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A-League: Sydney set up final date


Phoenix raring to attack against Roar

Stand-in captain Ben Sigmund can't wait to implement new coach Ernie Merrick's brand of front-half football when Wellington Phoenix meet Brisbane Roar in their A-League season-opener at Westpac Stadium on Sunday.

With regular skipper Andrew Durante one of four players away on All Whites duty, Sigmund leads a team which could include as many as six or seven players making their Phoenix debut.

Sigmund says the makeshift look of the team hasn't lowered expectations, as the Wellington-based club target a top-six finish after last year's disappointing 10th place.

"It's important for us that we get off to a good start," the central defender said.

"We just want to start off with a win, that's what it comes down to. Everyone knows their roles and responsibilities, and as long as you know that, you're up for the battle."

Sigmund, unavailable for the All Whites as he serves a one-match ban for his red card against United Arab Emirates last month, says the Phoenix have embraced Merrick's attacking style of football.

Although the emphasis will be on a possession-based game, Sigmund says the Phoenix won't be fixated on it.

"It's got to be in the right areas. Ernie's never said to us 'just get the ball and keep passing it'.

"Brisbane, they play constantly - that's their game plan, but it's not ours. We're front-half football and anything in their half, we'll be shutting down and making it very hard for them to get out."

Despite the absence of Socceroo Matt McKay on Sunday, Brisbane present a huge challenge with a creative midfield fronted by former Manchester United midfielder and Irish international Liam Miller.

Sigmund also expects classy German Thomas Broich and fiery Albanian striker Beshart Berisha to keep the Phoenix's back four busy.

"They're great players, and have been for the last three or four years. But it comes down to us, to our responsibilities and the way we're going to play.

"If everyone does their job properly, we should win."


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