Experienced Christchurch United coach Danny Halligan says his players will embrace the big occasion when they line up for their fourth-round Chatham Cup showdown with Nelson Suburbs on Saturday night.
Christchurch United qualified for the round of 16 by upsetting Mainland Premier League champions Cashmere Technical in the previous round and will represent the region as the last remaining Canterbury club in the competition.
Christchurch United has won the Chatham Cup six times in its illustrious history, but the last victory was back in 1991 and Saturday’s clash will be the biggest match for the club in many years.
Halligan’s side recently wrapped up the second-tier Canterbury Championship, but the seasoned Nelson visitors will be a challenging test for his young squad.
“We are really looking forward to the occasion of an evening Cup game and the challenge of coming up against a quality MPL team,” says Halligan, who will have noticed Nelson’s impressive last performance against Western, boosted by several Suburbs players returning from their US universities.
“The players recognise the scale of the task ahead of them but they understand that games like this need to be embraced and enjoyed,” says the coach who will be drawing on his huge personal experience in previous triumphant Christchurch United teams.
The match will kick off at the unusual time of 7pm as the club’s state-of-the-art home ground at the Christchurch Football Centre from Saturday will also host the Christchurch International Cup.
Over 1000 players and their support staff and families from all over New Zealand will be attending the International Cup, including a large Nelson contingent, who will undoubtedly help to create a wonderful cup-tie backdrop.
“I am sure the atmosphere from the supporters of both teams will add to the occasion, so it is important that we focus on our performance and do not get distracted,” says Halligan.
“An evening game on the artificial turf will mean that the surface will be slick and ball speed will be fast. When you add in the intensity from two quality teams we are sure to have an evening of high tempo football.”
Despite the special nature of the match, Halligan says that he will to change his approach to the match for the quality opponents from up north, after already beating three other Premier League clubs in earlier Chatham Cup rounds.
“Our preparation has been consistent all season so I do not see any point in changing too much. It is important that the players concentrate on maintaining their routines.”
What: Chatham Cup, fourth round Christchurch United v Nelson Suburbs
When: Kick-off 7pm
Where: Christchurch Football Centre, Yaldhurst Road.