Brisbane Roar will face an in-form Urawa Red Diamonds in their must-win AFC Champions League game at Gold Coast Stadium at Robina on Tuesday (7pm kick-off).
The Japanese football powerhouse is scheduled to arrive on the Gold Coast today after a 1-0 J-League win over second-placed Gamba Osaka yesterday.
Urawa remain undefeated (seven wins, two draws) and are now three points clear at the top of the table after nine rounds.
That domestic form has not translated to the AFC Champions League this season and Urawa is bottom of the Roar’s Group G with just one point and cannot advance to the next round.
But the Roar can play in the knockout Round of 16 if they beat Urawa on Tuesday by several goals and Suwon Samsung FC downs Beijing Guoan by a similar margin in the other final Group Stage game of the group, to be played simultaneously in South Korea.
Urawa’s Slovenian danger-man Zlatan Ljubijankic scored his team’s winner yesterday with six minutes to go in front of 53,148 fans at Saitama Stadium.
But it was the top form of the Urawa defence, and in particular Reds goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa, that will concern the Roar who have to win by at least two goals to keep their Champions League dream alive.
The well-marshalled Urawa defence completely shut out Gamba Osaka striker Takashi Usami, the J-League’s leading scorer (nine) this season, with Nishikawa making a string of saves, including a spectacular effort in injury time that protected the three points.
Roar interim Head Coach Frans Thijssen said his side must put the disappointment of Friday night’s Hyundai A-League Elimination Final loss to Adelaide United behind them.
“We know what we must do in this game, score goals,” Thijssen said.
“We will name a strong side that will be prepared to attack. The important thing is we must take our chances when we create them and not waste goal-scoring opportunities.”
Brisbane Roar will be without left back Corey Brown, who is suspended after receiving his second yellow card of the tournament in the Roar’s match day 5 1-0 win over Beijing Guoan.
Pre-purchased tickets to Tuesday’s AFC Champions League clash between the Roar and Urawa are just $10 for adults, $5 for children and $25 for a family (two adults/ two children). Tickets include public transport to and from the match.
Kick-off is 7pm. To book seats, go to Ticketek.