Turning right when walking through the players entrance at Westpac Stadium may sound inconsequential, but for Phoenix striker Kosta Barbarouses it has major significance.
Sunday night against Sydney FC will be the first time in six years that the born and bred Wellingtonian can turn right and walk into the home dressing room. By doing so he’ll finally feel like he’s genuinely returned home.
“It always felt weird turning left at the stadium as opposed to right, so I’m looking forward to it and hopefully we have a good turnout tomorrow as well,” Barbarouses said.
He is one of five players that will get to make their 2016/2017 home Hyundai A-League debuts after being away with the All Whites in round one.
Against the league’s top side after two rounds, those reinforcements are set play a critical role.
“The 4-0’s [Sydney’s first two results] from the outside looking in, they’re big results, but they’re still very beatable in my eyes and I think with what we’ve got and if we execute what we’re trying to do we can hurt them,” Barbarouses added.
Head Coach Ernie Merrick was also pleased to have his full squad back for the first time since the start of October and is looking forward to facing the Sky Blues.
“The preparation is the key to the this I think. We’ve had all the players together for the first time in a long time and we’ve prepared properly and we’re ready to go,” Merrick said.
“We’re doing a lot of things right. We’re controlling a lot of the ball, we’re getting into that front third, we’re getting into the box and the goals will come because of the quality of the players that we have.
“They [Sydney FC] have to be in the top four and they have to play open football to get in there and that’s why we can really measure ourselves against a team like that and play the type of football that we want to play.”
Playing the attacking football encouraged by his boss is also of importance for Barbarouses and he feels the team is ripe to entertain the home fans with goals on Sunday.
“I think we’ve been a little bit unlucky the last couple of weeks so they’ll come. It’s not like we’re not performing, I think in patches we are and we just need to find those 70, 80, 90 minute performances and the goals will come from that,” the striker said.
Sunday, 23 October 2016
Wellington Phoenix v Sydney FC
Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Tickets: To purchase your match day tickets, click here
TV Broadcast: Live coverage on Sky Sport 2
Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #WELvSYD
Wellington Phoenix squad: 1.Glen MOSS (gk), 2.Jacob TRATT, 4.Roly BONEVACIA, 5.Ryan LOWRY, 7.Gui FINKLER, 9.Kosta BARBAROUSES, 10.Michael MCGLINCHEY, 11.Hamish WATSON, 12.Adam PARKHOUSE, 13.Marco ROSSI, 14.Alex RUFER, 16.Louis FENTON, 17.Vince LIA, 19.Tom DOYLE, 20.Lewis ITALIANO (gk), 21.Roy KRISHNA, 22.Andrew DURANTE (c), 23.Matthew RIDENTON