Congratulations to Kiwi True Blues, the 2017 Championship winners and now the 2018 ASFA Premiership champions!
Internationale’s 2-2 draw with Auckland Wanderers mean’s that KTB can no longer be caught, regardless of the outcome of the remaining fixtures. Zamantix Force’s 8-0 win over AUT FC puts them into second spot, whilst AUT will be competing in the Championship again next season. Who joins AUT will be decided on the final weekend of the season, with two points seperating 5th placed Wanderers, 6th placed Bohemian Celtics (who secured a point last weekend with a 2-2 draw against Auckland Volcanoes) and 7th placed Independiente, who – like KTB – had the weekend off. 5th hosts 6th this coming friday night at Michael’s Avenue, knowing that a win for either side would ensure that they will be playing in the Premiership in 2019. The losing team would have to wait until Indy play their final game on the 18th. If Wanderers and Boh’s share the points, and Indy secures all three in their final game then the second relegation spot will be decided by goal difference.
Bohemian Celtics second team look on course to join HNK Auckland in the Premiership next year, following their 5-4 victory over FC Eagles. Boh’s can no longer be overtaken by the Eagles, who ended their first ASFA league season with five wins, three draws and a goal difference of zero (scored 39, conceded 39). Khukuri’s can still claim second, but are now five points behind Boh’s following their 2-1 loss to the University of Auckland FC. HNK were handed a 3-0 win following United FC’s decision to default the fixture, but are still not able to celebrate the title, following the loss of a point for an earlier administration error. For them to be denied, however, they would have to lose all three of their remaining games (quite heavily), whilst Boh’s will need to win their last three (quite convincingly). Stranger things have happened, but I expect the 2017 League 1 Champions to claim the 2018 Championship trophy on August 18th. UoA play United this weekend in a catch up game that could decide who gets the wooden spoon (no teams are due to be relegated from the Championship this season, following the decision to remove Western Wanderers and the SpermWhales earlier in the season; a move that would appear to have been a pretty good one, looking at their performances in League 1).
Nixon Park’s 2-2 draw with the Spermwhales has allowed Zamantix Force, who beat Double Rum Greenhithe 5-0, the opportunity to close the gap on the second promotion place, whilst Dalian only saw their lead at the top reduced by a singular point (now 13 points). City Fringe’s 5-4 defeat to Zamantix Rovers Returns, and Kamarak’s 3-0 loss to the Western Wanderers, mean’s that there is still plenty of uncertainty around who will be playing in League Two next year. AUT face the toughest of tasks to avoid the drop, requiring three wins from their three remaining games and several other results to go their way (stranger things have happened). Nixon Park face the Whales again this coming weekend in a game that will have a major say in the race for second place.
The scorelines last week were; Waitakere Rangers 21, Viet Stars 2; Saigon 10, All Red 1; Albany Green Machine 7, Auckland Unicorns 1. That’s a frightening 42 goals in three game! In breaking news, however, I can reveal that Saigon have been found guilty of fielding two suspended players in their fixture against Viet Stars, costing them the three points for the win plus three additional penalty points (droping them from second/joint top down to fourth in the table). Leaders Waitakere Rangers will be crowned Champions on the 18th, assuming they don’t do anything stupid in their final fixture of the season against AGM. AGM now find themselves sitting in joint second place, also knowing that they can seal promotion in the final game by avoiding any penalty points and a heavy defeat (12 goals or more). Whilst there is no relegation from League 2, I suspect that there are a number of teams in this division that we may not see again in 2019. Saigon’s punishment means that five of the seven teams have had points taken off them for either breaking the rules or failing to have enough players.
Sadly, with only one fixture still to be played, this year’s over 35s Master Conference has also been dogged by weekly accusations of cheating, some of which has been proven, some haven’t and other cases are still being investigated. There is every chance that the final table reported next week could look significantly different come finals day next month. Reports of underage players, some well under the age of 30, makes you wonder if we need this division or if we need to make it an over 40s or 50s next year. The penultimate game of the season saw Zamantix Rovers Old Boys beat U-Striker 5-0. The final game to be played this coming Sunday features 6th placed Serious and 7th placed U-Striker, with the outcome unlikely to make any difference to the final ladder, unless U-Striker win by nine or more (stranger things have happened).
Looking ahead, it’s semi-finals time in both Cups and Plates with sixteen teams hoping to win through to finals day in a months time. Newly crowned Premiership champions KTB play last year’s double winners Inter, whilst Zamantix Deuce play HNK in the other semi-final of the cup. Volcanoes, winners the past two season, play FC Eagles, whilst Khukuri play Western Wanderers in the semi-finals of the Plate. Dalian face AGM and the Force play the Old Fellas in the semi-finals of the lower league cup, meaning we have teams from three different divisions being represented, two of whom are – like KTB – going for a possible league-cup double. Three or the four teams in the lower league plate competition are also fighting each other in the League 1 relegation battle. AUT will be hoping to overcome Kamarak in the first semi, whilst City Fringe face league two Viet Stars in the other.