Tonight, 2010/2011 Hyundai A-League champions Brisbane Roar and Japanese contenders FC Tokyo will make their debut in the AFC Asian Champions League. Join me from 8.30pm (AEST, 7.30pm local) for live coverage direct from Suncorp Stadium.
With both FC Tokyo and Brisbane Roar having never played each other and having never competed in the ACL, predicting a winner in this encounter is a difficult task.
Brisbane has invigorated the domestic competition with possession football mixed with attacking flair, culminating in victory at one of the most memorable grand finals in the A-League’s young history. Meanwhile, FC Tokyo qualified for the tournament after their triumph in the J. League 2, winning the Emperor’s Cup and ultimately earning them promotion into the top division.
Despite question marks over whether Brisbane’s style of play under coach Ange Postecoglou will hold against pacey, highly skillful and disciplined Asian teams like FC Tokyo, the odds do stack in favour of the men in orange.
Playing on their home turf, in familiarly humid conditions, the Roar also have the advantage of plenty of game time behind them in the lead up to this match, while FC Tokyo have played just twice in 2012, which includes a loss last weekend in the Xerox Super Cup.
An even bigger dilemma for Tokyo is the loss of their star Brazilian Lucas Severino and captain Yohei Kajiyama, who have been injured, leaving Sota Hirayama as the key danger-man for the visitors.
For Brisbane, Mitch Nichols may be out injured but the likes of Thomas Broich, Henrique and Besart Berisha are all in excellent touch and should cause plenty of headaches for Tokyo manager Ranko Popovic.
My tip? The Roar to win it 3-1.