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Western United to host Wellington Phoenix at AAMI Park


Western United coach John Aloisi is preparing his team for an elimination final against Wellington. Picture: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images
Western United coach John Aloisi is preparing his team for an elimination final against Wellington. Picture: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Western United coach John Aloisi is confident his side can reverse its ordinary recent form to contend for the A-League championship.

Having for so long been seemingly set for a least a top-two ladder spot and potentially the premiership, United could only manage one point from a possible nine in is final three games of the regular season to finish in third place.

It means Aloisi men’s campaign could be over as early as Saturday night if they lose to Wellington Phoenix in an elimination final at AAMI Park.

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“We have to focus on us and know that if we play at our best we can beat anyone,” Aloisi said.

And that “anyone” includes the Phoenix, despite Wellington having won both of its A-League matches – including a 4-1 thrashing last month – against United this season, as well as six from eight overall against the Victorian outfit.

“We have to be aware of when we’re attacking that they get bodies behind the ball, but then they can break very quickly,” Aloisi said.

“They don’t necessarily need to dominate a game to be dangerous, so we’re aware of that and we’ve worked on those things and spoken about it.”

United will again without star Italian playmaker Alessandro Diamanti, who won’t play again this season due to a knee problem, while midfielder Steve Lustica and defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley are also sidelined.

“Yes we would love a full squad, but that’s part of the game – you have to deal with certain situations and obstacles,” Aloisi said.

“We’ve dealt with it well all season, and we look forward to whoever is playing going out there and putting on a performance we want.

“Whenever we’ve had players out, other players have stepped in and done their job, they know their roles they know their responsibilities.”

Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay said despite Wellington’s good record against United, finals football was a “different beast”.

“The game can change very quickly in 90 minutes so we just need to be prepared for every circumstance, whatever happens, and that we’re able to deal with it,” Talay said.

“They’re playing in Melbourne and they’re a very experienced side that have had a very good season as well and probably have more players that have played in these types of games previously, so it’s definitely going to be a challenge.”

The Phoenix, who have again been based in NSW this season, have the added incentive of playing one leg of two-legged semi-final in New Zealand, if they beat United.

“The boys will be pretty excited and pretty ecstatic to know that we’ll get another game in Wellington once we get through Western United … but the focus is on getting the result on Saturday,” Talay said.

Brisbane

Marco Monteverde is a Brisbane-based sports reporter for NCA Newswire. He worked in a similar role for The Courier-Mail from 2007 to 2020. During a journalism career of more than 25 years, he has also worked fo… Read more

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