Wellington Phoenix confirm Costa Rican signing

SAM WORTHINGTON
Last updated 14:40 26/07/2013
Kenny Cunningham
Getty Images
ON HIS WAY: According to Carlos Hernandez, Kenny Hernandez will be on his way to the Phoenix.

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The Phoenix have confirmed the signing of Costa Rican international Kenny Cunningham on a two-year deal.

The 28-year-old attacker has played nine games and scored one goal for Costa Rica and has been playing at the Concacaf Gold Cup in the USA this month.

He joins fellow Costa Rican international Carlos Hernandez at the Phoenix, with Hernandez speaking highly of his former team-mate this week.

Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick described the signing as ''a major coup.''

"From the outset I said I wanted an attacking player who can come in from the wing and get into goal-scoring positions," Merrick said.

"It had to be someone with pace who has a credible footballing background. Kenny Cunningham ticks all those boxes. He is very pacey and plays in the Costa Rican national team as a first 11 choice. It is a major coup for the Phoenix to attract such a player."

Hernandez helped broker the deal by recommending Cunningham to Merrick.

"We got on to him initially through Carlos and he was keen to come over and play for the Phoenix in the A-League," Merrick said.

"Carlos knowing him personally was a bonus because it gives us information on his character which is very important as we want to sign players who are not only good on the field but are the right fit off it as well. I've watched him on DVD playing several matches for his club, and when someone is already playing at international level you know they are a good player.''

Cunningham played for Bolivian club The Strongest last season but they reportedly failed to fulfil their contract with him because of late salary payments.

Merrick now has just one import slot remaining as he looks to refresh a squad which claimed the wooden spoon last season.

"We have some really experienced players in the club but need to bring in younger players to get the age balance right," Merrick said.

Hernandez told The Dominion Post this week that Cunningham was quality.

"It's good for us, for the team, he's a very good player,'' Hernandez said.

''I think he will play good and help the team. I played with him in Costa Rica, not too much because he is younger than me. But I know him, he's a very good player and now he's more confident, you know. He's played in Japan, in Bolivia, he has good experience. He's a good age to come to Wellington and help the team."

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