Newcastle Jets captain Ruben Zadkovich is adamant Football South Coasts deserved to be the next team admitted into the A-League competition, in a glowing endorsement of Saturday’s trial game at WIN Stadium.
A Bulli junior, Zadkovich was impressed by the crowd and the playing surface, declaring the Illawarra was the future of the national competition following the previous failures of the Gold Coast and North Queensland Fury.
The Jets won the A League friendly 1-0 in front of 6540 fans and Zadkovich was quick to heap praise on Wollongong’s football community.
‘‘It was brilliant,’’ Zadkovich said.
‘‘This place should be facilitating an A League side it’s as simple as that. They can get 6000 people out here to a pre-season friendly game.
‘‘I just can’t see how with this facility, with the amount of local talent and the amount of people that are playing the game down in this region how they don’t have an A League team.
‘‘I understand that its probably about funding but I really think that the FFA and the A League in general have to do more to support this area because there’s definitely room for them to facilitate an A League side,’’ he said.
The match also won over Jets coach Gary van Egmond.
‘‘It’s magnificent,’’ van Egmond said.
‘‘We’d love to have a pitch like this, the field is just absolutely terrific. It’s a nice stadium with a really good atmosphere and with all the people coming out to support the game, there’s a lot of merit for an A League team here.’’
Zadkovich also lent some high-profile support to his home club Bulli, who sprang a 1-0 upset over Port Kembla in the Illawarra Premier League major semi-final that was the curtain-raiser to the A League clash. It appears that Jets marquee man Emile Heskey is a convert to the Bulli cause as he accompanied Zadkovich into the Bulli sheds to wish the boys luck.
‘‘I was so stoked I couldn’t stop yelling ‘come on the I’,’’ Zadkovich said.
‘‘They missed so many chances in that second half, they should’ve been up by two or three goals, so they thoroughly deserved the win.’’
Bulli’s victory certainly seemed to inspire Zadkovich, who had three shots on goal in the opening 25 minutes, including a free kick from just outside the box, though he was denied on all three occasions by Sydney keeper Vedran Janjetovic.
‘‘It would’ve been nice to score against Sydney, he said.
‘‘But it’s only pre-season, so hopefully I can nail a few goals early on (in the season).’’
‘‘We’ve got a couple more quality games against Melbourne and one against Central Coast but we got a lot out of tonight for sure.
‘‘There’s still so much we need to improve on.’’
NEWCASTLE 1 (James Virgili 52’) d SYDNEY FC 0 at WIN Stadium on Saturday. Crowd: 6540