New Zealand international Paige Satchell is delighted there’s a Wellington Phoenix team in the A-League Women’s competition, but for 90 minutes on Sunday she’s putting friendships and national allegiances aside.
Satchell and her high-flying Sydney FC teammates will be looking to make it three wins from three this season when they host newcomers Phoenix at Netstrata Jubilee Oval.
As she prepares to inflict more pain on a Phoenix squad reeling from a 5-1 thumping by Newcastle last weekend, the Football Fern admits there are some mixed emotions ahead of the game.
“It’s really good that there is finally a Wellington team in the league and it’s been a long time coming,” the 23-year-old said.
“It’s really great for New Zealand football and moving the women’s game forward.
“No team is not going to be competitive this season. So we’ve really got to be on our game and try to get the win this weekend.”
Phoenix coach Gemma Lewis’s young team got off to a solid start with a point in their inaugural match against Western Sydney before being brought back to earth by the Jets.
The Sky Blues have, however, dispatched the Jets and Wanderers in the past two weeks to make a perfect start to their campaign.
Lewis says she’s been working hard during the week on making sure her players don’t focus on the result against the Jets as they take on last year’s premiers.
“They know that Sydney is going to be really tough but I think having played them in a pre-season game is also helping because there’s an element of familiarity there,” Lewis said.
“Even though they were a tough opposition then, we lost to them and they controlled quite a lot of the game, they also recognise that they’ve played those players before.”
Having fielded the same XI in the Phoenix’s first two games, Lewis has hinted at changes for Sunday’s match with Kelli Brown in the frame after recovering from her ankle injury while Alyssa Whinham and Talitha Kramer are also pushing for a starting role.