Fans favourite wants plenty of support on Saturday

Goalkeeper Danny Vukovic is a fans favourite among the Central Coast Mariners supporters, but on Saturday night he would also like to be a favourite of Newcastle and Sydney fans for a night at least, when the Qantas Under 23’s take on Iraq at Bluetongue Central Coast Stadium.

Goalkeeper Danny Vukovic is a fans favourite among the Central Coast Mariners supporters, but on Saturday night he would also like to be a favourite of Newcastle and Sydney fans for a night at least, when the Qantas Under 23-s take on Iraq at Bluetongue Central Coast Stadium.

Vukovic wants to see not only Mariners fans turn up to his home turf, but as many Newcastle and Sydney fans as well, to make it a match to remember for the Under 23-s, who must beat Iraq to have any chance of qualifying for next years Beijing Olympic Games in China.

Both teams are level on eight points with Iraq slightly ahead on goal difference and faced with an easier match in its final game three days later against Lebanon, while Australia has to travel to North Korea, where it faces a match in freezing cold conditions on an artificial pitch.

The likable 22-year-old has been adopted as one of their own since he moved up to the Central Coast from his home city of Sydney and believes this is one of the biggest football matches of any code to have been held at the picturesque stadium in Gosford. It certainly is from an international sport perspective and Vukovic would love to see a capacity stadium on Saturday night.

So far 11,000 tickets have been sold and with a healthy walk up expected on the day of the match, the FFA is urging fans to pre-purchase tickets (see below for details) and make sure you get a seat of choice.

“Yeh, I guess it would be,” Vukovic said enthusiastically, when if this was the biggest match to be played on the Central Coast. “There was a semi final in season 1 (of the Hyundai A-League) that was pretty big and we are hoping it-s going to be another big crowd here and hopefully a lot of the Central Coast public come out to support us.

“We know the Iraqi-s will have a pretty strong contingent here and it-s our home game, so we want to have the majority of the support. We are urging all the Central Coast community come out to support us and everyone from Sydney and Newcastle, it will be great to see everyone here.”

Vukovic said the boys have been looking forward to this game for a long time now, knowing that this game would most likely be the make or break match of this qualifying series.

“I think everyone is looking forward to it,” he said. “We-ve worked for a year and a half and its all come down to this game. We need to it and if we do, we know we-ve qualified for the Olympic Games pretty much, so everyone is buzzing and confident we can do the job.”

As a keeper, he prides himself on keeping clean sheets and is proud not to have conceded a goal in this qualifying series to date.

“Definitely,” he said when asked if was keen to keep clean sheets right throughout this qualifying series. “But its not just been me, its been the whole team. We defend as a team and defensively, I think, is the best part of our game, so we are looking for another clean sheet on Saturday.

I am happy with my form. Personally I am happy and hopefully continue to keep improving and go on from there.”

And if a goal is scored by his Under 23 team mates, don-t expect Vukovic to contain himself and stay rooted to his penalty area. Not even the embarrassment of nearly conceding the most bizarre goal last weekend, where he raced to celebrate with Matt Simon on the halfway line, only for the goal to be disallowed and Adelaide taking a quick free kick, with no Mariners players in sight. Luckily for him and the Mariners, the referee called it back and in effect saved both teams blushes.

“I think you could see a bit of celebration by myself,” he said unreservedly. “We play a team sport and I am part of the team, so why not celebrate with the boys.”

Match Details Australia v Iraq Saturday 17 November Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford Kick-off 7.00pm AEDST

Tickets On sale from: Ticketek, phone 132 849 or at Ticketek outlets. Matchday: Ticket booths at venue open from 5.00pm, with gates opening at 6.00pm

Ticket Prices:

Cat A $18.00 - Adult $9.00 - Concession/Child $35.00 - Family

Cat B $12.00 - Adult $6.00 - Concession/Child $24.00 - Family

**Please note for this match a $2.00 surcharge will be added to each ticket purchased at the venue**

Concession (Pensioner, Student, Child) Pensioner - Aged, (valid ID cards) including seniors cards Student - Full time tertiary and secondary school students (valid ID required) Child - 4-16 years inclusive (children 3 years and under are free unless they are occupying a seat)

There will be a LIVE MATCH UPDATE of the game on from 6.45pm

TV Broadcast: SBS will show a delayed telecast of the match from 10.15pm.