Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Buriram United will be looking for their first AFC Champions League wins when they face off on Wednesday.
Neither side has made a strong start to their campaign, as Hiroshima lost 2-1 to Shandong Luneng in their opener before going on to suffer a 4-1 hammering at the hands of FC Seoul. Buriram have fared even worse as they were thrashed 6-0 by FC Seoul and were defeated 3-0 by Shandong.
This woeful run sees Buriram rock-bottom of the Group F standings without a point, with only goal difference keeping Hiroshima ahead of them.
As a result, the two clubs will meet for the first time on Wednesday with everything on the line.
Hiroshima coach Hajime Moriyasu admitted that his side’s chances of progressing to the next round will be bleak if they fail to beat Buriram.
“The game [on Wednesday] will be an important game and we cannot afford to lose it in order to qualify for the next stage,” he said. “Win or lose, I always do my job feeling pressures. If you have a desire for winning you naturally have some pressures.
“We haven’t won in the last five matches, but what I have in my mind is how we should play in our next game, having taken the reflections from our previous games into consideration. That’s the same for tomorrow’s game. Each one of our players should do what they can do this with 100% and show what we can do as a unit, then I believe that we can get a result.”
Moriyasu added that his side cannot afford to underestimate a Buriram side who are in second place on the Thai Premier League standings despite being held to a goalless draw by Chiangrai United on Saturday.
“Buriram have won back-to-back games in the league and is a strong side from Thailand,” he said. “They have individuals with high skills and their foreign players have skills and finishing touches. They will be playing without some players due to their suspension or injuries, but those who will come in place of them can cover their absence.
“I don’t think their level will go down because of that. They are an attacking team , but we should overwhelm them with our attacking performance, and make sure win the game.”
Meanwhile, Buriram coach Alexandre Gama conceded that his side’s confidence levels have dropped following their disappointing start to the AFC Champions League.
However, Gama has urged his side to bounce back and secure their first three points of the tournament even though they will be without captain Suchao Nutnum and defender Andres Tunez who are suspended.
“This is going to be a difficult game. I see it totally different and I don’t feel the pressure. I think we didn’t start this competition well,” he said. “When we didn’t start well, we lost our confidence, we lost our power and we lost our important players. But we try to change. We are in a difficult situation, but this is my team and we try to do what we can do.
“This is football. Sometimes we do well and sometimes it is not our day. We believe that our players can change this and continue working hard and try to do their best.
“Hiroshima is a very good team. They play very fast and move the ball fast. I cannot single out one player. Hiroshima has good players.
“They didn’t start well like we didn’t. But I remember that we played with Gamba Osaka in the same group in last year’s ACL, and Gamba didn’t start the competition well but recovered for the latter half. We are in the same position and I believe we have a chance.”
Hiroshima’s strikers are yet to have an impact thus far in the tournament, but Buriram will need to watch out for midfielder Shimizu Kohei who scored in his side’s narrow loss to Shandong.
With Tunez suspended, Hiroshima will have to keep a close eye on Buriram defender Theeraton Bunmathan as he is tied first for the most assists in the Thai Premier League.
The coverage of the action from the Hiroshima Athletic Stadium gets underway at 17:50pm HKT on FOX Sports.