JETS INSIDER - Mark Birighitti

In this week’s edition of Jets Insider, Mark Birighitti answered questions submitted by the Club’s Members and supporters.

In this week-s edition of Jets Insider, goalkeeper Mark Birighitti answered questions submitted by the Club-s Members and supporters.

Birighitti discussed the toughest opponents in the A-League, how he goes about saving a penalty and his preferences when it comes to pizza toppings.

@KimbaTait asks via Twitter: Who do you think the toughest team verse will be? Are you confident you will make it into the finals?

Mark Birighitti (MB): It-s hard to say who the toughest team will be, because the competition is so tight and there are a lot of good teams out there. A few teams have recruited really well during the offseason and every match in the A-League is a difficult one.

I think we-re capable of mixing it with all of those teams, so I thing making the finals is a very realistic target.

If I had to choose one team, I-d probably say Melbourne Victory. They-ve kept a strong core of their squad and they-ve made a few good signings during the offseason and even though Ange Postecoglu has left, I think they will be a real threat this season

William Bowen asks via email: What do you think is the main reason we haven-t scored a goal yet?

MB: I think it-s just a confidence thing at the moment. Once we get that first goal I think a lot more will follow.

It-s a bit similar to last year in a way. We struggled to keep a clean sheet at the start of the season, but once we got that first one, we had three or four more straight after that.

As soon as we hit the back of the net for the first time this season, more goals will come and I think having Emile back in the squad this week will definitely help.

@Crackers_14 asks via Twitter: Who's the most annoying pest in the squad?

MB: I-d have to say Ben Kantarovski. Some mornings when you come into training you just want to chill out a bit before you get out on the pitch and Kanta is always very loud, he-s always full of beans and is always buzzing which can be a bit full on early in the day.

@boomshanka1976 asks via Twitter: What is the furthest you have kicked a ball on the full? Can you reach the opposition 18-yard?

MB: I haven-t really measured it, but I think if I gave it a good old lump, I definitely could land it in the opposition 18-yard box on the full. I-ve said I-m going to try and score one game, so I might have to try it in Wellington where it-s a bit windy, take a shot at goal and see what happens.

@C_MatthewsDarby asks via Twitter: You've kept two clean sheets already this year to last year where we had to wait to mid season. How much has our defence improved?

MB: It has improved massively and it-s one thing we worked really hard on during the pre-season. The back four are looking nice and solid at the moment and we-ve kept two clean sheets in a row which is a good start.

Having Kew Jaliens- leadership and experience is definitely an important factor for us. Connor Chapman has really kicked-on this season and Sam Gallaway and Scott Neville are doing a great job in the fullback positions.

@jacobpepper8 asks via Twitter: Do you like it when dogs bark?

MB: (Jacob) Pepper makes this barking noise that sounds exactly like a dog! We were walking through the airport in Wellington last weekend and I heard this barking noise behind me. I jumped and turned around expecting to see a security guard with a dog or something like that, but it was just Pepper!

@boomshanka1976 asks via Twitter: Does pineapple belong on a pizza? I say no.

MB: No chance. Being from an Italian background, I have to say definitely not!

@Geipel15 asks via Twitter: What steps did you take to get into playing football professionally?

MB: My father was a goalkeeper and I-ve been playing as a goalkeeper myself since I was six years old. I was lucky enough to represent my state team in Western Australia at youth level and from there I got picked up by Adelaide, which was my first professional club.

Since then I-ve been lucky enough to represent my county in the Joeys, Young Socceroos, Olyroos and recently at Socceroos level. There are little steps that I-ve had to take along the way and a lot of sacrifices that have got me to where I am today.

@hecivan70 asks via Twitter: Mark did you have a favourite keeper when growing up?

MB: My favourtie goalkeeper is definitely Iker Casillas from Real Madrid. I also used to really look up to Peter Schmeichel when he was playing at Manchester United.

@sambo1039 asks via Twitter: If you were making a cocktail, what would be in it and what would it be called?

MB: I-m a big fan of Sambuca and I also like the Banana Buzz smoothie from Boost Juice, so I think I might put those two together and see what happens. As for what I-d call it, I-m not too sure!

@joshholt22 asks via Twitter: Do you have your eye on that third keepers spot in Brazil? You have started the season strongly.

MB: It is in the back of my mind, but there are a lot of good Australian goalkeepers out there. There-s Mark Schwarzer, Mitch Langerak and Matty Ryan who are playing in Europe and doing well, and here in Australia you-ve got guys like Nathan Coe and Eugene Galekovic who are all in the mix.

I-ve just got to keep performing at Club level week-in, week-out and we-ll see what happens from there, but it definitely would be a dream come true to go to a World Cup in Brazil.

Katie Clarke asks via email: What-s your approach when you-re facing a penalty? Do you just guess which way the shooter will go?

MB: I used to just pick a side and dive that way, but now I try to wait until the last second before he strikes the ball. If you dive to early, it gives the guy who is shooting the chance to go the opposite way, so it-s important to wait as long as possible.

I look at things like how his body position is angled, his run-up and hopefully that gives me some clues as to which way he is going, so I can make the save.

We also do a lot of video analysis during the week and part of that is me looking at who their penalty taker is and seeing if he tends to go the same way or if there are any indicators that tell me which way he-s going.

Make sure you follow Mark Birighitti-s new Instagram account @markbirighitti1!

Thank you for all your Jets Insider questions! Make sure you follow @NewcastleJetsFC on Twitter to find out who will be answering questions from Members and supporters next week!