Tsattalios Ready For Challenge

Niko Tsattalios will make his starting debut for the Wellington Phoenix against Melbourne Victory at Westpac Stadium tomorrow and faces the prospect of having either hardened pro Harry Kewell or talented youngster Marco Rojas running at him.

Niko Tsattalios could be forgiven if he has a disturbed sleep tonight.

The 21-year-old will make his starting debut for the Wellington Phoenix against Melbourne Victory at Westpac Stadium tomorrow and faces the prospect of having either hardened pro Harry Kewell or talented youngster Marco Rojas running at him.

It is a daunting prospect for even an experienced defender but Tsattalios, who made his debut as a sub in the Phoenix- 1-0 loss to Perth last week refuses to be fazed.

“Victory are a quality team full of quality players and that makes it (his debut) all the more exciting,” Tsattalios said after his final training session at the Stadium today.

“I-m sure they (Kewell and Rojas) will swap around and I-ll face both of them, but I-m fit and strong and really looking forward to it.

“The atmosphere will be terrific and I know how intimidating it can be for a visiting team. I came here a couple of times with Sydney FC and the best we managed was a draw.

“This time I-ll have the crowd on my side and hopefully crown my home debut with three points.

“It is a big occasion for me because my family are coming over this weekend.”

Tsattalios gets his chance in the starting line up through Manny Muscat being suspended after receiving two yellow cards in Perth and the Phoenix will miss the hard-tackling defender.

Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert acknowledges Muscat-s absence doesn-t help his team-s cause but, like Tsattalios, is looking forward to the challenge.

“Victory will be keen to kick their season off after a slow start and we have to keep doing what we-ve been doing over the first three games.

“We-ve always had good games against them and I don-t see this being any different.

“We only have 15 fit players available so that made selecting the playing squad easy but it isn-t a situation you want to be in.

“It is a very small squad we are working with and, unlike many teams, we haven-t been in the market for big name players.

“With having new owners I think everyone is trying to settle in and get their feet under the table, stabilise things and build for the 2012-13 season.

“Having said that, week in week out I want performances that reflect the character of the club.

“Over the first four years we have had a few challenges and have met them head on. I want it to be the same this season.”

Wellington Phoenix: Tony Warner, Niko Tsattalios, Ben Sigmund, Andrew Durante (captain), Tony Lochhead, Alex Smith, Tim Brown, Leo Bertos, Daniel, Dani Sanchez, Chris Greenacre. Substitutes: Mark Paston, Nicky Ward, Cameron Lindsay, Brent Griffiths.