Culina brings focus home

Branko Culina believes that the upcoming two game stretch at home will be the key period of the Jets’ Hyundai A-League 2009/10 campaign.

Branko Culina believes that the upcoming two game stretch at home will be the key period of the Jets- Hyundai A-League 2009/10 campaign. This critical time, at the halfway point of the season, kicks off this Sunday against North Queensland Fury.

The match will be an historic encounter at EnergyAustralia Stadium as it will be the first ever clash between the two east coast clubs, but the Head Coach said this afternoon that the focus for his players will be moving on from the midweek loss to Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium.

“We-ve put the Wellington performance behind us. It-s best described as an ordinary game, probably the worst game that we-ve played this year overall. Having said that, we still had some opportunities at critical moments in the first-half where, had we taken them, things could have been totally different,” said Culina.

The Jets will take on the Phoenix once again on Sunday, 22 November, this time on home soil, and Culina believes that a midseason revival is within reach for his side.

“The team is probably two wins short of being a very good team, if that makes sense, because we are a team that relies very much on confidence and if the results are not there then the confidence is not quite there. I think you would certainly see a different team if we won the next two home games.”

“Because we play the games at home, I think it-s a genuine expectation that we can do it. In all due respect to the opposition, it-s the type of opposition that we can and should beat. I think this is the first time that we-ve been in this situation that we-re in now and hopefully we can take advantage.”

Standing in the way of this, of course, is Fury marquee player, and former Liverpool striker, Robbie Fowler. The marksman has been impressive throughout his stint with the Townsville-based club, leading by example and netting 8 goals as the Fury have risen from bottom of the table to be genuine top-6 contenders.

Culina has naturally earmarked Fowler as the man to watch, and with little surprise, with the Queenslanders coming to Newcastle on the back of two successive victories.

“Those kinds of players, you think you-ve got them right and sorted out for 89 minutes and then they pop up and score a spectacular goal. I was at the game at the Gold Coast last week when Fowler scored those two goals, and the first one was out of nothing, pretty much,” he said.

A boost for the home side is the return of Adam D-Apuzzo from suspension this Sunday, while Fabio Vignaroli looks likely to return from a calf injury, and young gun Sean Rooney has come back to team training after suffering an illness for the past week.

In a special treat for long-time followers of the game, this Sunday-s half-time “Bombs Away” challenge will be contested between Ex-Socceroos and NBN State League players of the ‘80-s. Former stars such as Joe Senkalski and David Lowe will demonstrate their talents in a contest that is sure to add a sense of history to the first ever encounter between the Jets and Fury.

This Hyundai A-League round 14 clash will be preceded at EnergyAustralia Stadium by the National Youth League round 9 match between the Jets and AIS. Kick-off is at 2:15pm.

Match Details: Sunday, 8 November 2009 Newcastle Jets v North Queensland Fury EnergyAustralia Stadium, Newcastle Local-kick-off: 5.00pm Referee: Ryan Shepheard

Live & exclusive broadcast on Fox Sports 2 and Sky Sports 1. To purchase tickets visit www.proticket.com.au

Newcastle Jets squad: 1.Ben KENNEDY (gk), 2. Angelo COSTANZO, 3. Adam D-APUZZO, 4. Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 5. Ljubo MILICEVIC, 7. Jin-Hyung SONG, 8. Matt THOMPSON (c), 9. Sasho PETROVSKI, 10. Donny DE GROOT, 11. Tarek ELRICH, 12. Jobe WHEELHOUSE, 14. Michael BRIDGES, 15. Sean ROONEY, 16. Jason HOFFMAN, 17. Fabio VIGNAROLI, 20. Neil YOUNG (gk), 22. Kaz PATAFTA, 25. Labinot HALITI, 26. Ali ABBAS *four to be omitted*

In: Adam D-APUZZO (returns from suspension), Donny DE GROOT (promoted), Sean ROONEY (returns from injury), Fabio VIGNAROLI (returns from injury) Out: Nil Unavailable: Ben KANTAROVSKI (international duty), Shaun ONTONG (Achilles - indefinite), Marko JESIC (knee - indefinite)

North Queensland Fury squad: 1.Paul HENDERSON (GK), 3.Chris TADROSSE, 7. Jason SPAGNUOLO, 9.Robbie FOWLER (c), 10. Jeremy BROCKIE, 11. David WILLIAMS, 14. Chris GROSSMAN, 16. Paul KOHLER, 17. Osama MALIK 18. James ROBINSON, 19. Daniel MCBREEN, 20. Justin PASFIELD, (RGK), 21. John TAMBOURAS, 23. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 24. Dyron DAAL.

In: Nil Out: Nil Unavailable: Jacob TIMPANO (hamstring - 2 weeks), Karl DODD (knee -2 weeks), Shane STEFANUTTO (knee - indefinite), Scott WILSON (knee - indefinite)