Rudan's Phoenix won't die wondering in finals clash

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Mark Rudan knows Wellington Phoenix are fierce underdogs in Friday night's A-League elimination final with Melbourne Victory.

He sums up the challenge of facing the reigning champions on their home pitch in one sentence.

"One of their marquee players is earning more than our entire football budget," he says, referring to star import Keisuke Honda.

"No one gives us a chance. Everyone's expecting us to go home after tomorrow night."

It's a variation on that message that Rudan has been playing off all season, ever since his own import, former Newcastle United defender Steven Taylor, reported back to his boss a private conversation with a Fox Sports pundit.

"At the season launch (they said) 'after you lose your first five or six games and your coach's out of a job you'll see what's going on'," Rudan said.

"A lot of people had us as wooden spoon. A lot.

"All those sort of things that just sources of motivation.

"Everyone's expecting Melbourne to win the game. And we're supposed to be packing our bags, we might as well not even be here.

"(Victory) are the biggest club in the country.

"Well, the bigger the the challenge, the better for us."

Rudan's confidence comes after a break-out first season at the helm of an A-League club.

The club was on track for a home final after a nine-game unbeaten run across December and January before coming tapering off, having already sewn up a finals place.

Against Victory, Rudan has seen his side take the lead in all three matches only to settle for three draws.

"We know their movements. We know everything about them. We know them inside out," he said.

"It's about the night, making sure that you create those moments and that you leave nothing left of yourself."

The former Sydney FC striker has plenty of motivation to give his all this month as he prepares to leave the role.

Rudan will take up the position of Western United head coach at the end of the Phoenix season, becoming an overnight arch-rival to Victory and coach Kevin Muscat.

Rudan won plaudits for his tactical nous against Victory this season, particularly in an enthralling 3-3 draw in January that will rate as one of the matches of the season.

"I'm a fan as well as the coach," he said.

"When I watch games like that I enjoy it ... football is at it's best when both teams are gung ho.

"I believe in a certain way of playing you know, I know Kevin's teams like to go at teams as well.

"I respect him."

Source AAP