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Jan 12, 2024   |  12:29PM AET

ALM Match Preview: Staj and co in determined mood ahead of Unite Round clash with Phoenix

ALM Match Preview: Staj and co in determined mood ahead of Unite Round clash with Phoenix

Head Coach Alen Stajcic has struck a defiant note ahead of Glory’s Isuzu UTE A-League Unite Round clash with Wellington Phoenix at Sydney’s Commbank Stadium on Sunday (kick-off at 4.45pm WST).

View his full pre-match media conference HERE.

The men in purple will make the trip east minus a number of senior players due to injury and suspension and it also appears that the club will be unable to secure any new additions during the current transfer window.

But encouraged by a gutsy performance against Melbourne Victory, Stajcic is backing his charges to remain resilient and keep digging deep as we head towards the second half of the season.

“APL [Australian Professional Leagues] have given us notice that we can’t do any business in January,” he said.

“At the moment, we’re under their control… and we can’t utilise any of the prospects we were looking at and any of the finances that we may have saved have disappeared.

“It is what it is.

“We knew what we were coming into [as a coaching staff], but the receivers and APL have reneged a little bit on the assurances that we were given about a month ago and that’s just a summary of where we’re at at the moment.

“So it’s something we’ve got to deal with and ultimately it doesn’t affect how we play.

“It’s disappointing, it makes it tougher… but I’m even more determined now.

“Probably the most pleasing thing about last week was that so many players stepped up and filled the void of other people.

“The way that we played and the spirit and heart and culture of the group was the best I’ve seen.

“That’s our foundation and moving forward, I’m really confident that we can fill in gaps which might present on or off the pitch.”

Among those missing for Glory this weekend will be co-captain Mark Beevers, whom Stajcic confirmed could be sidelined for six weeks by a knee injury, while Bruce Kamau will serve a one-match suspension having seen red against Victory and Darryl Lachman’s groin strain may also rule him out.

Midfielder Oliver Bozanic will not be available either following the completion of his loan spell from Western Sydney Wanderers.

But Stajcic believes that those absences can be covered by other members of the squad.

“One door closes and another one opens in sport; that’s the old cliche,” he said.

“So there are lots of opportunities.

“We saw Maj [Kaelan Majekodunmi] come on and do well last week and there are other players here in our squad who have been training the whole time.

“Last week… regardless of who came in ,we kept up a good level against the best team in the competition and that was probably the most heartbreaking part of the result; that we actually did well and the players that came in did a great job.

“Other leaders are going to have to step up in the group.

“We brought Oli [Bozanic] in not only for his football, but also for his leadership and at this point we’re going to have to fill that void.

“I guess again, that was probably the most pleasing thing about last week; so many players stepped up and filled the void of other people.

“The way that we played and the spirit and heart and culture of the group was the best I’ve seen.

“That’s our foundation and moving forward, I’m really confident that we can fill in gaps which might present on or off the pitch.”

The Head Coach went on to acknowledge that further improvement will be required to get the better of a Wellington side currently riding high in second spot having secured six wins thus far this term.

“Our defensive shape and principles haven’t been great this year,” he said.

“They’re in place and everyone knows what they, but for us to be conceding two or three goals a game is way too many.

“In the last three-and-a-half games, we’ve scored nine goals which should be enough to win those matches, so we certainly have to tighten up in that area regardless of what minute of the game the goal goes in.

“Against Victory, to be honest, we didn’t concede that many chances.

“Even with ten men for half of it, they only had maybe four or five chances in the whole match.

“The week before, when Mariners had 15 or 20, that was a real worry.

“So that’s why I was pleased with the improvement last week, even though the result ended up going against us.

“They [Wellington] have been excellent this year.

“They were top of the table for a minute last weekend until [Melbourne] Victory’s late goal.

“The young boy in goal [Alex Paulsen] has had probably the best season any goalkeeper has had up until this point.

“They are getting just enough goals in each game to get over the line and have done really well with the squad they’ve got.

“Full credit to everyone there; the staff and the players.”

Sunday’s fixture will mark the 51st ALM Distance Derby clash and the overall record could not be any more even, with both sides having won 20 times and scored 70 goals apiece in the process.

Glory’s most recent victory over Phoenix actually came at CommBank Stadium in August 2020 when Joel Chianese bagged the only goal of an Elimination Final.

This season, Wellington have lost just once on their travels and fought out a 2-2 draw at Adelaide United in their most recent outing.

Among their key performers have been Kosta Barbarouses, who has scored six goals and added three assists, Alex Rufer, who has won a league-high 32 tackles and Paulsen, whose save percentage of 80.4 is the best in the competition.

Match Details

Isuzu UTE A-League 2023/24 Season Unite Round (12)

Perth Glory v Wellington Phoenix

Commbank Stadium, Sydney


Sunday 14 January 2024

Kick-off: 4:45pm WST (7:45pm Local)

Perth Glory Squad: 1. Oli SAIL (GK), 2. Johnny KOUTROUMBIS, 3. Jacob MUIR, 7. Stefan COLAKOVSKI, 8. Mustafa AMINI, 9. David WILLIAMS, 10. Salim KHELIFI, 12. Luke IVANOVIC, 13. Cameron COOK (GK), 14. Riley WARLAND, 15. Aleksandar SUSNJAR, 17. Jarrod CARLUCCIO, 19. Trent OSTLER, 20. Giordano COLLI, 22. Adam TAGGART (co-c), 23. Daniel BENNIE, 24. Oliver BOZANIC, 27. Jayden GORMAN, 28. Kaelan MAJEKODUNMI, 34. Andriano LEBIB

Two to be omitted

In:
 15. Aleksandar SUSNJAR, 19. Trent OSTLER, 27. Jayden GORMAN, 34. Andriano LEBIB

Out: 77. Bruce KAMAU, 29. Darryl LACHMAN

Unavailable: 5. Mark BEEVERS (co-c) (injured), 11. Adam ZIMARINO (injured), 21. Antonis MARTIS (injured), 29. Darryl LACHMAN (injured), 77. Bruce KAMAU (suspended)

Wellington Phoenix men’s squad: 3. Finn SURMAN, 4. Scott WOOTTON, 5. Fin CONCHIE, 6. Tim PAYNE, 7. Kosta BARBAROUSES, 8. Ben OLD, 10. David BALL, 11. Bozhidar KRAEV, 12. Mo AL-TAAY, 14. Alex RUFER (c), 15. Nicholas PENNINGTON, 18. Lukas KELLY-HEALD, 19. Sam SUTTON, 23. Luke SUPYK, 24. Oskar VAN HATTUM, 25. Jack DUNCAN (GK), 26. Isaac HUGHES, 30. Alby KELLY-HEALD (GK), 40. Alex PAULSEN (GK), 43. Matt SHERIDAN

Two to be omitted

In: Nil

Out: 
Nil

Unavailable: 9. Oskar ZAWADA (injured)

(picture courtesy of Mark Francesca)

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