Otago University has the honour of launching the 2021 Football South football season as we host our Neighbours from North East Valley, Northern on the Football Turfs at Logan Park at 7 pm on Tuesday 16 March in the Otago Daily Times Men’s Premier League.
After a short pre-season where the wider premier grade squad has come together and with only a single pre-season match against Mosgiel AFC there is a chance that this fixture might be a bit disjointed especially considering the unknown quantity that we face against Northern AFC.
Northern represents an intriguing prospect with renewed energy this year and significant player movement down to North East Valley. After struggling over the last few years there is ambition in the club to improve their standing as clubs build towards South Island League qualification. We are delighted to be able to welcome our neighbours to Logan Park for the season opener.
For us, we have made some key signings down the attacking end of the pitch with Aidan Barbour Ryan (Selwyn in Christchurch) and Yung Sung-Chang (Roslyn Wakari) joining, alongside side this we have Tom Stewart returning from Selwyn and a suite of new GoalKeepers have joined the club in Neil Achary (ex-National Youth Keeper with Hamilton Wanderers), Sam Prystupa (Canada) and Matthew King (Australia).
Returning for another season are 2/3’s of last year’s backline with Captain Tim O’Farrell back alongside Arnon Tapp and Albie Murray. Further forward midfielders Ben O’Farrell, Oban Hawkins, and En Wantanbe are back, although Oban will miss the clash with Northern due to illness. The midfield stocks are further strengthened with the singings of Tobias Hughes (Hamilton Wanderers), Sam Murray (Island Bay United AFC), and Hayden Aish (Waitakere United). Rounding out the side are last seasons attacking players Ben Stanley and Finn Rathbone.
With a strong group of returning players in our second’s squad led by Player Coaches James Harris and Nick Kelly, there is bound to be movement between the squads as the season progresses.
Our full squad for tonight is:
Sam Prystupa, Neil Achary, Arnon Tapp, Jake Johnson, Tim O’Farrell, Albie Murray, James Harris, Nick Kelly, Tom Stewart, Ben O’Farrell, En Watanabe, Tobias Hughes, Aidan Barbour-Ryan, Ben Stanley, Yung Sung Chang, and Finn Rathbone.
Note: This fixture was rescheduled to Tuesday night to accommodate our attendance at the New Zealand Tertiary Football Challenge which was to go ahead this weekend in Palmerston North. University Tertiary Sport New Zealand then made the decision to cancel the tournament.