Newcastle Jets’ Brazilian import Bernardo Ribeiro is keen to make his mark in this Saturday’s derby against fierce F3 rivals the Central Coast Mariners.
The wily No.10 has been used sparingly for the Jets since being signed in the off-season but has started in the past two matches for Newcastle after working his way into the starting 11.
Jets coach Gary van Egmond acknowledged Bernardo had to get used to his defensive duties and the physical nature of the game in Australia.
The 23-year-old Brazilian said he is thankful for the patience his coach has shown in him and he is keen to repay the favour this weekend against the Mariners.
“I asked the coach and he said train hard and try to understand the league and the game here and I have been training hard for this opportunity,” Bernardo said at training on Tuesday.
“I am starting to get more confidence to play.
“The players help me a lot and I am lucky because the coach believes in me and I think the more I play the more my confidence will come better.
“I feel more comfortable and with my confidence I will be even better in every game.”
Bernardo said he is loving life in Newcastle and he has formed a special friendship with Jets mentor and former Socceroo Ray Baartz, who has taken the young Brazilian under his wing.
“I think he (Baartz) is the best player in the history of Australia, having played for Manchester United – for me he is the best,” Bernardo said.
“He has a good name and great history and he is a good person.
“I am loving (life) here in Newcastle and the people are very friendly and I am happy.”
The Brazilian playmaker has fond memories of lining up for Flamenco in a massive derby clash against fellow Rio de Janeiro side Fluminense and said he understands the massive challenge of beating your nearest rivals.
He said he is looking forward to featuring in his first A-League derby and helping the Jets to try and record consecutive wins over the Mariners after they earned a gutsy 2-1 win over the league leaders earlier in the season.
“I have played in a derby at the Macarana in the Flamingo and Fluminense derby in front of 35,000 people which was very good and I am excited to play this game against the Central Coast,” Bernardo said.
“The derby here is just as important for the fans and for us and I’d like to invite the fans and members to come to the stadium to help us – it is very important because we play with 12 players because the fans are one more for us.
“They have good players and play good game and we have good players too so I think it will be a very good game.”