The Kiwi connection has continued at Wellington Phoenix FC, with New Zealand internationals Steven Old and Glen Moss signing two-year contracts with the new Hyundai A-League club.
Joining them in the latest batch of signings are Australians Steven O’Dor and Vince Lia, who have signed for two years and one year, respectively.
The signings bring to 10 players Phoenix has secured in the past week, following Ross Aloisi, Mark Paston, Tim Brown, Richard Johnson, Michael Ferrante and 17-year-old Wellingtonian Costa Barbarouses.
Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert says the signings this week have shown that quality players are being attracted to the club, with the balance between New Zealand and Australian players evenly split.
Old, a 21-year-old defender, made 10 appearances for Newcastle Jets in last season’s Hyundai A-League. Herbert sees this season with Phoenix as an opportunity for Old to realise the potential he has shown through age-grade and international level on a weekly basis.
“It’s a critical year for Steven,” Herbert said.
“He has cut his teeth slightly with Newcastle but year one at Phoenix will be a big year. There will be an expectation for him to grasp the level of football required.”
For 24-year-old goalkeeper Moss the pressure will also be on to secure the starting spot for Phoenix as he continues his on-field battle with All Whites team-mate Paston.
Having two outstanding goalkeepers will create a happy selection headache for Herbert.
“There will be some interesting selection decisions around that battle,” Herbert said.
“Glen’s involvement in the national team last year [in Europe] showed he had really grown in stature. He will certainly add to the strength of the defence at Phoenix.”
O’Dor, 20, made a huge impression on Herbert while he was caretaker coach at the New Zealand Knights for the club’s final five games last season.
“He’s a talented young defender from Melbourne who I worked with at the Knights and he impressed. He’s a player with an excellent future and has great character.”
Likewise Lia, 22, brings considerable playing talent to Phoenix. Over the past two seasons he made 24 appearances for Melbourne Victory. He was part of the Australia under-20 World Cup team in 2003 and in 2005 when he captained the side. He is in the Australia under-23 Olympic team.
“Vince is a player who has had excellent grounding through the Australian system,” Herbert said.
“He’s played at a prominent club in last season’s champions Melbourne Victory, but here’s a chance now at Phoenix for Vince to be exposed to longer periods of game time.”