To celebrate 10 years of the sister city relationship between Beijing and Wellington, the Phoenix will contest the inaugural Capital Cup on Wednesday night.
The millionaires of Manchester United and Manchester City may have pulled out of their commitments in Beijing but the Wellington Phoenix are made of sterner stuff and will play Beijing BG in the Capital Cup this evening.
The game, to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the twin sister relationship between the two capitals, is being eagerly anticipated by the Phoenix players and staff.
Coach Ernie Merrick said the match gave his team a much-needed hit out against tough opposition in the type of hot, humid conditions that they will encounter in the A-League.
“It is our first major game of our pre-season programme after three successful outings against local teams,” Merrick said.
“Those local teams put us under some pressure and now we are playing away from home against a team that is two-thirds of their season and are very fit and well organised.
“I expect them to give us a very tough match which is what we need.”
Merrick has brought some young players to China’s capital and they will be getting some game time.
“We have four youngsters with us who are all potential New Zealand under-20 squad members – Jack-Henry Sinclair, James McGarry, Sarpreet Singh and Logan Rogerson – and they will all get a run.
“It is a great opportunity for them to get game time in intense conditions.
“Our back up goalkeeper, Oliver Sail, will start the game because of a minor back injury to first choice keeper Glen Moss.
“A crowd of around 20,000 is expected so it will be the first time that these youngsters have experienced something like that.
“It is all very well to play 11 v 11 in training or against local teams but this is the real thing.
“I would like to thank Beijing for inviting us and looking after us so well.
“They had a welcome dinner which was terrific and the accommodation they have provided is first class.”