Another A-League club stands in the way of the Wellington Phoenix returning to the semi-finals of the renamed Australia Cup.
The Phoenix visit Macarthur FC in one of the three remaining quarter-finals on Wednesday night, after accounting for beaten A-League grand finalists Melbourne City in the round of 16.
Head coach Ufuk Talay guided the club to its first semi-final appearance in January and with the Cup returning to the pre-season this year Talay is cherishing the competitive matches.
“We’re going to go as far as we can go,” Talay told media ahead of the team’s trip to Sydney. “For us the Cup has always been important for pre-season.
“I think our pre-season has panned out quite well with these Cup games and also what we’ve done in between to get more minutes for players that weren’t involved or didn’t get regular game time in the Cup.
“We’ll go there with the mindset to try and win this game and play the next and hopefully we’ll go all the way, which then leads into the season.
“The Cup final is a week out from the start of the season which gives us good prep for the A-League.”
Phoenix midfielder Clayton Lewis has told media there’s a belief within the side that they can go all the way.
“I think we’ve felt that from the start of the season,” Lewis said. “The boys came in early and we wanted to get as fit as we could this year.
“We’ve been working very hard and it’s starting to show. We’re not only dominating possession, but we’re creating chances and scoring goals.
“As long as we stay in the Cup we’ll be able to keep progressing and be as fit as possible for the season.”
It will be the first Cup meeting between the two clubs, with their six A-League matches level at two wins apiece with two draws.
Talay will go head-to-head with his former Sydney FC team-mate Dwight Yorke, who has taken over as Macarthur’s head coach.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for Dwight to start his coaching career,” Talay said.
“He was a fantastic player. It’s not easy to coach. It’s a different ball game on the other side of the fence, but so far he’s doing a good job.”
Macarthur FC have dispatched non-A-League opposition in their two Cup matches to date.
They beat Mackay & Whitsundays Magpies Crusaders United 6-0 in the round of 32 before downing Modbury Jets 4-0 in their round of 16 match in Adelaide.
The Phoenix have travelled with the same squad that got the better of Melbourne City in the round of 16.
Brazilian midfielder Yan Sasse is in contention for a greater role against Macarthur, after making a late cameo against City, while new Polish striker Oskar Zawada will have to wait to make his debut after only joining his new team-mates on Tuesday night.
Reserve team players Riley Bidois, Noah Karunaratne, Jackson Manuel and Marco Lorenz have again travelled with Steven Ugarkovic, Lucas Mauragis, David Ball and Alex Rufer all still unavailable for selection.
The Australia Cup quarter-final between the Wellington Phoenix and Macarthur FC is scheduled to kick-off at Campbelltown Stadium in Sydney at 7:30pm AEST (9:30pm NZT) and will be broadcast live on 10 Play in Australia and on Football Australia’s My Football YouTube Channel in New Zealand.
Most recent meeting: 6 February 2022 – Wellington Phoenix 3 Macarthur FC 1
All-time head-to-head: Phoenix 2W, Macarthur 2W & 2D
Wellington Phoenix squad: 3. Finn SURMAN, 4. Scott WOOTTON, 5. Steven UGARKOVIC, 6. Tim PAYNE, 7. Kosta BARBAROUSES, 8. Ben OLD, 9. Oskar ZAWADA, 10. David BALL, 11. Bozhidar KRAEV, 12. Lucas MAURAGIS, 13. Nicholas PENNINGTON, 14. Alex RUFER (c), 17. Callan ELLIOT, 18. Ben WAINE, 19. Sam SUTTON, 20. Oli SAIL (gk), 21. Joshua LAWS, 23. Clayton LEWIS, 24. Oskar VAN HATTUM, 31. Yan SASSE, 34. Jackson MANUEL, 35. Noah KARUNARATNE, 36. Riley BIDOIS, 39. Marco LORENZ, 40. Alex PAULSEN (gk)
Unavailable: 5. Steven UGARKOVIC (Cup tied), 10. David Ball (injured), 12. Lucas MAURAGIS (Cup tied), 14. Alex RUFER (injured)