Combative midfielder Tim Brown believes Sunday's game with Hyundai A-League leaders Central Coast Mariners gives the Wellington Phoenix an opportunity to show they are genuine title contenders.
Speaking after results over the weekend confirmed the Phoenix would finish in at least fourth spot, and therefore have a home playoff final, Brown said he was looking forward to the clash with the Mariners.
"It is an exciting challenge and one I relish," Brown said.
"We let ourselves down when we came up short against Brisbane and the Mariners, and this will give us a chance to show we are real contenders.
"It is a game we need to win because we don't want to go into the playoffs on the back of two losses.
"The loss in Melbourne on Friday night was disappointing.
"Some sloppy moments cost us, but it wasn't all bad and we had some promising patches."
While many observers forecast a poor season for the Phoenix given the off-field problems pre-season, and a long injury list in the opening weeks, Brown isn't surprised to have reached fourth.
"If you listened to some people we were going nowhere this season," Brown said.
"That wasn't the case within the group. We always thought we would be in the mix, and in some ways we let ourselves down because I felt we could have been a top two side.
"Hopefully the weather will be good on Sunday and we get a big crowd to see us take on the leaders.
"Our fans have been great all season and I'm sure they too will be looking forward to us taking on the Mariners."