Veteran Newcastle Jets goal-keeper Glen Moss says the Asian Champions League could provide just the sort of boost the team needs to make a late charge for an A-League finals’ berth.
The Jets square off against Persija Jakarta in an ACL qualifier on Tuesday night at McDonald Jones Stadium with a victory setting up a showdown in Japan against Kashima Antlers for a place in the group stage.
But while the squad has had a heavy recent schedule and are coming off a deflating 1-1 draw against Wellington Phoenix last Thursday night where they failed to convert several great scoring chances, Moss believes his teammates will relish the prospect of a fresh challenge against someone new.
“I think the Asian Champions League has come at the perfect time for us,” Moss told the Newcastle Herald.
“We’re playing a new opposition, it is something fresh, something different. I honestly don’t see it as a disadvantage.
“It might be harder for Ernie [coach Merrick] and the management to try and plan tactics and formations and who is going to play but as a player, you love these games. It’s an International game for us.
“Like I said, it’s something new and every one of us is looking forward to it. We’ll be taking it very seriously and hopefully moving on to Japan the following game and into the group from there.
“There is an awful lot to play for and as players, there is real excitement about the games so we will definitely be up for them starting on Tuesday.”
Moss says a win on Tuesday night will give the team a giant boost as it fights to stay in A-League finals’ contention.
“I feel that could really get the back-end of our season flying and really breathe some life into us for the run home,” he said.
In what was a frustrating stalemate against Phoenix, it was Moss’ heroics at the back end of the game that kept the team’s finals hopes flickering.
The competition point left them in seventh place, still trailing sixth-placed Phoenix by eight points.
But it would have been a different story had Moss not saved a late Roy Krishna penalty.
It came in the 88th minute after Ben Kantarovski had brought down Louis Fenton just inside the box.
Typically, Moss played down his save.
“I just got lucky. Got my big toe on the end of it and was just lucky it stayed out in all honesty.” he said modestly.
“For me at this stage of my career, I just go on instinct more than anything else [with penalties]. I’ve actually gone the wrong way but luckily, I got a big toe on it. Another day, he gets it a bit higher and it goes in.”
Despite the result, Moss doesn’t believe the side took a step back after the 5-1 trouncing of Western Sydney Wanderers in the previous game.
“You look at the performance and you definitely don’t say it’s a step back because the overall performance was very good,” he said.
“It’s just probably frustrating as a player to know we have worked so hard and seeing so many chances created and know that you were the better team and not coming away with the win, especially at home.
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“You could feel the crowd’s frustration as well. We peppered the goal, hit the keeper, the post and everything but the back of the net enough but we’ll keep working and hopefully next time, we’ll put a few more in.
“They are in the top six for a reason, they have been playing some good football and they believe in the football they are playing so we knew they would take the game to us and that it would be back and forth.”
The Jets have nine games to salvage their season.
“That’s definitely the positive. We still have a lot of games left,” he said.