Jets  digging  for pot of gold

COACH Gary van Egmond has not done the maths but he doubts that the Jets will need as many points as last season to qualify for the A-League final series.

One thing van Egmond was certain of was that ‘‘every point you can get is like gold’’. The Jets take on bogey side Wellington Phoenix in a rescheduled clash in the New Zealand capital tomorrow night.

A win – which Newcastle haven’t achieved in Wellington since 2007 – would take the Jets another step closer to the post-season and all but kill off the hosts.

With five rounds remaining, Newcastle sit in sixth place on 27 points, behind Melbourne Heart on goal difference and in front of Sydney by the same notion.

The Heart finished sixth last season on 37 points, two clear of the Jets.

‘‘There are five games left and four teams within two points,’’ van Egmond said before departing  yesterday.

‘‘Every point you can get is like gold. I don’t think you are going to need as many points as last year because there is so many teams playing each other. There will be chopping and changing.’’

The Wellington game, which was moved forward from March 23 despite the protests of the Jets, follows a scoreless draw against Brisbane Roar and is the second of a potentially season-defining four matches in 14 days. They fly from Wellington to Melbourne for a battle against the Victory on Sunday and return home to meet Perth Glory  on March 8.

Van Egmond was reluctant  to place a minimum points value on the next 10 days.

‘‘I don’t want to put any expectation on the players,’’ he said.

‘‘I think it will go right down to the wire.’’

The Jets were livid when Football Federation Australia rescheduled the fixture to accommodate New Zealand World Cup qualifiers,  for which the Phoenix will supply the bulk of the squad.

‘‘We have said enough about that,’’ van Egmond said when pressed on the subject.

‘‘The most important thing is for us to focus on the positives.

‘‘We are going there with a lot of confidence from the performances and results of the past few weeks.’’

The Jets ended an eight-game losing streak in Wellington with a 1-all draw at the Cake Tin in round 18 on January 27.

The Jets stayed on Australian time, eating and sleeping in their normal patterns, and will adopt the same approach.

‘‘We tried that and it was good,’’ van Egmond said.

Captain Ruben Zadkovich said the draw had exorcised a few demons and he was confident of another positive result.

‘‘I think what helps is that we have a lot of young players who haven’t been there that many times and for them that issue doesn’t really mean anything, it’s new experiences,’’ he said.

‘‘We’ve got a really good squad and a good chance to get something out of this game.

‘‘The more I look at the ladder, the more I just think that it’s all in our own hands.’’ 

LISTEN UP: Assistant coach Craig Deans   talks to the players yesterday.  Picture: Jonathan Carroll

LISTEN UP: Assistant coach Craig Deans talks to the players yesterday. Picture: Jonathan Carroll


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