Match Preview: “The guys are buzzing to be back playing at home” – Garcia

Richard Garcia at training - Esteban

Richard Garcia is confident that his charges can make the most of home advantage and get the better of Wellington Phoenix in Sunday’s big A-League clash at HBF Park (kick-off at 6.15pm, tickets HERE).


The Phoenix fixture is the first of six at home in the next seven for a Glory side which remains firmly in contention to make a charge for the top six.

And Head Coach Garcia believes that a prolonged period without travel will be a major boost for his players who have spent more than 80 days either on the road or in quarantine since the start of November.

“We’ve got 11 games to go and eight of those are at home,” he said, “so the guys are buzzing to be back and playing in front of a home crowd again.

“There are 33 points available, so it’s just about taking as many of those as possible.

“We always do well at home and although it is a congested period with a lot of games in a short space of time, the boys will really feed off being back in front of our home fans.”

Sunday is set to mark the first time the HBF Park faithful have seen Chris Ikonomidis and Joel Chianese in the flesh since the former returned from 14 months out with a knee injury and the latter re-signed with the club following a spell in the Indian Super League.

And Garcia is understandably thrilled to have such proven attacking performers back in his squad.

“It’s good to have guys that add a bit of pace and direct play to our game,” he said.

“We’re certainly mindful of their bodies and making sure they’re travelling in the right direction and we’ll slowly build them up.

“It would be nice to give them a gradual increase over the next couple of games and then hopefully come the next time we’re back home, they can play a full 90.

“Joel has been here before and knows a lot of the guys and the club and he’s comfortable here.

“We have a good relationship and that sort of helps because he knows what I want straight away.

“Chris has done fantastically after what he’s been through, with his mentality and the way he’s conducted himself.

“I’m very pleased that he’s back out and playing and I’m sure he’ll get stronger and stronger.

“We were so pleased that he managed to get those minutes in away at Newcastle and hopefully he continues along this path and grows.

“He’s a fantastic player and a fantastic talent and someone who adds a lot to the side.”

Garcia went on to report that a number of other key first-teamers are on the cusp of returning to the fray.

“It’s definitely been a squad game this year,” he said.

“You haven’t been able to just have your starting eleven, you’ve had to try and get the best out of everyone which, at times, has proved challenging, but there are players that are coming back to fitness so we’re starting to look a bit bulkier in the squad again, which is great.

“Diego [Castro] is touch and go for the Sunday game and hopefully in the next couple of weeks we’ll have the likes of Diego and Basti [Sebastian Langkamp] back and Dags [Nick D’Agostino] is coming along nicely, so hopefully he’ll be back as well.”

Sunday’s opponents, meanwhile, will head into the game level on points with Glory and Garcia is expecting Ufuk Talay’s men to look to strike on the break as they did so effectively when the sides met back in Round 11.

“They’re quite good going forward and they sit back quite a bit and try to shut up shop a lot of the time,” he said.

“So we’ve got to be patient and make sure we use the pace we’ve got in the side to try and get in behind them and get the goals we need.”

Although Wellington secured a vital, last-gasp win over Western United in their most recent outing, they have traditionally struggled on their trips to Perth, winning just five out of 20 at HBF Park.

Match Details

Sunday, 18 April 2021

Perth Glory v Wellington Phoenix

HBF Park, Perth

Kick-Off: 6:15pm (Local)(8:15pm (AEST))

Referee: Daniel Elder

Assistant Referee 1: Josh Manella

Assistant Referee 2: Arvin Shanmuganathan

Fourth Official: Adam Fielding

VAR: Craig Zetter

Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #PERvWEL

To purchase tickets visit www.a-league.com.au/tickets

Perth Glory squad: 1.Tando VELAPHI (gk), 2.Jason GERIA, 5.Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS, 6.Osama MALIK, 7.Chris IKONOMIDIS, 8.Kosuke OTA, 9.Bruno FORNAROLI, 10.Andy KEOGH, 11.Joel CHIANESE, 15.Brandon WILSON, 17.Diego CASTRO, 19.Callum TIMMINS, 20.Carlo ARMIENTO, 22.Josh RAWLINS, 23.Dane INGHAM, 29.Darryl LACHMAN, 33.Liam REDDY (gk), 37.Riley WARLAND, 38.Ciaran BRAMWELL, 88.Neil KILKENNY

**2-4 to be omitted**

Ins: 6.Osama MALIK (returns from injury), 17.Diego CASTRO (returns from injury), 23.Dane INGHAM (promoted)

Outs: 13.Luke BODNAR (not selected)

Unavailable: 4.Sebastian LANGKAMP (groin 1 week), 18.Nick D’AGOSTINO (hamstring – 1 week), 24.Daniel STYNES (groin – 2-3 weeks)

Wellington Phoenix squad: 1.Stefan MARINOVIC (gk), 5.James MCGARRY, 6.Tim PAYNE,  8.Cameron DEVLIN, 9.David BALL, 10.Ulises DAVILA, 11.Jaushua SOTIRIO, 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, 27.Steven TAYLOR

**0-2 to be omitted**

Ins: Nil

Outs: Nil

Unavailable: 2.Liam McGING (shoulder – 1 week), 3.Luke DEVERE (knee – 4 weeks), 4.Te Atawhai HUDSON-WIHONGI (Achilles – 2 weeks), 7.Reno PISCOPO (injury – 2 weeks), 17.Tomer HEMED (injury – 1 week)