The Wellington Phoenix will once again look to rise from the ashes with an updated crest and revitalised squad.

This year the Hyundai A-League could see a new Nix that will be tougher than ever to break down at the defensive end.

Last Season:
A-League: 7th
Finals: Did not qualify
FFA Cup: Round of 32

They’ll win the league because…
Although Wellington lost the core of their squad from the 2016/17 A-League season, the Phoenix have done well to replace those players bringing in a wealth of experience to lead them into the coming season.

Former Socceroo Dario Vidosic headlines the new crop of talent to ply their trade for the Trans-Tasman club, and father Rado Vidosic was signed as assistant manager from Melbourne Victory as the two work together for the first time in 10 years.

New coach Darije Kalezic will give the Phoenix a tactical shakeup, providing emphasis on a strong defensive unit to control their opponents attacking threat after a poor defensive showing saw the side concede a whopping 46 goals last year.

Dubbed with a new crest, Wellington recruited strongly in the offseason and a revitalised approach will show the A-League that the new Nix should not be taken lightly.

They’ll be cellar dwellers because…
Departures of key players in the offseason will hurt the Nix this year, with three key midfielders making a switch to leave a concerning weakness in the middle of the park.

While the Phoenix have recruited well to fill these gaps, the players need to adapt to the system and that will take time which could be costly for Kalezic’s side.

To top off Wellington’s woes, the Nix have had a poor pre-season as they’ve won just two of six games which included a loss to National Premier League side Blacktown City in the process.

While pre-season friendlies aren’t always the best gauge of progress, the Phoenix had a terrible start to last year’s campaign losing six of their first eight games and a tough opening fixture list could see Wellington struggle to find their feet early on once again.

The offseason brought…
It was seven players out and seven players in for new coach Darijo Kalezic, with ‘Player of the Year’ Kosta Barbarouses making a return to  Victory and Roly Bonevacia joining the Western Sydney Wanderers for the upcoming A-League season.

Joining Bonevacia and Barbarouses in departing the club were key midfielders, Vince Lia and Alex Rodriguez as well as starting goalkeeper Glen Moss.

Kalezic however has fared well in finding strong replacements across the park.  

New recruits Goran Paracki, Ali Abbas and former Socceroo Dario Vidosic step into the hole in the midfield and bring with them an incredible amount of experience within some of the top leagues across Europe, Asia and Australia.

Youngster Scott Galloway joined from Melbourne Victory, while Daniel Mullen signed from the Newcastle Jets as the pair provide much-needed support to the Wellington backline.

Experienced Serbian striker Andrija Kaluderovic hands the Phoenix a new attacking outlet going forward after current striker Hamish Watson only managed four goals last season.

Talk around the water cooler… Look smart in front of your colleagues with this valuable piece of information.
Hailing from Fiji, Roy Krishna will be one of the Nix’ key players this year having scored 12 and set up another five goals last year to lead the Trans-Tasman outfit in both categories.

Though looking every inch an A-League player, it came as a bit of a surprise considering that Krishna only made his debut in the competition at the age of 26.

After working his way through the ranks in New Zealand with Waitakere United and Auckland City, Krishna was picked up by the Phoenix in 2014.

Early on in his career Krishna reportedly turned down an opportunity with Dutch club PSV Eindhoven in order to develop his game closer to home.

Krishna is also the only Fijian player to have scored in the FIFA Club World Cup, as well as becoming the first player to score a goal for his country at the Olympics after netting against Mexico at the 2016 Rio Olympic games.

Kalezic will hope for another big season from the 30-year old Fijian in the next instalment of the A-League.

Key player…
While Roy Krishna may be the Phoenix’s key man in front of goal, former Socceroo Dario Vidosic will be vital in providing for the Wellington frontline. Having bossed the midfield with the Brisbane Roar, Wanderers and Adelaide United in previous years, Vidosic is no stranger to the A-League.

Pairing up with father Rado Vidosic, Dario Vidosic will settle into Wellington well and at the age of 30, the former Socceroo still has plenty to give for the New Zealand club. Paired with Gui Finkler behind the attacking line, the two will cause some headaches for their opponents.

One to watch…
One player that could take advantage of the offseason midfield clearout is promising young talent Matthew Ridenton. The 21-year old knows the Phoenix setup well having worked his way through the youth system, and with 46 senior caps to his name, Darijo Kalezic will likely look to Ridenton to cement the midfield while the new additions settle in.

Ridenton has also worked his way into the New Zealand national squad earning three senior caps and making his debut against the United States last year, and the versatile young gun will look to build on his reputation in the upcoming A-League season.

Full squad list…
1. Lewis ITALIANO, 2. Daniel MULLEN, 4. Goran PARACKI, 6. Dylan FOX, 7. Guilherme FINKLER, 8. Dario VIDOSIC, 9. Andrija KALUDEROVIC, 10. Michael MCGLINCHEY, 11. Hamish WATSON, 12. Adam PARKHOUSE, 13. Marco ROSSI, 14. Alex RUFER, 15. James MCGARRY, 16. Louis FENTON, 17. Ali ABBAS, 19. Tom DOYLE, 20. Oliver SAIL, 21. Roy KRISHNA, 22. Andrew DURANTE, 23. Matthew RIDENTON, 24. Logan ROGERSON.

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Fourth and final year studying Sports Media at the University of Canberra. Love all things football and can't wait to be part of the growth of the game in Australia. Waiting for the day the FFA come to their senses and hand us an A-League team... but could be waiting a while.