Herbert won't take Bleiberg's bait

Wellington Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert has laughed off comments by serial stirrer, and Gold Coast counterpart, Miron Bleiberg that Sunday's clash at Westpac Stadium should be 'irrelevant' to him.

Wellington Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert has laughed off comments by serial stirrer, and Gold Coast counterpart, Miron Bleiberg that Sunday's clash at Westpac Stadium should be 'irrelevant' to him.

Bleiberg fired a cheeky jibe at Herbert earlier in the week when he suggested Herbert, also the All Whites boss, should channel his energies away from table-topping United's trip to Wellington.

New Zealand is potentially 90 minutes away from qualifying for the World Cup for the first time since 1982 when it takes on Bahrain, also at Westpac Stadium, on November 14.

"What's more important, beating us in a league game or making history by going to the World Cup? It's no contest," Bleiberg told the Gold Coast Bulletin.

"If I were Ricki I'd be putting all my energy and intellect into winning the World Cup match, it wouldn't make sense to do otherwise. I wouldn't even be thinking about the Coast game.

"He should let us take the three points because he has bigger things to worry about and plan for. In reality, playing us on Sunday should be irrelevant to him."

Unsurprisingly Herbert, nor the six All Whites players in the Phoenix squad, are taking any notice of those comments.

"Miron's had some typically 'interesting' thoughts around Sunday's game in saying that some of our players won't have their minds on the game," Herbert laughed.

"I find that quite amusing, really. I think, given our extremely dominant performance over on the Gold Coast (a 0-0 draw at Skilled Park in round nine), that he'd be making reflections on his own team - not ours."

"I think Miron might have been suffering from a bit of sunstroke. I said before we went to the Gold Coast that I think they're a vulnerable side and we've seen that.

"I think Perth would be rightly disappointed they didn't get something from the game last week (a 2-1 win to Gold Coast) and prior to that they've looked shaky in other games also."

Herbert insisted Wellington's All Whites connection, as well as their teammates, are firmly focused on Sunday and not looking ahead to one of the biggest days in New Zealand's sporting history.

"If the New Zealand boys' focus was going to be anywhere else it probably would have been that game before the first match against Bahrain (which ended in a goalless draw).

"But we certainly dominated that Hyundai A-League game - it just happened to be against the Gold Coast."

The Phoenix shut down former club favourite Shane Smeltz on that occasion and will be looking to do again this time.

Smeltz has struck 10 times this season - the same as Wellington has managed collectively - and Gold Coast leads the Hyundai A-League on attack with 19 goals.

"They're tough to handle but that's only one dimension of the team," said Herbert.

"The ball's in our court, we need to take the game to them and we need to win. The amount of ball we can restrict them getting in that front third the easier that'll make it for us."