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Five Phoenix players in A-League All-Stars

Alex Paulsen A-League All-Stars football
Goalkeeper Alex Paulsen was one of five Phoenix players selected in the A-League All-Stars. PHOTO: A-LEAGUE

The Wellington Phoenix are the most represented club in the 2024 A-League All-Stars selection.

Five of the final 21-strong squad named for Friday night’s match against Newcastle United at Melbourne's Marvel Stadium are Phoenix players.

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Goalkeeper Alex Paulsen, defenders Tim Payne and Scott Wootton, and midfielders Ben Old and Bozhidar Kraev have been added to All-Stars squad in recognition of their roles in Wellington’s record-breaking A-League season.

Paulsen enjoyed a breakout season in goal for the Nix, playing every minute of their A-League campaign and keeping 12 clean sheets. He also sensationally saved three penalties.

Wootton marshalled the Phoenix’s defence and was the only other player not to miss a minute of the team’s 29 matches.

His centre back partner during the 2022-23 A-League, Payne, moved to fullback this season and was a revelation, scoring three goals and leading the team with four assists.

Old also contributed four assists as well as scoring five goals in what was his best A-League season, while Kraev found the back of the net six times and supplied two assists in his second year in Wellington.

“This squad is a fantastic mix of the best talent across the A-Leagues, including seven under-23s and four internationals,” said A-League All-Stars head coach Patrick Kisnorbo said.

“We now have four days to prepare and work hard together.

“This is an opportunity for all our A-League players to test themselves against a formidable team. The whole squad is excited to play a team from the best league in the world.”

The five Phoenix players assembled with the All-Stars squad in Melbourne on Tuesday and joined Tottenham Hotspur for an open training session at AAMI Park that night.

The match against Newcastle United is the first of a Global Football Week double-header at Marvel Stadium.

Nix fullback Michaela Foster and the A-League Women's All-Stars will play Women’s Super League heavyweights Arsenal in the second match at Marvel Stadium later on Friday night after both sides hold an open training session at AAMI Park on Thursday night.

Meanwhile, Phoenix midfielder Mo Al-Taay has been called up to the Iraq national team for the first time.

Al-Taay has been named in Iraq’s 26-strong squad for their upcoming FIFA World Cup Asia qualifiers against Indonesia in Jakarta and Vietnam in Basra in early-June. Having won their first four matches, Iraq top Group F.

He has been rewarded for his consistent performances during the Nix’s record-breaking campaign, featuring in all but two of 29 matches in his first season in Wellington, making 17 starts.

Al-Taay was born in Australia after his parents fled Iraq in the mid-1990s and has dreamed of playing for the national team since Iraq won the Asian Cup in 2007.


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