PREVIEW: Thigh injury sidelines Wellington Phoenix striker Oskar Zawada

posted in: A-League (Men), News

Talismanic striker Oskar Zawada has been ruled out of Monday’s A-League match between the Wellington Phoenix and the unbeaten Macarthur Bulls.

Last season’s leading goalscorer has not been able to recover from the thigh contusion that forced him off in the second half of the Phoenix team’s loss to Newcastle Jets in Round 8.

As a result, he did not travel with the squad to Sydney on Sunday for the Isuzu-UTE A-League game at Campbelltown Stadium on Monday (9pm NZT).

Main photo: Forward Oskar Zawada … will miss the match against Macarthur.

The Phoenix go into the match nine days after suffering their first defeat of the season, a 3-0 loss at home to the Newcastle Jets.

It was the first time Giancarlo Italiano had been on the losing side as an A-League head coach, but he says it’s still been “business as usual” this week.

“I said a long time ago that this was always going to happen,” Italiano told media on Friday. “It’s unrealistic to think that you’re not going to lose games.

“For us, it’s more about getting back to the hard work, sticking to the process and making sure the messaging is still consistent.

“We’ve changed nothing. It’s pretty much back to normal.”

‘We’re going back to what we do best’

He is looking for a positive response from the team.

“Part of any learning process is going through the ups and more importantly how you deal with losing, the downs.

“It’s very important that the group takes as much as they can from that whole game.

“We felt as though the Jets probably had a little bit more energy on the day. Our boys didn’t give up [but] once the game got to 3-nil maybe we didn’t have that belief that we could get back into the game, even though they still tried.

“It probably wasn’t our best game defensively and we’re just going back to what we know best.

“Look, it’s going to happen. There are going to be games where you play really well and lose, and you can play poorly and get rewarded.

“For us, it’s just making sure that the performance is polished and that we build and learn on the week before.

“We’ve addressed those things at training this week and it’s been really positive.”

Macarthur FC entered the round as one of just two unbeaten teams and sat atop the ladder after seven matches.

“They’ve been very effective at what they’ve been doing,” Italiano said.

“They rely on Uli (Ulises Dávila) quite a bit [and] Clayton Lewis quite a bit. I also like the look of their nine [Valère] Germain. He looks like a very dangerous player.

“And they’ve got a lot of speed up front. Jed Drew and Matt Millar are up top and they’re dangerous, especially on the counter-attack.

“They’re very effective with what they do and they’re top of the table deservedly.”

Changes likely to starting line-up over holiday period

Italiano has made minimal changes to his starting XI through the opening seven rounds, but is likely to make more tweaks as the Phoenix play their next three matches in 12 days.

“It’s more to do with the fixture list. When you have a spacing of a week between games I like to keep things consistent and it also rewards those performances.

“But now with a more congested fixture list we’re probably looking at turning over some players just to keep the freshness in the squad.

“There are players waiting in the wings that are deserving of gametime as well. We’ll factor all those things in and try to work it as best as possible.”

Ben Old, Sam Sutton, Fin Conchie, Luke Supyk and Oskar van Hattum are among those pushing for more gametime.

“They’re all in contention. We don’t have the biggest squad so there will be a turnover at some point and all of those boys will get an opportunity.”

The Nix have won three of their last four A-League matches against Macarthur and have also won three of their last four meetings at Campbelltown Stadium.

Three points will lift Wellington back to the top of the competition ladder.

Past meetings

Most recent meeting: 29 April 2023 – Macarthur 0 Wellington Phoenix 1

All-time A-League head-to-head: Phoenix 4W, Macarthur 2W & 2D.

How to watch

The game will be broadcast LIVE on Sky Sport 1 in New Zealand and on Paramount+ in Australia.


Game to be played on Monday December 17, 2023

Macarthur v Wellington Phoenix
Campbelltown Sports Stadium, Sydney, 9pm (NZT)



Macarthur FC (six to be omitted)

1. Danijl NIZIC (gk), 4. Matthew JURMAN, 5. Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS, 6. Tomislav USKOK, 7. Daniel DE SILVA, 8. Jake HOLLMAN, 10. Ulises DAVILA, 12. Filip KURTO (gk), 13. Ivan VUJICA, 14. Kristian POPOVIC, 15. Kearyn BACCUS, 16. Oliver JONES, 17. Raphael BORGES RODRIGUES, 22. Yianni NICOLAOU, 23. Clayton LEWIS, 24. Charles M’MOMBWA, 27. Jerry SKOTADIS, 30. Alex ROBINSON (gk), 31. Lachlan ROSE, 32. Isaac HOVAR, 36. Ali AUGLAH, 37. Jed DREW, 44. Matthew MILLAR, 98. Valere GERMAIN.’

Wellington Phoenix (two to be omitted)

3. Finn SURMAN, 4. Scott WOOTTON, 5. Fin CONCHIE, 6. Tim PAYNE, 7. Kosta BARBAROUSES, 8. Ben OLD, 10. David BALL, 11. Bozhidar KRAEV, 12. Mo AL-TAAY, 14. Alex RUFER (c), 15. Nicholas PENNINGTON, 18. Lukas KELLY-HEALD, 19. Sam SUTTON, 23. Luke SUPYK, 24. Oskar VAN HATTUM, 25. Jack DUNCAN (gk), 26. Isaac HUGHES, 40. Alex PAULSEN (gk), 42. Fergus GILLION, 43. Matt SHERIDAN.

Unavailable: 9. Oskar ZAWADA (injured).


This story is published with the help of the Wellington Phoenix.

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