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.”