Call to arms for Phoenix fans: The Reds are coming!

WELLINGTON Phoenix FC has issued a call to arms to fans – help the club turn back the Red tide at Westpac Stadium on Sunday.

WELLINGTON Phoenix FC has issued a call to arms to fans – help the club turn back the Red tide at Westpac Stadium on Sunday.

With the Phoenix-s Hyundai A-League 2008/09 playoff ambitions hinging on victory against Adelaide United, club chief executive Tony Pignata urged fans show their support for the Phoenix in the pivotal final home match at Westpac Stadium.

A win on Sunday will keep the Phoenix firmly in the hunt for an historic appearance in the playoffs, with their final match against Melbourne Victory in Melbourne next Friday.

Crowd support would be crucial to the club realising a dream, said Pignata. Should the Phoenix make the playoffs, they will be the first New Zealand-based outfit to do so in Hyundai A-League history.

“Sunday-s match against Adelaide is probably the most important game in this club-s short history. Everything goes on the line in this game because we-d love to go into the final round still alive for a finals berth.

“The fans play a huge role in this, driving the team on. They players get a massive lift from the crowd support and, given the task we face, a big, loud crowd could well make the difference on Sunday.

“We-d love to have a bumper audience at Westpac Stadium to show the rest of the competition just how much we all want this.”

As well as the importance of the big match in terms of the competition, there is plenty of added emotion around the clash against Adelaide.

Evergreen Phoenix striker Vaughan Coveny will bid his home crowd farewell, while fellow striker Shane Smeltz and Glen Moss will also be making their final appearances at Westpac Stadium in Phoenix colours.

“We-re saying goodbye to a legend of New Zealand football in Vaughan and to two players who have played important roles in our short history in Shane and Glen,” said Pignata. “It-ll be fantastic to get a big crowd along to help us send off these great players in a fitting manner and with a win against Adelaide.”

The anticipated crowd for the crunch match stands to be boosted further given that Monday is a public holiday in Wellington.

“The fans will be able to have a good sleep-in on Monday and then get up, get the paper and hopefully read some good news about the game.”

In team news, Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert has strongly indicated that young striker Costa Barbarouses may start Sunday-s match. With Troy Hearfield suspended for the remainder of the regular season and midfielder Daniel under an injury cloud, Barbarouses could well get the nod against the Reds.

“I think probably Costa will start in place of Troy and whether we use Daniel (if fit) as an attacking midfield player and play two instead of three in there, that could well happen.”

Skipper Andrew Durante is also unlikely to play, suffering a hamstring strain in last weekend-s 1-0 loss to Sydney FC. However, gutsy centre back Ben Sigmund is back to full fitness and will slot straight into the starting lineup.

Coveny, 37, is also a chance to play a key role in what could be his final appearance for the Phoenix as he calls time on a glittering 17-year professional playing career.

“We might bring Covs in on the bench,” Herbert said. “I think psychologically we-ll get something because it-ll be a big occasion for him. We-re weighing that one up and we-ll make a decision tomorrow.

“There is plenty of emotion around this one and sometimes that emotion can override things. We-ve got to make sure we can take it because there-ll be plenty of it and that we can use it wisely – capture the emotion and direct it.”

Sunday-s match kicks off at 5pm (NZDT). Tickets can be purchased from the Wellington Phoenix Store (corner of Cuba and Dixon streets), any Ticketek outlet (and online at www.ticketek.co.nz) and from Westpac Stadium from midday on Sunday.

Sunday, January 18
Wellington Phoenix v Adelaide United
Westpac Stadium
Local kickoff:
5pm (3pm AEDT)
Referee: Chris Beath

Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 1 and Sky Sport 1. Hyundai A-League club radio broadcast partner is Radio Network (Wellington) 1035AM and FRESH FM (Adelaide).

Wellington Phoenix squad: 1. Mark PASTON (gk), 2. Jeremy CHRISTIE, 3. Tony LOCHHEAD, 4. Jon McKAIN, 5. Karl DODD, 6. Tim BROWN, 7. Leo BERTOS, 8. Vaughan COVENY, 9. Shane SMELTZ, 10. Michael FERRANTE, 11. DANIEL, 15. Adam KWASNIK, 18. Ben SIGMUND, 20. Glen MOSS (gk), 22. Andrew DURANTE, 23. Costa BARBAROUSES, 25. Manny MUSCAT. *two to be omitted

In: 8. Vaughan COVENY (promoted), 18. Ben SIGMUND (return from injury), 23. Costa BARBAROUSES (promoted).
Out: 13. Troy HEARFIELD (suspended – 2 weeks).
Unavailable: 17. Vince LIA (knee – season).

Adelaide United squad: 20. Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk), 2. Robert CORNTHWAITE, 3. ALEMAO, 4. Angelo COSTANZO, 5. Michael VALKANIS, 6. CASSIO, 7. Lucas PANTELIS, 9. Paul AGOSTINO, 10. CRISTIANO, 13. Travis DODD (c), 14. Scott JAMIESON, 15. Jonas SALLEY, 18. Fabian BARBIERO, 19. Sasa OGNENOVSKI, 24. Paul REID, 25. Robert YOUNIS, 70. Codey LARKIN (gk). *two to be omitted

In: 9. Paul AGOSTINO (promoted), 4. Angelo COSTANZO (promoted).
Out: Nil
Unavailable: Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk) (ankle – 2 weeks), DIEGO (quad – 2 weeks), Daniel BELTRAME (gk) (knee – season), Daniel MULLEN (knee – 4 weeks), Matthew NASH (gk) (shoulder – 2 weeks), Kristian SARKIES (ankle – 2 weeks), Jason SPAGNUOLO (knee – 1 week).

*Head-to-head: All matches (played 5): Wellington Phoenix wins 0, Adelaide United wins 4 (1 draw). In Wellington (played 2): Wellington Phoenix wins 0, Adelaide United wins 1 (1 draw).