A-League: Wellington Phoenix coach Ufuk Tallay calls for VAR return after defeat to Sydney FC

While most football fans hate the impact the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) has had on the game, Wellington Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay wishes it was in play during his side's 3-1 defeat to Sydney FC on Friday night. 

The first A-League game back since the COVID-19 break was marred by controversy as three questionable decisions went against the Phoenix at Jubilee Stadium.

Prior to the resumption, A-League officials said VAR would not be used for the remainder of the season, but that might change if more game-changing calls are missed. 

Two handball decisions went against Ufuk Talay's side which could have led to penalty kicks, while Gary Hooper was wrongly denied a potential game-winner after he was flagged for being offside. 

Hooper's offside call appeared to be the killer blow as a quick-fire double from substitute Trent Buhagiar secured victory for Sydney. 

"Sometimes it happens in the games they make calls that don't go your way, and sometimes I believe the wrong decisions influence the game," says Phoenix coach Talay. 

"I believe tonight there were some decisions that influenced the result at the end of the day.

"It's based on opinions, a lot of people were not in favour of the VAR and all of a sudden they're in favour of VAR to be there. But I was quite pleased with the VAR, with the way it worked, and I believe it should be there."

Earlier in the match, the Phoenix took the lead when Reno Piscopo converted a 66th-minute penalty, before it was cancelled out when Adam Le Fondre converted a penalty of his own. 

Talay opted to bring stars Ulises Dávila and Hooper off the bench in the match in order to keep his squad fresh with five games in 22 days on the horizon. 

Phoenix striker David Ball.
Phoenix striker David Ball. Photo credit: Photosport

Despite the loss, Talay is trying to focus on the positives as his side are back in action on Wednesday night when they face Perth Glory at Bankwest Stadium. 

"We'll slowly build up Uli but also Hoops at the same time and try to give them game time so they can regain their fitness," he says. 

"We have five games, we need to build momentum but at the same time we're trying to give guys some minutes so they're at the right fitness at the right end of the season.

"I'm happy with how we played, I think we were the better side and the scoreline isn't a true reflection of how well we played."