Paracki happy with Phoenix debut
The Wellington Phoenix’s first game of the season was tailormade for Goran Paracki.
The combative Croatian defensive midfielder was in his element in the 1-1 draw against Adelaide United on Sunday as a dour midfield struggle played out at Westpac Stadium.
Few people’s faces would’ve lit up like the 30-year-old’s did when asked on Tuesday about the battle for ascendancy in the middle of the pitch.
‘‘Yeah, I like it when the game happens in the middle, when I’m constantly on the ball and constantly in some tackles. For midfielders, it was a good game.’’
The Phoenix ended up with 46.5 per cent of possession, which Paracki said was a stat they would ideally like to turn around.
‘‘I hope in the future we will have the ball more, like we want to play.’’
Still, there was enough in their first match under coach Darije Kalezic to suggest they should be a tough side to break down this season.
They have also been pretty hard on themselves, if right back Scott Galloway was anything to go by.
He was another making his Phoenix debut on Sunday after 78 A-league games for the Melbourne Victory and Central Coast Mariners, and said it was his fault they conceded in the 10th minute to a Johan Absalonsen header.
‘‘I put my hand up for it. We worked on during the week that their wide players look to come across to the front post, that was my man to follow, he got there in front of me and there wasn’t much I could do. I’ve just got to be better there.’’
Outside of that, it was a solid start for Galloway in Wellington.
Galloway was impressed by 18-year-old goalkeeper Keegan Smith, who performed adequately in his A-league debut after beating out professionals Lewis Italiano and Oliver Sail to the starting job.
‘‘For an 18-year-old in goal playing his first A-league game I thought he did very well. He kept his head, he was vocal, credit to him completely. He pulled off an unbelievable save that kept us a point, he can hold his head proud, he did really well.’’
While a point was a decent result first-up, it was hard to get a read on just how either side was travelling at this very early stage of the season.
The Phoenix have Sydney FC away this Sunday.