Brisbane Roar may regret their decision to play their AFC Champions League playoff against Buriram United in Thailand, unless they are well prepared.
Brisbane Roar may regret their decision to allow their AFC Champions League playoff against Buriram United to be played in Thailand, unless they are well prepared.
The Roar were drawn to host the one-legged clash on February 9, but moved it away from home due a hectic schedule and the unavailability of Suncorp Stadium.
Now to be played at the New I-Mobile Stadium, an intimidating atmosphere awaits the Roar.
Former assistant at Adelaide United and now head coach at Bangkok Glass head coach Phil Stubbins said it would be tough, but not impossible, for Mike Mulvey's men.
"This will be a difficult game for the Roar. Not an unwinnable contest but a very difficult one, nonetheless," he said.
"The travel, conditions, atmosphere and heat will all play their part.
"Buriram will have a parochial crowd of over 25,000 in a full house with an atmosphere that most of the Roar players will not have experienced before. It will be intimidating to say the least.
"Brisbane does have the strengths to win the match, but it's not going to be easy. Buriram have the capabilities to score goals and will come at Brisbane. They always do at home.
"The Roar will need to have a clear game plan in place and stick to it, certainly on the defensive side of things. That said, Buriram would be wary of Brisbane too."
According to Stubbins, the Thai Premier League is improving - and is better than most believe - with only professional knowledge separating it from the Hyundai A-League.
But there is good news for the Roar, with Buriram defender Osmar Barba - who Stubbins described as "irreplaceable"' - possibly out injured.
Attacking left-back Pratum Chuthong will be a threat but will leave space which can be exploited in behind, while they have options up front - including French striker Goran Jerkovic, who scored regularly after joining them last season.
"They played a 4-3-3 last season and my information is that they'll continue on in that system this campaign," Stubbins said.
"Their psyche is to press and they do this fairly well.
"Buriram's ultimate strength is that they have good players.
"As a change up for the Roar perhaps play over the top of them on occasion and turn them around. Even if the attack was to break down the Roar could then press Buriram and I feel physically they should be fine to do that."
Despite the Roar being likely to come up against an attacking Buriram, Stubbins urged them to be positive as they look to seal a spot in Group E.
"Preparations and logistics will play their part for the Roar in this game. If they get that right and come with a sound game plan then I can see them getting something out of the game," he said.
"I'm not certain what tactics Mike will adopt and that's up to him and his staff to work out but I'd say they should be positive in their mindset that they can get something out of the fixture.
"If they are to press, which they can be very good at, it will have to be done well and collectively, as the Thais can keep the ball very efficiently and as a consequence of that the Roar will use up a lot of energy if they end up chasing the ball.
"The defensive starting positions will be crucial for the Roar. It's an easy throwaway line for me to say but quite simply, the best prepared team will win. It will also give a glimpse to the Australians of Thai football.
"Thai teams focus on attacking and players are technically sound, which comes from spending immersed hours outdoors practicing because of less availability for the kids to play with iPads and computer games and the like."
While they are solid with the ball at their feet, Stubbins said there were certain areas Australian clubs still held an advantage.
"They're all out there playing with the ball. You see kids everywhere over here playing football wherever they can," Stubbins said.
"Their interactions playing, practicing and honing of their skills by playing so much more football than an Aussie youngster would is the reason why they are so technically efficient.
"They have an astute technical skill set by comparison. Where they fall short to the Aussies is in game sense, individual role responsibility, strength and conditioning and perhaps that of a winning mentality."
And if the battle in Buriram gets tough, perhaps that mentality will get the Brisbane Roar into the final 32.