Phoenix eye off big scalp

Phoenix stalwart Leo Bertos said while his side are taking on the league-leading Central Coast Mariners on Saturday, the New Zealanders were still eyeing victory.

Wellington Phoenix stalwart Leo Bertos said while his side are taking on the league-leading Central Coast Mariners on Saturday, the New Zealanders were still eyeing victory.

In their most recent outing, it was a goal on the counter-attack by the Mariners that gave them the win despite a positive performance from the Phoenix.

There was no doubt the Mariners were playing well, were consistent, and deserved to be top of the table, Bertos said, but it was the Phoenix who needed the result and Saturday's game was all about performing well and getting the three points.

"We've got a few games coming up now so it will be good to get some consistent play, it is a busy time of the year over the next few weeks for us," he said.

The loss of the experienced Paul Ifill for the next month was an undoubted blow for the side.

"He's one of the key players who can win games for us and it is unfortunate he is injured for three or four weeks. But it is a case of the opportunity for whoever comes in and takes his place to stake their place.

"We had a big dilemma in the second or third round when seven players were out due to national team duty but the boys who came in stepped up and got the result over Melbourne."

The impact of the club's new academy has helped the situation a lot. The Phoenix, in previous years, had been struggling compared to Australian clubs who had done very well from having back-up players through National Youth League sides

"It's the future and we are in the first year of that process," he said.

Bertos said he had been enjoying his move into a more defensive role with the side. The transition from his midfield role to the back had been 'not too bad'.

It wasn't something he was unfamiliar with having done a similar job in the national side.

Now he has made the adjustment he was getting itchy feet to get forward more and to pick up some goals.

But the key goal was to make the role his own both for the Phoenix and the national side.