Having watched seen his son start a competition match for the first time since January 2011, Branko Culina believes an international return is not out of the question
|By DOUG BOOTH
Branko Culina is confident and hopeful his son Jason can still be part of the Socceroos in their bid to reach the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.
Proud father Branko has watched and waited patiently as Jason, 32, has recovered from two operations on a career-threatening knee injury over the past two years.
"He [Jason] needs to recapture full match fitness," Branko told Goal.com after watching his son start for the Sky Blues for the first time this season in Sunday's 2-1 win over Wellington Phoenix in New Zealand.
And the former A-League coach believes Jason, arguably the first active Socceroo to return to the A-League in their prime, can regain his green and gold status.
"You don't forget how to play football. It's just there are other things that affect how you play," Branko said.
"The mental side affects you and the confidence needed to play at this level."
His father's comments echoed those of Jason in an interview in November.
"I'm a strong character to come back from something like this," Culina said.
"I don't give up too easily. If people think Jason Culina gives up or is not motivated then they're wrong.
"I believe in myself and that's made me a stronger person over the last two years."
Culina first injured his knee playing for Australia against South Korea in January, 2000.
He re-injured his knee playing for the now defunct Gold Coast United at the end of the 2010-11 A-League campaign and broke down for a second time after signing with the Newcastle Jets last season.
It was that signing - ending in his contract being set aside before he could play a minute - which sent the veteran midfielder's career into a nosedive, before struggling Sydney FC stepped in with the chance to resurrect his A-League career.
Culina controlled things well in the midfield for Sydney in his 60 minutes on the pitch in Wellington on Sunday and his delivery from set-pieces was inch perfect.
It was Culina's cross from deep on the right flank which set up Sydney's opening goal for Sebastian Ryall.
Branko said he was delighted to see Jason play first-team football again after his nightmare injury run.
"While I think he is a better attacking player than a defensive one the current role he is playing is one that suits him and Sydney FC very well."
But Branko is convinced the inclusion of his experienced son alongside Brett Emerton, Alessandro del Piero and Dutch central defender Pascal Bosschaart will enable cellar-dwellers Sydney to climb up the table.
"[Coach] Frank Farina is the right man for the job," Branko said.
"He needs to get them organised and disciplined. He has the name and reputation to get success."