A-League preview: Wellington Phoenix v Sydney FC

Missing Del Piero but with Frank Farina on the touchline, the Sky Blues face a tough test in their trip to a Phoenix side in solid form
GOAL.com Indonesia   By GOAL.COM


Bertos, Durante, Sigmund, Lochhead
Muscay, Lia, Smith
Ifill, Huysegems, Brockie


Grant, Bosschaart, Griffiths, Fabio
Abbas, Culina, McFlynn
Chianese, Lovrek, Yau

After observing from the stands last weekend, Frank Farina officially takes charge of his first game at the helm of last-placed Sydney FC.

And the former Socceroos boss could not have asked for a tougher challenge first-up than a visit to in-form Wellington.

The Sky Blues have lost their last five matches against the Phoenix and have not won at Westpac Stadium since January 2008.

At least the Sky Blues head into the clash having snapped a four-game losing streak and after keeping a rare clean sheet in the 0-0 draw with Melbourne Heart last Sunday.

But they will be without star striker Alessandro Del Piero due to a hamstring strain, with Kruno Lovrek or Mitch Mallia are likely to earn a spot in attack in the Italian's absence.

Socceroos midfielder Jason Culina will be pushing for a starting berth after two appearances off the bench, while defender Sebastian Ryall is available following a one-game ban.

The Phoenix have surged up to fifth spot on the back of a three-game unbeaten run.

They will also have plenty of confidence after defeating Sydney 2-0 back in the opening round of the season.

There are no new major injury worries for Phoenix boss Ricki Herbert, who is likely to stick with the same squad that edged out the Western Sydney Wanderers 1-0 last Sunday.

The key for the hosts might be finding some goal-scoring support for Jeremy Brockie.

The former Newcastle Jets, Sydney FC and North Queensland attacker has been in career-best form this campaign.

He is finally starting to add goals to his exciting attacking play, scoring exactly half of his side's tally for the season.

But it will be much more difficult for opposition sides if they have a number of threats they need to stop rather than just Brockie.

Meanwhile, the last time the Sky Blues were without 2006 World Cup winner Del Piero they were on the end of a 7-2 hammering at the hands of Central Coast.

While the same result should not be expected in this match, Sydney FC must find a way to cope without their main man.

This is where senior players like Terry McFlynn, Pascal Bosschaart, Jason Culina and Adam Griffiths will need to step up to carry the load and guide the youngsters in the windy and daunting conditions in Wellington.

Goal Australia now has its own and account, so for all the latest news and features on Australian football follow us by clicking on the above links