Title favourites Melbourne City will provide a stern test for Phoenix whose depth will be tested on Saturday in Wellington.
Saturday 8 October 2016
Wellington Phoenix v Melbourne City FC
Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Kick-Off: 7:35PM (Local) (5:35PM (AEDT))
Referee: Peter Green
Assistant Referee 1: Glen Lochrie
Assistant Referee 2: Simon Lount
Fourth Official: Matthew Conger
TV Broadcast: Live coverage on Fox Sports 505 from 5.00pm (AEDT), and Sky Sport (New Zealand)
Radio Broadcast: 774 ABC Melbourne & ABC Local Radio Vic, Grandstand Digital, Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live.
Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #WELvMCY
To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au
Wellington Phoenix squad: 1.Glen MOSS (gk), 2.Jacob TRATT, 4.Roly BONEVACIA, 5.Ryan LOWRY, 6.Dylan FOX, 7.Gui FINKLER, 8.Alex RODRIGUEZ, 11.Hamish WATSON, 12.Adam PARKHOUSE, 13.Marco ROSSI, 14.Alex RUFER, 17.Vince LIA (c), 20.Lewis ITALIANO (gk), 21.Roy KRISHNA, 24.Logan ROGERSON, 26.Jack-Henry SINCLAIR
Unavailable: 9.Kosta BARBAROUSES (international duty – 1 week), 10.Michael McGLINCHEY (international duty – 1 week), 16.Louis FENTON (international duty – 1 week), 22.Andrew DURANTE (international duty – 1 week), 23.Matthew RIDENTON (knee – 2-3 weeks)
Melbourne City FC squad: 1.Thomas SORENSEN (gk), 2.Manny MUSCAT, 3.Josh ROSE, 4.Connor CHAPMAN, 6.Osama MALIK, 8.Neil KILKENNY, 9.Nicolas COLAZO, 10.Anthony CACERES, 11.Bruce KAMAU, 12.Nick FITZGERALD, 14.Daniel ARZANI, 18.Paulo RETRE, 20.Dean BOUZANIS (gk), 21.Ruon TONGYIK, 22.Michael JAKOBSEN, 23.Bruno FORNAROLI, 26.Luke BRATTAN, 27.Fernando BRANDAN
**two to be omitted**
Unavailable: 7.Corey GAMEIRO (ACL – season), 17.Tim CAHILL (international duty – 1 week), 28.Steve KUZMANOVSKI (international duty – 4 weeks)
Phoenix will be without a number of players on All Whites international duty while for City, their marquee man and Socceroo Tim Cahill is also with his national team.
But still, there's Bruno Fornaroli for City and their new Argentines Nicolas Colazo and Fernando Brandan, as well as Neil Kilkenny and Michael Jackobson - it's a stellar line up for the visitors and a great example of their depth this season.
The hosts will rely on Brazilian and a Fijian for much of their attacking thrust with Gui Finkler without his cohort and All White Kosta Barbarouses.
But Fijian Roy Krishna is a handy and pacy striker to work off.
Down back, new Italian signing Marco Rossi will shoulder greater responsibility without skipper Andrew Durante alongside him.
These two sides had contrasting campaigns last season but enter 2016/17 with renewed optimism.
Experienced coaches, beefed-up squads and plenty of firepower means both could do big things in the competition. But which one will get off to a winning start at the Cake Tin?
ROUTE TO GOAL
Expect goals in this match with both squads packed with talent and an attacking mindset.
The absence of Barbarouses and McGlinchey on international duty robs Phoenix of a speedy winger and playmaker from midfield. But there is still plenty to like about the options at Ernie Merrick’s disposal.
Fresh from representing Fiji at the Olympics, Krishna is raring to go, while Gui Finkler’s creativity and set-piece ability can cause City problems.
Big striker Hamish Watson has trimmed down and gained a yard of pace and offers a different outlet with his size and aerial ability.
And don’t forget the powerful running and long-range striking ability of Roly Bonevacia if given space within 30 yards of goal.
City’s scoring threats need no introduction. South American duo Bruno Fornaroli and Nicolas Colazo will shoulder much of the burden, especially in the absence of Cahill.
JVS’s troops scored a league-high 66 goals last season and won’t change their attack-at-all costs approach.
Luke Brattan’s passing from midfield and delivery from corners and free-kicks gives them a great platform to build from, too.
WHO'S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK?
Vince Lia. He reckons Phoenix's front five are unstoppable.
City has enjoyed a great run in the Westfield FFA Cup with wins over Floreat Athena, Brisbane Strikers and Western Sydney Wanderers on the way to the semi-finals.
Phoenix have had a terrific winning run in their pre-season games after losing to Wanderers in the opening round of the Cup.
Wellington Phoenix 1-2 Melbourne City