Phoenix bank on passion and emotion in playoff

22:22, Mar 29 2012
Ben Halloran
Ben Halloran (L) of United and Emmanuel Muscat of Phoenix contest the ball during their round one A-League match.
Phoenix
Joshua Brillante of United controls the ball during their round one A-League match against the Wellington Phoenix.
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Tim Brown of Phoenix heads the ball during their round one A-League match against Gold Coast United.
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Matt Gillett gives the Phoenix's Nick Ward a red card against the Newcastle Jets.
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Phoenix's Nick Ward walks off after receiving a red card against the Newcastle Jets.
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Daniel celebrates Phoenix's second goal against the Newcastle Jets.
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Former Phoenix owner Terry Serepisos at the match against the Newcastle Jets at Westpac Stadium.
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Phoenix's Leo Bertos and Jets player Sung-Hwan Byun fight for the ball.
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Andrezinho of Perth unsuccessfully attempts to keep the ball in play with Manny Muscat of Wellington looking on.
Phoenix
Chris Greenacre of Wellington tackles Jacob Burns of Perth during their round three A-League match.
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Daniel Vukovic goalkeeper for Perth makes a save against the Phoenix.
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Referee Ben Williams shows a red card to Phoenix's Manny Muscat against the Perth Glory.
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Wellington Phoenix' Tony Warner dives for the penalty shoot however is unable to stop the ball from going into the back of the net against the Melbourne Victory. CHRIS
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Referee Peter Green stands between Melbourne Victory's Ante Covic and Wellington Phoenix's Daniel Cortes.
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Melbourne Victory's Harry Kewell celebrates with Carlos Hernandez after scoring from the penalty spot against the Phoenix.
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Melbourne Victory's Marco Rojas during their A-League match against the Wellington Phoenix.
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Wellington Phoenix's Tim Brown in action against the Central Coast Mariners at Westpac Stadium.
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Wellington Phoenix's Chris Greenacre celebrates his goal with Daniel Cortes against the Central Coast Mariners at Westpac Stadium.
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Wellington Phoenix's Daniel Cortes in action against the Central Coast Mariners at Westpac Stadium.
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Wellington Phoenix's Dani Sanchez has a shot at goal against the Central Coast Mariners at Westpac Stadium.
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Anthony Warner of the Phoenix dives as he is beaten by a strike from Besart Berisha of the Roar.
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Michael Theoklitos of the Roar saves a goal against the Wellington Phoenix.
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Chris Greenacre of the Phoenix and Matthew Jurman of the Roar challenge for the ball.
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Thomas Broich of the Roar in action against the Wellington Phoenix at Suncorp Stadium.
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Tim Brown of the Phoenix celebrates with team mates after scoring a goal against the Brisbane Roar and the Wellington Phoenix at Suncorp Stadium.
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Tim Brown of the Phoenix is held back by Spase Dilevski of Adelaide United at Eden Park.
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Bruce Djite of Adelaide United and Tim Brown of the Phoenix fight for possession.
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Phoenix's Anthony Warner reacts to the Adelaide side scoring the only goal of the first half at Eden Park.
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Sydney's Bruno Cazarine yells at ref Ryan Shephead at the final whistle during their match against the Phoenix.
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Sydney's Terry McFlynn reacts to Phoenix's Paul Ifill.
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Phoenix's Tim Brown takes a flying kick unsuccessfully past Sydney's goalkeeper Liam Reddy.
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Phoenix's Paul Ifill in action against Sydney FC.
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Phoenix's Paul Ifill celebrates his goal against Sydney FC.
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Phoenix's Mirjan Pavlovic and Sydney's Scott Jamieson battle for the ball.
Paul Ifill and Michael Marrone
Wellington Phoenix midfielder Paul Ifill attempts to poke the ball away from the Melbourne Heart's Michael Marrone.
Phoenix gallery
Ben Sigmund of the Phoenix and Jason Hoffman of the Heart contest the ball.
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Heart players celebrate the goal of Mate Dugandzic during their round nine match against the Wellington Phoenix.
Phoenix gallery
Vince Lia of the Phoenix controls the ball during their round nine match against the Wellington Phoenix.
Phoenix gallery
Mirjan Pavlovic of the Phoenix controls the ball during their round nine match against the Wellington Phoenix.
Manny Muscat
Wellington defender Manny Muscat is upended by Perth's Andrezinho.
Ben Sigmund
An ecstatic Ben Sigmund reacts after his 85th minute header resulted in the game's only goal.
Ben Sigmund
Phoenix captain Andrew Durante celebrates the Phoenix's 2-0 win over the Roar.
Leo Bertos
Perth's Trent McClenahan runs into the back of Phoenix midfielder Leo Bertos.
Mirjan Pavlovic
Referee Ryan Shepheard shows Mirjan Pavlovic a red card late in the match.
Ben Sigmund
Paul Ifill of the Phoenix makes a break during against the Brisbane Roar at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Ben Sigmund
Phoenix players Ben Sigmund, Andrew Durante and Tim Brown acknowledge the crowd after the 2-0 win over the Roar.
Ben Sigmund
Phoenix fans cheer the goal by Paul Ifill in the first half.
Ben Sigmund
Paul Ifill is congratulated by Nick Ward after scoring the first goal of the game.
Ben Sigmund
Chris Greenacre of the Phoenix tangles with the Roar's Matthew Jurman.
Alex Smith
The Phoenix's Alex Smith is chased down by Melbourne's Leigh Broxham.
Carlos Hernandez and Ben Sigmund
Ben Sigmund (right) is held off by Melbourne Victory midfielder Carlos Hernandez.
Harry Kewell and Ben Sigmund
Victory captain Harry Kewell offers Wellington defender Ben Sigmund a helping hand.
Andrew Durante
Phoenix captain Andrew Durante makes a sliding challenge on Danny Allsopp.
Wellington's Tim Brown competes in the air with Nigel Boogaard of Adelaide.
Wellington's Tim Brown competes in the air with Nigel Boogaard of Adelaide.
Tim Brown of the Phoenix competes with Zenon Caravella of Adelaide.
Tim Brown of the Phoenix competes with Zenon Caravella of Adelaide.
Phoenix vs Adelaide
Goal Keeper Eugene Galekovic of Adelaide keeps his eyes on the ball.
Phoenix Gallery
Wellington Phoenix's Dani Sanchez battles Sydney's Jamie Coyne.
Phoenix Gallery
Wellington Phoenix goal keeper Tony Warner fails to stop a penalty taken by Sydney's Brett Emerton
Phoenix Gallery
Wellington Phoenix's Leo Bertos shoots past Sydney's Shannon Cole.
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Wellington Phoenix's Vince Lia during the Phoenix v Sydney.
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Wellington Phoenix's Leo Bertos and Wellington Phoenix's Tim Brown and Perth's Liam Miller.
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Wellington Phoenix's Dani Sanchez during the game vs Perth Glory.
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Wellington Phoenix's Tim Brown and Perth's Liam Miller.
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Wellington Phoenix's captain Andrew Durante and Tony Lochhead.
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Tony Lochhead of the Phoenix attempts to pass Ben Halloran of Gold Coast United.
Phoenix Gallery
Paul Ifill of the Phoenix throws the ball back into play against Gold Coast United.
Phoenix Gallery
Jerrad Tyson of United dives on the ball against the Wellington Phoenix at Skilled Park.
Phoenix Gallery
Tarek Elrich of the Jets competes for the ball with Paul Ifill of the Phoenix during their round 16 A-League match.
Phoenix Gallery
Michael Bridges of the Jets runs away from Alexander Smith of the Phoenix during their round 16 A-League match.
Phoenix Gallery
A young Jets fan waves a flag before their round 16 A-League match against the Wellington Phoenix at Ausgrid Stadium.
Phoenix Gallery
Ben Sigmund of Wellington in action against Adelaide United.
Phoenix Gallery
Serginho van Dijk (L) of Adelaide competes with Andrew Durante of Wellington.
Phoenix Gallery
Yevgen Levchenko (L) of Adelaide picks up Leo Bertos of Wellington.
Phoenix Gallery
Emmanuel Muscat (L) of Wellington competes with Iain Ramsey (R) of Adelaide.
Phoenix Gallery
Tim Brown (L) of Wellington is congratulated by team mate Daniel Sanchez after Brown scored a goal against Adelaide United.
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Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert reacts to a decision against his team during their match against the Brisbane Roar at Westpac Stadium.
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Phoenix's Ben Sigmund gets injured during their match against the Brisbane Roar at Westpac Stadium.
Phoenix Gallery
Brisbane Roar's Besart Berisha celebrates scoring during their match against the Phoenix at Westpac Stadium.
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Phoenix's Leo Bertos and Brisbane Roar's Shane Stefanutto go up for the ball.
Phoenix Gallery
Referee Jarred Gillett yellow-cards Vince Lia during of the Phoenix in their match against the the Brisbane Roar.
Central Coast Mariners v Phoenix, Gosford, Feb 18
Joshua Rose of the Mariners dribbles between Phoenix pair Dani Sanchez (L) and Vince Lia (R).
Central Coast Mariners v Phoenix, Gosford, Feb 18
Mariners players celebrate their second goal against the Phoenix by Patrick Zwaanswijk.
Central Coast Mariners v Phoenix, Gosford, Feb 18
Vince Lia of the Phoenix claims possession in front of Tomas Rogic of the Mariners.
Central Coast Mariners v Phoenix, Gosford, Feb 18
Vince Lia wins possession from a sprawling Joshua Rose during the Wellington Phoenix's 2-0 loss to the Central Coast Mariners in Gosford.
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Alexander Smith of Sydney competes for the ball against Manny Muscat of Wellington.
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Joel Chianese of Sydney is given a yellow card for diving by referee Peter Green.
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Michael Beauchamp of Sydney looks dejected after missing a shot on goal against the Phoenix.
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Paul Ifill of Wellington celebrates after scoring his team's first goal against Sydney FC.
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Joel Chianese of Sydney tackles Ben Sigmund of Wellington.
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Wellington Phoenix's Leo Bertos shoots at goal against Gold Coast United.
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Wellington Phoenix's Paul Ifill misses a chance against Gold Coast United.
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Wellington Phoenix's Chris Greenacre heads the ball in a free kick against Gold Coast United.
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Wellington Phoenix's Tim Brown and Gold Coast United's Zac Anderson in action.
Dani Sanchez
Dani Sanchez takes a left foot shot at goal against Gold Coast United.
Andrew Durante
Phoenix captain Andrew Durante lies on the turf after missing a chance at goal.
Mirjan Pavlovic
Phoenix striker Mirjan Pavlovic is tripped up by Gold Coast's Jake Barker-Daishduring.
Andrew Durante, Tim Brown and Paul Ifill
Andrew Durante (left) celebrates just his second A-League goal with team-mates Tim Brown and Paul Ifill (right).
Breakers v Adelaide
Aziz Behich of the Heart kicks the ball past Nicholas Ward of the Phoenix.
Breakers v Adelaide
Paul Ifill of the Phoenix celebrates his goal with teammates against the Melbourne Heart.
Breakers v Adelaide
Eli Babalj of the Heart and Ben Sigmund of the Phoenix scuffle.
Breakers v Adelaide
Heart and Phoenix players are involved in a scuffle.
Wellington Phoenix
Isaka Cernak of the Melbourne Victory celebrates his goal as disconsolate Phoenix players Manny Muscat (centre) and Mark Paston look on.
Wellington Phoenix
A disbelieving Paul Ifill is shown a yellow card by referee Chris Beath during the Phoenix's 3-0 loss to Melbourne Victory.
Wellington Phoenix
Isaka Cernak of the Victory and Tony Lochhead of the Phoenix challenge each other for the ball during the round 24 match between Melbourne Victory and the Wellington Phoenix at AAMI Park.
Wellington Phoenix
Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante is gutted as Melbourne Victory players celebrate a goal.
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Phoenix's Nick Ward goes over the top of Mariners' Mustafa Amini to head the ball.
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Ben Sigmund headers the ball away from the Mariners' Bernie Ibini.
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Phoenix's Tony Lochhead holds back Bernie Ibini of the Mariners.
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Phoenix's Tony Lochhead holds back John Sutton of the Mariners.
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Phoenix's Alexander Smith and the Mariners' Mustafa Amini go up for the ball.

Ricki Herbert will encourage his players to embrace the emotion surrounding Tim Brown's impending retirement in tonight's A-League elimination final at Westpac Stadium.

A crowd in excess of 20,000 is expected to pour through the gates for what would be Brown's last game of competitive football should the Phoenix lose to Sydney FC.

"Browny, I don't think you can take away the fact that he's been here, a foundation player, a real heart on the sleeve guy who's really built this club with a lot of people," Herbert said.

Phoenix
PASSION AND EMOTION: Phoenix training at Westpac Stadium for their games against Sydney FC.

"He's been a strong sort of leader behind all that so I think it's only natural that there will be a strong passion from all the players and staff [tonight] in support of Tim.

"He has made a massive decision in his life and we understand and respect that but there will certainly be something about Browny [tonight]."

The Phoenix are hoping that passion and emotion will spark a better performance than they showed in back-to-back losses against Melbourne Victory and Central Coast Mariners.

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Sydney are a dangerous opponent, haven't lost for a month and have had the pressure valve released by beating Newcastle on Sunday and squeaking into the playoffs.

"Our away form has been good this season," said Sydney captain Terry McFlynn.

"There's a strong belief in the group, confidence is at an all-time high this season so we'll keep believing in what we're doing, as we have all season, and may that continue."

The Phoenix are at full strength for tonight's game and are expected to name an unchanged XI from the side that lost 2-1 to the Mariners last Sunday.

With A-League rules allowing an extra substitute for finals games, popular little Brazilian Daniel will get a spot on the bench after recovering from an ankle injury.

There was plenty of healthy niggle and banter at yesterday's final training session and Phoenix captain Andrew Durante – an A-League champion with Newcastle – said he still got the butterflies come finals time.

"It's going to be a long day waiting for an 8 o'clock kickoff but I think there's a lot of good, nervous energy," Durante said.

"We knew what a great feeling it was a couple of years ago [2010 finals run]. To finish fourth and get that back again is fantastic and I think you'll see we'll thrive on that."

The Phoenix spent plenty of time practising penalties yesterday but are hoping it won't come to that given they are three from three against Sydney this season.

Durante, who played for Sydney in the Asian Champions League last year, admitted the Sky Blues' recent form had been impressive.

"But we hold no fears against them. It always gives you that little bit more confidence knowing that we can beat them and we've beat them in different ways.

"They pretty much put us under the pump last time we played them at the Sydney Football Stadium but we defended well and the two other games we took it them and put them on the back foot."

As per usual, plenty rests on the shoulders of Phoenix star Paul Ifill. The Barbados international has scored in all three games against Sydney this season and declared himself 100 per cent fit during the week.

Phoenix (probable): Mark Paston, Manny Muscat, Ben Sigmund, Andrew Durante, Tony Lochhead, Vince Lia, Tim Brown, Leo Bertos, Dani Sanchez, Chris Greenacre, Paul Ifill. Bench: Tony Warner, Alex Smith, Nick Ward, Daniel, Mirjan Pavlovic

Sydney (probable): Ivan Necevski, Shannon Cole, Pascal Bosschaart, Michael Beauchamp, Scott Jamieson, Terry McFlynn, Brett Emerton, Karol Kisel, Nick Carle, Joel Chianese, Bruno Cazarine. Bench (from): Ryan Norval, Sebastian Ryall, Terry Antonis, Mark Bridge, Rhyan Grant, Mitch Mallia.

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