2016-17 ACL Matchday 5 Preview

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While Brisbane have continued to progress in the A-League and find themselves in the Semi-Finals, on the ACL stage the Roar kept their hopes alive two weeks ago with a strong home performance against Kashima Antlers.

Goals from Jamie Maclaren and Brett Holman were enough keep Brisbane’s hopes of progression alive in what was Brisbane’s best performance of the Group Stage so far, and they’ll need to replicate that performance tonight in order to get the result in Thailand.

What have they done lately?
Muanthong United have surprised many people to top Group E after four matches, although given the rise of Thai football perhaps we shouldn’t be as surprised.

Currently Muanthong United sit top of Group E with two matches remaining, and will be confident of progression to the last 16 for the first time.  They will also be confident of maintaining a 100% home record in this years competition, having already defeated Kashima Antlers and Ulsan Hyundai earlier in the group stage.

Things are going equally well on the domestic front for Muanthong who sit top of the Thai Premier League after 10 matches, one points clear of Buriram United.

ACL Group outlook

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With two games to play Group E has tightened up with all four sides still having a chance to progress, although it’s Muanthong and Kashima who currently occupy the spots for progression to the last 16.

For Brisbane, due to the head to head tiebreakers and their heavy losses to Ulsan and Kashima, will need to win their final games in order to progress. Ulsan Hyundai, who Brisbane will play on the final matchday, find themselves in a similar situation.

Expected Line-Ups
With one eye on the A-League Finals clash against Melbourne Victory on Sunday evening in the Victorian Capital, John Aloisi has opted to leave a number of first team players back in Brisbane to prepare. From Friday’s starting line-up, only Luke DeVere, Joe Caletti, Brandon Borrello and Thomas Broich made the trip to Thailand, while substitutes Jamie Young and Nicholas D’Agostino also made the trip.

That means many of Brisbane’s talented youngsters figure to get another chance to show their wears on the continental showpiece in a game which the Roar must win to keep their hopes alive. Joining the youngsters in Thailand for the game however is Manuel Arana who is making his return from a hamstring injury.

Likely Brisbane Roar XI- Young, Ingham, Crestani, DeVere, Rowles, Pepper, Caletti, Arana, Borrello, Broich, D’Agostino.
Substitutes- Bilic, O’Toole, Konstandopoulos, Brady, Katebian.

Last time out Muanthong surprised a lot of people with their ability to control large parts of the game and were unlucky not to get more out of the game, with Teerasil Dangda the star of their many Thailand internationals. Striker Xisco, who was a new arrival at the time, was a handful on the night and figures to be the main danger tonight.

Instead of speculating on who might take the field for Muanthong, here’s the side which defeated Ulsan Hyundai in Matchday 4 two weeks ago.

Likely Muanthong United XI- Kawin, Do, Aoyama, Celio, Bunmathan, Tossakai, Lee, Nawanno, Dangda, Songkrasin, Xisco.
Substitutes- Thongsong, Notchaiya, Kraisorn, Thinjom, Caikultewin, Kulasuwan, Phadungchok.

All-Time Record against Muanthong United

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AFC Champions League Matchday 3 Preview

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After a much needed nine day break, Brisbane Roar are back in action tonight as Matchday 3 of the 2017 AFC Champions League sees the Roar travel to Japan as they take on Kashima Antlers.

This game brings us to the halfway mark of the Group Stage and with just one point out of six so far, a repeat of the dramatic win away to Urawa Red Diamonds back in 2015 would be a massive boost in terms of getting out of the group.

The nine day break will have no doubt freshened the side up, however things are about to get busy once again with seven games coming up over the next 34 days as the A-League Regular Season concludes and the Champions League Group Stage reaches its final stages.

What have they done lately?
Kashima find themselves in 7th place on the J-League table after three matches, picking up two wins from three. At the weekend the Antlers had a 1-0 win at home against Yokohama F. Marions, although they had to wait until the 83rd minute to get their winner from Yuma Suzuki.

In the Champions League Kashima got off to a good start against with a matchday one win over Ulsan before a shock loss away from home to Muanthong United on matchday two. Currently Kashima sit second in Group E, level on points with Ulsan Hyundai however take the tie-breaker on head to head.

For more information on Kashima Antlers, you can read of getting to know you feature here.

Squads


Expected Line-ups
John Aloisi has all but flagged his starting XI for this game due to the injuries for Tommy Oar, Thomas Kristensen and Luke DeVere in addition to those who didn’t travel to Japan for this game. In addition to Devere and Oar, Michael Theo, Dane Ingham, Nathan Konstandopoulos and Joey Katebian were left at home.

The only possible selection drama is in the front third where Manuel Arana could get a start ahead of Brandon Borrello if he hasn’t fully recovered from his injury hasn’t fully cleared. Outside of that the side seems to pick itself, with Avram Papadopoulos likely to start alongside Jade North in defence.

Brisbane Roar- Young, Hingert, Papadopoulos, North, Brown, Caletti, McKay, Holman, Borrello, Broich, Maclaren.
Substitutes- Bilic, Crestani, Rowles, Pepper, Arana, Brady, D’Agostino.

As always it’s very difficult to predict the line-ups for teams in the Champions League given the lack of familiarity, so this is the side which defeated Yokohama F. Marinos 1-0 at the weekend.

Kashima Antlers- Sun-Tae, Ito, Ueda, Shoji, Yamamoto, Endo, Leo Silva, Ogasawara, Doi, Pedro, Kanazaki.
Substitutes- Suzuki, Nagaki, Nakamura, Bueno, Misao, Sogohata, Abe.

Group Preview
Elsewhere tonight in Group E the two winners on Matchday Two will meet in South Korea as third placed Ulsan Hyundai play host to group leaders Muanthong United. With just three points separating the four teams in Group E this Matchday’s fixtures –which bring us to the halfway mark in the round- could be pivotal.

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Getting to know- Kashima Antlers

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Brisbane’s 2017 AFC Champions League campaign resumes on Tuesday night with the Roar looking to get their campaign back on track against J-League giants Kashima Antlers. As we’ve done with every opponent in the Champions League, lets get to know a bit more about the current J-League Champions.

History
Kashima Antlers were founded as a semi-professional club back in 1947 as Sumitomo Metal Industries Football Club, playing out of Osaka before moving to Kashima in 1975.

When the newly formed professional J-League was formed in 1992, the club changed it’s name to Kashima Antlers and moved into their current home of the Kashima Soccer Stadium in 1993.

When the professional era of the game began in Japan, Kashima quickly emerged as one of the powerhouses of the competition and are one of just two clubs who have been in the J-League since its conception (Yokohama. F. Marinos is the other). ”

Kashima are the most successful club in the J-League’s history, with their eight Championships the most in the history of the competition. The five Emperors Cup wins is also the most for any club in that competition.

Honours
J-League-
1996, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2016.
Emperors Cup- 1997, 2000, 2007, 2010, 2016.
J-League Cup- 1997, 2000, 2002, 2011, 2012, 2015.
Japanese Super Cup- 1997, 1998, 1999, 2009, 2010, 2017.

Stadium

Kashima Soccer Stadium
Opened- 1993
Capacity- 40,728.

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Kashima play their home games at the Kashima Soccer Stadium, roughly 90 minutes east of Tokyo and in the city of Kashima. The stadium itself is one of the 10 that Japan used to co-host the 2002 World Cup, with the venue playing host to three Group Stage matches. Kashima have played their home games at the ground since it was opened back in 1993.

Record in AFC Champions League
2003- Group Stage.
2008- Quarter Finals.
2009- Round of 16.
2010- Round of 16.
2011- Round of 16.
2015- Group Stage.

Kashima have been a regular representative of the J-League on the continental stage, with 2017 the Antlers seventh time in the competition. Despite never winning the competition, Kashima had a four year run of progressing beyond the Group Stage, with their best performance occurring in 2008 when they lost to Adelaide United 2-1 on aggregate in the Quarter-Finals.

How they Qualified
Kashima qualified for the 2017 AFC Champions League after winning both the 2016 J-League and the 2016 Emperors Cup, winning the League-Cup double for the third time in the last 16 years.

Manager- Masatada Ishii 50 year old Masatada Ishii has been the manager of Kashima Antlers since 2015 after a playing career which saw him make 109 appearances for the club from 1991-1997. In that time Ishii has lead the Antlers to a fifth placed finish in 2015 before winning the J-League in 2016. A J-League Cup win in 2015 and an Emperors Cup win in 2016, in addition to making the final of last seasons Club World Cup has enhanced his reputations as one of the best managers on the continent.

Squad
Goalkeepers-
1) Kwan Sun Tae, 21) Hitoshi Sogahata, 29) Shinichiro Kawamata, 31) Yuto Koizumi.

Defenders- 3) Gen Shoji, 5) Naomichi Ueda, 15) Misao Yuto, Shuto Yamamoto, 22) Daigo Nishi, 23) Oda Itsuki, 24) Yukitoshi Ito, 28) Koki Machida.

Midfielders- 4) Hugo Leonardo Serejo, 6) Ryota Nagaki, 8) Doi Shoma, 11) Weverson Leonardo Moura, 13) Atsutaka Nakamura, 20) Kento Misao, 25) Yasushi Endo, 26) Kazune Kubota, 27) Takahide Umebachi, 33) Kanazaki Mu, 36) Tanaka Toshiya, 40) Mitsuo Ogasawara.

Forwards- 7) Pedro Junior, 9) Yuma Suzuki, 14) Kanamori Takeshi, 18) Shuhei Akasaki, 30) Abe Hiroki.

Key Players
Pedro Junior-
Like a lot of J-League clubs, Kashima rely heavily on visa players from Brazil to strengthen their squad, and Brisbane’s matchday 3 opponent have three freshly signed ones at their disposal. The first of those is 30 year old attacker Pedro Junior, who started out his career with Brazilian lower league side Vila Nova. Four clubs and eight loan moves later across both Brazil and Japan –he joined Omida Ardija in 2007 before moving to Gamba Osaka in 2009- , he returned to Vila Nova in 2012.

That’s when Pedro’s career began to take off, after his goalscoring record of 9 goals in 17 games caught the attention of K-League side Jeju United. 17 goals in 29 games in South Korea saw Junior return to the J-League with Vissel Kobe in 2014. 25 goals in 74 games, including 13 in 2014 were enough to draw the interest of Kashima.

Leonardo- 23 year old forward Leonardo is the second of the three Brazilians for the Antlers and arrives in Japan on a season long loan from Brazilian club Palmeiras. The striker started out his career with Gremio before a loan move to Palmeiras was made permanent in 2013. Since then he’s been out on loan with the likes of Santos and Coritiba, with this year’s loan move his first outside of his homeland. Unlike the other two Brazilians at Kashima, Leonardo has been capped by the National Side, making the one appearance back in 2013 where he came off the bench to score in a 4-0 win in a friendly against Bolivia.

Leo Silva- The third and final Brazilian in the Kashima is 31 year old defensive midfielder Leo Silva, who arrives in Kashima after 122 games for Albirex Niigata –scoring 16 goals. Prior to that Silva started out his career at Brazilian club Cruzeiro before moving on to local Sao Paolo sides Americana and Portuguesa. Silva made the move from Brazil to Japan back in 2013, and was named in the J-League team of the year back in 2014.

Kwan Sun-Tae– 32 year old South Korean goalkeeper Kwan Sun-Tae rounds out the four visa players for Kashima, with the shot stopper arriving in Kashima over the off-season. Kwan brings a wealth of experience with him after 255 appearances for Jeonbuk Hyundai where he won three K-League and two AFC Champions League titles, including the 2016 addition.

Japanese Internationals– 22 year old defender Naomichi Ueda and 28 year old midfielder Ryota Nagaki were both called up to the Japanese National Team for their World Cup Qualifiers back in November. Defender Gen Shoji and midfielders Mu Kanazaki and Yashushi Endo have also been called up to the national side over the last year.


AFC Champions League 2017 Matchday 2 Preview

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After a tough loss at home on Saturday afternoon Brisbane Roar are on the road again for the first of four straight road games across both the League and Champions League which will define the sides season. Trips to Kashima, Adelaide an Newcastle are to follow over the next few weeks, but for now it’s K-League side Ulsan Hyundai tonight in matchday two of the AFC Champions League.

Brisbane looked flat at the weekend against a desperate Wellington side and were made to pay the price, the question now however is just how much they’ve been able to freshen up ahead of what is an important game in the context of the whole group. With back to back games against J-League champion Kashima Antlers to follow on Matchday 3 and 4, tonight’s game takes on added significance.

What have they done lately?
Ulsan are still in the final stages of their pre-season, with the 2017 K-League season begins at the weekend, with Ulsan playing host to Pohang Steelers. So far in competitive games this season, Ulsan have scored just the one goal in their two games this season.

In the AFC Champions League Ulsan struggled to get past Hong Kong champions Kitchee FC, drawing 1-1 before progressing to the Group Stage on penalties before losing 2-0 away from home to Kashima Antlers.

You can find out more about Ulsan Hyundai in our getting to know you post –link– and our chat with K-League United.

Squads

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Expected Line-ups
Brisbane Roar will still be without Corey Brown and Daniel Bowles for this game, however it seems that everyone else will be fit and available for this game in a huge boost for John Aloisi.

The biggest selection issue for John Aloisi figures to be a choice between Kye Rowles and Joe Caletti, with Matt McKay set to start either at left back or in midfield depending on the selection. Given how solid Kye Rowles looked at the weekend, it’s likely that he gets the start on the left side of defence ahead of Joe Caletti who looked tired against the Phoenix.

Brisbane XI- Hingert, Crestani, North, Rowles, Kristensen, McKay, Holman, Borrello, Oar, Maclaren.
Substitutes- Theo, Ingham, Pepper, Caletti, Arana, Broich, D’Agostino.

With the South Korean side it’s very difficult to gauge given the league season is yet to get underway and we have a small sample size to go from. Add in a range of different formations as outlined in our chat with K-League United it’s hard to know exactly who will play for the South Korean side. Below is the team that Kim Do-Hoon picked for the matchday 1 loss away to Kashima Antlers last week.

Ulsan- Yong Dae, Ki Je Lee, Min Soo, Chi Gon, Chang Soo, Seung Gyu, Sang Wun, Jae Yong, Orsic, Jong Ho, Kovacec.
Substitutes- Suhuk, In Sung, Myung Jae, Seung Hyun, Yong Jin, Windbichler, Petratos.

Group Preview
Elsewhere tonight in Group E Thai Champions Muanthong United play host to current group leader Kashima Antlers, in a game that kicks off at the same time as the Ulsan-Brisbane game.

With tonight’s fixtures taking us to the 1/3 mark of the Group Stage, we will know a lot more about how the group is shaping up tomorrow morning. In the meantime here’s the table going into Matchday 2.

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All-Time record against Ulsan Hyundai

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AFC Champions League 2017 Matchday 1 Preview

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Brisbane’s third AFC Champions League Group Stage starts tonight with a home game against Thai Premier League side Muanthong United at Suncorp Stadium.

To get through to this stage Brisbane comfortably beat Global FC three weeks ago before completing what was a stunning upset in the eyes of most, by defeating mega rich Chinese Super League club Shanghai Shenhua away from home.

In Brisbane’s two previous ACL Group Stage campaigns in 2012 and 2015, it was Brisbane’s home form –zero wins, 2 draws, 4 losses- which ultimately cost them any chance of progressing to the last 16.

That home form did turn around in the last home fixture which saw Brisbane defeat Filipino side Global FC, and in order to progress the Roar are going to need to continue that form against Muanthong.

In order to do that Brisbane will be backing up from a long trip to Perth just 72 hours prior to tonight’s game and are decidedly short handed with a number of players ruled out with injury.

What have they done lately?

Having secured automatic qualification to the Group Stage of the Champions League Muanthong haven’t participated in the competition to date. Unlike fellow Group E combatants Ulsan Hyundai and Kashima Antlers, Muanthong United’s 2017 League season is underway.

So far Muanthong have picked up maximum points with six points out of six, with a 4-0 opening day win away to Bangkok Glass before Friday’s 1-0 win at home to Sukhothai. You can learn more about Muanthong United here.

Squads
Brisbane Roar
Manager-
John Aloisi.
GK- 1) Michael Theo, 21) Jamie Young, 43) Tomislav Bilic.
DF- 3) Luke DeVere, 4) Daniel Bowles, 5) Corey Brown, 6) Avram Papadopoulos, 13) Jade North, 19) Jack Hingert, 24) Connor O’Toole, 25) Kye Rowles, 46) Cameron Crestani, 50) Dane Ingham.
MF- 7) Thomas Kristensen, 8) Jacob Pepper, 10) Brett Holman, 11) Tommy Oar, 16) Nathan Konstandopoulos, 17) Matt McKay, 20) Shannon Brady, 22) Thomas Broich, 29) Joe Caletti.
FW- 9) Jamie Maclaren, 15) Manuel Arana, 26) Nicholas D’Agostino, 28) Brandon Borrello, 33) Joey Katebian.

Muanthong United
Manager- Ronnarit Steaua.
GK- 1) Kawin Thamsatchanan, 28) Prasit Phadungchok, 37) Putthipong Pomlee.
DF- 2) Perapat Notechaiya, 3) Theerathon Bunmathan, 5) Aoyama Naoaki, 15) Lee Ho, 19) Tristan Do, 25) Adison Promrak, 6) Sulphan Thongsong, 29) Celio Dos Santos, 33) Pitakpong Kunsuwan.
MF- 6) Sarach Yooyen, 13) Ratchapol Nawanno, 14) Sorawit Panthong, 16) Sanukran Thinjom, 18) Chanathip Songkrasin, 20) Wongsakorn Chaikulthewin, 34) Wattana Playnum.
FW- 9) Xisco Jimenez, 10) Teerasil Dangda, 11) Adisak Kraisorn, 22) Mongkol Tossaki.

Expected Line-ups Looking to this game there will according to most reports be last minute decisions on the fitness of a number of Brisbane players, including the likes of midfield duo Thomas Kristensen and Matt McKay, plus defender Luke DeVere all of which will give John Aloisi plenty of selection dramas for this game.

The good news is that Jack Hingert is likely to return tonight which should solidify the back four, though it’s more likely he fills in on the left side of the back four regardless of the availability of Matt McKay.

Assuming the worst case scenario of both McKay and Kristensen being unavailable, it’s likely that Saturday’s midfield duo of Joe Caletti and Jacob Pepper would be reunited, while the front third figures to also see some rotation.

Manuel Arana travelled to Perth but was an unnamed substitute and figures to start tonight, while substituted Tommy Oar, Brett Holman and Jamie Maclaren, who only played part of the game on Saturday also figure to play a role tonight.

Brisbane – Young, Ingham, Devere, North, Hingert, Pepper, Caletti, Arana, Holman, Oar, Maclaren.
Substitutes – Bilic, Crestani, O’Toole, Konstandopoulos, Brady, Borrello, D’Agostino.

As always with teams in the Champions League it’s very difficult to get a gauge on exactly who will play, so rather than guess I’ve just listed the Muanthong United team which won 1-0 against Sukhothai on Friday night.

In a blow to the Thai visitors, they will be missing influential midfielder Sarach Yooyen for the entirety of the group stage after he was ruled out with a broken ankle.

It is worth noting that one of the substitutes named for that game, Brazilian Cleiton Silva has subsequently been sold and wasn’t named in the Champions League squad in any event.

Muanthong United – Thamsatchanan, Notechaiya, Naoaki, Bunmathan, Do, Promrak, Songkrasin, Yooyen, Playnum, Dangda, Xisco.
Substitutes – Phadungchok, Lee, Silva, Tossakai, Kraisorn, Nawanno, Thinjom, Thongsong, dos Santos.

Group Recap
The other opening Matchday fixture in Group E will see Japanese side Kashima Antlers play host to Ulsan Hyundai in a game which will kick-off an hour before the Brisbane – Muanthong fixture.

 


Getting to Know- Muanthong United

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After securing progress to the Group Stage with a 2-0 win over Shanghai Shenhua two weeks ago, Brisbane Roar are set to get their 3rd AFC Champions League campaign tomorrow night. With that in mind, we continue our traditional look at our Champions League opponents and get to know a bit more about tomorrow nights opponent, Muanthong United.

History
The club was formed back in 1989 as Pittayanusorn Football Club before changing its name to Muanthong United back in 2007. IN the early years Muanthong were in the second division of Thai football, before earning promotion in 2009.

Since then Muanthong have gone on to win the Thai Premier League on four occasions, in addition to the League cup and the Kor Royal Cup –which is played between the League and FA Cup winner- on one occasion.

Honours
Thailand Premier League (4) – 2009, 2010, 2012, 2016.
Kor Royal Cup (1) – 2016.
Thailand League Cup (1) – 2016.

Stadium SCG Stadium- Nonthaburi, Thailand
Opened- 1998
Capacity- 15,000

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Muanthong play their home games at the SCQ Stadium in Nonthaburi, and have done so since it opened in 1998. For the Champions League campaign, Muanthong will play at two different venues, with the Brisbane and Ulsan games at their usual ground. The game against Kashima on Matchday 2 however has been moved to the Supachalassi National Stadium in Bangkok.

Record in Asia
AFC Champions League- 1 previous participation
2013 Group Stage- 4th place (Guangzhou Evergrande, Jeonbuk Hyundai, Urawa Reds)

AFC Cup- 2 previous participations
2010 (Semi-Final) – Lost to 2-1 Al-Ittihad (Syria)
2011 (Quarter-Final) – Lost 1-0 to Al-Kuwait (Kuwait)

Muanthong have been a regular in the Champions League over the past few seasons, with playoff losses in 2011, 2014 and 2016. They did however make the group stage in 2013 making this their second participation in the Group Stage. Back in 2013 Muanthong were drawn into a tough group with Guangzhou Evergrande, Jeonbuk Hyundai and Urawa Reds, with the Thai side finishing bottom of the group.

In the AFC Cup however Muanthong have been much better, with a quarter final and semi final appearance in their two appearances in the competition. 2010 was Muanthong’s best showing in the AFC Cup where they made it to the semi-finals before losing to Syrian club Al-Ittihad, before a quarter-final loss to Al-Kuwait the next season.

How they Qualified
2016 Thailand Premier League Champions
-5pts clear of Bangkok United.

Thailand qualified for the Group Stage as winner of the 2016 Thai Premier League, their fourth Championship as a club which saw them qualify due to a change in the allocation of AFC Champions League spots. Muanthong ended the season five points clear, although the season was abruptly ended following the passing for King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Manager- Totchtawan Sripan
45 years old former Thai international Totchtawan Sripan is listed as the clubs manager, having been appointed back in January 2016. Sripan’s first season with Muanthong was a success winning the League and the League Cup for his new club.

Since retiring from football, Sripan has managed BEC Tero Sasana, Saraburi and Police United before making the step up to one of Thailand’s biggest clubs. Interestingly however, the official AFC website lists Technical Director Ronnarit Suewaja as the manager.

Squad
GK- 1) Kawin Thamsatchanan, 28) Prasit Phadungchok, 37) Putthipong Pomlee.
DF- 2) Perapat Notechaiya, 3) Theerathon Bunmathan, 5) Aoyama Naoaki, 15) Lee Ho, 19) Tristan Do, 25) Adison Program, 26) Sulphan Thongsong, 29) Celio Dos Santos, 33) Pitakpong Kunsuwan.
MF- 6) Sarach Yooyen, 13) Ratchapol Nawanno, 14) Sorawit Panthong, 16) Sanukran Thinjom, 18) Chanathip Songkrasin, 20) Wongsakorn Chaikulthewin, 34) Wattana Playnum.
FW- 9) Xisco Jimenez, 10) Teerasil Dangda, 11) Adisak Kraisorn, 22) Mongkol Thosakrai.

Key Players
Xisco-
Spanish striker Xisco is the star man for the Thai Champions, with the striker mostly remembered for his unsuccessful spell with Newcastle United. His form in Spain however was much better, with solid returns for Deportivo La Coruna and Cordoba more prolific.

Celio do Santos- The much travelled Brazilian central defender will add some much needed experience to the Thai Champions, joining the club from fellow Group E side Ulsan Hyundai. Having played for five clubs since 2015, the 29 year old defender will be looking to settle in at his new club.

Naoaki Aoyama- The likely partner for dos Santos at the heart of defence for Muanthong will be Japanese defender Aoyama. The 30 year old brings a wealth of experience in the Japanese League system with Shimuzi S-Pulse, Yokohama F. Marinos and Ventforet Kofu before joining Muanthong in 2015.

Lee Ho- Experienced South Korean Lee Ho rounds out Muanthong’s visa contingent, adding some additional experience in the middle of the midfield. Like dos Santos, Lee has previously played for Ulsan, but also brings experience in Asia with Jeonbuk Hyundai, Omiya Ardija and Al Ain, in addition to a brief spell in European Football with Russian club Zenit St Petersburg.

Teerasil Dangda- Club captain Dangda is the most dangerous of Muanthong’s Thai playing group, with the 28 year old attacker likely to provide a dangerous foil to Xisco in the final third. Dangda, who is also a key member of the Thai National Team, is one of the few Thai players with experience in Europe, with spells at Manchester City, Grasshopper and Almeria to his name.

Other members of the Thai National team from Muanthong United include goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan, defender Theerathon Bunmathan and midfielder Chanathip Songkrasin. All up 11 Muanthong United players have represented the Thai national side in the past year.


A look at Brisbane’s 2017 Champions League Group

Last night Brisbane Roar secured their spot in the 2017 AFC Champions League Group Stage with a 2-0 win away to Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua. First half goals from Brandon Borrello and Tommy Oar were more than enough see off the mega rich Chinese side, you can see the highlights here.

Looking ahead now, Brisbane’s win sees them enter Group E along with 2016 Japanese double winner Kashima Antlers, current Thai Premier League winner Muanthong United and Korean side Ulsan Hyundai, who won their own playoff against Hong Kong side Kitchee earlier in the week.

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The headline team in the Group is undoubtedly Kashima Antlers, with the clashes against the 8 time J-League Champions set to be the highlight of the Group Stage for Brisbane. The Antlers, who’ve played against A-League opposition in the form of Adelaide United -2008- and Western Sydney Wanderers -2015-  previously, figure to be a formidable opponent and the clear favourites to top this group.

For the first time, Brisbane will face a Thai side in the Group Stage with Thai Champion Muanthong United winding up in the group. Muanthong United. Back in 2015, Melbourne Victory defeated Muanthong 2-1 in a play-off game, the only time the Thai Champions have faced an Australian side.

Ulsan’s place in the draw is an interesting story in itself, with the 2016 4th placed K-League replacing 2016 K-League and Champions League winner Jeonbuk Hyundai who were expelled due to a bribery scandal. While both Muanthong and Kashima are new opponents for the Roar, Brisbane have some history with Ulsan as the two sides met in Brisbane’s first assault on the ACL back in 2012.

A Nick Fitzgerald strike earned Brisbane a point when the two sides met in South Korea, before the Koreans travelled to Brisbane and ran out 2-1 winners in the days preceding the 2012 Grand Final against Perth Glory.

Brisbane’s third group stage kicks off in just 12 days time as Brisbane Roar play host to Thai Champion Muanthong United on Tuesday February 12. Following that Brisbane have back to back road trips away to Ulsan Hyundai and Kashima Antlers on February 28 and March 14 respectively.

The return clash at home against Kashima will be on Wednesday April 12 before a Matchday 5 trip to Muanthong United on April 26. The Group Stage concludes on Wednesday May 10 against Ulsan Hyundai, as Dimitri Petratos likely makes a return to Brisbane.

All up between the Group Stage games and the remainder of the A-League, Brisbane now have 15 games over the next 91 days, starting on Saturday against Melbourne City and concluding against Ulsan on May 10th. That number could grow to possibly 18 games depending on the extent of Brisbane’s involvement in the A-League Finals series. Here’s the breakdown of Brisbane’s upcoming schedule.

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It seems like the majority of Brisbane’s upcoming midweek games are highly manageable, starting with the first home game against Muanthong. Having the A-League split round in the middle of March is ideal for Brisbane, allowing John Aloisi side an 11 day break to prepare for the game in Kashima.

The one set of games which will surely need to be adjusted somewhat is the games against Wellington at home on Saturday February 25, or the game in South Korea against Ulsan on the 28th. While it’s not an impossible ask, the transit from Brisbane to Ulsan could be difficult.

The other potential conflicts are the upcoming concert on March 13th, and the rumoured Boxing Bout on April 23rd, both of which however are unlikely to cause massive disruption for Brisbane’s upcoming schedule.

The concert on Monday March 13 is the night before Brisbane’s away game in Japan, with no games of any football code scheduled at Suncorp Stadium until the end of the month which hopefully will see the playing surface recover.

The boxing bout in April is set for the opening weekend of the finals, should have negligible impact on the Roar. Assuming Brisbane do get a home final, it would be either the Friday of week one, or the Sunday of week 2 given the fact that Brisbane travel to Thailand during the first two weeks of the finals, giving the playing surface plenty of recovery time.

Focusing on the group once again however and there’s little doubt that this time around the group is much more manageable than in the two previous campaigns. While there are potential clashes in the finals series upcoming, on the whole the fixture schedule has been kind to the Roar and they stand a good chance of qualifying from the Group Stage for the first time.