Jets ready for big occasion

Gary van Egmond is confident his players will not be overawed during Saturday’s highly anticipated match against Sydney FC.

Hunter Ports Newcastle Jets head coach Gary van Egmond is confident his players will not be overawed by the big occasion during Saturday-s highly anticipated match against Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium.

Saturday-s fixture against the Sky Blues will see Jets marquee Emile Heskey go head-to-head with his Sydney FC counterpart Alessandro Del Piero for the first time and a crowd of more than 30,000 is expected for the clash.

Van Egmond said the prolonged build-up to the Jets- Round 1 match against Adelaide United might have affected some of the playing squad and contributed to their poor start and eventual 2-0 loss.

However, van Egmond is confident the hype around this Saturday-s game against Sydney will not have a similarly off-putting impact.

“It wasn-t an ideal start to the season against Adelaide,” van Egmond said.

“It was a huge build-up before we kicked-off, with 20 weeks of pre-season and everyone dying to get out there, the added confidence and anticipation of Emile (Heksey) joining late and Membership going through the roof and all these things going on.

“Everyone was really excited and I think the boys got a little anxious and that turned into frustration especially after the first minute going a goal down.

“We need to ensure that this weekend with it being the first home game for Sydney, that we don-t get carried award by the occasion that comes with a big crowd.

“We-ve got to ensure we don-t get overawed by the fact that a player like Del Piero is playing and there are players other than him that we have to concentrate on as well.”

Van Egmond said the senior members of the Jets squad would play a key role in helping the younger, less experienced players prepare for such a big match.

“I think that is the job of the senior players and they will let that happen,” he said.

“A lot of the time with the younger ones it is like water of a duck's back, they don-t notice what-s going on and it depends on the personality of the younger one as well, how much of a thinker they really are and how that will affect them.

“We will have a chat to certain ones who we think will probably need to and I know some of the senior boys have already started that process.”

Van Egmond said the Jets squad are still adjusting to playing alongside former England international Emile Heskey, but their combinations with the striker are steadily improving.

“We are in a position with Emile, he brings something completely different than we have had before so we have to target our game a little bit differently,” van Egmond explained.

“That is not a complete change of philosophy, it is more a change of tactics and the way we have to position our players and the system that we use.”