Wellington Phoenix FC has confirmed two key player signings, with Argentine midfielder Oscar Roberto Cornejo and rising Australian striker Mirjan Pavlovic joining the New Zealand-based club for the Hyundai A-League 2010/11 season.
Both players impressed Phoenix head coach Ricki Herbert and his coaching staff during trial stints in Wellington.
Cornejo – nicknamed Toto – made his first appearance for the Phoenix against his countrymen in the Wellington club’s 2-1 win against Argentine superclub Boca Juniors and showed the skill and flair Herbert believes will make him a major asset for Wellington in the Hyundai A-League.
Pavlovic, a big and strong 21-year-old striker who has previously played in the Hyundai A-League with the Newcastle Jets, is seen by the Phoenix as a player with massive potential.
Cornejo is a 27-year-old attacking midfielder who has previously played top-flight club football in his home country of Argentina as well as Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Peru.
Wellington Phoenix is the first club Cornejo has represented outside of South America.
Herbert said “Toto” had been signed to provide creative impetus in the Phoenix’s midfield.
“Toto’s the sort of player we think can circulate in and around the central midfield and provide the link between the front and the midfield. He’s got all the skills and ability to create opportunities in the attacking third, whether it be with a deft pass or with his ability to beat a man. He’s comfortable taking opposition players on one-on-one and he provides a different dimension to the team in the way he plays the game.
“It’s fair to say we’ve probably lacked a player of Toto’s creative quality in midfield in the past couple of seasons, so we’re looking forward to seeing what he can deliver.”
Pavlovic would also provide another good option in the Phoenix’s strike force.
“Pav provides the depth we’ve been looking for as a central striker,” said Herbert. “He has the ability to go directly at an opponent and directly at goal and that’s the key quality you want in a striker. He’s also got a good eye for getting into space and putting himself in scoring positions.
“He’s young and still learning his trade but we think this kid has the ability to become a very accomplished Hyundai A-League player.”
The one-year deals for Toto and Pavlovic takes the Phoenix’s squad to 19 players. The Phoenix must have at least 20 players signed by the August 4 deadline.
Indonesian international striker Bambang Pamungkas arrives in Wellington this weekend to begin a trial with the Phoenix.
Date of birth: March 13, 1983 in Santa Rosa, Argentina
Height, weight: 1.65m, 77kg
Playing position: Attacking midfielder
Club history: 2009-10 Nueva Chicago (Argentina), 2008 Cobreloa (Chile), 2007 Deportivo Cali (Colombia), 2006-07 Gimnasia LP (Argentina), 2005 Universitario de Portes (Peru), 2004 Dorados de Sinaloa (Mexico), 2001-04 San Lorenzo (Argentina).
Date of birth: April 21, 1989 in Lika, Croatia
Height, weight: 1.84m, 84kg
Playing position: Striker
Club history: 2010 Sydney United, 2009 Newcastle Jets.