Nothing much seems to be in Newcastle Jets' favour before their Asian Champions League qualifying playoff against reigning champions Kashima Antlers in Japan.
The Jets line up for their third match in eight days at the Kashima Soccer Stadium on Tuesday night with a place in the ACL group stage on the line.
A win over the Antlers would also defy history, with A-League clubs only winning three of 27 matches against J-League opposition in Japan in the Asian Champions League.
The Antlers have been defeated just once in five clashes on home soil against Australian clubs, a 3-1 victory by Western Sydney Wanderers in the 2015 group stage.
Veteran goalkeeper Glen Moss was one of several players who coach Ernie Merrick rested from last Friday's A-League fixture against Melbourne City, along with Nigel Boogaard, Dimi Petratos and Ronald Vargas.
Despite the absentees, the seventh-placed Jets claimed a 3-1 win over City to keep their A-League finals hopes alive and that victory has kept spirits high ahead of the Antlers' clash.
"You can see by the excitement here in training ... there's a real buzz around the squad," said Moss after the team's first training session in Japan.
"The boys will use that energy and get us through the match.
"They've got a number of threats obviously. The way they pass, the way they move, technically they're very good.
"It'll be one of those games where if you're not switched on for the full 90 minutes they're going to hurt you at any time.
"Hopefully our buzz and excitement and adrenaline will be rushing and we'll be ready to go from the first whistle."
A victory in the playoff will put Newcastle into Group E of the tournament along with South Korea's Gyeongnam FC, Malaysia's Johor Darul Ta'zim and one of either Shandong Luneng or Vietnam's Ha Noi who meet in an earlier playoff on Tuesday in China.
STATS THAT MATTER
* In 27 Asian Champions League fixtures in Japan, A-League teams have won just three, drawn seven and lost 17.
* Kashima's Yuma Suzuki scored twice and notched four assists in the Antlers' successful ACL campaign last year, picking up the competition's MVP award.
* Newcastle's only previous Champions League campaign included a trip to Japan where they drew 1-1 with Nagoya Grampus in the group stage.
Australian Associated Press