Dunedin Technical have already created history by progressing further in the Women’s Knockout Cup than any other Football South side has ever managed but they are not planning on stopping there.
Technical will look to continue their giant-killing exploits on Saturday in the semi-finals of the country’s highest-profile female club competition but the draw has not been kind to them, throwing up a meeting with the cup’s most successful side of recent times.
Glenfield Rovers have been involved in five of the past six finals and have won three of them, only being denied their third successive title last year by local rivals Forrest Hill Milford United.
The respective pedigrees of each team could therefore not be more greatly contrasting but Technical coach Graeme Smaill still believes his in-form side can cause another upset.
“This week is going to be a big step up for us, without a doubt,” he says.
“They’ve got the best recent history in the Knockout Cup and we know they always have a lot of internationals and age-group players. I had a look at their game in the quarter-final and I would describe them as a high-energy team, both in and out of possession.”
Smaill’s group is in great form themselves though, having just won the Kingsgate Football South Women’s Premier League for a fifth consecutive time and being unbeaten so far in that competition. One advantage the underdogs do have is the unity and team spirit fostered from years of playing together.
Smaill has been coaching many of the players for ten years now, firstly as part of an all-girls Football South team that competed in a local boys’ competition and represented the region in national tournaments.
“After a couple of years, we thought these girls needed to be aligned with a club and they ended up at Tech and we’ve been there ever since,” he explains.
“This is the eighth year with the team now at Tech. It’s just been a progression, like any coach you set yourself short and long-term goals. We had a long-term goal to win the Premier League in our third year but we dipped out, getting beaten by Roslyn Wakari. But we won it the following year and have managed to hold onto it since then.”
The aim now is to compete with the very best teams in the country and Glenfield certainly fall into that category.
“The Knockout Cup is the next step and the real indication of where you are on a national scale. It was a big thrill for the girls when they got that result in the quarter-final.”
Dunedin earned their spot in the final four by pulling off a shock 3-2 triumph over Christchurch club Coastal Spirit while Glenfield accounted for Forrest Hill 3-1 in a repeat of last year’s final. Neither side will be quite at full strength with Glenfield having just lost prolific striker Katie Rood to a professional contract with Italian giants Juventus while Technical will be without Kate Guildford and Kelsey Kennard, who are both overseas.
But that will take nothing away from the sense of occasion at the Caledonian Ground, which will play host to the biggest game a women’s club team from the region has ever taken part in.
“There’s been a lot of great support from the entire football community which is really refreshing,” Smaill says. “A key component for us is who we can get out on the pitch but we’d like to put on a good display for the whole community.”
The other semi-final will be just as gripping as an Upper Hutt City side featuring the likes of former Football Fern Sarah Gregorius and U-20 international Emma Main travel to Auckland to meet Eastern Suburbs. The home side are hurting after missing out on the Lotto NRFL Women’s Premier title in heart-breaking fashion to Three Kings United so will be hugely determined to claim the other piece of silverware on offer.
Reporting courtesy of Football South
Women’s Knockout Cup Semi-Finals
Dunedin Technical vs Glenfield Rovers
Saturday 26 August, 12.30pm
Caledonian Ground, Dunedin
Eastern Suburbs vs Upper Hutt City
Sunday 27 August, 2pm
|Madills Farm, Auckland