Preview: Next stop, Group Stage?


One of the biggest matches in the Club’s history beckons this Tuesday night.

The boys have already made the trip to Japan, and with no new knocks or niggles from Friday night’s win over Melbourne City, it’s a fresh side which is gearing up for a massive AFC Champions League clash.

Opening a form guide would make very happy reading for Jets fans – with four wins and a draw in our last six outings, including some crucial wins.

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The 5-1 victory over Western Sydney Wanderers was a real confidence-boosting win, and the 3-1 defeat of Persija Jakarta a massive step towards Asian qualification.

Friday night’s 3-1 victory over Melbourne City, with more than half a dozen key players rested, was perhaps the most famous of all this season and one which was lapped up by the Jets faithful.

Roy O'Donovan

This is the biggest challenge of all, though – the Asian club champions, in hostile territory, for one of club football’s biggest carrots of all.

With only a month’s worth of pre-season under their belts, this could be the best time to strike the Antlers.

They won 1-0 over J-League 2 opposition in a pre-season friendly on 9 February, so will be fresh and confident.

Team news

All of the team news last time out was about the players who weren’t available for the clash with Melbourne City, but it’s another story entirely this time around.

Nigel Boogaard, Glen Moss, and Daniel Georgievski return in the back third, Ben Kantarovski is set to take up his position in the midfield once more, while Ronny Vargas and Dimi Petratos are likely to step back into the offensive third.

Roy O’Donovan, who was a second-half substitute for the clash with City, is also a good chance of returning to the starting XI for Tuesday night.

Joey Champness has recovered well from his cameo on Friday night and could see minutes off the bench – could he potentially be an X-factor?

From the striker

“The travel all went perfectly,” striker, Roy O’Donovan said.

“We landed in Korea Saturday night and the time difference wasn’t massive. Sunday we got up for breakfast and caught a connecting flight of a couple of hours to Tokyo.

“It worked out well that we got a sleep to break up the trip. We did a light session here, stretching and more recovery in the pool. We want to be as fresh as we can for Tuesday after a very heavy schedule in the past few weeks.

“It is a bit cooler here but it’s not drastic. We might have to wear a beanie to training. It will be good for us to play in cool conditions because we have been so used to very hot days in Newcastle.

“Regardless of the conditions, it is a great game for us and one we are excited about.”