Football’s oldest club competition is down to its last four teams and all have history-making opportunities if they can carry off this year’s Chatham Cup.
The four semi-finalists are all playing for their place in history:
- Eastern Suburbs can equal the record for the most number of Chatham Cup wins if they carry off the trophy for a seventh time this year. They would join University-Mount Wellington and Christchurch United as the most successful cup teams ever.
- Hamilton Wanderers have played football for 109 years but have never won a national trophy, despite going close early this year when their women’s team were beaten finalists in the Kate Sheppard Cup.
- Auckland City are chasing a dream treble, having already secured the Northern League and the OFC Champions League. They are also only four games short of going unbeaten through their season. City have not won the Chatham Cup before.
- Wellington Olympic, beaten only once this season, can secure a Central League-Chatham Cup double but face their fifth cup tie away from home this year.
Cup trivia: Of the 17 ties played so far by this year’s semi-finalists, 12 (70%) have been away from home.
Here’s your guide to the semi-finals:
Eastern Suburbs v Hamilton Wanderers
Madills Farm, Auckland, 2pm
The LilyWhites have not been in the hunt in this year’s Northern League, falling away from the leading bunch early.
So, the Chatham Cup has come as a welcome diversion and the side has been able to put together a strong campaign.
And they’ve had to do it the hard way, winning all four of their ties away from home, and needing penalties to get past Fencibles United who have been the only club to get a goal against Suburbs in this year’s cup.
If the semi-final goes the way of Suburbs’ recent league games, expect two things — they won’t win by many, and they won’t be relying on one talismanic goalscorer.
Suburbs have not scored more than two goals in a game in their last 10 outings, and their season’s top goalscorer, Daniel Champness, has only four goals to his name.
Key player: Captain Michael Built has scored three goals this season — check out this screamer from 25-metres here — but it’s his busy, organisational manner in the middle of the park that gets the Suburb side ticking. If he plays well, Suburbs will perform too.
Wanderers have been one of the form teams in the north since late May.
In their last 13 league and cup games, they have lost only twice — to champions Auckland City and high-flying Auckland United — and they have a habit of finding goals when they most need them.
Winning on the road holds no fears for the Blue Army as they beat Eastern Suburbs 2-1 at Madills Farm in April.
They also had the upper hand in the reverse fixture at Porritt Stadium in June when Wanderers won 2-0.
Wanderers have found form at the right time as they are also making a late run for a top four spot in the Northern League, earning them a place in the National League.
If winning is all about momentum, Wanderers are in the right place at the right time.
Key player: Captain and striker Derek Tieku (27) will lead Wanderers against his former club. With 16 goals, he leads the Northern League’s Golden Boot and has five more goals than his nearest rival.
Eastern Suburbs are one of New Zealand football’s aristocrats, having won the Chatham Cup six times, though only once this century (2015).
Hamilton Wanderers have never won a national trophy in their 109-year history.
How they got to the semi-finals
R2: Beat Mt Albert Ponsonby 3-0 (away)
R3: Beat Fencibles United on pens after 2-2 (away)
R4: Beat Birkenhead United 2-0 (away)
QF: Beat Waiheke United 1-0 (away)
R2: Beat Takapuna 1-0 (home)
R3: Beat Papamoa 3-0 (away)
R4: Beat Auckland United on pens after 0-0 (away)
QF: Beat Miramar Rangers 4-3 (away)
Auckland City v Wellington Olympic
Kiwitea St, Sandringham, 2pm
Watch the live stream
The Auckland City — Wellington Olympic semi-final will be the feature game on NZ Football’s YouTube channel.
You can watch it here:
With the Northern League and OFC Champions League already in the bag, Auckland City are shooting for a dream treble by trying to add the Chatham Cup to their Kiwitea St trophy cabinet.
To get to the final, City will need to extend this year’s unbeaten run to 30 games, and they go into Sunday’s game as favourites, despite the hot form of their rivals from the capital.
The two-week OFC Champions League tournament was taxing, with five matches against highly-motivated clubs forcing high levels of physical and mental performance.
The question is whether the tournament has left City battle-hardened or weary.
The Navy Blues have the advantage of playing at Kiwitea Street, in front of their own fans for the last time this season.
Key player: Emiliano Tade
With more than 200 appearances for City since his debut in 2011, striker Tade has been coming off the bench lately, and scoring vital goals when the opposition is tiring. The perfect impact player for a cup tie, especially if it goes to extra time.
Wellington Olympic are enjoying a stellar season, having lost only once — a 3-0 defeat to Wellington Phoenix Reserves on July 16.
Despite that loss, Olympic lead the Central League by two points from Miramar Rangers and have ploughed through their Chatham Cup ties.
They won four rounds on the road, all by big scores, and then knocked out cup holders Cashmere Technical in the quarter-final.
The rise of Olympic this year followed their appointment of head coach Rupert Kemeys, who joined from Capital Premier League winners Wainuiomata.
In 2020, Wainuiamata cleaned up the awards, winning the Capital’s Team of the Year while Kemeys was Coach of the Year and Golden Boot winner Kallan Gould — now on the Olympic roster — was the region’s Player of the Year.
While plenty of focus has gone on Auckland City’s dream treble campaign, Olympic are closing in on a league/cup double of their own.
Key player: Gianni Bouzoukis
Bouzoukis arrives as Olympic’s leading goalscorer with 16 goals this season, half scored in the past month. These include four goals in last weekend’s 11-1 rout of Western Suburbs.
Wellington Olympic won the Chatham Cup in 2009, beating Three Kings United 2-1, and were beaten finalists in 1994 when they lost 1-0 to Waitakere City, through a Noel Barkley winner.
Auckland City have yet to have their name engraved on the Chatham Cup.
How they got to the semi-finals
R2: Beat Albany United 6-1 (home)
R3: Beat Manukau United 6-0 (home)
R4: Beat Bay Olympic 2-1 (away)
QF: Beat Dunedin City Royals 6-0 (away)
R1: Beat Seatoun 8-0 (away)
R2: Beat Whanganui Athletic 5-0 (away)
R3: Beat North Wellington 6-1 (away)
R4: Beat Napier City Rovers 4-0 (away)
QF: Beat Cashmere Technical 3-2 (home)