LIVE and let die.
That was the message from Newcastle Jets coach Gary van Egmond yesterday as his troops steel themselves for a season-defining showdown against Brisbane Roar at Hunter Stadium tomorrow.
With six rounds remaining, the Jets are sixth on 26 points, two points and one rung higher than Brisbane.
A win against the defending two-time champions would consolidate Newcastle’s position in the top six and perhaps give them a comfortable five-point buffer on the chasing pack.
A loss or a draw could leave them on the outside, looking in, with five games to play.
Defeat would leave Brisbane at least three points adrift of the top six and possibly prove a fatal blow to their hopes of defending their title.
Van Egmond said the Jets were determined to take the right turn at this pivotal juncture in their season.
‘‘If we’re successful and get the three points against them [Brisbane], we open up a five-point margin with five games to go. Obviously there’s 15 points on offer, but those five games certainly erode pretty quickly.’’
Van Egmond was optimistic that under the A-League’s new play-offs system the bottom two qualifiers had at least some chance of progressing to the grand final.
In past seasons, the odds have been stacked so heavily in favour of the top two teams that only Central Coast [season one] and Perth [last season] have come from lower on the table to reach the decider.
‘‘With this new format it gives everyone a real good chance ... it gives you a real good opportunity to have a red-hot go if you get into those finals,’’ van Egmond said.
Van Egmond said he expected to retain the same starting XI, although midfielder Zenon Caravella has been battling a sore hamstring.
‘‘From my point of view, I’d really like to have a more settled XI,’’ the coach said.
‘‘This week I felt it was obviously a no-brainer to be able to select that XI, where other weeks you’re tossing and turning in regards to which players to play because you’re not settled on it.’’