Soccer: Phoenix comeback needs to start with a roar

By Terry Maddaford

The Phoenix are still only four points out of the top-six play-offs. Photo / Getty Images
The Phoenix are still only four points out of the top-six play-offs. Photo / Getty Images

Must-win games and the Wellington Phoenix go hand-in-hand as they attempt to turn their stuttering A-League season around.

Despite some horror results, and even worse performances, the Phoenix are still only four points out of the top-six play-offs.

After the 5-0 shellacking by league leaders Central Coast Mariners, coach Ricki Herbert has to turn it around before the Phoenix play the Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday.

With the Roar just a point ahead of the Phoenix, the game is vital.

At home, the Roar are heavily favoured. In the just-completed 20th round, all matches were won by the home team. In the two earlier clashes this season, the Phoenix, at home in round three, drew 1-1 with the Roar while on New Year's Day at Suncorp, Brisbane won 2-1.

In between those two games Rado Vidosic was sensationally dumped as the Roar coach, replaced by Mike Mulvey in an interim appointment.

Herbert, seemingly safe as head coach at the Phoenix until at least the end of the season when he might move to another role at the club, has joined the transfer market securing the services of speedy Fulham striker Corey Gameiro, 20, until the end of the season.

Gameiro, who has been playing on loan at Dutch second division club FC Eindhoven, is expected to be cleared this week to play against Brisbane on Sunday.

Elsewhere, All Whites midfielder Michael McGlinchey continues to impress at Central Coast Mariners to the extent he has signed a two-year contract extension with the club for which he has now played 110 games.

All is not well at Sydney FC despite their recent revival which included Sunday's 2-1 home win over Brisbane Roar.

Coach Frank Farina left former Socceroos midfielder Jason Culina out of the squad for the win over the Roar with suggestions Culina might not play again following a training pitch spat. It is a different story with Sydney's marquee signing Alessandro Del Piero who seems set to stay for a second season at the club.

Former Wellington Phoenix chief executive Tony Pignata, now in the same role at Sydney, denied suggestions the Italian star was off to join Brazilian club Flamengo saying he expected the deal to keep Del Piero at Sydney will "be wrapped up in the next fortnight".

Sydney will, however, be without Brett Emerton and Ali Abbas for Saturday's home game against Adelaide after both copped their fifth yellow cards of the season in the win over Brisbane in which Del Piero and Peter Triantis netted.

- NZ Herald

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