Jason Culina says he’s excited to lead Sydney United 58 into a brave new era as the Reds prepare for the 2018 NPL NSW season.
There is a clean slate feeling about Edensor Park following the departure of Mark Rudan who secured a number of Waratah Cup and domestic league triumphs across his five-year rein at the club.
United 58 slumped to a seventh placed finish last season but Culina – who began his career with the Reds in 1994 – says the new challenge in front of the club should spark the best out of the playing group.
“It’s a great feeling to be brought back by the club and I’m relishing the challenge, it’s something different and something new”, said Culina.
“In football I don’t like looking too far ahead in the future but it’s a great challenge not only for myself but for the club.
“It’s important that we focus on improving one week at a time and seeing where that leads us.”
Culina says the positive environment fostered off the field will prove key in his transition to what is the ex-midfielder’s best opportunity yet to demonstrate his coaching credentials.
“Nothing will ever replace playing, but this opportunity to be back on the field and be back in the environment I’ve been in for so many years is fantastic, especially with such a great coaching staff and team.”
Culina’s Reds will need to hit the ground running early in the season especially with crunch fixtures against Rockdale City Suns and Blacktown City in their first three.
The arrival of experienced A-League goalkeeper John Hall might prove to be the canniest signing of Culina’s early tenure, Hall along with Tom Manos will provide a great battle for who will be the number one custodian.
Hall will be supported by the captures of promising defender Christian Gonzalez from Sydney FC and APIA Leichhardt’s Adrian Vlastelica, while 24-year-old Japanese defender Tomoki Menda joins the Reds as a visa player following some eye-catching displays for Albirex Niigata in the Singaporean S. League.
Sydney Olympic starlet Mohammed Rahimi also joins United 58 alongside Jordan Roberts, one of Culina’s most consistent performers with Fraser Park FC.
But the real statement signing might well prove to be Wollongong Wolves’ hot shot striker Patrick Antelmi as well as former Western Sydney Wanderers star Shannon Cole.
Culina’s new-look Sydney United 58 begin their campaign away at Marconi on Saturday March 10 at 7pm.
-By Jacob Windon