Home sweet home for Phoenix

WELLINGTON Phoenix FC will open its second season in the Hyundai A-League with two clashes at home – firing up season 2008/09 against the Queensland Roar at Westpac Stadium on Sunday, August 17, before hosting Melbourne Victory the following Sunday.

WELLINGTON Phoenix FC will open its second season in the Hyundai A-League with two clashes at home - firing up season 2008/09 against the Queensland Roar at Westpac Stadium on Sunday, August 17, before hosting Melbourne Victory the following Sunday.

During the 21-round regular season the Phoenix will play 11 games at the Ring of Fire, with their first clash outside of Wellington coming in round three against Adelaide United on August 30 at Hindmarsh Stadium.

After a week-long Fifa break - one of four Fifa windows during the regular season and finals series - the Phoenix return to Wellington to face the Central Coast Mariners. The Yellow and Navy were the only outfit in the Hyundai A-League the Phoenix failed to grab points against last season, losing both games in Gosford and one at Westpac Stadium. The round four clash with the Mariners also has extra spice, with former Phoenix marquee Ahmad Elrich now on the playing roster for the boys from Bluetongue.

The Phoenix twice host each of Adelaide United, Melbourne Victory, the Central Coast Mariners and 2008 champions the Newcastle Jets.

Eight of the Wellington club-s home games fall on Sundays, with two games set down for Friday nights and one on a Saturday evening.

Phoenix chief executive Tony Pignata requested Football Federation Australia assign the Wellington club a good number of Sunday afternoon games in order to accommodate strong interest from families in Phoenix home games.

“It was an important consideration for us that we make it easier for parents to bring their kids to a Phoenix football game. Sunday afternoons are a perfect opportunity for families to watch the Phoenix at Westpac Stadium and to enjoy the atmosphere.

“But there are two games on a Friday evening and another on a Saturday evening, so there-s something for all supporters.”

Pignata said the FFA had done well to put together a strong draw despite issues such as team travel, time zones, ability of stadia and broadcast interests.

“The FFA have developed a really good draw because no club is spending lengthy periods away from home or, indeed, at home. That allows interest and momentum to be sustained throughout the season, which wasn-t quite the case last year when, for example, we were on the road for three weeks in a row.”

But fans won-t have to wait until August to see the Phoenix in action at the Ring of Fire, with the team hosting the Mariners in round one of the 2008 Pre-Season Cup on July 20.

The Phoenix are drawn in Group B alongside the Mariners, Sydney FC and Queensland Roar and will play only one of three matches at home in the shortened pre-season tournament. Group winners advance directly to a final on August 6 at a venue yet to be decided, with last year-s placing playoff system scrapped.

The club-s planned trip to China is also taking shape, with the team set to take on three Chinese Super League teams during the tour from June 6-16.

Meanwhile, the Phoenix will be releasing membership information in the coming weeks. It is expected that the club-s 2561 existing members will have the opportunity to renew their memberships from June 9, with new members able to sign up from June 23.

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Click here to view Hyundai A-League Draw 2008/09