ACL preview: Muangthong v Brisbane Roar
Muangthong United vs Brisbane Roar (Wed night)
If there were those in Korea Republic, Japan and Australia who underestimated the Thailand Premier League champions when the draw was made, they are doing so no longer.
With four games of the six down and two to go, Muangthong is top of the group with eight points. A win at their compact stadium will secure a place in the last 16 and even a draw could be enough.
“We know what we have to do,” said Muangthong head coach Totchawan Sripan at the weekend. “We also know that the game will be very difficult and that Brisbane is a good team.”
The Kirins have plenty of talent with a number of stars who play for the Thailand national team. Chanathip Songkrasin gave the Caltex Socceroos some major headaches in Bangkok in November as two nations played out a 2-2 draw in qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The diminutive playmaker is off to Japan soon and helping Muangthong to the knockout stage would be a welcome parting gift. There is also sharpshooter Teerasil Dangda and two of the best full-backs in Asia in Tristan Do and Theerathon Bunmathan, who scored a spectacular free-kick on Saturday.
One plus for Brisbane is that influential midfielder Sarach Yooyen is injured and will not play.
That has not been a problem domestically as the champion has won eight and drawn one of the ten games so far, the latest being a slightly disappointing 1-1 draw at Ratchaburi.
The one defeat was inflicted by Buriram United where Muangthong, accustomed to dictating proceedings, were in the unusual position of being put on the backfoot and struggled.
That could provide some encouragement for an experimental Brisbane who have one eye on Sunday's blockbuster semi final with Victory, and a trip to Thailand these days is a tough ask.
Just ask the national team.