Football 3 years ago

Merrick queries afternoon Phoenix kick-off

  • Merrick queries afternoon Phoenix kick-off

Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick is all for the A-League expanding its reach to regional centres like Cairns.

It's the Phoenix's afternoon kick-off against Brisbane Roar, and the heat and humidity the players will have to cope with, that he's not so enthused about.

"It's good we grow the game and go into different areas," Merrick said in Wellington on Wednesday.

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"I'm just disappointed that we're playing at 4.15 in the afternoon when it should really be a 7.30 kick-off.

"I don't know how they justify this, but obviously it will be a much higher quality game if it was played in the evening."

Football Federation Australia's heat policy came under the spotlight in November, when Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold blasted the 4.30pm start time for his side's away fixture against Perth.

With the temperature up to 34C, the game ended 0-0 and Arnold, who had wanted a later kick-off, said player welfare was more important than television schedules.

The mercury is also likely to top 30 when the Phoenix and Roar run out for the first A-League match to be staged in Cairns.

Despite the conditions, Merrick doesn't want the Phoenix to change their approach too much.

"The danger is you start to play a different game," he said.

"We have to press and to press high, and get our backline up high, and I'm sure Brisbane will be doing that as well."

Wellington will go in boosted by their 2-0 defeat of Melbourne Victory in Auckland, a result that knocked their opponents off the top of the table.

It moved the Phoenix up a place to sixth, just two points below the second-placed Victory.

With goalscorers Roy Krishna and Roly Bonevacia forming a potent partnership with Michael McGlinchey against the Victory, and the defence keeping a second successive clean sheet, Merrick is looking for the same against the Roar.

"Roy, Michael and Roly looked fantastic up front last week," he said.

"We don't want to change too much. By being consistent and keeping clean sheets, we'll pick up points."

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