The Phoenix still have a dozen games to come but the
encounter with West Sydney Wanderers in Wellington on Sunday
may just define their season.
A poor run of form has seen the Phoenix fall to ninth place
in the A-League, though they are still just two points from
the all-important top six.
If they are to avoid falling further from the pace-setters
the Phoenix need to embark on a winning run - and this month
may be the perfect time to do so.
After Sunday's match against the competition newcomers,
Wellington will play the two sides who sandwich them in the
bottom three. A win over the Wanderers could provide the
impetus needed to take their opportunities against Sydney FC
(tenth) and Newcastle (eighth) and propel the Phoenix up the
Phoenix captain Andrew Durante - who this week confirmed his
desire to turn his back on native Australia and represent the
All Whites - acknowledged the importance of his side emerging
from their current mire.
"We've gone through a really tough patch at the moment," he
said. "We've gone though them before but we've always come
"So it's a big game this this week; it's a game we really
need to get the three points and get our confidence going.
I'm pretty confident at home that we'll put on a good
The Phoenix will have their work cut out for them if they are
to manage that performance, with West Sydney coming into the
game on the back of three wins in their last four games.
That form is in stark contrast to that of the home side, who
have just one triumph in their last six attempts. The Phoenix
did edge the first encounter between the sides, though, with
a Jeremy Brockie goal proving enough to take the three points
from the match at Westpac Stadium last month.
But the Wanderers have emerged from that clash in far better
shape, beating Brisbane for the second time this season and
putting six past second-placed Adelaide.
West Sydney have been something of a revelation in their
first season in the competition and, with derby rivals Sydney
FC languishing in last place, they have given football fans
in Australia's largest city plenty to cheer about.
That has been the opposite for the Phoenix faithful, with
just three victories from seven home games this term. If they
are to make it four on Sunday, the Phoenix will have to
rebound from last week's 2-0 loss against the Victory in
Melbourne, but Durante said the last week in practice has
"There has been a lot of work to be done this week. It's been
good, we had a really good session [on Thursday] and we've
had a really good chat."
Businessman Gareth Morgan was part of that chat, with the
owner taking an active role at Newtown Park as he keeps tabs
on whether his call for attractive, flowing football has been
Also at training was new signing Ian Hogg who joined up with
the team this week but will be unlikely to make the match-day
squad just yet. The Phoenix will probably make one change
from the team that lost to Melbourne, with Tyler Boyd
returning from a one-game suspension and likely to replace