A-League news

Ifill best in the A-League: Phoenix coach

February 4, 2012

Wellington Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert has no reason to change his mind: Paul Ifill is still the A-League's best player.

Paul Ifill Wellington Phoenix
GettyImagesPaul Ifill scored twice to fire Wellington Phoenix up the A-League table

Ifill's influence looms large in the Phoenix's rise to the top end of the ladder. Wellington banked a 2-1 away victory against Adelaide United on Friday night to retain second spot.

Ifill was superb, constantly tormenting Adelaide's defence with insightful passes. The English-born Barbados international also launched two stunning long-range shots which narrowly missed, and should have been awarded a penalty, in a display which left his coach glowing.

"I told everybody in the media two years ago that he's the best player in the league," Herbert said of Ifill. "He got hindered at the back of last season by a pretty bad injury.

"It has taken a little bit to get him back this year and he has had some groin problems but he's a real talent."

Herbert said Ifill's on-field genius belied his training form.

"He is such a great guy, he's very easy going but he's probably the worst trainer I have ever had," he said.

"But he's special and he's special to us."

Ifill has started just nine matches this season, but has logged consecutive 90-minute games as Wellington fine-tune for the finals.

"He has gone back-to-back 90 minutes now which is good. I kept him on the pitch when he probably wouldn't have minded coming off a little bit earlier," Herbert said.

"He's terrific for us. He can be the game breaker - I think every side in the league has got one and Paul is ours."

Herbert's Phoenix have shot to second with wins in their past four games.

"We were given no chance at the start of the year," he said.

"But we're in the mix, we're a chance - but we have got to keep working hard.

"It's a really tough league ... we have just got to keep battling away and doing what we're doing and hopefully the points keep coming."