Buriram United FC beats Lanexang United FC to successfully defend the Toyota Mekong Club Championship 2016
The second and final leg of the Toyota Mekong Club Championship (TMCC) 2016 kicked off at Thammasat stadium in Bangkok on 8 January 2017. The crowd was thundering as Buriram United FC and Lanexang United FC walked on to the pitch. Lao premier League champion came into the match in a stronger position, having a 1-goal advantage that Thailand’s representative needed to overturn to win the title.
Buriram United started with their best players, led by team captain Suchao Nutnum, Narubadin Weerawatnodom, and the Brazilian duo Rogerio Countinho and Diogo Luis Santo up front. Lanexang United started with their best team too, with three Lao PDR national players, team captain Soukaphone Vongchiengkham, Manalom Phomsouvanh, and Khampheng Sayavutthi, the only scorer in the first leg of the finals that Lanexang won 1-0.
The first goal of the game was in the 38th minute. Buriram’s Korean midfielder, Ko Seul Ki passed a through ball to Diogo with only the goalkeeper between him and the goal. Diogo tried to dribble through but Lanexang’s custodian Soukthavy swept down and caught both the ball and Diogo’s leg resulting in a penalty. Brazilian striker calmly stepped up and equalized the deficit from the last game.
With only 3 minutes left of the first half, Lanexang United, got a great opportunity to score. Soukaphone Vongchiengkham dragged the ball into the box from the right side, but Buriram’s goalkeeper Siwarak Tedsungnoen brilliantly caught the ball in his hands. The referee immediately blew the whistle ending the first half with Buriram in the lead 1-0.
Starting off in second half, Buriram raised the tempo giving them more possession of the ball than in the first half. It paid off at the 51st minute as Ko Seul Ki drove a long shot through hands of Lanexang’s keeper giving Buriram United to extend the lead. Lanexang United’s chances of winning got even narrower as the team captain Soukaphone Vongchiengkham was given a second yellow card in the 79th minute, leaving Lanexang with only 10 players on the field.
Buriram continued to press with their attacks, while Lanexang took every opportunity to strike back, yet they couldn’t find the net. The whistle blew ending the match at 2-0, officially naming Buriram United FC the champions of TMCC2016 for the second year running. They go home with the trophy and the prize money of 75 thousand dollars.
At the post-match press conference Leonardo Vitorino, Lanexang’s Brazilian head coach said “We have lost only one game this entire season, and it was to Buriram United. It is very hard to explain the feeling I have now, however, there is no doubt that I am very proud of all my players. Nobody knew of us before the victory we had against Buriram in the first game, and that gives our country something to look forward to. I believe that Lanexang United, and Lao PDR football are on the right track.”
“In this final game, we missed a few great opportunities to score. We lost because Buriram is a very strong team. In the first half we did not play so well, however we improved and got a good tempo back in the second half. But, Buriram United played well and with more experience, which is why they won. We hope our fans that came here today would be proud.”
On to champions side, Ranko Popovic, Buriram’s head coach said “Our victory today is because we played as a team. The first game didn’t go well but that is what made our players so eager to go into the game today. Starting from the kick off to the final whistle, we were playing strong. I told my team that we have to score at least one goal so that way we can start to set the pace. Everyone responded well to the strategy, and played a great game today.”
He added “I wish the best for Lanexang, that they continue to build their impressive record. I hope they have even more success in the next season where, hopefully, we can meet again”
At the awards ceremony Buriram United’s, Rogerio Countinho was given the Man of the Match, while Lanexang United’s custodian Southavy Soundala was awarded MVP of the tournament. A warm round of applause was given to the players from both sides, concluding one of the biggest tournament in Mekong countries. It is without a doubt that Mekong region’s football is going forward in an increasing speed. We have had exciting matches that shows perseverance, growth and potentials, but one thing we see in all TMCC 2016 matches is the thing we valued most; sportsmanship.