Jets ready to strike against misfiring Victory

Posted on 27/04/2020 by

A TYPICALLY chaotic game preparation hasn’t fazed Newcastle Jets coach Branko Culina, who is backing his side to make it back-to-back victories against defending champions Melbourne Victory tonight.Just one defeat in the opening four rounds has left the Jets tucked in behind competition pacesetters Gold Coast United and Sydney FC, and made Melbourne wary of an opponent that has a wonderful record at Etihad Stadium. Melbourne will be without Costa Rican star Carlos Hernandez, who is away on World Cup duty in San Jose, and the champions are wounded after a surprisingly sluggish start to their campaign.Newcastle, by contrast, have made light of a crippling injury list and a revolving door of triallists, and despite more problems before tonight’s match Culina remains quietly confident.”We’re going there to win,” he said. ”Obviously it’s a huge challenge – we’re up against the champions, on their own ground, and they’re coming off a loss. So it’s a real test. But the way we bounced back last weekend [against Gold Coast United] shows the spirit we’ve got in the squad. If we can beat Melbourne, it will give us enormous self-belief … There is so much improvement left in this group. We’re only going to get better.”Newcastle have lost midfielder Shaun Ontong to a season-ending Achilles injury, while marquee star Fabio Vignaroli will travel to Melbourne, but Culina admitted he had only a ”minimum chance” of recovering from a hamstring strain. Hopes of handing a debut to recent recruit Labinot Haliti rest on an international clearance arriving in time.Meanwhile, former Socceroos goalkeeper Zeljko Kalac, 36, has joined ambitious Greek side Kavala on a two-year deal after recently parting ways with Italian giants AC Milan.

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