Following its 3-0 victory over Cambodian League winner Boeung Ket Angkor FC at the National Olympic Stadium on December 31st 2016, Lanexang United FC, the Laos league champion, earned its place in the final of the Toyota Mekong Club Championship 2016 and will face Buriram United FC, the champion of Toyota League Cup 2016 and the defending champion of Toyota Mekong Club Championship 2015.
Playing in front of around 20,000 spectators, three different Lanexang players scored for their team. Soukaphone Vongchiengkham and Phouthaxay Ckochalern scored on the 39th and 45th minutes respectively, while Keoviengphet Lithideth increased the score at the 81st minute, helping Lanexang in a decisive win in which Boeung Ket Angkor FC was unable to net any goals.
Boeung Ket Angkor FC’s head coach, Prak Sovannara, said after the game, “I accept that the quality of our game was slightly below that of our opponent. They played well as a team and I’d like to congratulate them on reaching the final.”
“It is very unfortunate that some of our players got injured during a recent international tournament in Vietnam and could not be fit in time for this game,” he added. “Our center back Sok Sovan unfortunately also got injured during a training match against Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng FC before the game.”
“Our attack was okay. although we couldn’t score any goals, but we had a lot of errors in our defense,” Sovannara explained. “Our non-injured defenders lacked quality during the game and we were also forced to play Sun Sovanrithy, who was not 100%,” the Boeung Ket Angkor FC coach said of his team’s performance.
Leonardo Vitorino, Lanexang United FC head coach, said during the post-match press conference, “I am very happy that my players could do what I had asked them before the game, like trying to keep possession and push on offense. The most important thing was that we played well as a team.” He added, “We don’t have super stars, but we have a good team spirit. I always keep in mind that when I coach any team, I will give everything for the team and its supporters.”
Following his team’s qualification to the final, the Brazilian Lanexang head coach praised his 17-year-old player, Phomma Thep Phathana, who gave a good performance after receiving a chance to play in this tough game. Vitorino explained that he had instructed his players to take the competition step by step and focus only on their next opponent and their specific tactics.
“Boeung Ket Angkor FC has a lot of good players, so we needed to give them very little space when they controlled the ball, and if we could do that, then we could control the game,” he said. “Their African forwards are really good, so our defenders and midfielders needed to be ready to mark and press them and give them no chances to play.”
Vitorino said he was looking forward to playing Buriram in the cup final, a team that he knows well as he used to manage their youth team. “I am very happy to meet my former club that I used to work with as the technical director of the youth team, because they helped me a lot. Buriram United FC is a strong team, and they have a lot of good players as well as several national team players,” he said. “The cup final is very vital for us, but we have a capable team. I hope that the Laotian people will support us because it is a fantastic final. We have good players, but we also need the investment and good support from our fans. It is the first time a team from Laos plays in the final of a major tournament, so hopefully there will be many fans going to the game to cheer for us.”
Lanexang United FC will host Buriram United FC at Chao Anouvong Stadium in Vientiane for the first leg of the Toyota Mekong Club Championship 2016 final on January 4th 2017. The second leg will be played at Thammasat Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand on January 8th 2017.