McKain: We’re in it to win it

MAKE no bones about it – Wellington Phoenix will be giving their all in their bid to win tomorrow night’s 2008 Pre-Season Cup final in Wellington.

MAKE no bones about it – Wellington Phoenix will be giving their all in their bid to win tomorrow night-s 2008 Pre-Season Cup final in Wellington.

While the club-s focus remains fixed its Hyundai A-League season opener against the Queensland Roar on August 17, the Phoenix are nevertheless buzzing ahead of tomorrow night-s showdown at Westpac Stadium against the Melbourne Victory in the final of the warm-up competition.

The Phoenix headed off three teams that featured in last season-s Hyundai A-League playoffs en route to tomorrow night-s final. First they defeated the Central Coast Mariners 1-0 at home before grabbing a vital away point with a 1-1 draw against the Queensland Roar. The Phoenix-s right the host the 2008 Pre-Season Cup final came courtesy of a stunning come-from-behind 3-2 win against glamour side Sydney FC in Wollongong last Saturday night.

Defender Jon McKain said the Phoenix-s unbeaten run through the group stage had fired the team up for the clash with the Victory.

“We went into the Pre-Season Cup with an attitude around getting some quality games under our belts. But the further we went we started thinking ‘hang on, we can go somewhere and maybe have a shot at winning this-.

“Now we-re in the final, we want to win it. The feeling in the changeroom and at training is just unbelievable.”

McKain said the Phoenix-s confidence was on a high.

“The belief within the team is there, that-s what is really noticeable. We-ve recruited well this year and we-ve got a good group of boys in. But it-s the belief within the group that-s key – when you-ve got quality players onboard and everyone has faith in themselves and each other then everything else takes care of itself.”

That confidence is certain to continue when the Phoenix begin their Hyundai A-League 2008/09 competition season against the Roar at Westpac Stadium on August 17.

“The first competition game is the important one and there-s still work to do before then. But we-re in a final now and we-re going to try and win it. Hopefully we can take a winning feeling into the first game of the new season.”

McKain has extra incentive to turn in a strong performance at the heart of the Phoenix-s defence tomorrow night. With regular skipper Andrew Durante suspended after picking up two yellow cards in the win against Sydney FC, former Socceroo McKain has been handed the captain-s armband.

“It-s an honour. Obviously it was an unfortunate situation for Andrew last weekend but it-s a big honour for me to lead this club out in a final and in front of our fans – it-s doesn-t get much better than that.”

Tomorrow night-s game will be the first appearance by any New Zealand-based club in any Australasian football competition final.

“For a club that-s been around less than 18 months it-s a pretty significant achievement,” said head coach Ricki Herbert.

“We haven-t changed how we-ve gone about things [in pre-season], we-ve covered all the bases and now we-re in a final. Melbourne are bringing a good side and it-ll be great for our fans to see another match at the Ring of Fire. To have the final at home is unique and that-s very positive for the club.”

In another coup for Phoenix and Victory fans, Sky Sport will broadcast tomorrow night-s match from 7.30pm (NZST) on Sky Sport 2. The broadcast will also go live into Australia on Fox Sports 3 at 5.30pm (AEST).

2008 Pre-Season Cup final
Wellington Phoenix v Melbourne Victory
Wednesday, 6 August 2008
Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Kickoff: 7.40pm NZST (5.40pm AEST)

Wellington Phoenix squad:

1. Mark PASTON (gk), 2. Jeremy CHRISTIE, 4. Jon McKAIN (captain), 5. Karl DODD, 7. Leo BERTOS, 8, Vaughan COVENY, 9. Shane SMELTZ, 10. Michael FERRANTE, 11. DANIEL, 12. Richard JOHNSON, 13. Troy HEARFIELD, 18. Ben SIGMUND, 20. Glen MOSS (gk), 21. Leilei GAO, 25. Manny MUSCAT, 27. Adam KWASNIK * one to be omitted

Melbourne Victory: 1.Michael THEOKLITOS (gk), 3.Michael THWAITE, 4.Steven PACE, 5.Sebastian RYALL, 7.Matthew KEMP, 9.Danny ALLSOPP, 11.NEY FABIANO, 12.Rodrigo VARGAS (Captain), 13.Nathan ELASI, 15.Tom PONDELJAK, 16.Carlos HERNANDEZ, 17.Jose Luis LOPEZ, 19.Evan BERGER, 20.Mitchell LANGERAK (gk), 22.Nick WARD