Preview: Pohang v Newcastle
It's a very tough ask for the Jets but Gary van Egmond's side have shown plenty of times before they can prevail against the odds.
Date: Wednesday June 24 Kick-off: 8:30pm AEST (7:30pm local) Venue: Pohang Steelyard TV coverage: Fox Sports 1 (Live)
Results so far: Pohang Steelers: Central Coast 0, Pohang Steelers 0, Bluetongue Stadium, March 11 Pohang Steelers 1, Kawasaki Frontale 1, Pohang Steelyard, March 18 Pohang Steelers 1, Tianjin Teda 0, Pohang Steelyard, April 8 Tianjin Teda 0, Pohang Steelers 0, Tianjin Teda stadium, April 21 Pohang Steelers 3, Central Coast Mariners 2, Pohang Steelyard, May 5 Kawasaki Frontale 0, Pohang Steelers 2, Kawasaki Todoroki Stadium, May 19
Newcastle: Beijing Guoan 2 Newcastle Jets 0, Beijing Workers Stadium, March 10 Newcastle Jets 2, Ulsan Hyundai 0, EnergyAustralia Stadium, March 17 Nagoya Grampus 1, Newcastle Jets 1, Mizho Athletic Stadium, April 7 Newcastle Jets 0, Nagoya Grampus 1, EnergyAustralia Stadium, April 22 Newcastle Jets 2, Beijing Guoan 1, EnergyAustralia Stadium, May 6 Ulsan Hyundai 0, Newcastle Jets 1 Ulsan Munsu Stadium, May 20
Analysis: Newcastle proved a fair few people wrong with its effort during the Group Stage of its inaugural Asian Champions League campaign. There were plenty of people willing to write Gary van Egmond's side off in this competition after their defence of their Hyundai A-League championship yielded nothing but a wooden spoon.
But clever recruiting and spirited performances saw the Jets easily progress as the second team from Group E on 10 points after three wins, including two in their final two games.
The reward for that effort is this one-off round of 16 match against K-League outfit Pohang Steelers, a one-time powerhouse of Asian football having won this competition in 1997 and 1998. The Steelers are well known to Australian fans having played Adelaide in last year's Champions League and Central Coast in this year's group stage, drawing at Bluetongue Stadium before prevailing in a 3-2 epic at the Steelyard in early May.
Van Egmond has some interesting options at the selection table with Ljubo Milicevic (groin) and Nikolai Topor-Stanley (knee) out, and Jobe Wheelhouse likely to come in to partner Angelo Costanzo in the middle of defence.
Jin-Hyung Song, the Korean youngster who missed the entire group stage with an ankle injury, should play some part and is likely to be used to compliment Dutchman Donny de Groot, who has fitness concerns over his hamstring.
But probably the best news for the Jets is the fact that Italian Fabio Vignaroli is back fit and ready to fire. The one big positive to come out of this campaign, he will be crucial to the Jets' hopes of winning against the odds in this match.
Newcastle will have gained plenty of confidence from its win in Korea over Ulsan in the last match, where Jason Hoffman scored the winning goal. That experience will have the Jets believing they can repeat the dose here.
Pohang's form in the Asian Champions League Group Stage may have been impressive, finishing on top of Kawasaki Frontale courtesy of a 2-0 win in Japan in the final match, but the Steelers' K-League campaign has been a little disappointing.
They went nine matches without a win into the international break in early June, but returned to action with a 4-1 win over Incheon United on the weekend, with goals from four separate players, including one from midfielder Hyung-Min Shin.
Former Jets captain Jade North, who plays with Incheon, watched that match from the sidelines and was suitably impressed by what he described as a second string Pohang team
Coach Sergio Ferias will be looking to get the most out of his three imports, Brazilians Denilson and Brasilia as well as Macedonian Stevica Ristic along with his talented bunch of Korean players. The Brazilian manager said he is determined to take Pohang back to the pinnacle of Asian football again.
The other aspect the Jets will have to contend with is the heat and humidity in Korea at this time of year. It will be a true test of where their preparation is at.
It's a very tough ask for the Jets, especially considering there is no return leg, but van Egmond's side have shown plenty of times before they can prevail against the odds. This however, is probably their biggest-ever challenge.