Newcastle Jets skipper Nigel Boogaard believes it would be foolish to underestimate a wounded Wellington Phoenix when the two teams meet at Westpac Stadium in New Zealand at the weekend.
The Jets will venture to the land of the long white cloud later this week for a Hyundai A-League 2016/17 Round 5 meeting with the ‘Nix at the ‘Cake Tin’ on Saturday afternoon (AEDT) on the back of their first defeat of the season against the table-topping Sydney FC last weekend.
Melbourne Victory hit the Phoenix for six on Monday night, scoring four times in the second half to silence the Kiwi’s 6-1 at Etihad Stadium, but Boogaard says Ernie Merrick’s side have the respect of everyone in and around the league despite their perceived slow start to the new campaign.
“They (Wellington Phoenix) are always a tough side to beat at home and off the back of what happened (against Melbourne Victory) I am sure that they will be up for it,” Boogaard told local media following training on Tuesday.
“I watched the game and I think Wellington were quite good. There were a few opportunities there that hurt them and a send-off always changes the game, but they will be vastly different at home.”
“If you watch all their games you will see that they are quite dangerous and they have got some weapons. Unfortunately (for them) they just haven’t been able to hit the back of the net, but I am sure that when that happens it will start to flow for them.”
“We won’t read too much into their past form because they have got quality all over the park,” Boogaard explained.
Newcastle managed a clean-sweep of results against Wellington last season, claiming two wins at McDonald Jones Stadium plus a 2-1 win across the ditch in round 1.
The Jets’ skipper said on Tuesday that there is a “lot of room for improvement” for his team following the round 4 loss to Sydney, but backed the Club’s senior players to lead from the front on Saturday.
“There is a lot of experience within our side and there is also a lot of youth,” Boogaard said. “That youth will feed off the older boys and us stepping up and making sure that we are setting the benchmark and really dragging them along.”
“We (the senior players) really need to step up and set the benchmark higher and hopefully this weekend against Wellington that will start.”
In a potential boost for Newcastle Jets this weekend, flying winger Andrew Nabbout completed sections of Tuesday’s training session at Ray Watt Oval at the University of Newcastle.
Boogaard said that the former Victory and Negeri Sembilan speedster would be a welcome addition to the travelling squad if he is declared fit to venture to New Zealand by the Club’s medical department and coaching staff.
“He (Nabbout) is always champing at the bit to play,” Boogaard said of Newcastle’s mercurial number 15. “He is always energetic and very vocal so hopefully he is fit and raring to go for the weekend because he is a great addition and adds that paces and power that we need in those wide areas.”