Brett Emerton is confident of a win in Wellington, but he knows all too well the damage Paul Ifill can do to his side’s grand aspirations.
Marquee men in the Hyundai A-League are a rare breed and one of the biggest, Brett Emerton is wary of another this weekend, highlighting Paul Ifill as the man his team have to stop when the Sky Blues travel to Wellington to take on the Phoenix.
It goes without saying that the Barbadian sensation is always a marked man but Sydney FC will have to double their efforts, given Ifill has netted three times against them this year – once in each encounter.
“Without doubt he (Ifill) is their danger man, but we have other players we need to keep a close eye on as well, but he-s in good form and has done well against us in the past, so we will try and keep him quiet,” Emerton said.
While Sydney FC have been one of the form teams of the competition in recent times losing just one of their last five matches, albeit to the Phoenix, the Nix have been anything but.
They were uninspiring against traditional bogey side Melbourne Victory and then fell to the Mariners at home last weekend to come into the finals in some meek form.
And with an elimination atmosphere hanging around the club of late, Emerton believes it will stand his side in good stead when they take on the Phoenix.
“We-re confident we have been playing well. I think we deserve our place in the finals, it-s going to be a tough game on the weekend, though against Wellington,” he said.
“We-ve been playing almost finals football for the last couple of weeks. We need to continue to win football matches but we are playing well and going there on the weekend with a lot of confidence. I think we can get the job done.
“It-s quite possible (the Phoenix will be down on confidence) but for finals football I think you approach it a little differently it-s a one-off game, so both teams will be going into it thinking they can win.”
Part of the reason Sydney FC have blossomed late in the year is the partnership between Brazilian striker Bruno Cazarine and rising star Joel Chianese and Emerton thinks the duo can continue on their merry way.
“They have been doing great. I think Joel, he-s a young boy and has come in and done well.
“With Bruno and himself, there is a good balance there, so it-s good to have those two playing well and scoring goals and that gives us a good chance of playing well into the finals.”
As for who he believes the biggest threats to Sydney-s chances are, Emerton went for the obvious.
“I think anyone can win, but obviously Brisbane and Central Coast Mariners have been the most consistent teams over the year and I still see them as the major threats.”