BURIRAM HAVE BACKS TO WALL
Depleted team face must-win match in Seoul
With his squad stripped to the bare bones, Buriram United coach Atthaphol Puspakom is facing a big headache as he plots to claim the only remaining qualification spot for the knockout round of the AFC Champions League when they take on already-qualified FC Seoul in South Korea today.
With both Spanish defender Osmar Ibanez and midfielder Anawin Jujeen suspended for the Group E clash at Seoul World Cup stadium, and Charyl Chappuis, Anthony Ampaipitakwong and Suree Sukha sidelined with injuries, Buriram are taking only 15 players for their crunch final group match, having also abruptly terminated forward Bustos’ contract for disciplinary reasons.
Buriram, currently tied on six points from five matches with Vegalta Sendai, need a better result than the J- League side, who face China’s Jiangsu Sainty, two points further behind in bottom place, in order to guarantee a berth in the last-16 round.
With such limited options for his selection, former national player Atthaphol, who steered BEC Tero Sasana to the ACL final in the tournament’s inaugural season in 2003, reckons it will be difficult to take maximum points against the Koreans, who are already assured of top spot in the group regardless of the result.
“To qualify for the next round will be very difficult as we have to get a better result than Vegalta. FC Seoul is by no means an easy match, even though they have nothing left to play for. We’re still inferior to them, but we’ll make tactical adjustment to try and handle them.
“No matter which side they field tomorrow, we will be ready for the game. We may come here with only 15 players, but all the lads are good enough to play in the team,” said Atthaphol, whose charges had to settle for a goalless draw at home against the Koreans in March.
Captain Suchao Nutnum said his team-mates will try their utmost to make it through the knockout round
“No matter which side they field tomorrow, we will be ready for the game.
for the first time, in this, their second successive appearance in the continent’s elite club competition.
“My team-mates and I are 100-percent ready for the game tomorrow. We all know it’s not easy to play here but we’ll try to make our fans’ dreams of a place in the next round come true,” said the national-team midfielder.
Elsewhere, Muang Thong United, the other Thai representatives in the tournament, entertain Urawa Red Diamonds at home today in a match with little riding on it for the Thai Premier League champions, who are all but eliminated from the competition.
BURIRAM CAPTAIN Suchao Nutnum, centre, has vowed to give a strong performance tonight.