Ahead of their first home A-League game of the season, coach Ufuk Talay has signed a fresh two-year deal to stay at Wellington Phoenix.
Coach Ufuk Talay has signed a new two-year deal to stay at Wellington Phoenix on the eve of the A-League club's record-breaking homecoming.
After 433 days, the Nix will play in front of their home fans on Saturday.
The club has been stationed in Wollongong for six months to fulfil their A-League commitments, and haven't played at home since March last year.
Wellingtonians have saluted their team's efforts by buying tickets by the thousands.
With 18,500 sold by Friday afternoon, the crowd will be the biggest regular season attendance at Sky Stadium ever.
Talay's re-signing gives them an even bigger boost ahead of the clash with Western United.
"We are obviously thrilled," Phoenix chief executive David Dome told journalists on Friday.
Talay led Wellington to third last season - the club's highest finish - and the club have high hopes of returning to the finals again this campaign.
He had been linked to vacant jobs in Australia, including Melbourne Victory, before putting pen to paper.
"I'm very pleased to get this over the line," Talay said.
"I want longevity within the club to build something ... if you want to try and win a championship, and if you look in Europe, it takes three to five seasons to actually win a title."
Talay's signature comes after a week of player re-signings, with goalkeeper Oliver Sail (two years), striker Ben Waine (three years) and midfielder Clayton Lewis (two years) all committing their futures.
The Nix bring a seven-game unbeaten streak to the match with Western United - coached by former boss Mark Rudan.
It's an important game to shape the finals, with both sides just outside the top six.
Talay hopes a bumper crowd will help.
If walk-up sales are strong - which is likely given the sunny forecast - the match could out-sell the most recent Sydney derby and boast the biggest crowd of the season.
Wellington also play at Auckland's Eden Park next weekend, with hopes high for another bumper attendance.
While there will be plenty of bums on seats for the match, the club have taken the step of banning foreign flags in the stands.
Israeli striker Tomer Hemed stoked tensions last week by celebrating with a traditional Jewish cap and, later, an Israeli flag after scoring in Wellington's 2-2 draw with leader Melbourne City.
The celebrations were seen as insensitive given Israel's role in a deadly conflict with Palestinians on the Gaza Strip.
Hemed will be relied upon to find the net again, given captain and midfield maestro Ulises Davila has been ruled out of Saturday's match with injury.
If reports are to be believed, Davila may not play again for the club.
With just a fortnight of regular season matches left, the Mexican has reportedly signed a deal to move to A-League rivals Macarthur FC next season.