Football: Nervous times for Welington Phoenix coach Giancarlo Italiano on eve of historic A-League semi-final decider

Giancarlo Italiano is a man on edge. 

"I'd be lying if I said I've had a good week's sleep," said the Wellington Phoenix coach. 

The man known as 'Chiefy' is definitely lapping up the occasion - a chance to lead his team all the way to the A-league Grand Final.

Wellington Phoenix coach Giancarlo Italiano.
Wellington Phoenix coach Giancarlo Italiano. Photo credit: Getty Images

"We're going to try to put a show on for all our fans, which is great - it's sold out, its historic and a memory for New Zealand football in general." 

The Phoenix have been this close before, when Ricki Herbert's team faced Newcastle in a 2010 elimination final. They lost 4-2, but Herbert is convinced they're ready to go one step further this time against Melbourne Victory.

"They go into this fixture, to me, as favourites and I really think they deserve that tag," he told Newshub. 

Deserved or not, the win will need to be earned. Last week's goaless draw in Melbourne means a one-goal win would be enough for the Phoenix and they've prepared for a penalty shootout, if needed.

"I'll time-limit players taking penalties and get the other boys to rile up some response like being abusive, just to get them comfortable with being uncomfortable," said Italiano, who won't be looking at the shootout, if one's required. 

"No, I won't be watching," he insisted. "I'll look at the crowd for a response."

"We'll watch with interest to see if he is facing the other way, but I'm sure he'll have a wee peek to make sure the keeper is doing his job right," said Herbert. 

Join Newshub at 6:30pm Saturday for live updates of the Phoenix v Victory A-League semi