Queenstown Rovers are looking to make history this weekend in the ISPS Handa Chatham Cup.
The Jamie Whitmarsh-coached side will host Nelson Suburbs on Saturday at the Queenstown Events Centre as they look to make the quarterfinals for the first time in New Zealand Football’s premier knockout cup competition.
Nelson Suburbs have decided to drive to Christchurch and then fly from there to Queenstown. The match which will be played in bitterly cold conditions – a high of 2 degrees Celsius and a low -2 is forecast for Saturday in Queenstown – and is expected to be an evenly fought contest.
Whitmarsh said playing at home would be a big factor as they look to go one step further than last year when they were edged by Southern Premier League champions Caversham in the fourth round.
“There is a history and tradition associated with the Chatham Cup and like any cup competition there is that added sense of excitement that comes with playing a one of knockout game,” said Whitmarsh. “For our club this is only the second time we have reached this stage so the excitement levels are that bit higher.”
Whitmarsh said it has been great to get his team back into full training after they lost their facilities for a few days when the British and Irish Lions rugby team were training in town.
Queenstown Rovers made their way into the fourth round thanks to a first half hat-trick from Carlos Herrmann which helped them defeat Dunedin Technical 3-2 away from home.
Meanwhile, Nelson Suburbs progressed to the fourth round courtesy of Ross McPhie’s goal in the 39th minute to overcome Coastal Spirit 1-0.
Whitmarsh is expecting a tough challenge from Suburbs who have also never won the ISPS Handa Chatham Cup.
“I get a sense that they will be similar to us in the way they play. Any team that gets to this stage can’t be taken lightly and needs to be respected.”
Whitmarsh described his Queenstown squad as a “global team”. Historically Rovers have had players from all over the world and this season is no different with players from Brazil, Uruguay, Spain, Germany, England, Scotland, New Zealand and Japan to name a few.
He said it would mean a huge amount to his squad to book their place in the quarterfinals and be one step closer to ISPS Handa Chatham Cup glory.
“We all still remember the buzz around town when we played Caversham at the same stage last year for a developing club like ours it would be massive. We have hopes and aspirations to one day become a household name in New Zealand football circles and this is another opportunity to show the people of the country that continue to do good things in football.”
Meanwhile, Dunedin club side Caversham face a tough away clash with Mainland Premier League heavyweights Cashmere Technical in the other match featuring South Island teams.
Defending champions Birkenhead United, who made history with their first win of the title last year, are away to Three Kings United.
Miramar Rangers, four-time champions of the ISPS Handa Chatham Cup, are again drawn away from home and will have a tough challenge on their hands when they come against Wairarapa United who have former Wellington Phoenix star Paul Ifill in their squad.
Six-time champions North Shore United, who have not lifted the trophy since 1986, will look to upset another five-time champions in Central United at Kiwitea Street.
There are also other great matches in store when Onehunga Sports hosts Melville United and Western Springs are at home to meet Bay Olympic.
The final match of the round is Stop Out Sports Club hosting Western Suburbs in the Capital / Central region.
The ISPS Handa Chatham Cup is an open knockout competition from throughout New Zealand which is one of the oldest sporting trophies in the country dating back to 1923.
The most successful teams in the history of the ISPS Handa Chatham Cup are Mount Wellington (seven wins, two of them since amalgamation with Auckland University), Christchurch United and North Shore United (six wins each).