IVORY COAST striker Eugene Dadi will start for his new club when the Wellington Phoenix take on Brisbane Roar at Westpac Stadium on Saturday night.
The big striker joined the Phoenix from Hyundai A-League rivals Perth Glory and coach Ricki Herbert had no hesitation naming him in Wellington-s starting line-up for the round 22 match.
“We signed him and brought him here to Wellington to do a job,” Herbert said. “Eugene is a player I believe will admirably fill a gap in our roster and I have no doubt he-s up to the task.”
Herbert-s decision was made easier given Chris Greenacre-s fitness, the British gun recovering from injury and not quite ready to play despite training well with his teammates.
“Chris isn-t quite there. He is looking much better and has made good progress but we don-t want to risk him for one game given he-s so important to us heading into the latter stages of the season.”
Dadi-s inclusion in the starting XI means Adrian Caceres – the star for the Phoenix in their 2-0 win against the Central Coast Mariners in Gosford last week – shifts the sideline on Saturday.
“That was tough call given that he was top-drawer against the Mariners,” Herbert said. “But he-ll still have a big role to play off the bench against Brisbane.”
Along with Dadi, another player with a point to prove is goalkeeper Liam Reddy. Like the Ivorian striker, Reddy was signed by the Phoenix for the remainder of the season, joining Wellington from their rivals for Saturday night-s match, the Roar.
Herbert said both players would need to focus their emotions on the task at hand.
“It must be channelled into a team performance, otherwise it can be counter-productive. Everyone is accountable and everyone must have the motivation to play as well as Eugene and Liam, that-s something we-ve made clear.”
Phoenix captain Andrew Durante said his men were looking forward to returning to Westpac Stadium after a long break away.
“The last time we played at home it was in Palmerston North and that didn-t go the way we planned,” he said of the 1-0 loss to Sydney FC, which ended the Phoenix-s unbeaten home run at 14 matches.
“But we-re primed to be back at Westpac Stadium. We trained there on Friday and the pitch looks great. It-s unbelievable, easily the best in the competition.”
With the surface in pristine condition, Phoenix playmakers such as Paul Ifill and Leo Bertos should get plenty of opportunity to turn the blowtorch on the Roar-s back four.
Given the firepower in the starting team and on the bench, Durante is confident the Phoenix can make it back-to-back wins on Saturday and advance their claims to a top-six playoff spot.
“We had a good result on the Central Coast but we know that, with these next two matches at home, we need to pick up six points. We-re at the business end of the season and we have to be winning at home and picking up points away.”