Axed Culina eyes long game
Fallout ... Frank Farina and Jason Culina. Photo: Brendan Esposito
JASON CULINA has played his last game for Sydney FC after his contract was terminated by mutual consent following a heated training-ground spat with coach Frank Farina. He departs Moore Park just four months after joining the club that helped rebuild his career, making eight appearances and scoring two goals.
Culina did not attend Sydney's training session on Monday, and was omitted from the squad that defeated Brisbane Roar on Sunday due to his fiery bust-up with Farina last Friday. The former Socceroo engaged in a heated war of words with the coach when told that he might be used as a substitute against Brisbane and was asked to train with the second team.
The 32-year-old agreed to part ways immediately following a teleconference with chief executive Tony Pignata and Farina, but said he would continue playing.
''I would like to thank Sydney FC for assisting me with my rehabilitation and my return to football,'' Culina said. ''I would like to thank the board, management, coaching staff, players and especially physiotherapist Stan Ivancic. The circumstances surrounding my departure are unfortunate but I feel fit and strong and I am determined to continue my playing career in the future.''
The saga threatened to derail the club's recent form but midfielder Peter Triantis said the players are ignoring the turmoil and remain focused on a top-six finish.
''I think we just try not to think about it. The game, picking up three points is the most important thing and I think we just move on,'' Triantis said. ''It's not up to me to make decisions, whatever decision made by the board, we have to follow that. He's a great bloke and he helped me a lot so it's not the best feeling but whatever happens, happens.''
The 21-year-old replaced Culina in the heart of midfield, and he proved a more than adequate fill-in by netting the winner with a powerful half-volley from outside the box.
His debut goal in the A-League was a moment to savour, and he knew he had opened his account in professional football as soon as he made contact with the ball.
''Yeah, it's an unbelievable feeling, and I think getting the three points is the most important thing. Obviously the goal is a bonus but to move into the six is what we aim for,'' Triantis said. ''It's one of those, as soon as you hit it you know it's in the goal. It was just an unbelievable feeling, I just turned and ran. I don't even know what I did.''
Triantis relived the moment as soon as he arrived home after the match when his siblings insisted on replaying the winner. ''As soon as I got home, I had it taped and all the younger brothers are playing it back and forth, back and forth. They were the most excited people you'll ever see in your life,'' he said.
The industrious midfielder sealed the Sky Blues' fourth consecutive home win to propel them into the top six for the first time under Farina and he believes the club can now dare to dream of being this season's surprise package.
''I think a lot of teams will see us as a dark horse going into the finals. We've still got Joel Griffiths to come back, and he'll add a bit more up front so I think we're quietly confident we can have a good go this season,'' Triantis said.
■ Football fans will be able to have their say to FFA boss David Gallop and the head of the A-League Damien de Bohun at public forum at The Star on Tuesday night. Former Socceroo Mark Bosnich will also be on the panel to discuss a wide range of issues involving the game. The event starts at 7.30pm at the 24/7 Sports Bar.