Wanderers head to happy hunting ground


The Wanderers will be looking to continue making New Zealand a happy hunting ground when they make the trip across the Tasman to play the vastly improved Wellington Phoenix in Auckland on Saturday afternoon.

Since the two clubs first met back in 2012, the Red & Black have forged an outstanding record against the Kiwis, winning 12 of their 21 encounters.

Importantly, however, the Wanderers have shown a particular liking for the trip – one not too many Hyundai A-League clubs fancy given the traveling time and conditions – bringing home six wins from the 11 games against Phoenix on their home turf.

Admittedly, Phoenix won the last time they met in New Zealand back in March, but they will be up against a Wanderers side determined to turn things around following a couple of unlucky defeats to Melbourne City and the Newcastle Jets.

Mitchell Duke

It has been a tough period for the Red & Black, especially in the knowledge that they were on the wrong end of the scoreboard despite playing some of their best football of the season against City and the Jets.

Bad luck and some crucial decisions have gone against the Wanderers in recent times, but head coach Markus Babbel has every faith in the ability of the players to bounce back.

“They are not machines, they are human,” Babbel said in defence of his players.

“These things can happen in football but we have to fix it.

“If we stay in our structure and have the discipline for the 90 minutes then we have much more quality to show.

“But, also I want them to be brave, do whatever you have to do in your position and you will see a good change.”

Kwame Yeboah

The Wanderers will look to the likes of captain Mitch Duke and Kwame Yeboah to lead the attack and cause problems for the Phoenix defence.

Both players have been in solid form and looked sharp last week but just couldn’t find the target despite their very best efforts.

Mind you, the Red & Black won’t have it all their own way against a Phoenix side that is proving quite the handful for opposition teams this season.

Wellington are unbeaten in their past three games having recorded a draw and successive 2-1 wins over Brisbane Roar and Adelaide United after losing their first four games of the season.

They have some quality players in defender Stephen Taylor, striker Gary Hooper and German midfielder Matti Steinmann, who played alongside Wanderers attacker Nicolai Muller during their time at Hamburger SV.

Significantly, Phoenix have never lost a game in Auckland, producing two wins and two draws.