»It’s not different than that: [we are] no different in our approach than we have in several weeks. We go there knowing that they’re a good side,» he said.
“They’re well organised, they’ve got a good coach, they’ve got a good way of playing and they’ve got some threats. They’ve got people who can score goals and are in the goalscoring charts.
“They can create chances and take chances. They’ve proved that all season.
“We know we’ve got a tough game on, we’ve played them twice this season, won one and lost one.”
If City win they will close to within a point of Adelaide United (1-0 victors over Kevin Muscat’s side on Good Friday) and, with bottom-of-the-table Central Coast Mariners as their final game at AAMI Park, would be optimistic of taking another three points in their final home-and-away game.
If that scenario unfolds, Adelaide would have to beat Brisbane Roar in their last game of the season in Queensland on Anzac Day evening — 24 hours before City host the Mariners.
On paper that should be straightforward, but emotion will come into play as the Anzac Day fixture will be the last game for Roar stalwart and skipper Matt McKay as he has announced his retirement at season’s end.
Roar will be desperate to send him off with three points in his final fixture for the club with whom he is so identified.
Wellington are also in a similar boat. If they win on Sunday they will be one point behind Adelaide but their task is much harder than City’s as their last fixture is the »distance derby» in which they travel to the home of premiers’ plate winners Perth Glory.
The Glory will want to finish the home-and-away season — the first in which they have finished top of the league — in style in front of their own fans before they get a one-week break in the first week of the finals.
Wellington are also likely to produce an emotional atmosphere for the Easter Sunday game as it could well be coach Mark Rudan’s last home fixture — if they don’t finish fourth and secure a home final.
Rudan told the club last week that he would not be staying on as head coach having made such a huge impression in his first season in charge, so players and fans are likely to want to send him off on a high note.
He is widely expected to take on the role of head coach at the A-League’s newest club, Western United, next season.
City travelled to New Zealand without their key defender Bart Schenkenveld for the second game in a row.
The Dutchman hurt his groin in an innocuous after training incident a fortnight ago when he kicked a ball when the session had finished.
He missed the scoreless draw with Adelaide United on April 13 and whatever happens, Joyce is unlikely to take any risks with his fitness ahead of the finals.
Joyce will, however, welcome back captain Scott Jamieson either for the game in New Zealand or for the clash with the Mariners ahead of the finals.
The skipper has been missing since sustaining a toe injury in perhaps City’s best win of the season, the 2-0 triumph in Sydney in round 22.
But he has got through a series of training sessions and, Joyce said before the team travelled across the Tasman, was at least in good enough shape to be considered for an imminent return.
City officials are adamant that contrary to some reports, no decision has been made on Joyce’s future.
The call on whether he gets a contract extension will be made after the season ends — and while results will be a major determinant they won’t be the only factor involved.
Michael Lynch is The Age’s chief soccer reporter and also reports on motor sport and horseracing