Wellington Phoenix duo Andrew Durante and Vince Lia are set to play their 250th and 200th games respectively when the team faces Newcastle Jets at Westpac Stadium on Saturday night.
When the Phoenix Captain steps out on the pitch for the meeting with his former club, he will join the Hyundai A-League’s 250 match club.
“It’s pretty special to be the first outfield player in a brand new competition to reach that milestone – it’s pretty cool to be honest,” Durante said.
“I’ve been pretty lucky with injuries. Outside of that I’ve looked after my body pretty well, I know when to push it, when not to push it. I’ve had coaches that have been great with me, that have allowed me to sit if I needed to.
“I try to be consistent in every game and every season, that’s what I strive to do, be as consistent as possible and that’s seems to have held me in some pretty good stead.”
Facing the Jets at home will also bring back special memories for Durante, who scored in the 4-1 victory over Newcastle in 2014, and he’s confident of putting in a repeat performance this time around.
“We’ve got to really go at them. We’ve got to really put them under pressure, pick up lots of second balls, just really get their backline under pressure with deliveries into the box, shots on goal, really put an intent on the game early,” Durante said.
“We’re up for it, we’re hurting. I look around and think there’s no way we should be in this situation with the players that we have and we all know that. You’ll see a much improved and hungry team tomorrow night.”
Head Coach Ernie Merrick was also expecting that the quality of his squad will shine through against the Jets and that results will begin to turn around from there.
“I think the boys have put themselves under pressure to make sure that they give everything in the game tomorrow and that’s been pretty evident in what goes on out there [the training pitch] and our usual team meeting,” Merrick said.
“If we don’t go on a run of wins, we’re not going to achieve anything, so we need to go on a run and one game’s not enough.”
Wellington Phoenix v Newcastle Jets
Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Tickets: Click here