Thai League Champions Buriram United and League Cup Winners Chiangrai United are set to go head to head in their search for their second major honour of the season respectively when they clash in the FA Cup final at the Supachalasai National Stadium in Bangkok this Saturday.
Buriram come into this match having broken the Thai League points record, losing only three games all season in the process. They are also currently riding on an eight-game winning run.
Chiangrai, meanwhile, stuttered their way to a fifth place finish, managing only one win in their final five fixtures.
The history surrounding both coaches is an intriguing one, as incumbent Chiangrai coach Alexandre Gama actually replaced Bozidar Bandovic at Buriram back in 2014. The Montenegrin mastermind was brought in after a horrific start to the season left them in 12th place, and despite managing to guide them back to 3rd in the standings by June, he was ruthlessly sacked and replaced by Gama, who went on to win two consecutive Thai League titles while his predecessor struggled through tough spells at Sisaket and BEC Tero.
Now, however, the tables have turned. Gama, who was expected to preside over a major period of success with Chiangrai, has seen his attempts hampered by major budget cuts and the departure of star players. Meanwhile, Bandovic has won 44 of his 51 league matches since returning to the Thunder Castle, giving him a phenomenal 86% win ratio.
Chiangrai come into this encounter as holders, having beaten Bangkok United 4-2 in last year’s final. They also managed a victory over Buriram on penalties in the Super-Cup earlier this year. Despite the modern iteration of Chiangrai United having only existed for two seasons now, the frequent and fiery meetings between these two teams gives this game the air of an age-old rivalry.
The kings of league football take on the masters of cup competition in an enthralling prospect that could genuinely go either way.