Jets happy to be second fiddle

Newcastle striker Joel Griffiths indicated he is happy that Sydney FC has been installed as favourites for this year's Hyundai A-League Championship as it will deflect pressure from the Jets.

Newcastle striker Joel Griffiths indicated he is happy that Sydney FC has been installed as favourites for this year's Hyundai A-League Championship as it will deflect pressure from the Jets.

Sydney, who has recruited handsomely in the off-season, was almost unanimously voted as the team most likely to win this season's competition in a poll of all the Hyundai A-League teams. The stat sits comfortably with Griffiths as the Jets prepare to defend their Championship title.

"We will embrace the pressure put on us as defending champions - pressure makes you a better player to rise to the occasion," Griffiths told Sportal.

"Saying that however, I think the pressure is released as far as what Sydney has done in the off-season in preparing their team and the signings they have made."

"I think a lot of teams will be focused on beating them instead of wanting to beat the Champions and that suits us just fine."

The Jets have also been forced to recruit heavily in the off-season with key players such as Mark Bridge, Stuart Musalik, Andrew Durante, Troy Hearfield and Stephen Laybutt poached by rival clubs.

The new faces at the Newcastle club include Ecuadorian international Edmundo Zura, Danish midfielder Jesper Hakkanson, youngsters Kaz Patafta and Antun Kovacic, plus the retention of Korean livewire Jin-Hyung Song, who has been signed to a two-year contract after playing late last season for the Jets on an injury signing.

"It is very important to bring in some quality players for the ones we have lost," said Griffiths. "I think Gary (van Egmond) has done a great job bringing in players that can fill that void."

"We have done that with big Edmundo coming in and obviously Jesper, who brings in lots of experience. So I am looking forward to seeing those two hopefully shine for us this year."

In the meantime, Griffiths, who won the Golden Boot for most goals scored last campaign, is looking forward to the season-opening clash against arch rivals the Central Coast Mariners when the two teams meet in a grand final replay at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Friday night.

"It is a derby match so it is a good occasion to show what we have got now and obviously being the first match of the season it would be good to get a good start," he said.

"There is always going to be tension between us and the Central Coast, mainly because our fans don't like each other, and that adds another incentive to beat them for the fans, but the most important thing is to get three points at home."

"It is going to be a tough game and we are going to be without a couple of Olyroo players but when they come back the squad will be even stronger."