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Feb 13, 2013

Roar crash out of ACL on penalties

Struggling A-League champions Brisbane Roar's Asian Champions League campaign is over before it really began after losing their group stage qualifier on penalties to Buriram United on Wednesday night.

Unfortunate to lose hosting rights for a sudden-death game they never expected to play, the Roar produced a limp showing in the Thailand heat.

While luck and desperation kept the hosts scoreless for 120 minutes, the sudden-death play-off was epitomised by Brisbane failing to convert their three penalty attempts.

Buriram goalkeeper Sivaruck Tedsungnoen saved shots by Thomas Broich, Besart Berisha and James Meyer while Roar stopper Michael Theo could not continue his regulation time heroics.

It was another major blow in a forgettable season for Brisbane, occurring the same day skipper Matt Smith was ruled out for the rest of their title defence.

The loss darkens the cloud over coach Mike Mulvey's future at the club beyond this season and leaves Central Coast Mariners as the sole Australian club in the ACL group stages.

The Roar sit eighth on the A-League ladder and look a mere shadow of the dominant, entertaining team which won back-to-back titles in 2010-11 and 2011-12.

Brisbane failed to win any of their six ACL group matches last year and never looked like changing their fortunes at Thunder Castle Stadium.

Buriram, the Thai FA Cup champions, now join FC Seoul, Japan's Vegalta Sendai and Chinese club Jiangsu Sainty in Group E.

The Roar could thank Theo for being level after regulation time following a particularly dominant first-half by the home side.

Theo skilfully saved the A-League champions' bacon twice in the opening quarter-hour and was also in the action when he inadvertently knocked out teammate Ivan Franjic.

Buriram constantly pressured Brisbane into error and they were dangerous on counter-attack but couldn't convert a string of chances.

They could have had the match parcelled up early in extra-time when captain Suchao Nutnum only had Theo to beat in the box but wasted the golden chance by putting it wide.

The Roar worked their way into the match in the second half as Luke Brattan, Dutchman Stef Nijland and Ben Halloran impressed, but captain Broich and A-League golden boot Berisha again failed to make an impact.

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