The Newcastle Jets received a huge boost in the lead up to the start of the new A-League campaign after captain and fan favourite Nigel Boogaard agreed to stay with the club for another season.
The commanding centre-back has made 107 appearances and scored four goals in his five seasons in the blue-and-red since his $150,000 transfer from fellow A-League side Adelaide United in 2015.
Boogaard said that, as a hometown lad, he was “delighted” to be able to play for the Jets next season.
“This is the club I’ve always wanted to play for as a junior, and [I’m] excited again to go round again for one more year and represent this football community,” Boogaard said in a press conference.
“[There’s] a great bunch of boys in that changing room as well, so I’m really looking forward to having a good crack this year, and hopefully do the town proud.”
Boogaard added he was glad to get plenty of minutes in the tank in pre-season preparation, which included a one-all draw against a Brisbane Roar side that finished fourth on the A-League ladder last year.
“It’s actually been the first pre-season that I’ve been able to get consistent minutes into the body in the trial matches and play 90 minutes,” he said.
“[I’m] just looking forward to the start of the season now, a couple more trial matches, but I think we’ve been quite competitive through the games we’ve played already against some really good sides.
“We’re confident we can pick up results, and hopefully that helps the supporters also see what’s possible this year.
“I think there’s a lot of negativity going on in the background, but ultimately, our focus on the park is to win games.”
Boogaard will not be joined by striker Bernie Ibini in the Jets’ squad for the new season after the forward bought out the remainder of his contract with the club, which saw his deal terminated with immediate effect.
Ibini is bound for the Western Sydney Wanderers, where he will link up with former Jets coach Carl Robinson, who also managed the 28-year-old during his time with MLS side Vancouver Whitecaps.
In an interview with SBS’s ‘The World Game’ in November, Ibini spoke of his desire to leave the club.
“I only signed for Newcastle because of Carl,” Ibini said.
“The club officials know this – it was clear this was the only reason. I just don’t think it’s the right fit for me anymore.
“I need to take control of my position and the direction of my career.”
The Jets begin their A-League campaign on Thursday 31 December with a derby clash against Central Coast Mariners.