Southeast Asia Thailand

Buriram’s Young Squad Hungrier After Continental Goodbye

Obb Deewajin

Football Tribe Thailand


Thai League champions Buriram United waved farewell to the AFC Champions League with a 0-0 draw to Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC at the Jeonju World Cup Stadium.

Coach Božidar Bandović fielded defender Andrés Túñez as the only foreign quota player in his starting lineup. Of the remaining ten local players, five of them were homegrown talents. Add to that list substitutes Apiwat Ngualamhin and Suphanat Mueanta, and you’ve got yourself quite an interesting lineup against the K League champions.

Having already been knocked out of the competition, the Thunder Castle simply used this as an opportunity to grow some of their future stars. This allowed the Green Warriors to take hold of the game, earning 73% possession, 18 shots, 13 coming from inside Buriram’s penalty area, but only 3 on target. The visitors hit the post once in the first half and could’ve won the game towards the end, only for Suphanat Mueanta to send his one-on-one chance wide. Lee Yong and Lee Keun-Ho almost combined as the supersub-duo, but luckily for Buriram, South Korean veteran Keun-Ho got too much on his near post header.

It was a fine showing from Buriram, considering the experience of the squad, but on another day Jeonbuk would’ve won the match.

In previous seasons, failure to make it out of the group stage would’ve been met with disappointment. Yet, the fact that so many homegrown talents had been given the opportunity – and performed well – changed the general fans’ opinion of the side and its plan for the future.

“You guys proved yourself out there today, playing with heart and as a team,” Buriram owner Newin Chidchob told the squad after the game. “This is proof of our quality. We might qualify [to the next stage] but at least we didn’t lose to the K League champions.”

The Buriram United chairman also stated how proud he was that the team got the better of Jeonbuk over 2 legs, with a 1-0 win at home and a 0-0 draw away – a step ahead of last season when Jeonbuk beat Buriram 4-3 on aggregate in the round of 16s.

Mr.Chidchob also praised 18-year-old midfielder Airfan Doloh for his ACL debut, the towering Andrés Túñez for his leadership, and left wingback Korrakot Wiriyaudomsiri for returning to form as “someone [he] has great faith in”.

There seems to be little sadness within the squad. On the contrary, the team actually looks somewhat hungrier for success after the trip to South Korea. Buriram United are 5 points away from the top of the league can now focus their effort on dominating domestic competitions once again.

“Our job now is to go back home and lift the Thai League title, and win every trophy in the country. Next year, we’ll come back and show them (Jeonbuk Hyundai) what we’ve got,” Newin declared.

Buriram United will probably bring some attacking reinforcement in the 2 half of the season and they’ll have a group of motivated, hungry and determine homegrown talent there waiting.

Or, as midfielder Rathanakorn Maikami puts it on his Instagram post; “this season, we may have failed to qualify [for the knockout stage]. But I’m feeling a brighter future.”