Durante: Early days but let’s get it on

WELLINGTON Phoenix captain Andrew Durante isn’t reading too much into results from the opening round of the Hyundai A-League 2010/11 season.

WELLINGTON Phoenix captain Andrew Durante isn-t reading too much into results from the opening round of the Hyundai A-League 2010/11 season.

While the Phoenix had the unusual luxury of the weekend off, the competition-s 10 other teams faced off in week one fixtures that produced four draws and just one result.

“To put a positive spin on the bye for us, it was good to see what the other teams were doing and it worked out well for us with everyone drawing and only the Central Coast Mariners getting the win against Melbourne Heart,” said Durante.

“It was clear that the competition this season will be much closer than it has been before and that was reflected in the results at the weekend. I think most of the teams will still be feeling their way into things given that it was the opening round and everyone will be doing a lot of work now on aspects of their play. There-s no clear top team at the moment and I expect the competition to stay that way, particularly in the early stages.”

Gold Coast United, the Phoenix-s opposition for their first game of the season at their Westpac Stadium fortress in Wellington on Friday evening, looked to be still shaking out the cobwebs in their goalless draw with Brisbane Roar.

The Roar dominated the majority of the match but couldn-t find a way past former Phoenix stopper Glen Moss at Skilled Park.

Durante said the Gold Coast, who also boast former Phoenix marksman Shane Smeltz in the line-up, appeared out-of-sorts in their season opener.

“They weren-t as impressive as I thought they might be; they were a little bit behind the eight-ball for most of the match. Hopefully they-ll come here to Wellington and struggle again, but I-m sure (coach) Miron Bleiberg would-ve got stuck into them (after the game) and they-ll be gunning for a better performance this time around.”

While the performance of their Hyundai A-League rivals in the opening round had been a talking point for the Phoenix, Durante said his team had focused on their own work. The belief that the Phoenix could go even further following last season-s wonderful campaign was palpable.

“Everyone-s just itching to go. It-s been a long pre-season but the boys just want to go out there and play the way we know we can. We-ve worked really hard and everyone-s fit, so it-s a matter of picking up from where we left off last season.

“We-ve got a great squad from last season and we-ve picked up some good recruits in Toto, Jade North, Mirjan Pavlovic and Dylan Macallister. The talent-s there and with our home record it-ll be tough for any team to pick up points from us in Wellington.”

The Phoenix are unbeaten in 20 matches at Westpac Stadium dating back to October 2008 – 19 Hyundai A-League matches and a 2-1 win against Argentine superclub Boca Juniors in an exhibition match last month – and are keen to continue that fearsome record at the Ring of Fire.

“The crowd support is one of the key reasons why we-re so strong at home,” said Durante. “The boys love playing in front of the Yellow Fever and all the Phoenix supporters and hopefully they-ll turn out in numbers again on Friday evening and get behind us. We-re going to need them for this game and all season again to continue our great Westpac Stadium record.”

Meanwhile, Indonesian striker Bambang Pamungkas has wrapped up his trial with the Phoenix and returned home to Jakarta.

“We thank Bambang for all his efforts during his trial with us and wish him all the best for his football career,” Phoenix head coach Ricki Herbert said of the 30-year-old.

“We-ll continue to scout Asia for potential Phoenix signings in the future because of the talent emerging from that region.”