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21 Jan 2018 14:00
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  •   Home > News > Sports > Soccer

    Patience key for Wellington Phoenix

    Wellington Phoenix must be patient as they look to resurrect their A-League season, coach Darije Kalezic says.


    Patience could prove a virtue for Wellington Phoenix coach Darije Kalezic as he looks to conjure up a miracle A-League season finish for his team.

    The Nix sit 10th on the ladder, with just two wins from 15 matches, but showed a glimpse of their potential in drawing 1-1 with Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday.

    Following on from Wednesday's 2-1 result over Melbourne Victory, Wellington couldn't quite manage another win but still did enough to give their moribund season faint signs of life.

    New signings Nathan Burns and Matija Ljujic again played a key role, the pair coming on at half-time to galvanise the Phoenix after they trailed 1-0 to a 28th-minute Brendon Santalab strike.

    Wellington hit back in the 75th minute with a Ljujic thunderbolt from 35 metres out after skipper Andrew Durante's tackle on former Nix midfielder Roly Bonevacia turned over possession.

    Kalezic recognises that the pair need time to work their way back to their best.

    Ljujic's last football game was late November, and Burns returns to the Phoenix after a month's break following time in Japan's J-League with FC Tokyo and Sanfrecce Hiroshima.

    "If you ask my heart, I would let them start every game from the beginning but the reality is something else," Kalezic said after the game.

    "We have to be careful with those players."

    Kalezic said Wellington were also looking to players like Matthew Ridenton and Andrija Kaludjerovic to make the most of their chances.

    Kaludjerovic has played a key role for Wellington this season, scoring eight goals, but Ridenton has not proven so clinical with his finishing when required.

    On Saturday, he squandered a late chance to seal the game for Wellington when he broke through on goal but instead of squaring to an unmarked Kaludjerovic, opted for a weak shot on goal which was easily saved.

    Kalezic has belief in the 21-year-old, and believes he is worth the investment.

    "I would rather see a a player like Matthew close his eyes and shoot the ball at the goal.

    "If he misses, he misses, but I want to see he really wants to make a goal and win the game," Kalezic said.

    "Don't understand me wrongly, if you see what kind of job Matthew delivers every game, then he also shows a good mentality.

    "He is also a big winner, but maybe it is experience. This year, we have to invest in his development, and don't be critical too much."


    NZN




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