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Phoenix chase further success in milestone match

Newshub logoNewshub 11/01/2019 Ben Francis

a man wearing a black shirt: Phoenix captain Andrew Durante © Getty Phoenix captain Andrew Durante Phoenix captain and defender Andrew Durante remains humble as ever ahead of a significant match against the Central Coast Mariners on Saturday.

The Phoenix can set a new club record of eight unbeaten games if they avoid defeat against the bottom-of-the-table Mariners, while the fixture will be Durante's 300th A-League match.

Durante will become the first man to reach the milestone, but getting a team result is his biggest priority.

"It is nice to hit those personal milestones, but it is about the team and the performance, it is not about me," he said.

"It is about us continuing our good run, and maybe after the game, we can celebrate with a beer, but it is about the team tomorrow." 

Reaching 300 career A-League games seemed unlikely this time last year for the 36-year-old who considered hanging up the boots at the end of the 2017-2018 season, before eventually signing another 12-month extension. 

The decision to stay on proved to be a good one as he's formed a strong defensive back three with Tom Doyle and Steven Taylor.

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After 12 games this season, the Phoenix have five wins, four draws and three losses, while in 27 games last season, they finished with five wins, six draws and six losses while conceding 55 goals.

"[I came] pretty close [to pulling the pin]. Around January, February time I was tossing up whether I give it in or not but I decided to stay on, and I'm glad I have.

"I've been able to reach this milestone, and I'm just excited that the club has transformed completely from last season both on the pitch and off the pitch. It's a completely rejuvenated place at the moment, and I'm loving it, and I'm sure the fans are as well."

Durante also refused to rule out committing to a 12th season with the A-League club.

Phoenix coach Mark Rudan also heaped praise on the Nix skipper for his form this season.

"He deserves all the accolades. He's been superb this season," said Rudan.

"He's been a shining light and seeing that smile on his face is great. You don't see lots of the stuff he does at the back with the players, he keeps hold of them.

"It's reward for a fantastic individual, one of the best leaders this competition has seen."

Rudan's also crushed a report linking him to Adelaide United.

The Phoenix will be without suspended midfielders Mandi Sosa and Alex Rufer for Saturday's game against the Mariners.

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