No pressure on Phoenix as Kurto targets top-four finish
Newcastle Jets might be hot on their tails but in-form goalkeeper Filip Kurto insists Wellington Phoenix are looking up rather than down the Hyundai A-League ladder.
The Jets’ shock 2-0 win over champions Melbourne Victory has seen the Hunter club – currently seventh – close to within two points of Phoenix in the top six.
Mark Rudan’s men have a game in hand, which will be played on Saturday night when they head to Gosford to take on last-placed Central Coast Mariners.
While the form of the resurgent Jets could have the Kiwi club looking over their shoulder, Kurto is adamant his team aren’t feeling any pressure.
In fact, with just three points separating Phoenix and fourth-placed Adelaide United, they sense an opportunity to jump up the ladder.
“We don't want to look behind to Newcastle. If we gain our points it doesn’t matter what happens behind us,” the Polish gloveman told reporters on Tuesday.
“[The top four] is our target and we believe we will reach it.
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"We're going [to Gosford] for the three points, this is our target.
“We know it'll be a tough game, it doesn't matter that they are the last team, we know it will be a fine game and it will be tough to get the three points.”
Kurto has been a revelation in his debut season in the Hyundai A-League, making a competition high 73 saves across 18 appearances.
His assured displays have justified Rudan’s decision to use one of his import spots on the former Roda JC keeper.
And the Phoenix’s boss’ future has been the topic of much speculation in recent weeks, with reports Rudan is being chased by new Hyundai A-League franchise Western United.
But Kurto refused to be drawn on his coach’s future, preferring to focus on the clash on the Central Coast, here the Phoenix haven’t won on their last four visits.
"We are focussed on Saturday. This [Rudan’s future] is not our business,” Kurto said.
“Our job is on the pitch. I'm a professional. I have a contract with Wellington and my focus is on Saturday. I want to have a clean sheet and get three points."
Wellington will be hoping to have experienced defender Steven Taylor back for this match after the Englishman missed the recent 1-0 loss to Sydney FC.
But they will definitely be without midfielder Alex Rufer, who is out suspended after picking up his eighth yellow card of the campaign against the Sky Blues.