The Brisbane Roar’s Brett Holman is under no illusions that the Queensland outfit need to go all out for victory on Wednesday when they play the Kashima Antlers in Group E of the AFC Champions League.
The Roar occupy fourth position in Group E with just one point from three games – defeat on Wednesday would certainly spell the end of their continental challenge, a draw would most likely do the same.
On the contrary, the Antlers have enjoyed a wonderful start to this year’s Champions League – they are at the summit of Group E with six points. The Japanese giants have scored seven goals so far and have moved the ball around superbly well, making them a pleasure to watch.
The stakes on Wednesday are clearly much higher for Brisbane than they are for Kashima and the former’s veteran, attacking midfielder, Holman, is confident that his team understand that only a win will do.
“It’s the last bite of the cherry for us in the Champions League, we’ve had three bad results,” he said.
“We’ve got to go for it, and we’ve got to go flat stick on Sunday against Wellington to try to secure third spot on the A-League table as well.”
The former Aston Villa man went on to say that converting chances into goals would the key on Wednesday – the Roar have only found the back of the not once in four-and-a-half hours of Champions League football this season.
“The Japanese teams are very clinical compared to the A-League,” he said.
“There’s only a certain amount of chances you’ll get, and you have to be better in terms of killing games off.
“I had a good chance to put us 1-0 up [against Kashima in the away leg] and then they go down the other end and score [and win the game 3-0], which deflated us.”
Holman’s role on Wednesday will be to create space and looks at goal for the talented Jamie Maclaren – the 23-year-old Australian prodigy has scored 18 times in the A-League this season and is currently tied for the golden boot.
— Brisbane Roar (@brisbaneroar) April 10, 2017
It’s highly unlikely that Kashima won’t score. Prior to their disappointing 1-0 defeat at the hands of C-Osaka on the weekend, they had won five straight games in all competitions. They are well placed in the J-League after six games, occupying third and within striking distance of leaders Kobe.
Yuma Suzuki has been the catalyst for Kashima’s bright start to the 2016/2017 season – he has found the back of the net twice in the league and twice on the continent so far.
His constant movement and speed will ensure that the Brisbane back-four will have their hands full come Wednesday.
— Kashima Antlers (@atlrs_english) April 1, 2017
The match kicks-off at 17:00 (HKT) and will be played at Brisbane Stadium.