Striker Jiang completes Phoenix roster

WELLINGTON Phoenix have completed their interim squad for the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season with confirmation today of the signing of Chinese under-23 international striker Jiang Chen on a season-long loan deal from Tianjin Teda.

The signing of Jiang takes the Phoenix-s squad to 20 players ahead of their first match of the new season away to the Newcastle Jets on Sunday, leaving the New Zealand-based club with the option of signing an additional three players should it be deemed necessary during the remainder of the campaign.

The Phoenix also have marquee and guest player spots still up their sleeve.

Phoenix chief executive Tony Pignata said that while securing the signature of the talented young striker on loan from Chinese Super League club Tianjin Teda had taken longer than expected, the club was thrilled to have Jiang, 23, onboard.

“Jiang trained and trialled with us during our two-match tour of China and (head coach) Ricki Herbert was impressed with what he saw, so we-re very pleased to have him with us on loan till the end of the season.

“He fitted into the squad well in the short time he was with us and showed what he was capable of. Like many Chinese players he is technically very good and he is also very quick, and those were qualities we were looking for in a player up front.”

The 1.80m, 72kg Jiang joins Kiwi young gun Costa Barbarouses and Britons Paul Ifill and Chris Greenacre as strike options for the Phoenix in 2009/10.

Pignata said the Phoenix had made the decision not to sign the optimum number of 23 players due to issues around the club-s lack of a youth or development team.

“Without a youth team a squad of 20 is probably manageable for now given that the non-playing members of the squad wouldn-t be able to get that additional game-time anyway. It also leaves us some scope down the track in the event we need to bolster any particular aspects of the squad.

“As it stands we-re happy with the balance of the squad and we-re looking forward to getting the season under way.”

The signing of Jiang also signals the Phoenix-s intent to foster relationships in Asia.

“The trip to China was successful on many levels, not the least of which was two good pre-season games against very competitive opposition,” said Pignata. “But it was also about building relationships and during the tour we opened doors with Tianjin Teda and in other commercial and political arenas also.

“It-s great for the Phoenix given that we play in a competition that is connected to the Asian confederation.”