Preparing for tomorrow’s Hyundai A-League clash with Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium Wellington Phoenix captain Andrew Durante admits he is excited about the season ahead, but at the same time cautions about getting carried away after only three games.
Preparing for tomorrow-s Hyundai A-League clash with Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium Wellington Phoenix captain Andrew Durante admits he is excited about the season ahead, but at the same time cautions about getting carried away after only three games.
As the only unbeaten team in the competition, the Phoenix have been attracting attention on the other side of the Tasman where they are written off season after season before a ball has been kicked.
The fact that they are the only team to have made the playoffs in each of the last three seasons augurs well for the future, along with the exciting crop of players head coach Ricki Herbert is unleashing this season.
“We have started well and that has already led to a lot of hype that this will be our best season yet,” Durante said after the team-s final training run.
“I don-t want to get caught up in that sort of hype but I will say everyone at the club is in a confident frame of mind which is great.
“The difference this season is that we have so many options up front.
“Our defence has always been solid but the question always was ‘where are the goals going to come from?"
“We probably looked too much to Paul Ifill in that regard, but I don-t think we have to this season because we have so many attacking options in the likes of (Jeremy) Brockie, Stein (Huysegems), who has already scored a couple, Louis (Fenton) and Benji (Totori).
“Those guys are exciting because they are fast and goal scorers.
“It is fantastic because there is nothing worse as a defender than seeing a tired attacker taken off only to be replaced by someone like Benji or Tyler (Boyd) who can cause them real problems.
“We haven-t had that in previous seasons which makes it exciting. Yes, that is the key word - exciting.”
Durante is also confident that the Phoenix have put their poor away record behind them.
“We are a lot wiser now,” he said. “In my first two seasons here we had a really poor record on the road.
“Last season we improved markedly and we have to carry that on.
“We-ve all been around long enough to realise how tiring travelling is, but we are sick of excuses and don-t intend to be making them this season.”
Durante missed last week-s draw with champions Brisbane Roar and is pleased to be back in the heat of the action.
“I hate missing games but that (illness) really took it out of me and I couldn-t even get to the ground.
“I enjoyed the first 25 minutes on TV but later on there were some tired legs, especially among the All Whites boys who had done a lot of travelling and playing.”
The Phoenix are entering a testing period with four of their next five games away from home, starting with Adelaide tomorrow.
“If we can get three points tomorrow it will set us up for a good season and there is no reason why we can-t,” Durante said.
A likely Phoenix starting line up is: Mark Paston, Leo Bertos, Andrew Durante (captain), Ben Sigmund, Tony Lochhead, Alex Smith, Manny Muscat, Louis Fenton, Stein Huysmegens, Jeremy Brockie, Paul Ifill. Substitutes (from): Glen Moss, Vince Lia, Benji Totori, Ricardo Clarke, Tyler Boyd.