Football 2 years ago

Sarpong coming to the boil insist Phoenix

  • Sarpong coming to the boil insist Phoenix

The Wellington Phoenix are convinced Jeffrey Sarpong's smouldering talent can be ignited by a goal.

The former Dutch youth international is yet to score in the A-League, belying headlines which heralded him as the man to fill the sizeable boots of prolific striker Nathan Burns when he arrived in Wellington.

Sarpong is credited with one assist in his 11 appearances, four of which have been of the bench, but coach Ernie Merrick reckons the 27-year-old is only now beginning to blossom.

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"Jeffrey's contributing more as a midfielder and a winger, so hopefully the next stage is that he starts scoring goals," Merrick said. "I've always said that he's going to be a high-quality striker."

An Ajax product who played multiple seasons in the Dutch Eredivisie with NAC Breda and Spanish La Liga club Real Sociedad, Sarpong produced arguably his best Phoenix performance in the 1-1 home draw against Sydney FC on Saturday.

It was his first 90-minute outing and Merrick says there will be more of those although he wants to see more than neat touches.

Captain Andrew Durante says nobody is more anxious about scoring than Sarpong himself and he has no doubt the drought can be broken, potentially as soon as Saturday's game away to Adelaide United.

"I think he's a confidence player and last week was probably a lot better," Durante said.

"He shows it all the time at training and the more runs he can get under his belt, the more we'll get out of him."

Ninth-placed Adelaide are unbeaten in their past three games to clamber off the bottom of the table, although they have lost their previous three clashes with the sixth-placed Phoenix.

That includes a 4-2 defeat in Wellington six weeks ago when another Phoenix player with Dutch pedigree, Roly Bonevacia, scored twice in a virtuoso display.

Bonevacia is sitting on four yellow cards, along with fellow-midfielders Albert Riera and Alex Rodriguez.

A booking for either of them would result in an automatic suspension from the New Year's Eve match against Central Coast Mariners in Gosford.

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