02/03/2024

New Jet Jaushua Sotirio impressed Coach Arthur Papas in the win over Perth Glory. (Image: Newcastle Jets - Twitter)

Despite playing just 16 minutes, Jaushua Sotirio was one of Arthur Papas’ best in their 2-1 win over Perth Glory. The winger came on late and gave the Jets a much-needed injection of pace to change up a stagnant final third, his efforts were rewarded when he provided Beka Mikeltadze with the match-winning assist.

Sotirio was one of eight players to debut for the club in their opening after a whirlwind off-season that saw the playing list receive a large turnover. Papas’ new-look side showed they had the potential to threaten teams through both slow build-up and aggressive counterattack.

Speaking to the media on Friday, Papas was thrilled with the progress his side has made to create chemistry in such a short time but was adamant they can be a lot better.

“I’m pleased with the progression of the side but there’s still a lot more we can do. We’ve got a lot of new faces this season and we only had five matches in the pre-season to prepare before that game,” Papas said.

“It’s important for us to get matches into the side and build relationships, they’re all great players individually with their own qualities, it’s up to us now to help them build together.

“Jaushua [Sotirio] was another new face in the game who had a huge impact. He came in off the bench late and changed the game for us, he gave us speed so we can have some versatility in how we attack.”

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The Jets host Wellington Phoenix on Saturday night and the Newcastle side will be hoping to start the A-League season with consecutive wins for the first time in history.

Wellington travel to Newcastle on the back of underwhelming draws against Adelaide and Central Coast, however, Papas believes they’re still a threat.

“It’s going to be a tough game, they’re [Wellington] a well-set-up team who can be aggressive on the counter,” he said.

“There’s a lot of things they do well, they’re a great attacking side from the midfield that we have to be accountable to.

“We’re going to have to be patient in the way we break them down given that they’re such a threat in transition.”

One of the Jets’ biggest weapons is Beka Mikeltadze with his tail up after scoring the stoppage-time winner. Mikeltadze was Newcastle’s leading scorer last season and Papas is confident he’s in for another strong season.

“He [Mikeltadze] had one chance from 90 minutes and he scored, if that’s his conversion rate I don’t care how many touches he has,” he said.

“He’s very demanding of himself, he’s yet to hit his peak and he’s already had such a big impact on the team and the league.

“A lot of people are talking about the goal and Jaushua’s run, but not many saw how hard Beka worked to get himself in that spot. It was a 90-metre sprint, that’s just what the team means to him.”

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