Preview: Buriram United v Brisbane Roar

Brisbane face an uphill battle in what promises to be a challenging encounter in typically hot and humid conditions at Buriram Stadium.

Date: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 Kickoff: 10pm AEDT, 6pm local Venue: Buriram Stadium, Buriram, Thailand

Form: Past five matches (all competitions): Buriram United: WWLWW Brisbane Roar: LDWLL

The Game: Buriram will entertain Brisbane in a one-off playoff, with the winners to join South Korea's FC Seoul, Japan's Vegalta Sendai and China's Jiangsu Sainty in Group E of the AFC Champions League main draw.

Despite winning last season's A-League grand final, Roar were controversially stripped of their place in the group stage following a decision by the AFC to reduce the number of tournament entries for Australian teams to just one automatic and one qualifying spot.

With Central Coast Mariners taking the automatic berth as A-League premiers, Brisbane have been forced to travel in the midst of their domestic campaign to Thailand, where Buriram are preparing for the start of the Thai Premier League season.

Buriram have not played a competitive match since November, when they defeated Ratchaburi Mitphol in the Thai League Cup final and Army United in the Thai FA Cup final to secure a qualifying place in Asia's premier club competition.

The Big Issue: Buriram United - Attaphol Buspakom's men will be determined to improve on last year's Champions League campaign, when they were ousted in the group stage despite making a perfect start.

Buriram accounted for Japan's Kashiwa Reysol before beating China's Guangzhou Evergrande to go top of Group H, but failed to hold on for a place in the knockout stage after losing their four remaining games.

Brisbane Roar - Brisbane are a mere shadow of the team that dramatically came from behind to beat Perth Glory in last season's A-League decider and will need to be at their best against a team eager to return to the Asian spotlight.

Roar, eighth on the A-League ladder following a 2-1 loss to Sydney FC at the weekend, are showing glimpses of improvement under interim coach Mike Mulvey, who can use the Champions League as a platform to land the job on a permanent basis.

Under Ange Postecoglou and later Rado Vidosic, Brisbane failed to win a match in the group stage of last season's Champions League, providing a golden opportunity for Mulvey - who has a Roar record of three wins, five losses and one draw - to strengthen his coaching credentials.

The Game Breaker: Michael Theo - The Roar goalkeeper has a wealth of experience against Asian opposition and will be vital to Brisbane's hopes of reaching the main draw of the Champions League for a second straight season.

Theo, who was part of Melbourne Victory's maiden Champions League campaign in 2008, failed to keep a clean sheet in the 2010 edition and will be keen to make amends after allowing match-winning goals against Sydney and Central Coast in the A-League recently.

Prediction: Buriram United 1-2 Brisbane Roar

Brisbane face an uphill battle in what promises to be a challenging encounter in typically hot and humid conditions at Buriram Stadium.

Opened in 2011 at a reported cost of $13million, Buriram Stadium has a capacity of 24,000 and will provide a hostile environment for the visiting Roar.

Buriram have host of foreign talent for Brisbane to contend with, including former Racing Santander defender Osmar Barba, French striker Goran Jerkovic and Japanese winger Kai Hirano.

Of the local contingent, former Victory defender Surat Sukha, Theeraton Bunmathan, Jirawat Makarom and Jakkraphan Kaewprom have experience on the international stage with Thailand.

Pulling the strings is Puspakom, who led BEC Tero Sasana to the Champions League final in 2003 and Krung Thai Bank to the group stage in 2008.

Brisbane, however, have a strong squad of their own and will back themselves to return to Australia with a berth in the Champions League main draw.