Photo Credit: Blake Morgan-Monk
Four states visited. Four flights, covering a combined 7,500 kilometres and 11 hours in the air. Three matches in seven days (again). There’s no way to sugar-coat it; the next eight days for the Wellington Phoenix represents one of their more brutal weeks in the past several seasons.
The Phoenix have flown out from Sydney to Perth this morning - their first trip to Western Australia this season – where they face the Perth Glory at HBF Park tomorrow night, a team they handily beat 3-0 in their last encounter in Wollongong earlier this season.
At the crack of dawn the morning after that match, the squad will board a plane to Melbourne before connecting to another flight to Launceston – the first time ever the Nix have played a match in Tasmania. The team will train in Launceston in preparation for their clash against Western United on Thursday night – who they beat 3-2 last round, in a match that went down to the wire.
Another early morning flight the following day sees the Phoenix return to their adopted home of Wollongong, where they prepare for yet another tough test on the Sunday; this time against Adelaide United who are currently in second on the A-League ladder, in what will be an epic ANZAC Day clash.
Despite the hectic schedule, Wellington Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay says he is looking forward to the challenge and sees it as a good test of character for his squad.
“It’s actually quite exciting to go to another state and play a game to be honest, it’s a long flight to Perth – although not as long as from Wellington – and then we’ve got a long travel to Tasmania to play a game on the Thursday.
“So yeah a bit of travelling for this week.”
Coach Talay admits that the travel schedule has meant the squad has had to deviate from its normal training and recovery session schedules.
“Normally we’d have a [training] session and then we travel, but today we’ll travel first and then do something light when we arrive in Perth.
“And then we’re travelling the Monday straight after to Tasmania, we’ll get in as soon as possible so we can get in a couple of sessions on the ground there.”
Coach Talay says that despite the schedule, this is a season-defining stretch for the Phoenix.
“It’s very important – we’re playing Perth and we’re on the exact same points as them at the moment, I think they’re got one game less, so a very important game for us to get the three points.
“And then we get to play Western United again, which is a big game for us – so we need to win our games if we want to have any chance of making the top six.”
The next three matches for the Wellington Phoenix:
- Sun 18 April vs. Perth Glory, HBF Park in Perth
- Thu 22 April vs. Western United, UTAS Stadium, Launceston
- Sun 25 April vs. Adelaide United, WIN Stadium in Wollongong – tickets available at www.ticketmaster.com.au