Brisbane’s ACL qualification path revealed

Brisbane’s road to the 2017 AFC Champions League Group Stage was confirmed earlier tonight with the Roar set to play two one game qualifiers to earn a spot in the Group Stage.

The first of those qualifiers will be against either Global FC of Philippines or Tampines Rovers of Singapore on January 31st here in Brisbane. That game is almost certainly going to be at Suncorp Stadium with no events scheduled for the week of the qualifier.

Should Brisbane progress from the Preliminary Round two as expected they will face a trip to Shanghai for a clash against Shanghai Shenhua on February 7th, with the winners set to go into the Group Stage.

Upcoming Brisbane Roar AFC Champions League fixtures
Preliminary Stage 2
Brisbane Roar v Winner of Global FC or Tampines Rovers
Tuesday January 31st
Venue TBC

Playoff Round
Shanghai Shenhua v winner of Preliminary Round 2 game
Tuesday February 7th
Hongku Football Stadium, Shanghai.

Should Brisbane manage to win those games, they would be placed into Group E along with Kashima Antlers from Japan, Muanthong United of Thailand and another playoff winner. That playoff winner will be either South Korea Jeju United, Kitchee (Singapore) or Hanoi T&T (Vietnam).

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In the other East Asian Groups both Adelaide and Western Sydney are set for difficult draws in the group stage with strong teams from China, South Korea and Japan awaiting them in the Group Stage.

Group E – Kashima Antlers (JPN), Muanthong United (THA), Playoff Qualifier 4 (TBC), Playoff Qualifier 1 (TBC)

Group F- FC Seoul (KOR), Japan 2 (TBC), Western Sydney Wanderers (AUS), Playoff 3 (TBC)

Group G – Guangzhou Evergrande (CHN), Suwon Bluewings (KOR), Japan 3 (TBC), Eastern SC (HKG).

Group H- Adelaide United (AUS), Jiangsu Suning (CHN), Jeonbuk Hyundai (KOR), Playoff 2 (TBC).

Here’s a few thoughts on the draw

1) Starting with what we know is certain the home game against Tampines or Global FC should be a win with all things considered. When you factor in the gulf in talent in addition to the fact that the Pilipino or Singaporean leagues won’t be underway yet anything but a win would be massively disappointing.

2) If Brisbane do as expected get past the first round of qualifying they’ll face a difficult trip to China for a clash with a Shanghai Shenhua side who’ve got a plethora of riches and aren’t afraid to use them. As things stand Shanghai list the likes of Obafemi Martins, Demba Ba and Fredy Guarin amongst their squad, although there are rumours Carlos Tevez may be an arrival so that could change drastically before any potential clash next February.

3) Looking slightly further ahead which I admit is dangerous, but if Brisbane do navigate that qualification playoff round, the group stage is highly manageable. While J-League Champion Kashima Antlers are in the group, having Muanthong and another playoff side –likely Jeju United- is potentially an easier group than we’ve had in the past. A lot of work to be done before having to worry about that though.

4) The one thing in Brisbane’s favour for both of the playoff games is that they will be in season, while Tampines, Global and Shanghai Shenhua will all be still in their pre-seasons respectively. That however hasn’t always helped A-League clubs in the past, with both Adelaide and Central Coast losing playoff games in recent seasons.

5) The schedule for Brisbane is about to get very busy with two straight midweek games in the coming months. Ignoring any potential group stage fixtures for the moment, Brisbane will have five games in 15 games if they are to make the group stage. The first qualifier against Tampines or Global works out well as it falls between two straight home games against the two Sydney clubs, while the potential Shanghai trip falls just four days before an away game against Melbourne City.

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