Ernie Merrick has named his 18-man squad to tackle the Preliminary Stage of the 2019 AFC Champions League (ACL).
The squad will play the Club’s first ACL match in nearly ten years at home on Tuesday 12 February against an as-yet unknown opponent.
Should the Jets claim victory at Hunter Stadium they will then head to Japan to play the competition’s reigning champions, Kashima Antlers for a spot in the Group Stage.
Qualification will see them in Group E along with Gyeongnam FC, Johor Darul Ta’zim and Playoff Spot 2 Winner (China/Thailand/Vietnam) should they navigate their way through their two play off fixtures.
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Amongst the Jets ranks to tackle the competition are a couple of experienced heads with ACL experience, including Jason Hoffman and Ben Kantarovski who were at the Club during the continental campaign back in 2009.
Nikolai Topor-Stanley – who won the ACL with Western Sydney Wanderers back in 2014 – is another player whose experience will prove key to the Club’s hopes in the competition.
There’s also experience among the backroom staff. Head Coach, Ernie Merrick and CEO, Lawrie McKinna have both coached in the ACL while Football Manager, Joel Griffiths was part of multiple campaigns with Beijing Guoan.
Brazillian winger, Jair has been left out of the squad due to visa player restrictions – seeing him fit and available for important Hyundai A-League fixtures.
Injury means that Joey Champness isn’t in the squad for the play-off phase of the competition, but should the Club progress to the Group Stage he will be in the mix.
Jets boss, Ernie Merrick was pleased with the makeup of his squad for the upcoming continental challenge.
“We’ve picked a strong core of players with a good mix of experience and youth,” Merrick said.
“There are a couple in there who have played in the AFC Champions League before like Nikolai [Topor-Stanley] and Nigel [Boogaard], and their understanding of the Asian football landscape will be crucial to our chances.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for our players to showcase their skills on the big stage, and the boys are really keen to play Champions League.
“It’s an honour for the Club to have the opportunity to qualify, we’re extremely focused on the task at hand and looking forward to challenge.”
Newcastle Jets ACL Squad
Goalkeepers: 1.Glen MOSS, 20.Lewis ITALIANO
Defenders: 3.Jason HOFFMAN, 4.Nigel BOOGAARD (c), 13.Ivan VUJICA 17.Daniel GEORGIEVSKI, 18.John KOUTROUMBIS, 22.Lachlan JACKSON, 44.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY
Midfielders: 5.Ben KANTAROVSKI, 6.Steven UGARKOVIC, 10.Ronald VARGAS (visa), 16.Nick COWBURN, 23.Matt RIDENTON (visa)
Attackers: 7.Dimi PETRATOS, 9.Roy O’DONOVAN (visa), 14.Kaine SHEPPARD, 32.Angus THURGATE