Wellington Phoenix’s new era under Mark Rudan takes centre stage on Sunday, as the New Zealanders prepare to host Newcastle Jets at 3.00pm (AEDT).
Talks of a clean slate and a new attitude have bolstered belief around the New Zealand capital ahead of Hyundai A-League season 2018/19 kick off.
But Rudan’s side are out to prove they’re a genuine force with a statement win against last season’s Grand Finalists.
The high-flying Jets will be looking to pick up where they left off under Ernie Merrick, who spent three years at the helm of Phoenix before taking the reins at Newcastle in 2017.
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KEY OPTA STATS
- Wellington has won 11 of their last 14 games against Newcastle Jets at Westpac Stadium, including their last two across which they’ve outscored the Hunter club 70.
- Only once in Hyundai A-League history have Wellington opened their campaign with a victory (D5, L5), defeating Sydney FC 2-0 to open the 2012/13 season.
- The Jets have lost only one of their last seven games played away from home (W3, D3), and there have been 17 goals scored in their last two games on the road.
THEY SAID IT
"It's not going to be an easy season for us, a lot of people have written us off already, but that's just motivation for us to prove everyone wrong." - Phoenix attacker David Williams
"We’ve moved on [from last season's Grand Final loss] and we’ve just got to put ourselves in the position first to make finals and then anything can happen. Of course, it’s disappointing [not to have won the Grand Final] but you know, if anyone’s going to argue that that was a poor year, that would be pretty harsh." - Jets defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley
INS AND OUTS
Wellington Phoenix squad: 1. Filip KURTO (gk), 4.Mandi 5.Ryan LOWRY, 6.Dylan FOX, 8.Mitch NICHOLS, 9. Nathan BURNS, 10. David WILLIAMS, 13. Liberato CACACE, 14. Alex RUFER, 15. Michal KOPCZYNSKI, 16. Louis FENTON, 18.Sarpreet SINGH, 19.Tom DOYLE, 20.Oliver SAIL (gk), 21.Roy KRISHNA, 22. Andrew DURANTE (c), 23. Max BURGESS, 27. Steven TAYLOR **two to be omitted**
Newcastle Jets squad: 1.Glen MOSS (gk), 3.Jason HOFFMAN, 4.Nigel BOOGAARD (c), 5.Ben KANTAROVSKI, 6.Steven UGARKOVIC, 7.Dimi PETRATOS, 8.Jair, 10.Ronald VARGAS, 11.Mitch AUSTIN, 13.Ivan VUJICA, 14.Kaine SHEPPARD, 16.Nick COWBURN, 17.Daniel GEORGIEVSKI, 20.Lewis ITALIANO (gk), 22.Lachlan JACKSON, 23.Matthew RIDENTON, 28.Patrick LANGLOIS, 44.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY **two to be omitted**
Unavailable: 9.Roy O’DONOVAN (suspension – 8 rounds), 18.Johnny KOUTROUMBIS (illness – TBC), 24.Joe CHAMPNESS (foot – TBC), 32.Angus THURGATE (international duty)
WATCH ON TV
Tune in to FOX SPORTS 505 to see Wellington host Newcastle, with kick off at 3.00pm (AEDT).
Secure your seat when Wellington welcome Newcastle on Sunday afternoon here.