Football Ferns midfielder Annalie Longo is expected to make her much-awaited first A-League appearance for the Wellington Phoenix in Saturday’s home game against Brisbane Roar.
Phoenix head coach Paul Temple said of his captain, who missed the first two rounds through injury:
“She’s got through training this week really well (and) looked sharp. She’s happy and ready to go so she’ll be involved tomorrow and will be getting some minutes, so that’s exciting.
“Her experience is massive, the calming influence she has but the technical influence as well.
“She’s very good receiving the ball on the turn, playing in those tight areas and being able to unlock teams. That’s her strength.
“She’s going to help any team be better in possession. We’ve started to make some good strides in that space, but having someone like her come in is just going to keep adding to that.
“We’re hoping she’ll have that good influence on the pitch.”
Main photo: 133-cap international Annalie Longo … ready to make her first appearance of the season.
Phoenix enjoy their best start to a season
Two rounds into their 2023-24 Liberty A-League season, the Phoenix women have made their best start in the team’s three-year existence.
The Roar sit level with Perth Glory and Melbourne City atop the table, after wins over the past two champions; Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC.
The Nix are the best of the rest in fourth, the highest the team has ever been.
Temple has tried to not look at the table.
“It’s two games and it doesn’t tell the story yet,” Temple told media. “I think after everyone’s played each other once and we’ve had a full round if we’re in that top four/top six that’d be great.
“But I also think don’t put any limits on it because we all truly believe that with the team we’ve got and the mentality that we’ve got, on our day we can beat anybody.
“So, we’re not going to be scared of anyone. We’re going to go into every game planning to win, thinking we can win, and if we can put in the performances we know that we’re capable of then we can win those games.
“They’ve embraced that mentality, and that belief is really starting to grow within the team. They’re believing in the way we’re playing, they’re believing in each other and obviously, the result last time out has helped enhance that a little bit more.
“If we continue to win games that just gets stronger and stronger.”
Goalkeeper Rylee Foster ruled out
Goalkeeper Rylee Foster has been ruled out of Saturday’s match.
“She’s got a bit of an Achilles strain that she picked up at the end of the game last week. She struggled post-game to move well so she hasn’t been able to train this week,” Temple said.
“It’s not too serious so we’re not thinking it’s going to be a long-term injury or anything.
“She was touch and go whether she could be involved this weekend, but we just felt she wasn’t quite ready as she wasn’t able to get out and fully train this week. Hopefully, she’ll be back out on the training pitch next week.”
Foster’s absence means last season’s no. 1 Brianna Edwards is likely to start in goal, with reserves goalkeeper Aimee Danieli coming on to the bench.
“That was one of the massive reasons for having Rylee and Bri so we could have two number one capable goalkeepers. That’s something not every team in the league has.
“I think we’re privileged to have them both so when we get this situation with an injury to Rylee we’ve got this great replacement that can come in, who’s played in the league and did well last season, and is tried and tested.
“We’ve talked about that strength and depth with two players in every position so to have two good goalkeepers and know that we’ve got that reliability with Bri to come in tomorrow will be huge.”
This is the fourth A-League meeting between the Phoenix and Roar, with last season’s matches both finishing in draws.
Most recent meeting: March 4, 2023 – Wellington Phoenix 1 Brisbane Roar 1
All-time A-League head-to-head: Phoenix 0W, Roar 1W & 2D.
How to watch
The game will be broadcast LIVE and free-to air on Sky Open in New Zealand as well as Sky Sport 7, and on Paramount+ in Australia.
Game to be played on Saturday November 4, 2023
Wellington Phoenix v Brisbane Roar
Sky Stadium, Wellington, 2.45pm (NZT)
Wellington Phoenix (four to be omitted)
2. Zoe MCMEEKEN, 3. Kate TAYLOR, 4. Mackenzie BARRY, 5. Marisa VAN DER MEER, 6. Macey FRASER, 7. Chloe KNOTT, 8. Grace WISNEWSKI, 9. Kelli BROWN, 10. Alyssa WHINHAM, 11. Hope BRESLIN, 12. Brianna EDWARDS (gk), 13. Michaela FOSTER, 14. Michaela ROBERTSON, (c), 16. Annalie LONGO, 17. Mariana SPECKMAIER, 18. Hailey DAVIDSON, 20. Emma MAIN, 21. Manaia ELLIOTT, 22. Aimee DANIELI (gk), 23. Rebecca LAKE.
Unavailable: 1. Rylee FOSTER (gk) (injured), 19. Liv INGHAM (injured).
Brisbane Roar (four to be omitted)
1. Keeley RICHARDS, 2. Rebecca KIRKUP, 4. Kijah STEPHENSON, 5. Jenna MCCORMICK, 6. Holly MCQUEEN, 7. Ayesha NORRIE (c), 9. Mia CORBIN, 10. Grace KUILAMU, 11. Sharn FREIER, 12. Tamar LEVIN, 13. Tameka YALLOP, 14. Sarah O’DONOGHUE, 15. Hannah HOLGERSEN, 16. Chelsea BLISSETT, 17. Leah SCARPELLI, 18. Teagan THOMPSON, 19. Hollie PALMER, 22. Ruby CUTHBERT, 29. Jordan SILKOWITZ, 99. Emma GIBBON.
Unavailable: 8. Mariel HECHER (injured).