Culina out for revenge

Newcastle coach Branko Culina is hoping the Jets can give him a win against his old club Sydney FC to help celebrate his 300th game in charge of an Australian league team when the sides meet on Sunday evening.

Newcastle coach Branko Culina is hoping the Jets can give him a win against his old club Sydney FC to help celebrate his 300th game in charge of an Australian league team when the sides meet on Sunday evening.

After stints as head coach at legendary clubs such as the Melbourne Knights, Sydney United and Sydney Olympic, Culina would love nothing more than to grab three points against the Sky Blues who he coached for just nine games in the A-League.

"Despite what people may make out of it I will always have nothing but respect and admiration for Sydney," Culina said. "I was the first Australian coach to coach Sydney FC and that was exciting."

"And their Champions League performances are something that I will cherish it for the rest of my life and I am forever grateful to Sydney ... but I must admit when I left Sydney, the manner that I left, left a bitter taste in my mouth."

The Jets seem to lift against their F3 rivals and the two previous performances against the Sky Blues this season have given Newcastle plenty of confidence heading into Sunday's fixture.

Newcastle played some very impressive football despite being on the wrong end of a 2-1 scoreline in their first meeting before turning the tables to inflict at a 3-1 win in Sydney the second time.

"If you look back to then you would have to say it was the beginning of our winning run," Culina said of the vital away win over Sydney. "It was an important part of the season because that win gave us tremendous belief and confidence."

"We hadn't won at Sydney since the A-League started and we had just lost three in a row, but we played some outstanding football and at one stage we were 3-0 up away from home, so you'd have to say it gave us a positive lift."

"We were bottom of the table when we played Sydney and now we are fourth so it has had an effect."

After losing top spot on the A-League ladder with just one point from its past two games, Sydney FC will be boosted by the return of striker Alex Brosque for Sunday's vital clash and Culina acknowledged the in-form forward will need some special attention if the Jets hope to come out on top.

"Sydney are a good team, well drilled, well organised and even last week against the Gold Coast without Alex Brosque they played some good football," Culina said.

"Alex brings that little bit of extra creativity, speed and unpredictability to their team. He is a wonderful player and probably one of the top dozen in the country - he can score goals, he can create them and works very hard for an attacking player."

"He brings a lot to their game and we will certainly have to keep an eye on him."

And despite a grueling schedule that sees the Jets play their fourth game in the past fortnight Culina said his side was well-prepared heading into a match that could seal a finals berth for the team.

"We pulled up fairly well after the three games in six days," he said.

"But this game is a vital game for us in many ways ... if we get the desired result, it will seal a finals spot for us which first and foremost is important for us, then we'll take it from there."

"We are really looking forward to the reaming games and hopefully the finals."