PREVIEW: Phoenix women relish home comforts for visit of Canberra United

posted in: A-League (Women), News

The Wellington Phoenix women are “buzzing” to be back home after a tough four weeks on the road.

The Phoenix host Canberra United at Porirua Park on Sunday evening in the penultimate match of round 14 of the Liberty A-League.

It’s their first match in Wellington since Christmas, and the Nix haven’t been beaten in Aotearoa since their opening round defeat to competition leaders Melbourne City in October.

“All of the girls are really excited to be home,” Phoenix assistant coach Callum Holmes told media after training on Friday.

“It’s always hard going away playing in Australia with international travel all the time. I think Paul [Temple] said before it is a factor, but it is not the factor for why we weren’t performing.

“So far this season we’ve done really well at home so we’re excited to get back, play in front of our fans at Porirua Park and hopefully snap our losing streak.”

Callum Holmes … took training this week.

Holmes has been in charge at training this week with head coach Paul Temple away in Auckland completing the fourth and final module of his OFC pro licence course.

“Obviously, it’d be nice to have Paul here this week, but he’s not, and we’ve been preparing as we would for the game.

“We knew it was coming up and whether we had won games or lost games we had already planned for it.

“We speak every day; go through the session plans and everything with him.

“We knew what the plan was and we knew what it was going to do so I don’t think it’s made too much of an impact.

“It’s all about the group and the players really. It’s not too much about what we do. We just give them the facility to perform and do better.”

Paul Temple returned to Wellington on Friday evening and took charge of training on the eve of the crucial match.

“We want to win every game,” Holmes said. “Of course after losing a few games you feel like you must win this game, but there’s still a long way to go.

“It’s important that we get back to our performances and we know if we perform well, we’ll win more games.

“We’ve got two big games coming up now against teams that have ended up around us in the Jets and Canberra so beat Canberra this weekend and then focus on Jets and then we get a bit of a break when the Ferns are away.”

Canberra United are six points adrift of the ninth-placed Phoenix in 11th, but they boast a potent attack.

Only Melbourne City have scored more goals than Canberra and Michelle Heyman and Vesna Milivojevic are leading the golden boot race with nine goals each.

Holmes says they are an incredibly tough challenge for the Nix defensively.

“I think Michelle Heyman and Vesna Milivojevic are two of the top players in the competition and sometimes I don’t think the results they’ve got are reflective of the performances they’ve put in.

“They’ve had a lot of high scoring games; a lot of 5-3s, 5-4s [and] 3-alls even.

“Two very, very dangerous players that we must make sure that we’re compact and deal with first and then we can go and play our football, which we know we can.”

Emma Main to miss match

Paul Temple and Callum Holmes have a near full-strength squad to pick from. Besides the long-term absentees, only forward Emma Main is sitting out Sunday’s match.

“Emma’s been dealing with a little bit of illness over the last month/six weeks and we’ve been trying to manage her.

“So she missed out on the Brisbane game and came back in for the Central Coast game but again on the weekend she felt it again in terms of fatigue.

“She’s been training really light this week just trying to manage her and hopefully we’ll have her back next week.”

Match transport

Two buses will leave Porirua Train Station to Porirua Park at 4.15pm and 4.45pm for spectators heading to the game.

After the match, there’ll only be one bus leaving Porirua Park to Porirua Train Stadion, departing at 7.30pm.

Past meetings

Most recent meeting: 21 January 2023 – Wellington Phoenix 5 Canberra United 0

All-time A-League head-to-head: Phoenix 2W, Canberra 1W & 0D.

How to watch

The game will be broadcast LIVE on Sky Sport 5 in New Zealand and on Paramount+ and 10 Play in Australia.


Game to be played on Sunday January 28, 2024

Wellington Phoenix v Canberra United
Porirua Park, Porirua, Wellington, 5pm (NZT)


Wellington Phoenix (four to be omitted)

1. Rylee FOSTER (gk), 2. Zoe MCMEEKEN, 3. Kate TAYLOR, 4. Mackenzie BARRY, 6. Macey FRASER, 7. Isabel COX, 9. Kelli BROWN, 10. Alyssa WHINHAM, 11. Hope BRESLIN, 12. Brianna EDWARDS (gk), 13. Michaela FOSTER, 14. Michaela ROBERTSON, 15. Daisy BRAZENDALE, 16. Annalie LONGO (c), 17. Mariana SPECKMAIER, 18. Hailey DAVIDSON, 21. Manaia ELLIOTT, 23. Rebecca LAKE, 26. Tiana JABER, 27. Helena ERRINGTON.

Unavailable: 5. Marisa VAN DER MEER (injured), 8. Grace WISNEWSKI (injured), 19. Liv INGHAM (injured), 20. Emma MAIN (illness).

Canberra United (four to be omitted)

1. Chloe LINCOLN, 2. Alex MCKENZIE, 3. Sarah CLARK, 4. Holly MURRAY, 5. Emma ILIJOSKI, 6. Ava PIAZZA 7. Maria ROJAS, 8. Sasha GROVE, 9. Ruby NATHAN, 10. Mary STANIC-FLOODY, 11. Deven JACKSON, 13. Sofia CHRISTOPHERSON, 15. Hannah MCNULTY 16. Maddy WHITTALL 17. Vesna MILIVOJEVIC, 18. Coco MAJSTOROVIC 19. Nickoletta FLANNERY, 22. Cannon CLOUGH, 23. Michelle HEYMAN, 28. Tegan BERTOLISSIO.

Unavailable: 12. Hayley TAYLOR-YOUNG, 14. Maia CAMERON, 24. Georgia RITCHIE (gk).


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

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