The tactics that could stall Newcastle Jets' ACL tilt

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Newcastle Jets could be in for a shock when they take on Persija Jakarta in AFC Champions League qualifying on Tuesday night, according to Indonesia national team coach Simon McMenemy.

Persija, one of the most supported teams in Indonesia, needed to pull off a surprise victory to get to this stage as they beat Home United 3-1 in Singapore.

Renowned for their feverish home support, inside the iconic 70,000 Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, the Jakarta-based side will need to prove they can get the job done without the security of their vocal fans. 

McMenemy revealed the tactics the Indonesian champions possess that could stall the Jets in this one-off clash.

“The way they won the title was being very direct,” said McMenemy, who led the unfashionable Bhayangkara to the title in 2016.

“They played into corners and put crosses in for [striker Marko] Simic to attack.”

"The style may be changing. They seem to be focused more on keeping possession and building more slowly but still, the chances are still coming from wide.

“The question is how quickly they can move the ball. Persija have a lot of small, fast and quick players who cause problems.”

Players such as winger Riko Simanjuntak is one of those dribblers who is so short, less than 1.6 metres, that he can be hard to defend against.

He just wriggles under the outstretched arms of tall defenders and then uses his speed to gallop away.

The final ball is improving and he was the star performer in the win over Home United.

“Riko was outstanding in Singapore and when he is on form as he is at the moment, he will be a real handful for Newcastle,” McMenemy said.

And then there is Simic in the middle of the attack.

The big Croatian scored 18 goals last season as Persija won the title and was the ideal focal point for the team, leading the line with aggression and intelligence.

McMenemy believes that the big target man can get on the scoresheet.

“Simic will relish playing against the Australian defenders and he is the best player in the league in terms of attacking the ball in the area,” he said.

There is also a strong spine further back. 

Goalkeeper Andritany Ardhiyasa has been in and out of the Indonesian national team for a few years without ever really establishing himself as the main man.

Still, he is a reliable number one and after almost a decade at the club, a popular figure.   

In front of the number one is Maman Abdurrahman.

The veteran centre-back only came to the capital in 2016 but his battling spirit and ability to read the game more than makes up for a lack of height that may have the Jets rubbing their hands.    

Bruno Matos will likely be picking up the mantle in terms of creativity in the middle.

The 30 year-old is one of those Brazilians who has been with an incredible amount of clubs, with almost 20 in this decade alone.

But he often impresses, and was excellent in Malaysia last season despite those itchy feet.  

A dubious reward, a tie with the defending champions Kashima Antlers lies in wait for the winners.

That would be a great chance for both Newcastle and Persija to see how far they are away from the best in Asia but Tuesday’s game is an opportunity for Persija to show Australia that Indonesia football is going places.