New Phoenix coach faces first-up hur­dles


NEW Welling­ton Phoenix coach Dar­ije Kalezi is armed with a book of world game knowl­edge but his the­o­ries will be put to a strin­gent test when fac­ing Ade­laide United at home to­day.

Kalezi, like his Reds coach­ing coun­ter­part Marco Kurz, will be mak­ing his A-League bench de­but know­ing thePhoenix has won just once in 10 sea­son-open­ers, and that was 2-0 over Syd­ney FC in 2012.

He will start to­day with a hand­i­cap with three key men – cap­tain An­drew Du­rante, Michael McGlinchey and Tom Doyle – missing due to All Whites in­ter­na­tional duty.

“I want to say that’s re­ally un­usual in world football in par­tic­u­lar,’’ Kalezi said about the A-League not stop­ping for FIFA’s in­ter­na­tional cal­en­dar.

New Zealand met Ja­pan in a friendly in Ja­pan on Fri­day while Aus­tralia plays for 2018 FIFA World Cup life against Syria over two legs be­fore and af­ter round one of the do­mes­tic com­pe­ti­tion.

“At the start of the league, the na­tional team has to play the games. No­body can say it’s not un­usual.

“We can­not change that, the play­ers have been go­ing for years in the na­tional team also in the first game of the sea­son.”

But Kalezi, a Bos­nian-Swiss for­mer foot­baller who played in Bos­nia and the Nether­lands be­fore man­ag­ing James Troisi’s old Bel­gian side Zulte Waregem, Eng­land’s Stock­port County, De Graaf­schap and Roda from Hol­land and Saudi Ara­bia’s Al-Taa­woun knows a bit about the char­ac­ter of some A-League play­ers.

He coached Syd­ney FC’s Dutch­man Jordy Buis, Soc­ceroos’ striker and ex-Reds Tomi Juric and Rostyn Grif­fiths and Cen­tral Coast’s young gun Daniel de Silva.

And al­though the Phoenix has lost friendly matches against A-League op­po­si­tion in pre-sea­son – Mariners 1-0 and New­cas­tle Jets 2-1 and lost an FFA Cup tie, deep in ex­tra time 1-0 to Western Syd­ney, all away – Kalezi be­lieves a real gauge will be formed once points are up for grabs.

“I don’t have a re­ally good pic­ture against A-League clubs be­cause I haven’t ex­pe­ri­enced play­ing against them of­ten enough in the pre-sea­son,’’ Kalezi said.

“Es­pe­cially against Ade­laide - they have changed the squad a lot and many play­ers have left the club and they have many new im­ports.

“I haven’t seen Ade­laide play un­til now but I will be putting a fo­cus on Ade­laide.

“I want to watch some games - they have played in the FFA Cup and we’ll get the pic­ture of the new Ade­laide team to give me per­spec­tive on what I have to do.”

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