Nine-man Melbourne Victory held out the all-conquering BrisbaneRoar by parking the bus in front of goal and skipper Andrew Durantesays the Wellington Phoenix will take a leaf out of their book atSuncorp Stadium tomorrow night.
Defending A-League champions Brisbane have extended theirunbeaten record to 33 games this season with four wins and a drawand average three goals per game.
The draw came last round against the Victory who, by throwingvirtually their whole team behind the ball, bravely kept the 2-2scoreline intact for the entire second half following thedismissals of Ante Covic and Matthew Foschini.
The week before Adelaide United tried to stand toe-to-toe withthe slick-passing Roar and were humiliated 7-1.
Having lost three straight games already, the wobbly Phoenixmight not recover from a similar scoreline and Durante said apragmatic game plan would be employed.
"No-one's really worked out how to beat them yet, obviously,"Durante said.
"Some teams try and press them high and win the ball high but ithasn't worked and it's actually backfired on them."
"We're going to go with quite a defensive approach, there's noquestion they're a quality team and if you chase things they'regoing to open you up easily."
Of course the problem with that approach is that Brisbane onlyneed to score one goal and the Phoenix will then need to chase thegame.
Roar coach Ange Postecoglu has lost attacking midfielder MitchNichols to the Socceroos but in German playmaker Thomas Broich,Albanian striker Besart Berisha and central midfielder ErikPaartalu, still has more than enough firepower at his disposal.
The Phoenix are rated $10 longshots to record their second winof the season and Durante said the undermanned club would use thatas motivation.
"Everyone in the general public thinks this is going to be aone-sided affair and it's going to be easy.
"But we're not nervous, we're not scared, to be honest I'mexcited.
"This is going to be by far our biggest challenge, especiallyafter losing three in a row and we definitely don't want to make itfour," he continued.
"The boys know that and the boys have been fired up attraining."
With hard-nosed competitors like Manny Muscat, Ben Sigmund andTim Brown, the Phoenix are better equipped than most teams to atleast frustrate the Roar, and indeed kept them scoreless for 85minutes before losing 2-0 in the corresponding fixture lastseason.
A measure of Brisbane's quality is the fact James Meyer, whoscored those two goals, has struggled to get a run so far thisseason.
On the flipside the Phoenix have just 16 fit players to pickfrom, with Cameron Lindsay the odd one out this weekend, butDurante said the club still held playoff ambitions.
The Phoenix lost more games than they won last season yet,because of the generous top-six format, still snuck into thefinals.
"Even if we don't pick up results in the next two games, we'realways going to be fighting for that top-six spot.
"Once you're in there, anything can happen so we haven't lostfocus on that.
"It's not a group that's down in the dumps because we've lostthree in a row. We're still chirpy, we're still training hard butwe've just gone through a little bit of a tough period."
Phoenix (likely): Mark Paston/Tony Warner, TonyLochhead, Andrew Durante, Ben Sigmund, Manny Muscat, Alex Smith,Tim Brown, Daniel/Nick Ward, Leo Bertos, Dani Sanchez, ChrisGreenacre. Bench: Warner/Paston, Brent Griffiths, Niko Tsattalios,Ward/Daniel.
Brisbane: Michael Theoklitos, Shane Stefanutto,Matt Smith, Matt Jurman, Ivan Franjic, Erik Paartalu, MassimoMurdocca, Luke Brattan, Thomas Broich, Henrique, Besart Berisha,Andrew Redmayne, Mohamed Adnan, Kofi Danning, IsseyNakajima-Farran, James Meyer.
Orignal From: Phoenix to trust defence against Roar