BRISBANE ROAR V KASHIMA ANTLERS
The season has been going pretty well for the defending Japanese champion.
The Antlers sit in third in the J.League though last weekend saw a run of four successive wins ended by the in-form Cerezo Osaka.
Internationally, Kashima tops the group though has lost its only away game so far in the group, at Muangthong United of Thailand.
The team has historically underperformed in Asia and there is a feeling that this could be the year that the record will change.
A win in Queensland will put the Ibaraki team into a commanding position in Group E. It is sure to be a tough trip but this is a team that has conceded just six goals in nine games this season at home and in Asia.
The central defensive partnership of Gen Shoji and Naomichi Ueda has been excellent and the two have a real understanding.
The introduction of Kwoun Sun-tae in goal, the Korea Republic shot-stopper who won the 2016 AFC Champions League title with Jeonbuk Motors, has only strengthened the backline further.
The 3-0 win over Brisbane in March was the team’s biggest win this season though the goals aren’t flowing as much as fans would like.
Take a 3-2 win over Shimizu S-Pulse out of the equation and Kashima has managed just three in the other five games in the league.
Coach Masatada Ishii is looking forward to the challenge in the Queensland capital on Wednesday night.
“There is still a long way to go in the group and we have to stay focused. We know that Brisbane will be tough at home and we will have to be at our best,” he said.