Saturday’s RIVALS


This is what our opponents are saying in the build-up to Saturday’s cut-throat, semi-final at nib Stadium.

This is what our opponents are saying in the build-up to Saturday’s cut-throat, semi-final at nib Stadium.

Only time will tell, but Wellington Phoenix head coach Ricki Herbert feels he is giving his team the best preparation he can for Saturday-s Hyundai A-League elimination final against Perth Glory.

Making the longest journey in world club football is always a tricky business at the best of times, but with so much at stake on this occasion Herbert put his thinking cap on as soon as the final whistle signalled the Phoenix 3-2 win over Sydney FC last Friday.

He decided to break the journey up with two days and two training sessions in Sydney before flying to Perth on Friday.

Yesterday on the near-perfect playing surface at Sydney Grammar School the way the Phoenix players trained gave the first indication Herbert has got his planning right.

As he watched his players give everything to the training session he was in a positive mood.

“I can-t guarantee success but I believe we have given it our best shot,” Herbert said.

“We-ve been to Perth a number of times and done a number of different things and it hasn-t always worked.

“I just felt that given the length of time between the games, and the fact that we are coming off the Sydney game which drained the players both physically mentally, we had to try something different.

“We could have stayed home and trained more there, or gone to Perth early and had a few sessions there.

“I think we hit the middle ground with what we elected to do.

“I wanted to train at a reasonable tempo today and I-m not sure that would have been possible had we gone straight to Perth.

“The boys really worked hard this morning, and now they can have a good recovery and get the benefits of the massage therapists we brought in during the afternoon.

“We will then back off training a little tomorrow and travel to Perth comfortable having done everything we felt we needed to do.

“It wasn-t the reaction that pleased me today, more the ability of the players to
work at that tempo. That was important.

“The fact that it was 27 degrees also helped as that might be around the temperature in Perth.”

There are no major injury worries in the Phoenix camp with only stoic defender Ben Sigmund not taking a full part in training.

Herbert said that was purely a precautionary measure with Sigmund having a “minor groin niggle”.