Wellington Phoenix returns home to play two games in New Zealand

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Wellington Phoenix soccer is back home.

New Zealand’s only professional football club will be hoping to draw the two biggest groups in the 2020/21 A-League season after confirming Phoenix’s highly anticipated return to Wellington next month.

Phoenix will host Western United at Wellington’s Sky Stadium on May 22 and Perth Glory at Eden Park in Oakland on May 30 in their first real home game in more than 400 days.

Sky Sport

Phoenix striker Tomer Hamid hit the penalty spot in the final second to defeat Adelaide.

The matches will be held in the afternoon, with the Wellington match kicking off at 4 pm and the Auckland game at 3:30 pm.

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“This will be our first game in New Zealand in 14 months – 433 days since we last played for our true fans in this country,” said General Manager David Doom.

“Our fans in Wellington, Auckland and across New Zealand deserve to watch their team play live this season.”

Dom set a goal of attracting more than 15,000 fans for the two New Zealand games, which would be more than 14,402 people who attended the Sydney Derby between Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers in January.

He said attending the peak season would give Phoenix a much-needed financial boost after an exercise mandated to move to Australia for several months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Phoenix has not played for Wellington since March 15 last year.

“It was very expensive to move to Australia,” said Dom. “No club in the league has had to pay for the transfer.

“Of course we hope a couple of the big New Zealand fans will bridge that gap somewhat and maybe put some money in the treasury to buy more players for next year as well.

“The crowds in Wollongong, while doing well, didn’t earn us any money. Let’s be honest.”

The Phoenix has been based in Wollongong since November and have been playing their home games away from the WIN Stadium.

Mark Kolb / Getty Images

The Phoenix has been based in Wollongong since November and have been playing their home games away from the WIN Stadium.

To help the Phoenix draw the crowd for its first home game in 433 days, Capital Football postponed its afternoon soccer matches on May 22 to allow local players to attend the match in Wellington.

Doom said Phoenix wasn’t able to play in Wellington on the weekend of May 29-30 because the food show was being held at Sky Stadium on the same dates, so they decided to move the match in Perth to Oakland.

“There was a real desire to return to New Zealand with as many matches as possible [as possible], Although the trip would be horrific.

“ Three games in eight days is tough enough on their own, but three games where you have to travel through Tasman between the two is a big demand.

“We looked at it but thought we’d give it a try, it’s our best opportunity to give back to the fans in New Zealand. We can’t go to Wellington because of the Food Show, so we called Eden Park and we were excited to play there.”

“It was always one game in Wellington and one game in Oakland, or just one game in Wellington.”

Three wins in their last four matches have kept the eighth seeded Phoenix looking for sixth place.

They will play Brisbane Roar on Saturday at Moreton Daily, the team directly above them at the A-League table.

Renault Pescopo, the superstar striker once again, prepares to start off the sofa after receiving everything for his comeback.

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