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AFC Champions League

We'll breathe easier in Japan - O'Donovan says Jets are ready for Kashima Antlers challenge

8:40 AM GMT+8 18/02/2019
Roy O'Donovan Newcastle Jets
The centre forward isn't worried about the different weather conditions

Newcastle's current weather is nearly 20 degrees Celsius warmer, but striker Roy O'Donovan insists the cold Japanese conditions will be an advantage as the Jets shoot for the Asian Champions League group stage.

The Hunter Valley side faces reigning ACL champions Kashima Antlers on Tuesday [9pm AEDT] for a position in the continental tournament, with the temperature expected to drop as low as eight degrees at Kashima Soccer Stadium.

With the Jets playing in warmer weather around the 30-degree mark recently, O'Donovan feels the cooler conditions will help the team play their natural game.

"It's going to help us to breathe a lot easier," O'Donovan said.

"We'll play the conditions a lot better than probably playing in Perth - and the way the weather has been in Newcastle the past few weeks.

"It's a positive for us and it will help us play our game."

It was only three months ago that Kashima lifted their first Asian Champions League title with a 2-0 aggregate win over Iran's Persepolis, but a tournament quirk means they did not automatically qualify for the upcoming edition because of their third-placed finish in the J-League.

O'Donovan was aware of the challenge confronting the Jets but said the 3-1 win over Melbourne City on Friday, in which he scored a goal and assisted another, had given the team confidence.

"It's a great opportunity for us - we just want to do Newcastle proud," he said.

"Every time you put on a Newcastle Jets shirt it's like a suit of armour for us - it gives you that extra pep in your step.

"We're not taking Kashima lightly. They are a really good side - but it's a really great opportunity for us and I can't wait to get going.

"We know they were the champions of Asia for a reason [in November last year] and it's going to be difficult."