Settled Tiago keen to plug gaps

JETS defender Tiago is still getting used to the pitter-patter of feet at his Merewether home.

After four long months separated from his family, the Brazilian has this week been reunited with wife, Paola, and children Julia, 5, and Jean Pedro, one next month.

The family went home to Brazil at the end of last season.

They had intended to accompany Tiago back for the start of the pre-season but were held up by delays in processing of visas.

Although Tiago communicated daily via Skype, it was a tough period.

‘‘They arrived Tuesday, now I am relaxed,’’ he said after training yesterday.

‘‘It was very hard.

‘‘My little boy, Jean Pedro, he has started to walk. He is not talking yet but he understands more.

‘‘He still has jet lag and hasn’t slept for the past two nights, but I am lucky that Paola’s mum is here and she can help.

‘‘Julia is back at pre-school. She had forgotten most of her English but it will come back.

‘‘It was a hard time but now everything is good.

‘‘Now they include my family in my visa. There are no more dramas.’’

Although missing his family, Tiago said it had not impacted on his football.

‘‘When I come to training and when I go for games, I put everything off the pitch aside,’’ he said.

‘‘I concentrate on my job.

‘‘Away from training, I was always with the boys. They were my family.’’

Now that family life is sorted, Tiago’s focus is on correcting a Jets defence that has leaked nine goals in five games entering tonight’s clash against new boys Western Sydney Wanderers at Parramatta Stadium.

‘‘We know we have conceded too many goals,’’ Tiago said. 

‘‘Last game we gave up two goals from set pieces and little individual mistakes. That has costs us.

‘‘[Defensive partner] Josh [Mitchell] and I, we have to do better.’’ 

In his second season, Tiago has adopted a far more aggressive approach. 

He was suspended for four games for his involvement in brawl with Wellington in the pre-season and has picked up three yellow cards in four A-League games.

‘‘Now I know the league, I know how my opposites play and that is the way I have to play,’’ he said.

‘‘This is the real Tiago.’’

Former Jet Mark Bridge has scored two of the Wanderers’ three goals. The other was an own goal.

All three have been scored in the past fortnight and have coincided with a 1-0 win over Brisbane and 2-1 triumph over the Heart.

The Jets have focused most of their defensive attention at training on set pieces.

They conceded a goal from a free kick in a 1-all draw with Wanderers in the pre-season and gave up two goals from dead-ball situation in the 3-2 loss to Perth.

‘‘Last year we only conceded two or three goals from set pieces for the whole season,’’ said Jets captain Jobe Wheelhouse, who tonight plays his 100th A-League game. It was one of our strong points.

‘‘This campaign we have conceded the same amount in five games.

‘‘We have worked hard on it this week at training. We know how good [Wanderers pair] Nikolai [Topor-Stanley] and [Michael] Beauchamp are in the air.’’ 

He said it was a matter of winning individual battles as the Jets marked zonal, and normally had enough numbers..

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