Preview: Newcastle Jets v Ulsan Hyundai
Newcastle hosts its first ever Asian Champions League match against Korean outfit Ulsan Hyundai on Tuesday night and both sides will be desperate for a win.
Date: Tuesday March 17 Kick-off (AEST): 8.00pm AEDT Venue: EnergyAustralia Stadium TV coverage: Fox Sports 1 (Live)
Results so far: Newcastle: Beijing Guoan 2 Newcastle Jets 0, Beijing Workers Stadium, March 10
Ulsan: Ulsan Hyundai 1, Grampus Nagoya 3, Ulsan Mansu Stadium, March 10
Analysis: Newcastle hosts its first ever Asian Champions League match against Korean outfit Ulsan Hyundai on Tuesday night and both sides will be desperate for a win after both stuttered at their first task this campaign.
Newcastle struggled to impose its style of play in the match against Beijing Guoan and as a result went down 2-0 after conceding one goal early and one goal late. It was a tough lesson in the difficulties of Asian football for Gary van Egmond's men, who very much looked like they were still getting used to playing with each other after a raft of changes in the build-up to this campaign.
The Jets had five debutants in that match, including strike trio Donny De Groot, Sasho Petrovski and Fabio Vignaroli and the Dutchman, the journeyman Australian and the Italian would have learned a considerable amount for their first competitive hit out.
But they have little more time to get used to playing with each other with the other two teams in the group holding a three-point advantage. While two teams get through in the group stages these days, a loss to either team could see them as much as four points away from contention after two rounds.
Newcastle must maintain a strong record at home if it is to have a hope of qualifying and the pressure is very much on the Jets in this match to get the result.
Ulsan Hyundai (known as the Tigers) got into this competition as the third-placed side from the K-League last season. Coached by veteran mentor Kim Ho Gwon, they were Korean champions in 2005. Like a lot of Korean teams, they have had major changes in personnel in the off-season.
The Tigers held an early lead against J-League powerhouse Nagoya Grampus in their opening game at home, thanks to Cho Jin-soo's 25th-minute goal. But the Japanese side ran all over them in the second half scoring three goals, including two in the final 15 minutes. The Tigers opened their K-League campaign last weekend with a 0-0 draw with Seongnam.
Brazilian Almir is the Tigers' key man, while journeyman Macedonian Slavco Georgievski has recently joined from Bulgaria and played a full game last year. The club's second Brazilian Luizinho came off the bench last week and could be used to inject some speed into the attack. The new-look Jets defensive set-up could be in for a busy night.
The visitors defence will be anchored by veteran captain Yoo Kyoung-Youl, who has made over 200 appearances for the club in a decorated career.
It's very hard to line up the form of these two teams, who are clearly both getting used to playing in new set-ups. Having said that, the Jets' desperation to impress their fans and get their campaign kick-started could give them an edge in this match.