Sunday 17 December 2017 / 03:09 PM

NIX CONFIDENT AHEAD OF SYDNEY ASSIGNMENT

Fresh off collapsing to their worst defeat since October last year, the Wellington Phoenix are determined to recover positively in time for Thursday night’s clash against the unbeaten Sydney FC.

The Phoenix admitted they were exposed badly from a tactical point of view in the last-up 3-1 defeat to the Western Sydney Wanderers, conceding over two goals for the first time in 14 games.

But coach Des Buckingham challenged his troops to turn it around ahead of a tough three-game stretch which will see them play the A-League’s three top sides consecutively.

“[The Western Sydney game] is the first time in the nine games that (co-coach Chris Greenacre) and I have been in charge where we just didn’t perform,” Buckingham said.

“Sydney changed their game plan and came with the counterattack at us, rather than the more possession-based game that they have been playing, and it caught us off-guard a little bit.

“We weren’t set up for it and we paid the price for it.

“I think it’s important we get a reaction [against Sydney FC]…they [the players] recognise the fact that we didn’t turn up.

“I think if we are serious contenders for the play-offs and finishing in that top six then we have got to play the better teams, and the ladder suggests [Wellington’s next three opponents] are the better teams for this moment and time.

“We will be going to attack Sydney, going for three points, we won’t be there to defend and if we can go there and beat them and end that unbeaten run that will be [testament] of how far we have come.”

The Phoenix went down 1-0 at home in their only other meeting with top-of-the-table Sydney FC this year, while the Sky Blues have been involved in a string of close matches over the past month, including a 0-0 draw with the Brisbane Roar last Friday.

Wellington midfielder Gui Finkler said there was complete confidence and belief within the Phoenix that they have the squad to end Sydney FC’s unbeaten run, and push for spot in the upper half of the table.

“We know it’s going to be a massive game for us away from home…[but] we know we have got the squad to bounce back,” Finkler said.

“I think we have got the players to go there and do the job.

“There’s still nine games to go and 27 points to grab. I think we have to go game by game, Thursday night is the first and if we can grab some points from that game it will be great.”

[YouTube – A-League TV]

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Corey Rosser

One of CBS’s newest contributors, Te Aroha product Corey is the New Zealand correspondent for NRL.com, the editor for the excellent new site Kiwi League Central, and a guru of the local Auckland rugby league scene.

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