Culina’s finals focus

We catch up with the Head Coach of the Newcastle Jets, Branko Culina, ahead of Sunday’s blockbuster clash against rivals Sydney FC.

Head Coach Branko Culina has identified this Sunday-s enticing Hyundai A-League clash with Sydney FC at EnergyAustralia Stadium as the game that could seal his team a finals berth.

Speaking to NewcastleJets.com.au after having put his chargers through their paces at Ray Watt Oval, Culina stated that even a draw against the competition-s second-placed side should be enough to see a top six spot secured.

“[The] game against Sydney, as I said to the players, will do two important things,” Culina said.

“One is that it can finalise a spot for us in the finals by getting at least a draw…and secondly, slim it might be, but if we win we might still be in there for the top two which is vital the way the finals are structured.”

While Culina is sure to relay this message to his troops as they continue their preparations for Sunday-s showdown, the experienced mentor – who-ll celebrate his 300th National League game as a coach in the fixture – also believes a win over the Sky Blues could work mentally for his team later in the league.

Indeed, with both clubs a win apiece from their two outings this year, any psychological advantage there is to be had for potential finals meetings between the pair remains at stake in the round 24 encounter.

“It gives one of the teams the opportunity to get the wood on the other,” Culina said.

“If you can have the wood on your opponent, whenever you meet them next time it-s good to have on your side.”

And, having returned to training Tuesday following the clubs demanding schedule of three games in six days, Culina was pleased to see that his squad had gathered largely unscathed from a Queensland quest which included matches against Gold Coast United and Brisbane Roar.

“We were always concerned with how we-d pull up with three tough games in six days,” Culina said. “[But] thankfully there are no major concerns, there are a few stiff players with a bit of soreness, but it-s okay.”

The availability of most of the players who have partaken in the Jets- stellar recent run means barring any fresh injuries or mishaps during the week Culina will have time to tailor his side for his milestone match.

However, considering the imminent achievement Culina dismissed the notion his 300th match in charge retained extra significant because it will be fought out against one of his former clubs.

“I think out of the 300 I only coached about nine games for Sydney,” Culina said.

“It-s a team effort, it-s not about the head coach or one or two players. You win together, you lose together, it-s as simple as that.”

To secure your tickets to the Jets’ battle with NSW rivals Sydney FC this Sunday, and to help celebrate Branko Culina’s 300th National League game as a coach, call ProTicket on (02) 4915 2345 or visit www.proticket.com.auand follow the prompts.

Kick off for the keenly anticipated contest is at 5pm.