The Brisbane Roar are daring to dream of sharing the FIFA Club World Cup stage with the best of Europe as they kick off their “exciting Asian adventure” on Tuesday night.
Roar coach Ange Postecoglou is aiming as high as ever heading into their ACL Champions League debut against FC Tokyo at Suncorp Stadium and said there was no reason why his side couldn’t buck the trend of A-League failure in Asia.
Only Adelaide United, when they lost the 2008 final to Gamba Osaka, and Newcastle Jets have progressed past the group stages.
But Postecoglou is determined to lift up the A-League – struggling with Gold Coast United’s demise – and put it on world football’s map.
“(The Club World Cup) is what we should aspire to,” he said. “I’ve always said that in this country, when we dream big about our game, we tend to accomplish things but, when we have a negative mindset and get pessimistic in our view, then what’s happened in the last couple of weeks happens.
“Why not? Can you see Brisbane Roar playing a Real Madrid or whoever wins the Champions League next year?
“I remember sitting there watching Barcelona play (Japan’s Kashiwa Reysol last year) and I thought ‘that could be an A-League club’.”
Postecoglou felt a defeatist attitude, as well as the inability of top clubs retaining form and key players, had affected previous Australian teams in the ACL Champions League.
But he vowed the in-form Roar would stay true to their natural attacking flair against the Emperor’s Cup champions, who play a similarly vibrant, high-possession game.
“We want to play the type of football that we’ve become known for … and carry those traits through to this competition,” he said.
“The pleasing thing this year is that both ourselves and (runners-up) Central Coast have backed it up which hasn’t happened before … the salary cap and player attrition makes it difficult to back up.
“The fact we have gives us as good a chance as anyone.”
The Roar have ruled out playmaker Mitch Nichols (groin) but the blow has been tempered by the return of suspended striker Henrique, which should see classy German Thomas Broich move back to the top of the midfield.
FC Tokyo, who flew into Brisbane on Monday morning, have been hit harder with captain Yohei Kajiyama and Brazilian spearhead Lucas injured in the 2-1 Japanese Super Cup loss to Kashiwa Reysol on Saturday.
Roar assistant coach Rado Vidosic travelled to Japan to watch and tape the match and Brisbane know they face a huge test of their skill against an extremely sharp and technically-skilful rival.
“Our organisation and structure needs to be spot on because, if we make any mistakes, they’re the sort of team that will attack quickly and accurately,” Postecoglou said.