Fate is in our hands, says Durante

WELLINGTON Phoenix’s playoff ambitions could be decided before they even take the field against Gold Coast United on Sunday, but Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante says it won’t change his team’s attitude going into the match at Skilled Park.

WELLINGTON Phoenix-s playoff ambitions could be decided before they even take the field against Gold Coast United on Sunday, but Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante says it won-t change his team-s attitude going into the match at Skilled Park.

A win against the Gold Coast in Sunday-s Hyundai A-League 2009/10 showdown will guarantee the Phoenix a first-ever appearance in the playoffs, although that place could be decided as early as Saturday night.

North Queensland Fury have the first chance to keep the Phoenix sweating when they take on Melbourne Victory at Etihad Stadium on Friday night. Brisbane Roar then get play to keep their hopes alive heading into the final match of the regular season when they face Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium on Saturday night.

Both the Fury and the Roar have to win to hold on to any chance of making the top-six playoffs. A loss for either this weekend will see them drop out of contention.

While the Phoenix could make the six without even kicking a ball, Durante says his team will still be gunning to beat Gold Coast United on Sunday.

“Of course we-ll be interested to see what happens in the other matches and we-ll certainly be watching them closely as a team – as we do all matches. It would be nice to know that we-re in the six before the Gold Coast game but it won-t change our attitude. We want to win every game and this one is no different, regardless of what happens beforehand.

“We know our fate is on our own hands. If we win on Sunday then the rest takes care of itself, so that-s what our focus is.”

While the Phoenix had set the target of a playoff spot pre-season, Durante said that was the minimum expectation.

“We-re a good team. Not only do we deserve to be in the top six but we know that we-re playing for a home semifinal if we can finish in the top four. Gold Coast, Melbourne and Sydney FC have opened up a break at the top of the ladder and are fighting hard for the minor premiership, but we can still overtake Perth Glory in our last two matches and get home advantage for the playoffs.

“That would be an incredible achievement and great for the team. I don-t think anyone would fancy their chances against us at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.”

First and foremost, however, is beating Gold Coast away on Sunday. The Hyundai A-League-s new boys are locked in a three-way fight to finish the regular season at the top of the ladder but have shown their vulnerability this season – particularly against the Phoenix.

The two teams- round 12 match ended in a 1-1 draw on the Glitter Strip before the Phoenix shellacked the visitors 6-0 at Westpac Stadium little more than three weeks later in one of the most devastating and comprehensive performances from any team this season.

‘This match is going to have plenty on it,” said Durante. “Gold Coast are playing for top spot, we-re playing for a place in the playoffs and Gold Coast will be desperate to make amends for what happened in Wellington. We were very good that night and they were pretty poor. It won-t be the same scenario on Sunday but there-s no reason why we can-t do the job against them again.”

Sunday, February 7, 2010
Gold Coast United v Wellington Phoenix
Skilled Park, Robina
Local kickoff:
6pm (9pm NZDST)
Referee: Matthew Breeze

Live and exclusive broadcast on Sky Sport 1 and FOX Sports 1HD & 1.

Gold Coast United squad: 1. Jess VANSTRATTAN (gk), 3. Michael THWAITE, 5. ROBSON, 7. Zenon CARAVELLA, 8. ANDERSON, 9. Shane SMELTZ, 10. Jason CULINA (c), 11. Charlie MILLER, 13. Bas VAN DEN BRINK, 14. Joel PORTER, 15. Tahj MINNIECON, 16. Kristian REES, 17. Matt OSMAN, 18. James BROWN, 19. Andrew BARISIC, 20. Scott HIGGINS (gk), 23. Steve FITZSIMMONS, 36. Dino DJULBIC *three to be omitted.

In: James BROWN (promoted), Andrew BARISIC (promoted), Matt OSMAN (promoted), Steve FITZSIMMONS (promoted).
Out: Steve PANTELIDIS (suspended – 5 games).
Unavailable: Adama TRAORE (ankle injury – 2 weeks), Daniel PIORKOWSKI (ankle injury – indefinite).

Wellington Phoenix squad: 2. Manny MUSCAT, 3. Tony LOCHHEAD, 4. Jon McKAIN, 6. Tim BROWN, 7. Leo BERTOS, 8. Paul IFILL, 9. Chris GREENACRE, 11. DANIEL, 13. Troy HEARFIELD, 14. Adrian CACERES, 15. Eugene DADI, 17. Vince LIA, 18. Ben SIGMUND, 20. Reece CROWTHER (gk), 22. Andrew DURANTE (c), 40. Liam REDDY (gk) *one to be omitted.

In: Vince LIA (return from suspension).
Out: DIEGO (omitted).
Unavailable: Mark PASTON (gk) (leg – season).

Head-to-Head: All matches (played 2): Gold Coast United wins 0, Wellington Phoenix wins 1 (1 draw)