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Apr 1, 2012

Glory's Smeltz ready to take on Phoenix

In-form Glory striker Shane Smeltz expects to be a marked man when he confronts former teammates in Saturday night's A-League minor semi-final against Wellington Phoenix in Perth.

Smeltz was the hero in Sunday's elimination final win over Melbourne Heart, scoring a second-half hat-trick to seal the 3-0 win and passage through to the next round.

It came just eight days after he put four goals past Melbourne Victory in the final round of the regular season.

The Phoenix know all about the talents of Smeltz after he spent two seasons there from 2007-09.

Wellington's coach Ricki Herbert is also in charge of New Zealand's national side, in which Smeltz is an integral member.

Smeltz said he was looking forward to taking on his former side, and expects to be closely marked by Wellington's defenders.

"They know me and I know them," Smeltz said.

"I'm probably marked most games quite tightly."

The Phoenix booked their place in the minor semi-final with a 3-2 victory over Sydney FC on Friday night.

Wellington knocked Perth out of the finals race two years ago, but Glory coach Ian Ferguson said he wouldn't be using that loss as motivation.

Ferguson wasn't at the club at the time, and has a largely new-look squad at his disposal.

The winner of Saturday night's clash will progress through to an away preliminary final, where they will take on either Brisbane or Central Coast.

And with Smeltz in white-hot form, Ferguson said his team shouldn't be scared about any task confronting them.

"I fancy my chances against anyone," Ferguson said.

"On any given day anybody can beat anybody. It's a one-off.

"I've been through it before with the Mariners (as an assistant coach) where we reached two grand finals under Lawrie McKinna. Anything can happen."

Melbourne Heart's loss brought an end to the two-year reign of coach John van 't Schip, who will return to the Netherlands for family reasons.

Van 't Schip guided Heart to eighth and sixth in his two seasons in charge, but said he left with no regrets.

"Hopefully making the finals will give them this - that they want more," van 't Schip said.

"Getting into the grand final should be a goal in the next two or three years."

The Heart were renowned for playing attractive football, but put on an ugly display against the Glory.

Heart defender Brendan Hamill said the team were left disappointed and empty with how they played against the Glory.

"JVS has put so much into this club, and to send him off like that is not just," Hamill said.

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