Barbarouses sets his sights on A-League championship with Wellington

Kosta Barbarouses is revelling in his return home to Wellington Phoenix and he boldly declared it was his ambition to help propel the Phoenix to what would be their first-ever A-League championship.


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Barbarouses knows a thing or two about winning titles, having done the Premiers' Plate and championship double with Brisbane Roar in season 2010-2011 and again with Melbourne Victory in season 2014-2015.

Wellington have never won the Premiers' Plate or made it as far as the grand final, but Barbarouses told The World Game they could realistically aim at breaking the title drought with the squad coach Ernie Merrick had gathered, which also included fellow ex-Victory player Gui Finkler.

Barbarouses said regardless of the fact that Wellington had made him a big offer to sign, he wouldn’t have returned to his original A-League club if he didn’t believe they could go all the way during the term of his three-year contract.

"Yeah, absolutely. If you look at Victory, they’re always in and around the title chase and I wouldn’t have left there if I didn’t believe we could do something here at Wellington," Barbarouses said. 

"The strong foundation of players was already here before I came and with the new licence to stay in the A-League having come through, and a new training facility being built that will be ready at the end of the year, all the signs are positive.

"Gui is a great signing and the club is looking at some other good players they want to sign, which really shows that we’re taking this very seriously, you know.

"It would take a lot of hard work, I realise that, but I just always thought it would be a great feeling to do something special in my hometown and win a championship. Hopefully, we can do that.

"The club has gone close on a couple of occasions. We played in the finals while I was here the first time (in 2010) and two seasons ago, when Victory won it, Wellington was in the finals with a real chance of winning but just didn’t have the experience."

Barbarouses said if he could pull off a championship with Wellington, to make it three for him, it would be like a dream come true.

"Yeah, I think it would be amazing and if it happened it would probably be the most satisfying one," he said.

"I don’t want to look too far ahead, but obviously that’s the aim and it would just be very pleasing for myself and the club as well, because they’re still chasing their first championship."

Barbarouses, who has tormented left-backs with his brilliant running of the ball down the right wing, is already one of the biggest stars in the competition, which explained why Wellington offered him a reported $750,000 per season to make the switch.

But the 26 year-old said we haven’t seen the best of him yet.

"Yeah, I don’t think I’m there yet," he said.

"I can still improve and after a couple more years – at 28, 29 – I should be reaching my peak.

"I’ve still got some improving to do and that’s exciting for me, because I’ve already achieved a few things in the A-League, won a couple of championships, and I think if I can improve while I’m here as well I can help Phoenix achieve something."

Barbarouses said being part of an attack-minded squad, that includes players like Roly Bonevacia, Michael McGlinchey, Roy Krishna and Finkler, made him excited about the team’s potential.

He said Merrick, who coached the Victory to win two A-League championships after establishing an attacking brand of football there, was his kind of coach.

"Ernie wants his players to be able to cause the opposition team headaches," Barbarouses said.

"He tries to get the best out of us with that in mind.

"He has always had that attacking mindset and we had a conversation when I signed and I knew he wanted me to get into position to get a lot more goal-scoring opportunities and that’s what we’re working on at the moment.

"I’ve got the freedom to not just stay on the wing but come inside and make more runs that way as well. It’s still early days, but the signs are pretty positive.”

Barbarouses and Finkler each scored twice in Wellington’s 7-1 win over local side Miramar in a trial game on Tuesday.

"It was the first hit-out for myself and Gui. It was good to start getting a bit of the rust out," Barbarouses said.

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4 min read
Published 14 July 2016 at 9:48pm
By Greg Prichard