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ISPS Handa Chatham Cup - Decorated coach still chasing cup glory

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A well-known figure on the domestic football scene, Paul Marshall has won a raft of honours during his time in charge of the likes of Auckland City, Waitakere United, Central United and Three Kings United.

But there is one prestigious trophy that has so far eluded him - the ISPS Handa Chatham Cup.

He has come close to lifting the famous silverware on two occasions, making the final in 2001 with Central and again eight years later with Three Kings, but finished on the losing side both times.

Now at the helm of Bay Olympic, Marshall is four wins away from booking a return to the final but one of his former clubs is standing in the way this weekend.

After dumping out cup holders Birkenhead United in the previous round, the Bay will play host to Central United tomorrow afternoon at Olympic Park and Marshall is hoping the magic of the cup continues to inspire his troops.

"It does hold a special place in my heart and I haven’t won it as a coach yet so that would be nice," he says.

"The cup offers something a bit different to week-in, week-out league football and we’ll have to see how it goes. But we’re looking forward to the challenge, that’s for sure. We’ve put ourselves in a position to hopefully go to the next stage at least."

Like Marshall, Bay Olympic have only ever been bridesmaids, finishing runners-up in 2010 after suffering a 3-1 defeat to Miramar Rangers. But they do have some pedigree of success as one of their pre-merger founding clubs, Blockhouse Bay, claimed the cup back in 1970.

Now in the second-tier Lotto NRFL Division One, they are not among the favourites to finally repeat that feat but showed they can account for more highly-fancied rivals with that 2-1 upset of Birkenhead, who won both the 2016 and 2018 editions of the cup.

Marshall is keen to downplay the significance of that victory but is quietly confident ahead of the Central clash.

"When you win games like that it’s always great for confidence and certainly good for team morale," he says.

"But that Birkenhead team we beat a couple of weeks ago is not the team that won the cup last year. Paul Hobson has done a fantastic job over at Birkenhead in developing young players so the team we played was very young. That’s a bit like the Central team but I’m lead to believe they’re looking to introduce a number of Auckland City players for this particular game so they’re obviously a bit concerned about us," he adds.

"We’re a division below Central and I’m sure they’ll go into the game as favourites because they’re doing pretty well in their league as well. But we’ve got a very experienced side and I think it should be a great, entertaining match."

The league standings certainly point towards the likelihood of an away victory. Coached by former All White Kris Bright, Central are just a point off the top of the Lotto NRFL Premier League and also have cup pedigree on their side after winning the trophy five times, most recently in 2012 and making the final two years ago.

They also boast some real quality in the likes of Micah Lea’alafa, Takuya Iwata, Alfie Rogers, Maro Bonsu-Maro and goalkeeper Conor Tracey - who all featured in the ISPS Handa Premiership national league over the summer.

"We know it’s going to be a tricky game because they’re a good side. But if we go about our business in the right way and perform to our best then I’m sure it’s going to pay dividends," says Marshall, who has so far steered Bay Olympic to fourth in their bid to return to the top flight of the upper North Island system.

"It will be a wonderful spectacle for anybody that loves to watch the game because both teams will try to play and the Bay Olympic pitch is fantastic right now."

Bay Olympic’s hosting of Central United is one of 16 third round games taking place across the country in the ISPS Handa Chatham Cup this weekend.

For match details and more information please click here

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