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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jan 17, 2008

Phoenix keen to avoid A League spoon

Wellington Phoenix face Central Coast Mariners in Gosford on Saturday, aiming to avoid the wooden spoon in their A-League debut year.

The Mariners are one of four teams in the running to top the table in the regular season and collect an Asian Champions League berth.

They sit equal with Queensland, Sydney FC and Newcastle on 31 competition points but three goals behind the Roar on goal difference.

That means they will need a win over the Phoenix, most likely a comfortable one, as well as hoping other results go their way.

Ross Aloisi will lead the Phoenix in their final match of the season while younger brother John will captain the Mariners for the first time.

Despite the brothers enjoying hugely successful careers in Australia, in international colours and abroad, neither has played with or against each other at senior level.

"It's the first time we've played against each other in a competitive game - apart from the backyard - so it's going to be pretty interesting," Ross Aloisi said.

Ross Aloisi said the Phoenix still had plenty to play for in what had been an exciting and promising debut season in the Hyundai A-League.

The possibility of the Phoenix playing in the O-League and the World Club Championship was added incentive.

"There's no chance of either side giving anything but 100 per cent.

"John's team really want to win the premiership. For the Phoenix, we want to put on a good performance for the team and for our fans.

"Obviously we want to try and win the game so we don't finish bottom. I think that's important for the club."

New Zealand under-20 striker Costa Barbarouses is likely to get his first start of the season against the Mariners.

"I just want to go out and put in a good performance so I can be ready for next season, when I want to have a big impact on the league.

"It's been a bit frustrating training all the time and not getting a lot of game-time, but I understand that it's a new team and that it's all been put together in a short timeframe."

Barbarouses' fellow New Zealand under-20 teammate, Greg Draper, has travelled with the squad to Australia as backup for Brazilian midfielder Daniel, who sustained a minor ankle injury at training on Thursday.