if they can win 10 games in a row.
Starting with this quarter-final, a winning streak will deliver them the Chatham Cup and the OFC Champions League to go with the freshly-engraved Northern League trophy at Kiwitea Street.
READ MORE: The 10 games Auckland City need to win for an undefeated season >>>>
One slip and the chance to go unbeaten through an entire season disappears — and this could be the first risk.
The Royals have been inconsistent in the Southern League, losing six of their 13 league games.
But Auckland City have a long trip to Dunedin where they’ll have to play on artificial turf, and the Royals may get an advantage from that as the Navy Blues are more used to the grassy surface of their Sandringham home.
This game could be dictated by the way it starts.
If the Royals take the game early to City, and get ahead, it could be a testing afternoon.
But then, trebles were never meant to be easy …
You can watch Auckland City’s live stream of the match, made possible by their sponsors Ockham and Vuksich & Borich. Click on the following link for details of how to watch the game:
Two teams with similar records — but there can only be one winner
Cashmere Technical look capable of winning a national league/cup double this season, despite the hot form of Auckland City.
The Chatham Cup holders sit atop the Southern League, having lost only once this season, and with three cup wins in the past decade, they’ve as much experience as anyone when it comes to understanding how to win in sudden-death football.
Hosts Wellington Olympic — who won the cup in 2009 — are top dogs in the Central League, also having lost only one game in their league programme.
On form, the sides look well-matched and this will be a good measure as to the relative strengths of Central/Southern football.
But there can only be one winner. Don’t be surprised if it needs extra time or penalties.
Games to be played on Saturday July 30, 2022
Dunedin City Royals v Auckland City
Dunedin Artificial Turf Stadium, kick-off 1pm
Miramar Rangers v Hamilton Wanderers
David Farrington Park, Wellington kick-off 2pm
Wellington Olympic v Cashmere Technical
Wakefield Park, Wellington, kick-off 2pm
Waiheke United v Eastern Suburbs
Onetangi Sports Complex, Waiheke Island, kick-off 2pm