The current title holders of ISPS Handa Premiership – the top-tier of football in New Zealand – Eastern Suburbs earned the national glory in the previous seaosn, but things are much more harder now and they are already feeling it. Eastern Suburbs in their first four matches in the league won two, draw one and lost one. The club is currently inside the top four zone of the league, but this is the just the starting of a tough competition.
The Lilywhites lost many of their players that helped then to lift the trophy in the last edition of the national league. The likes of Callum McCowatt and Tim Payne joined the professional outfit Wellington Phoenix and a partnership of Olé Academy with Torslanda IK from Sweden made several players from the champions squad to make their way to the Scandinavian nation.
Danny Hay, the coach from the previous season, had his success recognized and was given the spot of head coach in New Zealand national football team. For this season, Tony Readings took charge of Eastern Suburbs hoping to rebuild the team and defend the national honours.
Players as Reid Drake, Stephen Hoyle and Mohammed Awad were brought to reinforce the new squad build for the 2019/20 season of ISPS Handa Premiership. These players joined the talented full back Dylan de Jong, but none of their new players or even those who remained in the squad from the previous season had the credentials of the Uruguyan striker Martin Bueno. The South American prolific striker had a dream season with Napier City Rovers in the last New Zealand winter season, scoring in more than 20 games in a row for his side and winning the traditional Chatham Cup. Bueno, in the last edition of ISPS Handa Premiership, defended the colours of Hamilton Wanderers scoring ten goals in the season. Despite coming as the most important signing of the team for the season, Bueno almost got a deal overseas – in South African football top-tier – due his fantastic past seasons and would not be available to represent Eastern Suburbs: “I could not agree the economic budget of Polokwane. Then I went to SuperSport, played one game and scored two goals but I was supposed to sign if one of the strikers signed for Orlando Pirates – what did not happen, so I came back to New Zealand“.
“I think that we are doing well because we are a new team that never played together. We need a little bit of game time. This year the level is very equal so we need to play every game as a final“, says Martin Bueno regarding the start of the season of his new club. Martin also feels very open to give his impressions about his new coach Tony Readings: “I am really happy with Tony and the team as well – there are really good young players in the squad. He is a really good coach that likes to analyze the game really well. He give to us all his advice during the week to make sure that we make the less possible tactical mistakes. During the game we are free to play, create and enjoy our football“. Bueno has scored just once in the league until now – against Southern United FC – but he sees no problem with the little record: “To be honest the last year in the first four games of the season I scored one goal as well – so we need to wait to see what will happen“.
Bueno does not see much differences from the level of football players in the Central League – where he played for Napier City Rovers recently – and the ISPS Handa Premiership level: “Obviously the national league is a really good level and is getting better every year – but to be honest I do not see so a so higher level in comparison with the previous league I played. The first two games of the season I had some phisycal problems that did not help me to play well and enjoy the game. Against Southern I started to enjoy the game again and I felt really well. In the last game I was feeling really well but unfortunately I got red carded“. The red card shown to Martin Bueno in the match his side played against Waitakere United was very controversial and Bueno was really not happy with that: “I do not want to complain about the referee because I respect their job and I am not this kind of man. They take a decision because they thought that was the right the decision, but I did not elbow the opposite player – I didn’t even touch his face – he dive and grabbed his face when I touched his chest“. Martin Bueno hopes the Lilywhites can appeal to New Zealand Football to allow him to play their next match in the league.
Martin knows the expectance on him and his teammates are high due the recent success Eastern Suburbs had in the national league. – team that he is full of praise: “They made an amazing job and they really deserved it. I had the luck to work with Danny Hay for few weeks and I could see why he is the New Zealand head coach. He really deserves the All Whites role and I have no doubts that he will do an amazing job“.
The start of Bueno and Eastern Suburbs is not bad and they will have big challenges to overcome if they want to defend the honours of national champions. The ISPS Handa Premiership is not the only competition of the season for the Lilywhites – they are qualified for the OFC Champions League in 2020 and Bueno is also keen to take part of this tournament: “I do not know at the moment what will be our approach for Champions League. Our mentality now is just the next game – but obviously I think that will be a really nice and different experience“.
The next chapters of Martin Bueno and Eastern Suburbs will say what will be the outcome of their season – defending the national title and their adventure in the most important club championship of the continent.