SYDNEY (Reuters) - Wellington Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay says his side’s 2-1 win over Perth Glory on Wednesday had virtually assured them of a top-six spot and how high they fly in the remainder of the A-League season is entirely up to them.
The Phoenix moved to 39 points with the victory, a point behind second-placed Melbourne City, who have played a game more, while runaway leaders Sydney FC are on 51.
With the top six advancing to the playoffs, Talay said the Phoenix, who lost their first game back after the restart, would decide their own fate.
“It’s in our hands now,” he told reporters.
“Our focus from day one was to make the top six and I believe, with the points we have, I think we’ve secured a spot in the top six.
“So now we’ll go back and we’ll have a look at it, and we’ll push as much as we can for that second spot.”
The team, who have been in Australia for more than a month and underwent a two-week quarantine before the A-League resumed last week, were not expected to be in the running for the finals after a tumultuous end to last season.
Coach Mark Rudan left after taking them to the playoffs, while several players, including top scorer Roy Krishna, also departed. They then lost their first four games of the season.
Talay said he now expected to rotate his squad as they continue to build up a head of steam following the four-month layoff due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The most important thing is to make sure we have players fit leading into the finals,” he said.
“So we’re going to have to rely on the depth of our squad.”
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Peter Rutherford