Wellington Phoenix head coach Ufuk Talay is disappointed but proud of his side’s performance against Newcastle Jets.
The Nix lost 3-0 to the Jets thanks to goal from Nick Fitzgerald, Bernie Ibini and Jason Hoffman. Fitzgerald struck just before half-time, before Ibini and Hoffman added the cherry on top after Wellington went searching for an equaliser.
Creating chances wasn’t an issue for the Kiwi side, while they have also completed their objective of finishing in the top six and making finals football.
Their post-lockdown run turned into a limp, though, and the Phoenix finished the regular season with the second worst record of all teams in the restart.
Despite that, head coach Ufuk Talay remained positive.
He said: “Yeah (I was) disappointed with the result, we did enough in the first half to win the game. We didn’t capitalise of the opportunities we created and we’re very proud of the group, proud of what we achieved.”
The final result looks like the Jets smashed Wellington Phoenix, but that does come with some caveats. Talay, for one, isn’t convinced that Newcastle deserved to take home all three points by that spectacular margin.
“I don’t think it was a 3-0 game,” he said. “Even when we went 1-0 down the boys still kept pushing to create opportunities and score. It’s one of those games, like I said I’m proud of the boys, proud of the commitment from the players, we’re just disappointed with the outcome.”
There are nine days between now and the elimination final, nine days for Talay to tweak his side and get them back into a winning frame of mind. The Nix were so strong before lockdown, but they were forced to leave New Zealand and quarantine in a hotel while trying to remain at their highest level.
There might be some lockdown fatigue among the squad, but the head coach is determined not to blame their form on their living arrangements.
He said: “Yeah I don’t know, I don’t know. The boys were in great spirits leading to the game. We’ll try to keep the boys, their minds fresh as well, leading to this finals game.”
Positive thinking and chance creation is all well and good, but eventually they’ll need to translate to success on the field - and that’s something Talay will need to focus on.