Sport

Friday night lights for Phoenix

The Wellington Phoenix will kick off the A-League playoffs next Friday night, and coach Ricki Herbert is forecasting a spectacular evening.
The Wellington Phoenix will kick off the A-League playoffs next Friday night, and coach Ricki Herbert is forecasting a spectacular evening. Ross Setford

THE Wellington Phoenix will kick off the A-League playoffs next Friday night, and coach Ricki Herbert is forecasting a spectacular evening.

With their final regular season game against Central Coast still to be played today, the Phoenix will finish no lower than fourth and are guaranteed a home finals match. The opposition are as yet unknown but Herbert said the occasion would be worth savouring no matter whom they play.

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"Night games under lights are fantastic, especially when there is a big crowd," he said.

"Anyone who was at the All Whites' World Cup qualifier against Bahrain will testify to that fact, and I'm looking forward to a good turnout of fans in the finals, whoever our opponents are."

The game will mark the Phoenix's first home playoff match since their run to within one win of the grand final in 2010, when two home games attracted record crowds.

"The last time we played at home in the finals around 60,000 fans watched our matches against Perth and Newcastle and will tell you what thrillers they were," Herbert said. "There is nothing quite like finals football and I can't wait for it to start."

The Phoenix are level on points and goal difference with third-placed Perth - who play Melbourne Victory tomorrow night - going into the last round of fixtures, meaning a win could lift the Phoenix into third spot.

Just one point separates Melbourne Heart, Newcastle and Sydney heading into the final weekend.

But before they have to worry about facing one of those teams, the Phoenix will be looking to close out the regular season on a high against the league-leading Mariners.

Topics:  a-league, ricki herbert, wellington phoenix


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