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ALM: Jets will Unite for special football round

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He described the Newcastle Jets’ last-start result as “gut-wrenching”.

But, skipper Brandon O’Neill is confident the Hunter-based A-League Men’s (ALM) club will respond in the best possible fashion when it tackles the inaugural Unite Round this weekend.

The new Australian Professional Leagues (APL) initiative, in partnership with the NSW Government and Destination NSW, kicks off on Friday 12 January and continues through until Sunday 14 January.

All ALM and A-League Women’s (ALM) matches will be played in a single city, Sydney, with a host of grassroots competitions and activities for children and teens adding to the atmosphere.

Newcastle Jets captain Brandon O’Neill. Photo: Michael Gorton Images

A “live” site at Moore Park is expected to feature a viewing party for the AFC Asian Cup showdown in Qatar between Australia and India on Saturday 13 January at 10.30pm, too.

Newcastle faces the Brisbane Roar at Allianz Stadium on the last day of the event, just a week after the team shared the spoils, 1-all, with the Macarthur Bulls.

The Jets looked set to upstage their rivals away from home, however Phillip Cancar’s foul on Lachlan Rose resulted in a heart-breaking penalty in the 98th minute.

Valère Germain calmly stepped up to plant a right-footed shot past Newcastle keeper Ryan Scott in stoppage time to draw level 1-all, robbing the visitors of three vital points.

“What can you say?” O’Neill said.

“You either kick stones or get back on the training pitch… we chose the latter.

“Phil’s incident was isolated, however the boys rallied around him.

“Obviously, he felt terrible.

“But, as a young defender, he’ll watch the tape and see what he could have done better, so he won’t fall into the same trap again.

“That’s all you can ask.

“And, if he doesn’t do it again, brilliant.

“Maybe next time, Phil will be the hero and we’ll win 1-0.

“So, we’re learning a hell of a lot this season.

“Our opening half was very good; I thought, defensively, we were solid again.

“We just need to learn how to put games away.

“You know, if we took those chances in that second half, and even in the first, we’d put ourselves in a better position than going into the break 1-0 up and giving them a bit of a sniff.”

Newcastle Jets captain Brandon O’Neill. Photo: Michael Gorton Images

O’Neill admitted it was “business as usual” for the Jets, who now sit in 10th spot but within striking distance of the top six.

“We have the Roar next… and that’s what we’re focusing on,” he said.

“However, it doesn’t matter who the opposition is, we want to win every single game.

“And, as long as we keep doing that, the minimum standard for this club is to make the finals this year.

“At the moment, we’re there or thereabouts.

“From a personal perspective, I want to win football matches, too.

“That’s why I play the game.

“I want to contest finals and I want to win things.

“But, I understand the situation that the club’s in and understand the situation that a lot of these lads are in.

“Yes, they’re young.

“However, you look around and see them playing week-in, week-out… they’re just gaining so much valuable experience.

“So, I have to be selfless on the pitch and make sure these lads keep growing, not just as footballers but as people.

“You know, I’m enjoying the football and trying to control the game again, which is awesome.

“I want to play until my legs don’t work.”

Meanwhile, APL CEO Danny Townsend said he was looking forward to Unite Round.

“It’s a brand-new experience, which brings together all A-Leagues clubs, fans and grassroots players together for the very first time in Sydney in an unprecedented celebration of football,” he stated.

“With the women’s domestic attendance record already broken twice on the first day of the season, we’re keen to welcome supporters, old and new, to experience our leagues.

“We have worked closely with our clubs and fans to ensure that there are suitable constructive mechanisms for their voices to be heard.”

Premier Chris Minns agreed.

“Unite Round is great news for the football community… and for NSW,” he said.

“This will bring fans and players from around the country together in Sydney, so I hope everyone embraces it.”

Unite Round fixtures

Isuzu UTE A-League Men’s

Friday 12 January (CommBank Stadium)

  • Macarthur FC v Western United
  • Melbourne City v Western Sydney Wanderers

Saturday 13 January (Allianz Stadium)

  • Central Coast Mariners v Melbourne Victory
  • Adelaide United v Sydney FC

Sunday 14 January

(Allianz Stadium)

  • Brisbane Roar v Newcastle Jets

(CommBank Stadium)

  • Perth Glory v Wellington Phoenix

Liberty A-League Women’s

Friday 12 January (Leichhardt Oval)

  • Melbourne Victory v Perth Glory
  • Wellington Phoenix v Central Coast Mariners

Saturday 13 January (Leichhardt Oval)

  • Canberra United v Adelaide United
  • Brisbane Roar v Newcastle Jets

Sunday 14 January

(CommBank Stadium)

  • Western Sydney Wanderers v Melbourne City

(Allianz Stadium)

  • Western United v Sydney FC

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