The Phoenix File – what we can expect on Sunday


This weekend will, of course, see Glory making one of world football’s longest domestic journeys when they head across to New Zealand to tackle Wellington Phoenix.

And while the Long Distance Derby concept may never quite have taken off, this fixture has certainly produced more than its fair share of drama over the years.

Glory’s first ever Hyundai A-League finals appearance ended in shoot-out heartache against Phoenix in 2010, while two years later, the two sides produced a roller-coaster Elimination Final which Glory eventually won 3-2 after Todd Howarth found the net in extra-time.

And coming right up to date, who could forget Diego Castro’s stunning free-kick that secured the visitors a point in Albany last season?

Remarkably, the WA side have not lost on the other side of the Tasman since February 2013 and will be seeking to climb into the top four by maintaining that impressive run in Sunday’s Round 6 clash.

But what can we expect from the hosts who are still seeking their first victory of the campaign?

One man who knows pretty much everything there is to know about Phoenix and New Zealand football in general is Sky Sport NZ’s Jason Pine, so we decided to catch up with him to get the lowdown on Darije Kalezic’s side.

Perth Glory Online: Thanks very much for your time, Jason.

Results-wise, Phoenix have struggled this season, but what have you made of their performances overall?

Jason Pine: The way they’ve played in parts of pretty much every game, except the Newcastle one, has been quite good.

They looked for all the world like a team that could beat anybody in the first half against Brisbane, but then their performance against Newcastle the other night was one of the most dire I’ve seen from them for the last three or four years.

PGO: Has Head Coach Kalezic managed to impose his style upon the side yet?

JP: There have been times when you could see what Kalezic is trying to do.

They have looked tighter at the back and have been great moving the ball out into midfield.

They pushed Sydney FC hard, were the better team in the first half against Melbourne City and, of course, they raced into that 3-0 half-time lead in the Brisbane game.

We didn’t know what to expect this season given that there’s a new coach in place, in the same way that I don’t think anyone really knew how Adelaide would start under Marco Kurz or City under Warren Joyce.

I think it’s going to take longer than most people thought for it all to come together, but there have been promising signs.

PGO: Which players have provided the most positives so far?

JP: Andrija Kaludjerovic has done well.

He was at Brisbane in 2014-15 and scored five in ten for them, so he has shown that he can score in this league.

He was good against Brisbane and could easily have had a hat-trick in that game.

Goran Paracki, other than that nightmare back pass against the Jets, has been really good. He’s the kind of quality number six we haven’t had since Albert Riera left the club.

And then there’s Dario Vidosic and we all know how good a player he is.

PGO: So what’s your prediction for the game?

JP: Well, at some point Phoenix have to get cracking because they have two points from a possible 15 and it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that they’ll beat Glory.

But it’s one of those games that is really difficult to call and it’s hard to even say what sort of game it will be.

It could be an arm-wrestle, or it could just as easily be open and end-to-end.

So let’s just say any result is possible!