Our Premier/Development Men and Women's teams begin their seasons this weekend, both away to Hamilton Wanderers and Auckland United respectively!! We spoke to our Head Coaches, Chris Zoricich and Ryan Faithfull to hear their thoughts and preview the upcoming season!
WSAFC: How have your pre-season (albeit COVID interrupted!) preparations gone?
CZ: It has been a pretty difficult pre-season with isolating players, a couple of injuries and on top of that lack of field availability due to our turf being renovated! I assume most clubs are in similar positions though.
RF: We need to take into consideration all factors when looking at Preseason preparations this year. 2022 has been unique with the interruptions of COVID and managing the team dynamics and processes within the group. We’ve done exceedingly well at managing problems that we can control, and finding solutions to those that we cannot. We’ve enjoyed playing x4 very competitive fixtures against Auckland-based opposition to challenge our playing ideas, in and out of position. Excited to get the season underway this weekend.
WSAFC: How is the squad looking? Any key changes (players and/or staff)?
CZ: We are pretty much the same having retained the majority of our players from last season. A few players have moved on and we are replacing them with the next crop of young players coming through our system. The only new players added to the squad are Oscar Ramsay, a like for like replacement for Gerard Garriga, and Camilo Cornejo, an experienced GK from Manukau.
RF: The core group of players that competed in the NRFL 2021 competition has remained and the club has looked to strengthen the playing squad in a few key areas.
WSAFC: How important a role do you think COVID will have on the competition this season?
CZ: I think it will prove to be a very difficult period for everyone initially especially with the 7 day isolation and player’s coming in and out at various times which makes things challenging.
RF: I hope Covid doesn’t play a role in the season at all. The virus presented new challenges for Coaches and Medical staff in outlining return-to-play protocols to ensure we can reintroduce players back into competition phase safely and minimise risk of injury.
WSAFC: Going into the season, how are the Development team looking?
CZ: The progress of individuals has been good during pre-season but getting individuals working together as part of the team is going to be very important. We should be able to achieve this in the first 4-5 games, if everyone plays to their potential. If people play to their potential, they put themselves in the best position to move into the First team.
RF: We’re happy with the progress of the Development team going into the start of the season. It’s a dynamic group with a healthy mixture of players with experience and youth players promoted from the Academy. I am excited to watch the development of this group and individual player performances under the tutelage of new coach Daniel Gurrung-Diaz.
WSAFC: First game of the season is on Saturday, away to Hamilton Wanderers. What are you expecting from them?
CZ: We don’t know a lot about Hamilton but do know it will be a tough encounter first up. We won’t be at full strength and more than likely it will be the same for them so it gives opportunities to other players so will be interesting to see how it goes.
WSAFC: First game of the season is on Sunday, away to Auckland United. What are you expecting from them?
RF: Auckland United have had a chance to regroup after last season and are always a tough team to play against. We know it will be a highly competitive match and the type of game our team gets excited about! Our aim is to always improve on each performance; we’re hoping to set a high bar for ourselves in the opening match and continue to push forward from there.
WSAFC: What are you most excited about this season?
RF: Scoring beautiful goals, clean sheets and bus rides to Tauranga.