The Wellington Phoenix take on the Western Sydney Wanderers tonight for the first time this season, as they attempt to pick up their maiden victory at WIN Stadium – and to re-claim the Sister Cities Shield back for Wellington.
Injuries have been a recent concern for the Phoenix, with centre back Luke DeVere requiring knee surgery following an injury he sustained during the Central Coast Mariners clash last Sunday. He joins forwards Tomer Hemed and Jaushua Sotirio on the injury list, while David Ball sits out due to suspension.
But fans will be heartened by the availability of both Cameron Devlin and Joshua Laws for this match - as well as imposing forward Charles Lokoli-Ngoy, who has been named in tonight’s squad following his signing earlier in the week.
Lokoli-Ngoy proved himself a capable goal scorer in the Phoenix pre-season, slotting home three goals for Wellington under the moniker of ‘Triallist’, and he says he can’t wait for a return to A-League action.
“I had a good pre-season with the Nix, and it’s been my goal to get back into the A-League and I really like the way they play,” says Lokoli-Ngoy.
“My goal is to score goals and help them in that department, and to assist the team with whatever they need me to do.”
Ulises Davila’s recent form has also provided a boost for the Nix, with the first-time captain scoring three goals in his last four matches. Davila will again be cheered on by a large contingent of Mexican supporters, who are travelling from Sydney in support of the A-League’s first ever Mexican player.
Meanwhile the fourth-placed Western Sydney Wanderers come into this match on the back of a six-game unbeaten streak; their most recent win coming against Melbourne Victory last Wednesday which saw two late goals to Graham Dorrans and Yeboah.
Dorrans will sit this match out due to suspension, but both Dylan McGowan and Nicolai Muller are returning from injury. And two Wanderers who have caused headaches for the Phoenix in the past – Simon Cox and Daniel Georgievski – will also look to feature heavily in this match.
These two sides squared off three times last season, which the Phoenix emerging winners in two matches; the first a rousing 2-1 win at Eden Park, Auckland in Dec 2019 which saw Davila and Jaushua Sotirio each scoring electrifying goals.
Davila would score again in the re-match a month later - a 2-0 win at Sky Stadium – before falling 1-0 to the Wanderers during the season re-start, thanks to a second half goal by Kwame Yeboah.
Wellington Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay says that despite the depleted squad, the team is confident about picking up the win.
“Last season we were fortunate to not have a lot of injuries and it helped us maintain consistency in the squad.
“At the moment the injuries make things hard, and I could make all the excuses I want around it – but at the end of the day that’s how opportunities are born for some of our players who haven’t been getting game time – it’s an opportunity for them to step up.”
This match also marks the fourth annual Sister Cities Shield fixture between the Western Sydney Wanderers and Wellington Phoenix, with the Wanderers the current Shield holders.
The Sister Cities Shield recognises the Sister Cities relationship between Blacktown City in Western Sydney and Porirua, a city in the Wellington region of New Zealand. The Wanderers will represent Blacktown City – their spiritual home, with the Phoenix representing Porirua.
The Wellington Phoenix square up against the Western Sydney Wanderers tonight at WIN Stadium from 6.10pm AEDT (8.10pm NZ Time).
Did You Know?
- Wellington Phoenix have won their second-most aerial duels per game this A-League season (16.2), second only to Brisbane Roar (18.3).
- Wellington Phoenix’s Ulises Davila has had 17 shots from outside the box this A-League season, four more than any other player in this campaign.
- The last match between these two teams - in July 2020 - marked the first time in five tries that the Western Sydney Wanderers had not conceded a loss to the Wellington Phoenix.
At a Glance:
Date: Sunday, 21 February 2021
Kick-off: 6.10pm AEDT / 8.10pm NZ Time
Venue: WIN Stadium, Wollongong
Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 5:30pm (AEDT)
Sky Sport 7 (New Zealand)
Kayo Sports (www.kayosports.com.au)
MyFootball Live App, Live Fast and Data Free for Telstra mobile customers
Wellington Phoenix squad: 1.Stefan MARINOVIC (gk), 2.Liam McGING, 4.Te Atawhai HUDSON-WIHONGI, 5.James MCGARRY, 6.Tim PAYNE, 7.Reno PISCOPO, 8.Cameron DEVLIN, 10.Ulises DAVILA, 12.Matthew RIDENTON, 13.Charles LOKOLI-NGOY, 14.Alex RUFER, 15.Mirza MURATOVIC, 16.Louis FENTON, 18.Ben WAINE, 19.Sam SUTTON, 20.Oliver SAIL, 21.Joshua LAWS, 23.Clayton LEWIS
**0-2 to be omitted**
Ins: 8.Cameron DEVLIN (promoted), 13.Charles LOKOLI-NGOY (new signing)
Outs: 3.Luke DEVERE (knee injury, 10-12 weeks), 9.David BALL (suspension, 2 matches)
Unavailable: 11.Jaushua SOTIRIO (knee injury, 4 weeks), 17.Tomer HEMED (hamstring injury, 1-2 weeks)
Western Sydney Wanderers FC squad: 2.Ziggy GORDON, 4.Dylan MCGOWAN (c), 5.Daniel GEORGIEVSKI, 7.Bruce KAMAU, 8.Jordan O’DOHERTY, 9.Bernie IBINI, 10.Simon COX, 11.Kwame YEBOAH, 13.Tate RUSSELL, 14.James TROISI, 17.Keanu BACCUS, 19.Jordon MUTCH, 25.Philip CANCAR, 27.Nicolai MULLER, 29.Daniel WILMERING, 30.Daniel MARGUSH (gk), 33.Mark NATTA, 34.Patrick ZIEGLER, 39.Thomas AQUILINA, 40.Noah JAMES (gk)
**2-4 to be omitted**
Ins: 4.Dylan MCGOWAN (returned from injury), 19.Jordon MUTCH (promoted), 27.Nicolai MULLER (returns from injury), 39.Thomas AQUILINA (promoted)
Outs: 18.Graham DORRANS (suspended – 1 match), 38.Ali AUGLAH (not selected)
Unavailable: 6.Tass MOURDOUKOUTAS (ankle), 20.Vedran JANJETOVIC (long term injury)