Phoenix must move on, striker says

Wellington Phoenix‘s marquee striker Gary Hooper says the team have to forget the controversy around last week‘s A-League loss to Melbourne City, and refocus for Sunday‘s must-win match against the Victory.

Wellington Phoenix‘s marquee striker Gary Hooper says the team have to forget the controversy around last week‘s A-League loss to Melbourne City, and refocus for Sunday‘s must-win match against the Victory.

Gary Hooper Photo: Photosport

Wellington have no points from their first four matches but have been competitive, scoring in all but one game. They were also unlucky, left fuming after a penalty was awarded against them in their 3-2 loss at Melbourne City.

Hooper, who scored a goal to give Wellington an early lead, said the handball decision against defender Louis Fenton was a big mistake.

“It was completely wrong – you can see on normal play it hits his chest, and you can tell by the player‘s reaction. It says it all really.”

However, Hooper said the Phoenix had to look ahead.

“We‘ve got to try and move on from it – we‘ve got a big game on Sunday, probably the biggest game of the season for us, and one we‘ve got to win.”

Wellington will be without Fenton, who dislocated his shoulder against Melbourne City, and coach Ufuk Talay has confirmed midfielder Tim Payne will be replacing the right back, although Fenton‘s injury was not as serious as first thought.

And despite the Phoenix‘s slow start to the season, Talay said he was confident the team wasn‘t far off their first win.

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“I believe that we‘re going in the right direction, just getting that three points is the most important thing,” he said.

“The boys are still positive, they still have the belief and I think this week is a game where players need to start to be accountable as well.”

Victory coach Marco Kurz says his side won‘t be complacent against Wellington at AAMI Park in Melbourne tomorrow.

Kurz, whose Victory side have only taken four points from their opening month, said his team would need to be switched on for a full 90 minutes to secure a win.

“Be careful with Phoenix because they played well. They didn‘t reach the result of what they expected but they didn‘t play too bad – they were the better team against Sydney FC – we watched,” Kurz said.

“But we believe if we perform in a good way for 90 minutes, the full time, then I think we will have a good chance to win.

“But we have to perform – that‘s very important.”

Kurz said the Phoenix had adopted a similar attacking style to Sydney FC, where Talay was assistant coach to Steve Corica last year.

“They changed completely their playing style from the last season – that means two wingers play more as the 10s; that means they have a lot of players in the offensive in front of our back-four line.

“They are well organised, they looked fit and they had a couple of good moments and chances in the last game but they didn‘t finish with enough goals. That‘s it.”

– AAP/RNZ

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