FFA Cup Match Preview: Wellington Phoenix vs. Avondale FC

The Wellington Phoenix have a shot at almost immediate redemption when they play Avondale FC in the FFA Cup’s round of 16 tomorrow night.

Just four days after falling to the heaviest defeat of Ufuk Talay’s reign as head coach, the Phoenix return to action against the National Premier Leagues (NPL) Victoria side in Melbourne.

Talay has welcomed the short turnaround since the 4-0 loss to the Newcastle Jets.

“I think that it’s great that we’ve got a game tomorrow evening otherwise waiting for the Sydney game on Sunday would have been a very long week to get through,” he told media on the eve of the FFA Cup match.

“The great thing about football is we learn, we continue on and we’ve got a game tomorrow that the players can go out there and redeem themselves.

“I want to see a lot more energy and a lot more intensity from Friday night.”

This is the Phoenix’s third FFA Cup meeting with an NPL side, with their previous two matches ending in pre-season defeats to Bentleigh Greens and Brisbane Strikers.

“With the NPL sides the FFA Cup is a massive tournament. For them it’s a great opportunity for them to showcase themselves…and it’s like a final for them,” Talay said.

“Playing against an A-League side, what a great opportunity to show what they can do.

“So it’s never easy. They’ll be playing like it’s a grand final. It’s their last game if they get knocked out so it’s always going to be a tough challenge.”

Avondale FC were sitting atop the NPL Victoria table in September when the competition was suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but the Avengers have recently lifted silverware.

They won Victoria’s Dockerty Cup knock-out competition for the first time after beating Hume City 1-0 in the final earlier this month.

“Avondale are a good side. They’re a team that’s created of a couple of ex A-League players and also a lot of players who have played in A-League NYL (National Youth League) teams.

“They’ve got a side that’s decent, they try to play football.

“For us again the focus is on how we stop them and what we do with the ball.

“It doesn’t matter who we play we need to match them for energy and intensity and then hopefully the quality shines through with the ball and what we do.”

Ufuk Talay fielded a young side against Western United in the round of 32 last Tuesday, resting a number of front-line players for Friday’s A-League match against the Newcastle Jets.

He says this week’s team “will be a mixture of both”, with their next A-League match not until Sunday.

“Just trying to manage the loads of players. Some players have had a big week so we’ll try and manage those guys but we’ll go with what we believe will win us the game.”

One player who won’t feature is experienced English striker Gary Hooper, who is unavailable for personal reasons.

“Hoops is a very influential player for us, he’s scored a couple of goals for us but it’s one of those things we had to deal with.

“We have players here who have an opportunity to step up.

“Hoops is going to be away for a couple of weeks so this is a game they need to go out and perform so they can play on the Sunday as well.”

The round of 16 FFA Cup between the Wellington Phoenix and Avondale FC is scheduled to kick-off at ABD Stadium in Melbourne at 7:30pm AEDT (9:30pm NZT), with the match broadcast live on 10 Play in Australia and YouTube in New Zealand.

The winner will book a quarter-final meeting with reigning A-League champions Melbourne City.

Wellington Phoenix squad: 3. Matthew BOZINOVSKI, 5. James MCGARRY, 6. Tim PAYNE, 8. Ben OLD, 9. David BALL, 10. Reno PISCOPO, 11. Jaushua SOTIRIO, 12. Luka PRSO, 13. Nicholas PENNINGTON, 14. Alex RUFER (c), 16. Louis FENTON, 17. Callan ELLIOT, 18. Ben WAINE, 19. Sam SUTTON, 20. Oli SAIL (gk), 21. Joshua LAWS, 23. Clayton LEWIS, 31. Kurtis MOGG, 32. George OTT, 33. Finn SURMAN, 34. Jackson MANUEL, 40. Alex PAULSEN (gk), 43. Oskar VAN HATTUM, 88. Gary HOOPER
Unavailable: 88. Gary HOOPER (personal reasons)