Nichols missing for Roar's AFC opener
Brisbane Roar will be without key forward Mitch Nichols for their AFC Champions League opener against FC Tokyo at Suncorp Stadium tomorrow.
Nichols, who was a first-half substitute in the Roar's A-League draw with the Melbourne Heart on the weekend, has failed to sufficiently recover from groin tightness and will not be risked at the beginning of a hectic period in the club's schedule. Coach Ange Postecoglou will have Henrique available, however, despite his domestic suspension.
"(Henrique) is ready to go and he's looking forward to it. We would have preferred to have him out there on Saturday night (against the Heart), but obviously it does keep him fresh, so I guess that's the one bonus we do get," said Postecoglou.
"The only doubt we've got is Mitch Nichols; he's probably likely to miss tomorrow night. He pulled up a bit sore on Saturday and he's still a bit sore, so he's the only one who could potentially miss out."
Setbacks for Nichols aside, the overwhelming feeling from the Roar camp ahead of their long-awaited ACL debut was excitement, although they remained wary of the J-League Emperor's Cup winners. "They're a quality team. They're a good side and what we expect from a J-League side. They're typically very good, very well organised, disciplined and pretty sharp, so there's some decent challenges for us," said Postecoglou.
"Certainly our intention for tomorrow will be to be positive. I have no doubt it will be difficult, but that's the exciting bit, to see how we go. One thing about our team for the last two years, we try to win every game of football all the time every time, and that's something that's held us in good stead.
Adelaide United will attempt to put their A-League woes behind them when they visit Uzbekistan's Bunyodkor. The South Australia club, ninth domestically, are hoping the continental competition will give them a new focus.
Coach John Kosmina said: "I think the players have just got to stay composed, not get too carried away with the occasion. The effort will always be there. It will just be a matter of how we go on the night.
"I guess the beauty is Bunyodkor are still in pre-season, so to speak. They're not match-hardened, whereas we are. And that could be a key aspect of how the game pans out. There is no point beating around the bush - our A-League results haven't gone all that well. So the ACL is a way of getting a fresh start."
Among Tuesday's other ties, last season's quarter-finalists Al Ittihad host Pakhtakor and Gamba Osaka take on Pohang Steelers. Wednesday's action is headlined by Jeonbuk Motors, who were beaten finalists in 2011 - losing to Al Sadd on a penalty shoot-out, as they open their campaign against Guangzhou.