PREVIEW: Rare Friday night game provides season opener for Central League

posted in: Central League, News

By Luke Austin

After a long pre-season and many new signings, Central League fans will finally get to see their teams in action this weekend with early indications of how their seasons may pan out.

The action gets underway with a rare Friday night game between North Wellington and Waterside Karori.

Both sides may find wins hard to come by this season, so this will be a crucial opportunity to get points on the board early.

Saturday sees Miramar take on the next generation of Phoenix youngsters in what will be Central League debuts for many of Miramar’s new signings.

Nicolas Bobadilla, Xavier Green and Martin Bueno, amongst others, will look to make a statement and give Miramar a big start to 2024 following their disappointing season last time out.

Later in the day, Petone host Stop Out in a Lower Hutt derby which is certain to excite and newly-promoted Island Bay United welcome Western Suburbs to Wakefield Park.

Game of the week

Wellington Olympic head into the season as firm title favourites but face a difficult away trip to Napier for their first game.

These two sides last met in the national league late last year, a game in which Napier fell to a heavy 7-1 loss.

The embarrassment of that loss will no doubt be at the back of the Blues players’ minds, providing extra motivation to put in a big performance in front of their home fans.

Both sides have picked up several exciting players over summer which should lead to a high-quality game.

Oscar Faulds … ambitious arrival at Napier City Rovers.

Player to watch

Among the new players on display at Bluewater Stadium will be Swedish forward Oscar Faulds (22).

The striker arrives from Swedish fifth-tier club Storfors AIK and previously played for second-division club Hudiksvalls FF.

Faulds has a New Zealand passport through his father, who was born in Dunedin, and is keen to make a name for himself in the Central League. He also has the ambitious goal of making a push for the New Zealand U-23 squad who will compete at the Olympics later this year.

Scoring against the National League champions Wellington Olympic certainly wouldn’t hurt his cause so he will be one to keep an eye on this Sunday.

Bold prediction

Newly promoted Island Bay United step into the big unknown when they start their campaign against Western Suburbs.

The home side and their supporters will be pumped up, and I’m predicting Island Bay will come away with an upset victory.

Season preview: Can anyone challenge Olympic for the Central League title? >>>>

READ MORE: Central League — our round-up of new signings and summer departures >>>>


Game to be played on Friday March 29, 2024

North Wellington v Waterside Karori
Alex Moore Park, Johnsonville, 7pm

Games to be played on Saturday March 30, 2024

Miramar Rangers v Wellington Phoenix
David Farrington Park, Miramar, 2.30pm

Petone v Stop Out
Petone Memorial Park, Petone, 3pm

Island Bay United v Western Suburbs
Wakefield Park, Island Bay, 3.30pm

Match programme:

Game to be played on Sunday March 31, 2024

Napier City Rovers v Wellington Olympic
Bluewater Stadium, Napier, 2pm

Luke Austin

Luke Austin is a Wellington-based football fan and volunteer, who plays for Island Bay, and follows the Central League.

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