Melbourne Heart coach John Aloisi believes Sunday’s (AEDT) match against Wellington Phoenix is as significant as last week’s Melbourne derby, despite his side’s favourite tag.
Heart welcomes Phoenix to AAMI Park for the club’s first home match of the 2012-2013 campaign and the visitor arrives without a coach and seven regulars due to international duty.
But Aloisi has brushed off the tag, reiterating that his side has prepared for a competitive showdown and has focussed on the match in “exactly the same” manner as Melbourne Victory last Friday.
“It’s a big game for us, the first home game, we want to play well in front of our home supporters and get a good result,” Aloisi said.
“We know it’s going to be a tough game and we’ve prepared well this week and we’re ready for the game tomorrow.
“Every game is a difficult game, especially in the A-League.”
Wellington was one of the more impressive sides in the opening round with a 2-0 victory over Alessandro Del Piero’s Sydney FC but talk has centred on its diminished squad this week.
Mark Paston, Glen Moss, Leo Bertos, Ben Sigmund, Tony Lochhead, Jeremy Brockie and Benjamin Totori, alongside coach Ricki Herbert, are tied down with international commitments.
But Aloisi has emphasised little attention has been paid to Phoenix’s depth.
“They are talking about having six players out, but they’re not talking about the players that are coming in,” Aloisi said.
“You’ve got Paul Ifill coming into the starting line-up who was probably one of the best players in the A-League last year; Vince Lia, and [Michael] Boxhall at the back who played quite a few games in the MLS and everyone knows that’s a strong league.
“So they’ve got a good side, they’re going to be tough, they’re well organised so we need to make sure that we do what we’ve been training on this week and we’re right for the game.
“The attitude last week was first class and if the boys put in like they did last week, the same intensity, then I’m sure we’ll get a good result.”
Former Phoenix striker Dylan Macallister, who opened his Heart account on debut last week, has echoed his coach’s sentiments.
“It’s a danger game for us; this is a game where we have to make sure we are motivated," Macallister said.
"We [need to] come out and play our game and attack them just like we would any other game and really concentrate on doing what we’re good at and make sure we take the three points."
Marquee man Alessandro Del Piero will spearhead the A-League All Stars after being voted into the side to face EPL champion Manchester United next month.