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.

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