The high-flying Newcastle Jets will face their toughest challenge of the 2017/18 Hyundai A-League season, as they clash with current Champions, Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night.
The trip down the M1 hasn’t been kind to the Jets over their history, netting just three wins in their previous 17 encounters with the Sky Blues away from home.
Jets’ boss, Ernie Merrick said that the ‘hoodoo’ had not been spoken of, nor would bother his chargers leading into Round 7.
“We only look forward, not back and this is a different team this season,” said Merrick.
“We don’t let history effect us, but Sydney are a very good team who only lost one game last year and they’ve started pretty well, and again will be up around the top three come finals time.
For Merrick, the expectations being laid on his side are something he wants his players to embrace.
“I think it’s easy to go into a game like this and use the ‘underdog’ tag, but I want the boys to start thinking along the lines that they can win and get used to high expectations,” added Merrick.
“It will be a challenge, but if we play our best football I think we’re a good chance of taking some points away from this one.”
The Sky Blues will be looking to bounce back following a 2 – 0 defeat at the hands of the Central Coast last start and Merrick expects an improved performance from the home side.
“Sydney are a strong squad, with good depth and they’re well coached and if we want to do well this season and do well in the finals we need to be able to cope with teams like Sydney,” said Merrick.
“I think the Adelaide game came at a good time for us – it was the kick up the backside we needed – both teams come into this one off the back of a performance they’re pretty unhappy with.”
Merrick has gone in with an almost unchanged squad from that which defeated Adelaide away, with the inclusion of Daniel Georgievski who has recovered well from the minor hamstring tear he suffered against the Wanderers in Round 4.
“Daniel has trained really strongly all week and is pushing for selection tomorrow, but as I’ve said, we won’t take any unnecessary risks this early in the season.”
Mario Shabow is an early withdrawal from the match day squad, as he returns home to be with his family to mourn the recent passing of his father.
Glen Moss remains unavailable as he returns from the All White’s unsuccessful World Cup Qualifier in Peru, as Ivan Necevski continues to deputize Jack Duncan.
By the numbers:
- Newcastle Jets are undefeated in six games (W4, D2), the last time they went longer without defeat was a seven-game streak at the end of 2010 (W5, D2).
- Newcastle has scored five goals in the 15 minutes prior to half-time, more than any other team in the competition.
- Roy O’Donovan has scored seven goals and assisted one other this season; no other player has been directly involved in more than six goals.
Saturday, 18 November 2017
Sydney FC v Newcastle Jets
Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Kick-Off: 7:50 PM (Local) (7:50 PM AEDT)
Referee: Kurt Ams
TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 501 from 7:45pm (AEDT), ONE from 7:45pm and Sky Sport 1 (New Zealand)
Radio Broadcast: ABC News on Radio, Grandstand Digital, Online & via the ABC Listen App – A-League Live.
Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #SYDvNEW
Newcastle Jets Squad: 1.Jack DUNCAN (gk), 3.Jason HOFFMAN, 4.Nigel BOOGAARD, 5.Ben KANTAROVSKI, 6.Steven UGARKOVIC, 7.Dimitri PETRATOS, 9.Roy O’DONOVAN, 10.Wayne BROWN, 12.Mario SHABOW, 13.Ivan VUJICA, 15.Andrew NABBOUT, 16.Nick COWBURN, 17. Daniel GEORGIEVSKI, 18.Johnny KOUTROUMBIS, 19.Kosta PETRATOS, 24.Joe CHAMPNESS, 30.Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 44.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 17.Daniel GEORGIEVSKI (promoted), 19. Kosta PETRATOS (promoted)
Unavailable: 8.Ronald VARGAS (ankle – indefinite), 20.Glen MOSS (international duty – 1 week)
Sydney FC squad: 1.Andrew REDMAYNE (gk), 4.Alex WILKINSON, 5.Jordy BUIJS, 6.Josh BRILLANTE, 7.Michael ZULLO, 8.Paulo RETRE, 9.BOBÔ, 10.Milos NINKOVIC, 11.Adrian MIERZEJEWSKI, 13.Brandon O’NEILL, 14.Alex BROSQUE (c), 16.Anthony KALIK, 17.David CARNEY, 18.Matt SIMON, 21.Charles LOKOLINGOY, 22.Seb RYALL, 26.Luke WILKSHIRE, 30.Tom HEWARD
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 11.Adrian MIERZEJEWSKI (promoted), 21.Charles LOKOLINGOY (promoted)
Unavailable: 23.Rhyan GRANT (knee - indefinite)