Appiah takes on mate and Mariners for FFA Cup glory

Wellington Phoenix forward Kwabena Appiah says he is excited to be taking on his former club and close friend, Anthony Caceres, in the FFA Cup.

The Phoenix has been drawn to play the Mariners at Central Coast Stadium in the round of 32.

Appiah, who joined Wellington in February after leaving Western Sydney, came through the youth ranks at Central Coast where he was coached by current Mariners boss Tony Walmsley.

“It’s a very interesting draw against a club that’s rebuilding,” Appiah told FourFourTwo.

“It’s a very good draw and test for us going into the season. We’ve been doing well in the first couple of weeks of training and we’ve just finished up on our Fijian tour.

“The FFA Cup is a competition we want to really excel in. It will be good to verse my old club again.”

Phoenix were knocked out in the round of 32 in the inaugural FFA Cup by eventual winners Adelaide United.

Appiah describes Caceres as one of his best friends.

“Ironically I caught up with Anthony in Fiji, since we are here for our pre-season tour, and we spoke about the prospect of playing each other in the competition,” the 20-year-old said.

“We won the National Youth League together at the Mariners and from there we kicked on to become real good friends. He’s a genuine, humble guy who’s also a brilliant footballer.”

Appiah, who won the Wanderers’ Asian Champions League player of the year award last year, is also close to Walmsley.

“I actually saw him just before the end of the season in Sydney and we spoke since – we are fiends off the pitch and have a great relationship,” he said.

“It will be a very good test for me personally as well, since I know he’s a great coach who will do well this season.”

Coach Ernie Merrick has played the Auckland-born midfielder in his preferred position up front in pre-season and the former Parramatta City junior is loving it.

“It’s been good, I’ve started both games,” Appiah said.

“I got an assist for Roly Bonevacia’s goal in the first game (against Fiji) and then in the next game he returned the favour and I scored, so the understanding between us both has been great, even at training.

“Striker is my main position. I was out of position playing right wing at Wanderers, but that’s football. I’m finally playing in my preferred role and I’m doing well there at training, in the Hong Kong tournament and now on this pre-season tour.

“I’ve still got a long way to go though. I’ve settled down finally. I owe so much to Nathan Burns for helping me settle in. It’s not easy moving straight away for the first time after playing in NSW your whole life.”