Ben Gilby reports on today’s events hosted by Adelaide United and Wellington Phoenix (16/3/23).
Stenta: Attacking focus enabled return to form
Adelaide United head coach Adrian Stenta told the media today that a specific focus on playing more attacking football was a major contributing factor in the team ending their run of nine matches without a win last week against Perth Glory.
“We have to play a more attacking brand of football and score goals because, for a large part of that slump, we struggled to score goals. It’s been great that we’ve scored six in the last three games. We’ll continue that attacking focus and try to tidy up at the back.”
Stenta revealed that the players found the poor run of results a real challenge, but things began to move in the right direction when the club had the bye a few weeks back.
“Players sometimes struggle for form and confidence when things are not going your way. We had a little break without a game, and I think our three games since then have been a lot more positive. The message was to have belief in yourself and believe you are good enough because they (the players) are good enough.”
The South Australian mantra at the present time is ‘take each game as it comes’, despite the fact that, mathematically, Adelaide United can still qualify for Finals football.
“We’re not really looking at the Finals equation…it’s not really in our hands,” Stenta admitted. “We’ve just set a target for how we want to finish the season, and we did well last week, and we want to win the last three games.
“We went through a rough patch not winning for an extended period, so I think to look at anything other than the next game is a bit dangerous.”
The Reds have the additional boost of the return of Emilia Murray and Grace Wilson who have been away on Young Matildas duty. The duo’s absence coincided with a tough period with injuries among the squad.
“It’s really important for us. Last week we weren’t able to name a full bench. As a coach, it’s nice to have more players available for selection, and I actually have a headache for who to select.”
Barry: We need to push on and upwards
Wellington Phoenix defender Mackenzie Barry spoke to the media today of her mixed emotions after the team’s superb win over Sydney FC last weekend as they prepare for the Distance Derby at home to Perth Glory on Saturday.
Barry felt a combination of elation at recording such a superb victory along with a sense of frustration that it has taken over three-quarters of the season for the Nix to gain such a result.
“It was a long time coming,” Barry smiled. “We’ve been building for 13 games and to finally get a result against such a quality team as Sydney just shows that we can beat any team and we are up to standard. It took a while to register (after the game) – 1-0 against Sydney! We’re super happy.
“It took us too long to get used to the level and style of play. Next season, we need to have better preparation, play against other A-League teams (in pre-season) and so get results from the very start, not 12 games in. We have all the resources, the coaching staff, and players. It’s bittersweet, it shows we could have done this all along.”
Barry recognises that one great win does not make a season, and emphasised the need for the team to continue to perform well and pick up points – and target not just second bottom, but even higher.
“It’s important to keep pushing. We just can’t be happy with that (win over Sydney). There are 12 points still up for grabs. Perth are a team we can target and get a result against. We can even aim for pushing past Western Sydney (in ninth place) now. We can progress up the ladder. There are still 12 more points (available).
Cicco: New Zealand feels like home – now the Nix need to extend winning ways
Claudia Cicco has returned to the Wellington Phoenix fold after representing the Young Matildas in the first stage of the AFC Asian U20 Cup qualifiers in Kyrgyzstan.
It was a mammoth journey for the teenager who had to fly from Wellington to Sydney before jumping on two further planes to get to Dubai and then Kyrgyzstan as the Australian U20 side made it through to the next stage of the competition.
“It is very different to any other place I would go to – very different to a sort of holiday environment. It was like a 30-hour trip. They wanted me as a winger where I played first game, and I scored three goals. I told the staff here if they needed someone who could play up front…,” hinted the player who has been used in a more defensive role for the Nix.
Moving away to another country at such a young age to play professional football was a tough experience to start with, but Cicco feels it has benefitted her enormously and admits it will actually be hard to leave New Zealand when she heads home at the end of this season.
“I feel like since joining an A-League team it has helped promote me to Australia. I have definitely got more game time. (New Zealand is) like home now. It’s going to be devastating to leave!”
After her international experience, all Cicco’s attentions are on Wellington Phoenix’s game with Perth Glory on Saturday. She emphasised just how urgent it is that the team extend their three-match unbeaten run at home against the Western Australians.
“It’s really important to win against Perth now. Our team has come together, we understand how we play and we can definitely win.”