23 Aug 2017

Phoenix sign Iraqi international

12:25 pm on 23 August 2017

The Wellington Phoenix have completed their roster for the upcoming A-League football season, signing Iraqi international defender Ali Abbas on a two year contract.

A veteran of 128 A-League games over seven seasons with Sydney FC and Newcastle, Abbas' last stint was in the K-League in Korea.

Assistant coach Rado Vidosic said Abbas is a technically gifter player who offers versality able to play at fullback, as a midfielder and on the wing.

Ali Abbas on the burst for Newcastle against the Phoenix in 2010.

Ali Abbas on the burst for Newcastle against the Phoenix in 2010. Photo: Phoenix

"Ali provides us with a lot of experience from the A-League, Asian Champion's League and overseas," said Vidosic, "as a left-footed player he also brings a lot of balance to the team and also competition on the left-handed side."

For Head Coach Darije Kalezic the signing of Abbas not just brings Phoenix's off-season recruitment to a close but also highlights the willingness of top-tier Australian talent to buy into the coaching staff's project of rejuvenation.

"With the signing of Ali we have completed our playing roster," said Kalezic, "and I am very happy with the group that we have recruited but also the players that we have retained."

"It hasn't always been possible in the past to attract top-quality Australian players to join us here at Wellington - that has changed."

For Abbas, an Australian citizen, a return to the A-League is also a homecoming after a disappointing period in Korea.

"After Korea there were many offers, a lot from home in Iraq, but I wanted to come back to the A-League," said Abbas.

"At Sydney I worked with Rado, he's very tactical, and structured, he makes you understand the roles you play, so the chance to work again with him, and of course to learn from Darije, was very exciting."

As to what position he thinks he will play, Abbas is happy to leave that to the coaches.

"I don't have a preference, I can play whatever position they chose - for me, I am happy as long as I'm on the pitch.

Abbas will join the squad initially as an injury-replacement for Louis Fenton.

The young full-back has had a horrific run with injury and will be assisted by the club in finding regular game-time elsewhere once he has regained full fitness.

Abbas arrived in Wellington on Monday and having successfully passed a medical has already begun training with the team.

Wellington Phoenix squad - A-League season 2017/2018:

Goalkeepers: Lewis Italiano, Oliver Sail

Defenders: Andrew Durante, Marco Rossi, Scott Galloway, Tom Doyle, Daniel Mullen, Ryan Lowry, Dylan Fox, Ali Abbas (injury replacement)

Midfielders: Gui Finkler, Michael McGlinchey, Goran Paracki, Matthew Ridenton, Alex Rufer, James McGarry, Sarpreet Singh

Forwards: Andrija Kaludjerovic, Dario Vidosic, Roy Krishna, Hamish Watson, Adam Parkhouse, Logan Rogerson

Injured: Louis Fenton