The Wellington Phoenix are eager to test themselves against defending champs Sydney FC tonight, as they look to move up the A-League ladder and into a coveted top six spot.
GALLERY: Training Preparations for #SYDvWEL
Both teams come into this match fresh off of solid away wins in the previous round; Sydney FC taming the Macarthur Bulls 3-0 at Campbelltown Stadium and the Phoenix taking down top placed Central Coast Mariners 2-1 – with a pair of stunning goals by Ulises Dávila and Jaushua Sotirio sealing an important win.
The Phoenix have been awaiting a re-match with Sydney since early January, when their opponents came away with a 2-1 win in their first encounter – despite the Nix thoroughly dominating the second half of the match.
That game was won by a pair of improbable long-range strikes from Sydney’s Calem Nieuwenhof and Luke Brattan, but it was a contentious match for two reasons – Mirza Muratovic’s first-half equaliser going unseen by TV audiences due to a ‘technical glitch’, and a goal at the 93 minute mark by Ulises Dávila being disallowed after a dubious offside ruling.
This re-match will see the Phoenix field a more dangerous side against Sydney, with Reno Piscopo in line to make his first appearance of the season and Dávila and Tomer Hemed now approaching full match fitness; both came off the bench in their first encounter against Sydney.
The continued rapport between Dávila, Hemed and David Ball is also vital for the team’s continued success; Dávila and Hemed demonstrating their partnership potential against Central Coast Mariners with the latter’s flashy back-heel assist to Dávila an absolute delight.
The team has also seen steady improvement from its starters over the past four matches. Alex Rufer – man of the match versus the Mariners – has proven to be a key cog in the Phoenix midfield and Stefan Marinovic’s outstanding efforts in goal versus Central Coast saw him rewarded with a place in the A-League Team of the Week.
But the loss of Jaushua Sotirio will hurt the Phoenix as his speed and attacking ability gives the team a weapon that can win games, as evidenced against Central Coast with his match winner.
Meanwhile Sydney FC sit in 6th place on the ladder (2W, 1D, 1L) after four matches this season, with their sole loss coming against top of the table Central Coast Mariners.
The defending champs will rely on the attacking threats of Milos Ninkovic, Trent Buhagiar and Kosta Barbarouses, with youngster Patrick Wood also a scoring option after netting a brace against Macarthur in the previous round.
Andrew Redmayne continues to be an imposing presence in goal; he and defender Rhyan Grant two major reasons why Sydney FC have only allowed in four goals in four matches.
Sydney FC coach Steve Corica has also hinted that tonight could mark the first appearance this season for Bobô, a local fan favourite and owner of several records – including leading the A-League in goals per game average (0.737), and scoring a club-record 27 goals for Sydney in the 2017/18 season.
The Wellington Phoenix takes on Sydney FC tonight at Nestrata Jubilee Stadium from 7.10pm AEDT (9.10pm NZ Time).
Did You Know?
- Alex Rufer has a passing accuracy of 92% from his 175 attempts this A-League season, the highest of any player to have attempted at least 100 passes.
- Wellington Phoenix have made nine total shots from outside the box per game this A-League season, the most of any team in the competition.
- Sydney FC have won only one of their last five A-League games at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium (1D, 3L) and have been defeated in each of their last two game at this venue.
At a Glance:
Date: Monday, 8 February 2021
Kick-off: 7.10pm AEDT / 9.10pm NZ Time
Venue: Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, Kogarah
Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 7:00pm (AEDT), Sky Sport 7 (New Zealand) and Kayo Sports (www.kayosports.com.au)
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Wellington Phoenix squad: 1.Stefan MARINOVIC (gk), 2.Liam McGING, 3.Luke DEVERE, 4.Te Atawhai HUDSON-WIHONGI, 5.James MCGARRY, 6.Tim PAYNE, 7.Reno PISCOPO, 8.Cameron DEVLIN, 9.David BALL, 10.Ulises DAVILA, 12.Matthew RIDENTON, 14.Alex RUFER, 15.Mirza MURATOVIC, 16.Louis FENTON, 17.Tomer HEMED, 18.Ben WAINE, 19.Sam SUTTON, 20.Oliver SAIL, 21.Joshua LAWS, 23.Clayton LEWIS
**2-3 to be omitted**
Ins: 2.Liam McGING (promoted), 7.Reno PISCOPO (return from injury), 19.Sam SUTTON (promoted)
Outs: 11.Jaushua SOTIRIO (knee injury, 5-6 weeks)
Sydney FC squad: 1.Andrew REDMAYNE (gk), 3.Ben WARLAND, 4.Alex WILKINSON (c), 5.Alex BAUMJOHANN, 6.Ryan McGOWAN, 8.Paulo RETRE, 9.BOBÔ, 10.Milos NINKOVIC, 11.Kosta BARBAROUSES, 12.Trent BUHAGIAR, 16.Joel KING, 17.Anthony CACERES, 19.Chris ZUVELA, 20.Tom HEWARD-BELLE (gk), 23.Rhyan GRANT, 25. Callum TALBOT, 26.Luke BRATTAN, 27.Jordan SWIBEL, 28.Calem NIEUWENHOF, 33.Pat WOOD
**2-4 to be omitted**
Ins: 9. BOBÔ (promoted), 19. Chris ZUVELA (promoted)
Unavailable: 7.Michael ZULLO (calf – 1 weeks), 21.Harry VAN der SAAG (ankle – 1 week), 30.Adam PAVLESIC (gk) (indefinite – collarbone)