For the Newcastle Jets the A-League finals begin on Saturday, defender Kew Jaliens says, as they face Melbourne Victory in a season defining encounter.
After last week’s costly 2-1 loss to Perth, the Jets are a point behind sixth-placed Sydney with home games against Melbourne and Adelaide to round out their campaign.
Depending on other results, if the Jets were to win both games they could finish as high as fourth or, alternatively, miss out on the top six all together.
While admitting they’re doing it the hard way, Jaliens says the Jets are no less determined to make the finals.
“There’s no turning back now we have to win,” he said.
“Everybody has to make sure we do everything in our power to make it go your way.
“This is a final tomorrow.
“We could have make it a lot easier on ourselves if we were in control, but we’re not.
“The only thing we can do is get the three points and just wait and see what the other results are.”
In the Jets’ favour is that Victory have not beat them this season, with Newcastle winning their first match before holding them to a draw in their second.
While consistency has been elusive for the Jets this campaign, they have managed some important wins over other big teams like premiers Brisbane, Western Sydney and Adelaide.
Jaliens feels his side will rise to the occasion again at Hunter Stadium on Saturday.
“The big games are always easier,” he said.
“I think because there is less pressure. We’re not on top now and people will expect Victory to dominate and this suits us.
“The big games we’ve played this season have went our way and there’s a reason for this – the big teams don’t like playing against us because they know what we’ll bring to the table.”
Other than the enforced change of replacing the injured Zenon Caravella (knee) with Ben Kantarovski, Jets coach Clayton Zane indicated he would stick with the same starting side.
Melbourne on the other hand gain key players Tom Rogic and Nick Ansell back from injury and Leigh Broxham from suspension.
They too will be desperate for three points as they vie for the prized second spot on the ladder.
Jaliens says the Jets plan close Victory down and not allow them space to play their possession-based attacking game.
“They only have one type of game and if it’s not working for them they have a problem,” he said.
“So if we can get them off their game … we can punish them.”