Trips to FC Seoul, Vegalta Sendai and Jiangsu Sainty await the winners of Buriram United and Brisbane Roar this Wednesday. The one-off playoff match will determine who claims the final berth in Group E.
Last season, Buriram United took Asian football by storm as they won their first two ACL games against Kashiwa Reysol and Guangzhou Evergrande. After the initial success, opponents gradually sussed the Thai champions out, and the campaign ended with four straight defeats as they slipped to the bottom of Group H.
This time, Buriram will be able to add Osmar and Goran Jerkovic to their squad after they impressed in both triumphant domestic cup runs last season. Other new foreign arrivals include Igor Burzanovic, Charyl Chappuis, Dennis Buschening, Lee Saong Min, Elizondo, Kai Harano and Arial Santana. It's difficult to foretell how the selected new players will perform in this playoff and what to expect from Buriram this term. Pre-season results haven't exactly been anything to write home about.
Brisbane Roar endured a winless campaign during the ACL in 2012 collecting only three points. This season in the A League, the Roar haven't fared particularly well and currently sit in 8th place some 21 points behind leaders Central Coast Mariners.
The Roar won't have much time to recharge the batteries after they lost 2-1 at Sydney FC yesterday.
The Queensland based club have struggled since Ange Postecoglou left to Melbourne Victory last April. His assistant, Rado Vidosic, stepped into the hot seat but it didn't work out and he was recently moved sideways. The relatively inexperienced Mike Mulvey has been placed in the interim role until the end of the season. He had a similar role at Gold Coast United last season before they folded.
Word on the street tells me that The Roar like to attack opponents while playing a possession based game. They'll also try to press when defending
and win the ball as high up the pitch as they can.
Two players to keep an eye on are Besart Berisha and Tomas Broich. The Albanian striker, Besart Berisha, is quick to close defenders
down with the aim of pressuring them to make mistakes. The fiery striker equalled the all time league scoring record last season winning the golden boot with 19 goals.
Tomas Broich is a former German under 21 international. He landed the Jonny Warren award in 2012 for the A-League's best player and in his earlier days he was labelled as the next "Beckenbauer."
Stefan Nijiland has also arrived on loan from PSV Eindhoven to boost attacking options. Since his arrival, Brisbane Roar have tinkered with their customary 4-5-1 formation to accommodate him in a 4-4-2 or 3-5-2 structure.
The playoff match is a 6pm kick off this Wednesday.