Thai League 1 champions Chiang Rai United resume their AFC Champions League campaign on Tuesday when they take on FC Seoul of South Korea. All matches are being played in a “bubble” in Qatar.
Chiang Rai need a result to keep alive their slim hopes of advancing to the knockout stage, having lost to Melbourne Victory and Beijing FC in Group E before the tournament was suspended in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Beetles are playing catch up with the other teams in the group with Beijing on six points and Seoul and Melboure on three.
Chiang Rai warmed up for the ACL resumption with a 2-1 win against SCG Muang Thong United in Thai League 1 last Wednesday.
Their attack will be led Thailand midfielder Ekanit Panya and Brazilian strikers Bill Rosimar and Jakson Coelho.
Ekanit, 21, is in line to make his first appearance in the competition after missing his team’s first two games due to injury.
“We know FC Seoul are a big team in Asia so it will be a very difficult task for us,” Ekanit told the-afc.com.
“We have learned that it’s important to defend well in the AFC Champions League because, if we don’t, the other teams have the quality to punish us.”
Chiang Rai captain Phitiwat Sukjitthammakul said: “It’s quite tough to play four games in 10 days but we have no choice and we just need to fight to give our best for the team.
“In the first two matches, we had chances and didn’t take them but our opponents turned their chances into goals. These are distinct differences compared to the Thai league and the small details are important.
“I want to help Chiang Rai get good results in Qatar and, of course, it’s the aim to advance to the next round. We know we’ll create history for the club if we do it.”
Buriram Wins over Sukhothai 2-0
Meanwhile, Buriram United continued their steady rise up the Thai League 1 table with a 2-0 away victory over Sukhothai last night.
The upshot enabled the Thunder Castle to leapfrog arch-rivals SCG Muang Thong United into eighth place. Both sides have 17 points from 12 matches, but Buriram have a better goal difference.
Buriram’s first goal was a brilliant solo effort by Kevin Ingreso.
The Philippines midfielder dribbled past a Sukhothai defender and squeezed his way into the box to fire home a low drive from the right on 32 minutes.
Thailand striker Supachai Jaided added his name to the list of scorers with a fine strike to end a long goal drought and double Buriram’s advantage three minutes after the break.
Zaw Min Htun of Sukhothai was redcarded in the last minute of the match.
Former champions Muang Thong United’s brief resurgence under new coach Mario Gjurovski showed more signs of waning as the Kirins were held to a 1-1 home draw by Nakhon Ratchasima which left them pinned to ninth spot in the table last night. – Bangkok Post