Tampines Rovers and Global FC will be looking to advance to the next round of qualifying when they clash in Preliminary Stage 1 of the AFC Champions League on Tuesday.
The winning side will face Brisbane Roar, with the winners of that game facing Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua and their big-money signing Carlos Tevez.
A loss at any stage will see both teams fall back into the AFC Cup.
Tampines fell at the first hurdle last year as they were beaten by India’s Mohun Bagan, but Global are the first team from the Philippines to take part in the qualifying stages of the AFC Champions League.
Global did not compete in the AFC Cup last year, but qualify for continental competition this year after winning the United Football League Division 1 title and UFL Cup title.
Tampines, on the other hand, were able to secure a qualification spot in the AFC Champions League after finishing second in last year’s S.League. The Stags finishing a point behind champions Albirex Niigata FC, the J.League feeder club ineligible to represent Singapore.
The Singaporean club had a decent run in last year’s AFC Cup, reaching the quarter-finals before suffering a narrow 1-0 loss on aggregate to Bengaluru FC.
With both sides eager to advance to the next round of qualifying, Tampines will have to keep a close eye on Global’s Philippine international forward Misagh Bahadoran. Global also have internationals Amani Aguinaldo and Hiraku Minegishi in their line up.
Tampines triumphed in the most recent meetings between the two sides last year, beating Global in both legs of the Singapore Cup quarter-finals, although the Stags line up has undergone big changes since.
Striker Khairul Amri will provide the main threat up front following the departure of foreign forwards Jermaine Pennant, Jordan Webb and Billy Mehmet.
New signings including Croatian forward Ivan Dzoni, winger Ryutaro Megumi of Japan and Korean Son Yong-chan will likely make their debuts for Tampines, along with Singapore international defender Madhu Mohana.