Jets in do-or-die clash at home this Sunday
The Jets will return home to take on bitter rivals, Sydney FC, at EnergyAustralia Stadium this Sunday, 6 February.
Three games to go, three wins needed.
That-s the proposition in front of the Jets after Wednesday-s hard-fought loss away to the in-form Melbourne Victory.
Sitting on 31 competition points, Newcastle must rally to get maximum points from the impending games at EnergyAustralia Stadium to stay in touch with the top six. Most pundits - including those who answered the poll question on www.newcastlejets.com.au - are predicting that 40 points will be the figure needed to appear in this season-s Finals Series.
Standing in the way of Branko Culina-s men this Sunday will be the Jets- fierce NSW rivals, Sydney FC.
The Sky Blues have not lost a game thus far in 2011 and will be desperate to maintain their good form heading into this year-s AFC Champions League campaign.
Adding further interest to the do-or-die clash, the Sydneysiders currently have a host of former Jets players within their ranks. Playmaker Nicky Carle has returned from a back injury that has hampered his 2010/11 season, while Stuart Musialik and Mark Bridge will also be available for coach Vitezslav Lavicka.
Culina, meanwhile, has certainly not given up hope of reaching this year-s post-season playoffs, pointing to the courage and commitment of the wounded players donning the gold jersey in recent weeks.
"Players like Adam D'Apuzzo and Jeremy Brockie shouldn't be on the park,” he said during the post-match press conference at Etihad Stadium.
“It's a credit to them that they put their hand up because of the numbers. They are terrific."
"We need to build our future on people like that, people who are prepared to put up their hand where most others would have opted to have another week or two break.”
“Brockie is probably another two or three weeks off starting, and he's starting the last couple of weeks. D'Apuzzo, according to the medical staff, needed four weeks - he only had two weeks."
"You have to give credit to those guys, and that's why you get pretty buoyed. You look at the players that are missing, and you have players prepared to play under duress. You get optimistic," he said.
The players will no doubt share that optimism once back on home soil, and a big crowd on hand inside EnergyAustralia Stadium could make all the difference to the Jets- season.
Supporters of the club have turned out in force in recent months and it-s reasonable to suggest that Sunday-s mouth-watering clash against Sydney is the best opportunity yet to be there for Newcastle.
A huge crowd on a Sunday afternoon could well keep the Jets- season alive. That-s certainly what Culina is hoping for.
“We-ve still got three games to go, two of them at home, you never know," he said.
Match Details Newcastle Jets v Sydney FC Sunday, 6 February Kick-off 5PM EnergyAustralia Stadium Tickets from www.proticket.com.au Adult tickets from $10 when pre-purchased online. Children Under-16 FREE!