Dugandzic Wary Of Phoenix Threat

Melbourne Heart FC star Mate Dugandzic has declared Wellington Phoenix an eminently difficult opponent as the Red and White searches for its first win in 2012.

Melbourne Heart FC star Mate Dugandzic has declared Wellington Phoenix an eminently difficult opponent as the Red and White searches for its first win in 2012.

After rounding off 2011 with a stellar 4-0 romp over Sydney FC, Heart has struggled for form and fortune since the New Year, collecting just two points from five matches to fall three points behind the second placed Brisbane Roar.

However, following the reigning champions loss to the Newcastle Jets at Suncorp Stadium last night, a triumph over Wellington would propel Heart back into the race for a double chance in the finals, and an AFC Champions League.

Conversely, a loss would consign Heart to a four-point deficit behind the Phoenix, who can jump clear of the Roar into outright second spot on the table, as battle to be the Hyundai A-League-s next best after the Central Coast Mariners hastens.

“They're in a great patch of form, almost what we had recently, and they're difficult to beat over there. We want to get the three points, but they're flying at the moment,” he said.

“We want to discontinue our patch of late, although the last two games we played proper football but results haven't gone our way.

“We dominated Central Coast and were very unlucky to have lost that, then we changed it up against Brisbane and I thought we matched up well and I felt like we created a lot of chances, in the first half especially.”

Dugandzic will link up with his Australian Under 23 team mates in Dubai following today-s match, and alongside Aziz Behich and Jason Hoffman, is likely to be unavailable for selection until February 26, when Heart hosts the Central Coast Mariners at AAMI Park.