Soccer: Busy month ahead for the Phoenix

By Daniel Richardson

While the Wellington Phoenix are unbeaten after the opening three rounds of the A-League the next month looms as the first defining chapter of their season. Photo / Getty Images.
While the Wellington Phoenix are unbeaten after the opening three rounds of the A-League the next month looms as the first defining chapter of their season. Photo / Getty Images.

While the Wellington Phoenix are unbeaten after the opening three rounds of the A-League the next month looms as the first defining chapter of their season.

The Wellingtonians will play four of their next five games on the road starting with a trip to meet the top-of-the-table Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium on Saturday night.

Hindmarsh is a venue the Phoenix have been notoriously poor at in the past, although they did manage to win one of their trips to South Australia last summer when Tim Brown and Dani Sanchez netted goals to guide Wellington to a 2-1 triumph.

After the Phoenix do battle with John Kosmina's Adelaide, they play Melbourne Victory in Victoria in a rare Monday night encounter on November 5 before they head home to host the Central Coast Mariners at Westpac Stadium six days later.

Their stop in Wellington will only be fleeting though as they head back on the road to meet the Jets in Newcastle on Sunday, November 18 before they travel to West Australia to play the Perth Glory the following Saturday.

Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert said the side will stay in Australia between the Newcastle and Perth games but the next few weeks will see the club rack up plenty of air miles over the Tasman Sea.

"We've got four out of five games away now so that's a tough ask in anyone's mind," Herbert said.

"We are ready. A few players are back and hopefully we can get some consistency in the selection. That's been the hardest thing over the first few weeks."

Following their 2-0 victory over Sydney FC in round one, the Phoenix have played out consecutive 1-1 draws against the Melbourne Heart and Brisbane Roar; although it must be noted the Phoenix were without seven players for their outing against the Heart due to international commitments.

Paul Ifill didn't train with the side today as he went for treatment on his ankle but Herbert expected he would travel without incident to South Australia this weekend.

Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante will also make his way back in to the fold on Saturday after he missed the draw with the Roar last Sunday after he was struck down with illness.

"Yeah, Andrew will come back in to the side and captain the team," Herbert confirmed.

"It'll be nice just to put a side out that's settled for two or three weeks - which for reasons out of our control we haven't been able to do that. But that'd be good and we are travelling OK. It's been a good start, probably the best start the club's had."

Durante, who is closing in on 150 A-League appearances, said the side had the ability to win in Adelaide.

"I think this year we are really confident and I feel we can beat anyone, anywhere and probably in previous seasons we have gone there with a mindset of 'if we can get a point out of it it'd be great'. But I think this year we really have the mindset that we can beat them no matter where we have to go. So that's a real positive we've instilled in to the squad this year."

Adelaide won their opening two games of the season but were toppled 2-1 by the Victory in Melbourne last Friday night.

- APNZ

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