Wellington Phoenix draw champions Sydney FC in A-League restart

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Sydney FC's All Whites striker Kosta Barbarouses attempts to evade Cameron Devlin, Reno Piscopo and Matti Steinmann of the Phoenix last December.

Hagen Hopkins/Getty-Images

Sydney FC’s All Whites striker Kosta Barbarouses attempts to evade Cameron Devlin, Reno Piscopo and Matti Steinmann of the Phoenix last December.

The Wellington Phoenix will play their six remaining games in the space of 24 days when the A-League restarts later this month.

Details of their first match back, against table-topping Sydney on July 17, have been public knowledge since early June, but the rest of the draw has not been officially announced.

Changes in the Covid-19 situation in Australia have made finalising the fixture list difficult, but the Daily Telegraph has published a version of it ahead of an announcement that is expected on Wednesday.

NZ Football chief executive Andrew Pragnell is encouraged by the strength of trans-Tasman football relations.

After taking on Sydney, the former club of coach Ufuk Talay and midfielder Cam Devlin, who will miss the match through suspension, the third-placed Phoenix are set to face Perth on July 23.

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They then have their shortest turnaround before facing Adelaide United on July 26, with Western Sydney Wanderers to follow on July 31, Brisbane Roar on August 5, and the Newcastle Jets on August 9.

Trent Buhagiar of Sydney FC is tackled by David Ball of the Phoenix last December.

Hagen Hopkins/Getty-Images

Trent Buhagiar of Sydney FC is tackled by David Ball of the Phoenix last December.

All of the Phoenix’s matches will take place in New South Wales, where the bulk of the squad is nearing the end of a 14-day quarantine period after flying in on June 20. Star players Ulises Dávila and Gary Hooper have been in quarantine as individuals, but will soon link up with their team-mates.

The A-League was suspended in late March as the Covid-19 pandemic hit Australia and New Zealand.

According to the draw published by the Telegraph, there will be 32 matches played in 38 days, with the finals series starting on August 15 and the grand final scheduled for August 23.

Bradden Inman of the Roar and Luke DeVere of the Phoenix challenge for the ball in Brisbane in January.

Getty-Images

Bradden Inman of the Roar and Luke DeVere of the Phoenix challenge for the ball in Brisbane in January.

The top six teams qualify for the finals and the Phoenix are aiming for a top-two finish, which would be the best in their 13-year history and give them a bye through to the second round.

Sydney sit atop the A-League ladder with 48 points from 20 matches, followed by Melbourne City, who have 40 from 23, the Phoenix (36 from 20), the Roar (35 from 22), Perth (31 from 20), and Western United (27 from 20) and Adelaide (27 from 21).

The A-League’s first match back is set to take place on July 16 in Melbourne, when the Victory take on Western United.

The Wellington Phoenix’s revised A-League draw, according to the Telegraph (all NZ time)

Friday, July 17, 9.30pm: v Sydney FC (currently 1st on the ladder)

Thursday, July 23, 9.30pm: v Perth Glory (5th)

Sunday, July 26, 5.30pm: v Adelaide United (7th)

Friday, July 31, 9.30pm: v Western Sydney Wanderers (8th)

Wednesday, August 5, 8pm: v Brisbane Roar (4th)

Sunday, August 9, 9.30pm: v Newcastle Jets (9th)

Top six finals series begins on Friday, August 15

Grand Final: August 23

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