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The coming twelve months promise to become landmark period for football in New Zealand. The FIFA U-20 World Cup will be hosted with the country next year; the greatest global football tournament yet stuck the Land on the Long White Cloud. Meanwhile, the nation's team appear to be having a revamp under new national coach Anthony Hudson, who says he is rebuilding the inside for that 2018 FIFA World Cup? campaign. The winds of change even touch the modern Zealand FA the place where a new chairman and technical director have been in place.

But, in lots of ways, this can be a buoyant club scene it really is a key indicator to the health of the game. Compared to that end, it is Wellington Phoenix that are the leading standard-bearer. The capital club compete nationwide’s ten-team A-League, and are also New Zealand’s – as well as Oceania’s - only professional club. In this context you will find there's degree of added pressure while focusing on the club.

Under highly-respected Scottish-born Australian coach Ernie Merrick the club are setting their sights high. “It is now time because of this club to produce a statement,” Merrick recently said in mention of season ten from the A-League which started last weekend.

Platform for achievement
New Zealand have enjoyed a presence around australia’s national league for 10 years, firstly with the curiously monikered Auckland-based Football Kingz and then, in the past from the A-League, via the New Zealand Knights. Success though, has largely been difficult to find to the Kiwis. It took until 2010 before Wellington Phoenix made their first play-offs, thanks in part for the talismanic qualities of coach Ricki Herbert. The achievement coming just a couple months prior to All Whites famed undefeated showing in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The Phoenix repeated the feat over the following two seasons but are already less successful since.

This is Merrick’s second season with the club as well as the affable coach says a year ago was partly a bedding-down process, one where solid foundations were laid. “This is fully understand the best way to play together, because they are already together way too long,” Merrick said of his side. “And then we have greater depth too. All of us play is basically good, our movement patterns are good. I just now feel that we're miles before recently.”

— Friday, October 17, 2014