Ahead of Newcastle’s semifinal against Melbourne City, Greek Australian duo Dimi Petratos and Johnny Koutroumbis are aiming to fly the Jets into the A-League Grand Final.
After finishing on the bottom of the A-League ladder last term, Dimi Petratos’ 10 goals in the 2017–18 season helped lift the Jets to second place and one win away from playing in the Grand Final.
The Greek Australian attacker’s form saw him make a clean sweep of the Jets Player of the Year awards adding to his other major accomplishment when he earned his first cap for the Socceroos earlier this year.
With the winner of the semifinal against City earning a spot in the Grand Final, Jets striker Roy O’Donovan says Petratos will be key to the Jets chances.
“When we have played well this year the likes of Dimi Petratos, Ronald Vargas and Steven Ugarkovic have been on their game,” he said.
“We’ve been a very hard team to play against and we have a lot of energy and I expect nothing different from Friday night.”
Petratos’ Greek Australian teammate Johnny Koutroumbis also feels the Jets can defeat Melbourne City.
“We are pretty confident,” he told Neos Kosmos. “The boys have been working day in and day out for this. It means a lot to me, I want to do it for myself my family and I want to do it for the club.”
Koutroumbis, 22, also lauded Petratos’ fantastic play during the Jet’s march to the finals and made note of the relationship he has with the other Greek players in the Newcastle squad.
“Dimi is an excellent player,” he said. “He got called up to the Socceroos and there was no doubt about it, he’s had a very good season. Overall, Dimi is a good player and so are his brothers Kosta and Makis. It feels good, we speak to each other a lot in Greek and I feel comfortable.”
Koutroumbis’ versatility in defence and midfield was needed when the club suffered a number of injuries to key players earlier in the term. The defender said Newcastle coach Ernie Merrick’s influence has been a factor in the club’s revival.
“It’s definitely been a great season compared to last season,” he said.
“There is a different culture about the club and there is a different process. Personally, it has been very good for me. I scored two goals and that was the first time in a long time. Although I haven’t been starting in every game, the experience I’ve been getting from all the other players and the coach – it’s been great to be involved.”
Jets coach Ernie Merrick also pointed to the culture at the club for the reason Petratos has been in outstanding form this season.
“I have high expectation of the players,” he said. “If you ask them to lift their game, give them targets and let them know what you think they are capable of, they will rise to that. There is a lot of positive reinforcement and encouragement and look where it has got us.”
Petratos revealed overseas clubs have made advances for his services but the 25-year-old said he was only focused on his A-League commitments.
“It would be nice at some stage to go overseas,” he said. “Of course you’d like to play in the big leagues. La Liga is nice, I’d like to play there one day if that’s possible. There has been a little bit [of interest] but I’ve just left it with my agent. I just want to focus on where I am at the moment.”