Patafta keen for Phoenix final

Two and a half years ago Kaz Patafta made his Hyundai A-League debut against the Wellington Phoenix, next week he will head across the Tasman with the stakes significantly raised.

Albeit while plying his trade at Melbourne Victory, it was against Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium that now Newcastle Jets midfield schemer Kaz Patafta made his Hyundai A-League debut in August 2007.

Having just returned to Australia on loan from Portuguese powerhouse Benfica, Patafta was part of a Victory side that on the day shared the spoils with their hosts courtesy of a 2-2 draw at the ‘Cake Tin-.

And while the talented 21-year-old admits any journey to the Kiwi capital is a tough one, Patafta says he-s happier he and his teammates will voyage back to Wellington – rather than making the similarly tricky trip to Western Australia – to play their second sudden death Semi-Final on March 7.

“I think before the Perth Wellington game I was saying [I-d prefer to play] Wellington, so hopefully it goes well for us,” Patafta told www.newcastlejets.com.au.

“It will be tough because Wellington has got a big backing now…but I think the Perth trip-s really hard for us with the timing.”

Patafta is justified in his assessment of Wellington-s expanding supporter base.

It was in front of a healthy 14,421 spectators that Patafta made his debut three years ago, but that figure is set to be dwarfed by the Phoenix faithful come Sunday week.

Current indications suggest a likely crowd of 35,000 plus – but in a show of personal positivity Patafta assures he and the team are up for and will relish the big occasion.

“To be fair you-re always going to be nervous, especially away from home with the crowd against you, but I-m pretty confident,” he said.

“It-s going to take another big effort [from the entire squad] but we-ve shown enough throughout the season, so we-re confident.”

And while Patafta-s short term focus is firmly set on continuing the Jets- finals run across the Tasman, the effervescent playmaker is also taking tentative steps towards a career in property once his playing days have passed.

Currently studying real estate at TAFE, Patafta recently completed a development alongside good friend and teammate Shaun Ontong.

“It-s a big interest that I have,” Patafta said.

“Property development is something I want to get into later. Shaun Ontong and I, we live together and we bought a place in The Hill and we renovated that, so it-s an interest I have besides football.”

Patafta and the Newcastle Jets are amidst a well-earned two day break before they return to training at the weekend ahead of their flight to face the Phoenix.