Newcastle Jets FC manager Ernie Merrick has praised the Indonesian football fans and has warned his players to take Persija Jakarta seriously ahead of their AFC Champions League 2019 preliminary round two clash on Tuesday.
Newcastle will begin their AFC Champions League qualification campaign against the Indonesia Liga 1 champions Persija who have progressed to the second preliminary round defeating Singapore Premier League outfit Home Untied 3-1 in the first round.
“To play Persija for the group stage of the AFC Champions League, we’re really looking forward to it and I’m sure they’re a good team,” Merrick said in the news conference ahead of the game.
“It won’t be easy, but Tuesday night will be very exciting. The supporters in Indonesia are enormous, they’re very passionate about their football, and it’s booming,” said the Scottish-Australian coach.
“I got a taste of it working with the Hong Kong national team for a year. The standard is very good, very technical, and they’ll be an exciting team to play against,” said Merrick who managed Hong Kong during 2011-12.
Newcastle finished a disappointing seventh in the 2018-19 A-League after securing a second-place finish in the league last season behind champions Sydney FC. But the Jets coach says Perisja are an opponent they cannot underestimate.
“Persija will be a handful, but we’ve got the ability to go through. Anyone who says they’ll be a walkover doesn’t know football in Asia. Rhere are no pushovers in the Champions League,” he added.
(Photo credits: Newcastle Jets FC)