The Phoenix have had to scramble to bring a full squad to Melbourne, and Kieran Jones questions why the match could not be rescheduled in light of so many absences
By KIERAN JONES
Ben Sigmund labelled it "pathetic".
Ricki Herbert admitted it will have a "huge impact".
So why could not Football Federation Australia have been more flexible and rescheduled the game between Wellington and Melbourne Heart on Sunday?
The schedule has been the talking point of Week 2 because a host of Phoenix players, as well as coach Ricki Herbert, will be missing from the A-League because of OFC 2014 World Cup qualifiers.
As it stands, the Phoenix will be without seven of the players who were in the squad which beat Sydney FC 2-0 in Wellington on Saturday.
The Phoenix will be without goalkeepers Mark Paston and Glen Moss, as well as Tony Lochhead, Ben Sigmund, Leo Bertos and Jeremy Brockie. Five first-team players and the backup goalkeeper - not to mention Benjamin Totori, who will be playing for the Solomon Islands.
The FFA surely cannot say they have not had enough time to prepare for this scenario, with the upcoming international break scheduled well before any planning for the 2012-13 A-League season.
They make plans quickly every year when they have to plan the finals after the last round, do they not?
Despite Wellington submitting a formal request to the FFA, the game will go ahead as planned at 2pm on Sunday.
It is the second scheduling blunder of the new A-League season, with Brisbane Roar coach Rado Vidosic questioning the logic behind the defending champions playing in Perth in Week 1.
It seems brutally unfair for the Roar to have to travel so far in the first week, and Vidosic was certainly not happy after his side's 1-0 loss.
"You win the grand final and then you have to go away, so I don't understand why we could not play at home," Vidosic said.
But both of these issues could have been fixed with clear thinking and some logic from officials.
It is not as though the game at AAMI Park this Sunday is sold out and rescheduling would have ruined the plans of 40,000 people.
Both the Phoenix and Heart have only four games in November, and surely they would be able to cope with a clash in Melbourne on a Wednesday or Thursday night.
Neither club is involved in an AFC Asian Champion's League campaign this season, so they would not be overly fatigued, either.
Incredibly, Wellington has signed academy player Tom Biss on a one-match contract in order to cover for the missing players.
Auckland City goalkeeper Jacob Spoonley has joined the club on a short-term loan to provide back-up to third-string Phoenix goalkeeper Scott Basalaj, 18, who is himself in doubt due to illness.
It is a farce and a horrible scenario for the Phoenix.
A problem which could be easily fixed will now set a good side back considerably in their performance before Christmas.