6 Aug 2014

Phoenix in football no man's land

12:30 pm on 6 August 2014

After losing 1-0 to Adelaide United in their FFA Cup debut, the Wellington Phoenix once again find themselves in football's no man's land - as a New Zealand-based team competing in an Australian competition.

Phoenix Coach Ernie Merrick

Phoenix Coach Ernie Merrick Photo: RNZ / Stephen Hewson

The game was supposedly a home fixture for the Phoenix, but was played in Adelaide, as the Wellingtonians have to play all their FFA Cup games in Australia.

The Phoenix also aren't allowed to compete in the A-League's prize, the Asian Champions League - even if they win the title.

At least the Phoenix are being allowed to play in the FFA Cup, though coach Ernie Merrick admits there was some resistance to them even taking part.

Yet they're banned from New Zealand's Chatham Cup and the lucrative Oceania Champions League, for the winners of the top competitions in Oceania, such as the national Premiership.

None of it makes much sense to Merrick, who says he's never come across a situation where a club is up against so many obstacles.

Merrick says the best teams from New Zealand or Australia represent the confederation in Oceania or Asia, and they don't get a chance in either, which doesn't make sense - but it's an Australian competition and they have to abide by their rules.

Injury means midfielders Vince Lia and Alex Rodriguez skipped Tuesday night's FFA Cup game, as did Manny Muscat and Albert Riera, who are away with the A-League All Stars for their clash with Italian giants Juventus on Sunday.