Phoenix looking forward to return to NZ

Wellington coach Ufuk Talay says that two home games in New Zealand at the back end of the season could prove vital in their finals tilt.

Coach UFUK TALAY .
Coach UFUK TALAY . Picture: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

After not playing a match in New Zealand in over 400 days, Wellington Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay says his troops are looking forward to returning home.

Speaking following the goalless draw with Adelaide United at Coopers Stadium on Friday night, Talay said the club has endured an extremely challenging 12 months, including two stints in New South Wales hubs due to travel restrictions.

They've been based in their adopted Wollongong home since November but will meet Western United in Sky Stadium, Wellington on May 22 before facing Perth Glory at Eden Park, Auckland on May 30 - with a game in Sydney against Western Sydney Wanderers in between.

"It's been challenging with the environment that we've been in, back in Wollongong with the facilities as well," Talay said.

"They haven't been up to scratch to be honest, or up to A-League standards, so that's been challenging at the same time.

"We persevere. It's not just the players, it's also the staff and it's also the club and the owners that sacrifice a lot of money for us to be here and playing in this season."

Despite the situation, the Phoenix are still in the hunt for a spot in the finals, although Talay admitted the draw against the Reds was less than ideal.

Wellington sit ninth, three points behind sixth-placed Brisbane Roar, with five games remaining, including the two fixtures in New Zealand.

Talay also acknowledged one of the most trying aspects of playing out of Wollongong this season has been the absence of the Wellington faithful.

The Phoenix home supporters last saw their side in the flesh on March 15 last year and Talay believes their support will be vital.

"It's been a challenging season to be honest in the sense that we've had no home games, we've had no home fans," said Talay.

"Especially when you're winning games or you're chasing a game, the crowd does help, I believe."