Van Egmond backs tough Jets

Newcastle coach Gary van Egmond has backed his players' mental toughness as key as his side attempt to upset Korean powerhouse Pohang Steelers in Wednesday night's Asian Champions League round of 16 match in Korea.

Newcastle coach Gary van Egmond has backed his players' mental toughness as key as his side attempt to upset Korean powerhouse Pohang Steelers in Wednesday night's Asian Champions League round of 16 match in Korea.

The Jets go in to the one-off match as underdogs given they have had to travel after finishing second in their group. Van Egmond sees the clash with the Steelers as a genuine test of character for his men as they look to make it through to the quarter finals.

"We are looking forward to playing the match and the players are under no illusions of how difficult the game will be," van Egmond told reporters. "With a mental strength, which we are getting better and better with every game we play in this Champions League, we feel that we can give a good account of ourselves."

"For us it's a big occasion. For a football club, the first time in Champions League to get through to the round of 16. We have prepared very well. We've had a good month between our games. We know what to expect from Korean teams."

Unsurprisingly, van Egmond said the Jets would adopt a very cautious approach in the first quarter of the game, in a bid to negate the Korean side's home advantage.

"For us, it-s very important that we keep our goal intact. The first 20, 25 minutes, we 'll have to be very defensively solid. Then we'll see how the game opens up," he said.

"Is it a case where we can stay to press and play the game more in Pohang's half? Or is it a situation, where we need to absorb some pressure and hope to score on the counter? That will be determined as the game is played."

Pohang's K-League campaign resumed with a 4-1 win over Incheon on the weekend, and van Egmond is aware of the form the Steelers are currently in. He is also aware of the players who present the greatest danger.

"Denilson is a good player who can score a lot of goals. He was rested on the weekend by Pohang and kept with this game in mind. Ristic, also another foreign player, is a big player who can hold the ball up well. Defensively, they are very sound as well," he said.

"We know that there are some danger players from Pohang, we will make sure we treat all their team with respect."