By Luke Austin
Two of the country’s finest attacking teams meet at Martin Luckie Park on Saturday in a fixture that promises to deliver goals.
Olympic scored an impressive 79 goals during their Central League season (averaging more than four a game), while Napier put away 50.
Both sides comfortably won their opening games of the National League last weekend, with Napier beating Petone 3-0 at home and Olympic returning from South Auckland with a 5-2 win over Manurewa.
Olympic’s goals have come from all directions in 2023, with Jack-Henry Sinclair, Hamish Watson, Kailan Gould and Benjamin Mata (who plays centre-back) all hitting double figures for goals scored during their Central League campaign.
Add to that the likes of Gavin Hoy, Gianni Bouzoukis and former All White Joel Stevens, who have all chipped in with several goals, and you have enough attacking talent to frighten any team in the country.
Main photo: Wellington Olympic’s Hamish Watson … double figures in this year’s Central League. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.
Despite their attacking dominance, Olympic also tend to concede a lot.
This is something Napier will look to take advantage of, especially attackers Deri Corfe and Jonathan McNamara.
English import Corfe spent six years playing youth-level football at Manchester City before being released and playing professionally in the US and Scotland.
He has been a constant threat with the ball at his feet this season for Napier, finishing second in the Central League Golden Boot leaderboard with 15 goals and setting up many more for his teammates.
He marked his National League debut with a brace against Petone and will be eager to continue his fine form this weekend.
I’m predicting a high-scoring game, with Olympic coming away with the win. But if Napier can contain the home side’s attack, they have what it takes to cause an upset.
The stage is set for an entertaining clash.
Wellington Olympic squad
Scott Basalaj, Christopher Kotrotsos, Joshua Ingham, Jacob Daly
Jack Cawley, Joseph Hopper, Dylan Wood, Justin Gulley, Benjamin Mata, William Vincent
Tor Davenport Petersen, Nathaneal Hailemariam, Zach Hassall, Joshua Apaapa-Preston, Theo Ettema, Samuel Mitrakas, Tamupiwa Dimairo, Lukas Halikias, Leo Gunn, Hami Paranihi-Nuku, Theo Jones
Kailan Gould, Joel Stevens, Hamish Watson, Gianni Bouzoukis, Jack-Henry Sinclair, Devon Thurston, Gavin Hoy, Isa Prins, Gianluca Salas, Oliver Davies, James Murdoch-Gibbs
Napier City Rovers squad
Oscar Mason, Ben Graney, Kyle Baxter
George Andrew, Liam Schofield, Kaeden Atkins, Jack Albertini, Jim Hoyle, Fergus Neil
Ry McLeod, Ta Eh Doe, Sam Lack, Cam Emerson, Alex Mort, JC Mack, Harry Huxford
Deri Corfe, Jonny McNamara, Harry Mason, Stefan Karajovanovic, Christian Leopard
How to watch
The game will be one of 46 Men’s National League games to be live-streamed under the new content partnership between NZ Football and FIFA+.
Game to be played on Saturday September 30, 2023
Wellington Olympic v Napier City Rovers
Martin Luckie Park, Berhampore, 1pm
Luke Austin is a Wellington-based football fan and volunteer, who plays for Island Bay, and follows the Central League.