Soccer: Gameiro joins Phoenix for late season surge

Considering the season they've had, it seems slightly far-fetched that the Wellington Phoenix could still claim a spot in the A-League playoffs. Photo / Getty Images.
Considering the season they've had, it seems slightly far-fetched that the Wellington Phoenix could still claim a spot in the A-League playoffs. Photo / Getty Images.

Considering the season they've had, it seems slightly far-fetched that the Wellington Phoenix could still claim a spot in the A-League playoffs.

They've copped the heaviest defeat in club history when they went down 7-1 to Sydney FC last month and were beaten 5-0 by Central Coast last Thursday when they looked completely at sea against a free-flowing Mariners outfit.

But through it all, a combination of a few surprise results and the topsy-turvy nature of the league means the Phoenix are only a handful of points outside of the top six with seven games to go.

The A-League offers a generous finals format where six of the 10 teams qualify for the post-season but finishing fifth or sixth in the regular season won't do a lot for the Phoenix as it means they will have to travel across the Tasman for a knockout game where they always struggle.

But finals football is a funny beast and the Phoenix have taken a step towards making a miraculous run at the playoffs by attaining Fulham under-21 striker Corey Gameiro on loan for the remainder of the campaign.

The 20-year-old Australian recently spent time with Dutch club FC Eindhoven, where he made eight appearances in the Eerste Divisie and will arrive in Wellington this week in search of first-team football.

Phoenix general manager David Dome said the Wellingtonians still hadn't written off the season, which has included outspoken owners, tactical changes and calls for coach Ricki Herbert to walk given the side's poor form.

"We haven't given up on the finals. We certainly believe that we've got the players on board to get us there," Dome said.

"We know they've done the job in the past and we just need a little bit of an edge and a little bit of a kickstart and Corey is hopefully going to be that type of player that we can build around for a little late surge in to the finals and that fifth and sixth position. We've got a couple of games coming up with teams in and around those positions that are really, really important."

The Phoenix travel away to Brisbane this Sunday to meet a Roar side who have been a shadow of their former selves, but Wellington's woeful record at Suncorp Stadium doesn't inspire confidence.

Following that they host Adelaide and Newcastle, which both loom as games that the Phoenix should win if they are a playoff-calibre team.

The Phoenix then meet the Melbourne Heart in a home-away-from-home game in Dunedin on March 3, then travel to Parramatta to meet the third-placed Western Sydney Wanderers, followed by a trip to Perth, before rounding out the campaign against the high-flying Melbourne Victory at Westpac Stadium on March March 31.

Gameiro's acquisition is curious in the sense that Wellington trumpeted the signing of former Belgian international Stein Huysegems at the beginning of the season but after a promising start the 30-year-old hasn't scored since October.

He started five of the past six games but hasn't looked in tune with his midfielders, while Jeremy Brockie has been industrious up front and has bagged 11 goals this season.

The Phoenix will seek an international clearance for Gameiro tomorrow (mon) but he looks a good bet to be included in the squad for the trip to Brisbane given he will come to Wellington without any fitness concerns.

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf04 at 20 Dec 2014 14:56:58 Processing Time: 471ms