Thai Premier League Half Time Report

As we passed the half way point in the Thai Premier League, few would have expected Muang Thong United and Bangkok United to be so far ahead. Even fewer would have expected the mighty Buriram United to be stuck down in 4th place, a whopping 15 points off the pace!

TPL

TPL

One or two things stand out here. Firstly, is the form of the defending champions, Buriram who have endured a tough few months, losing their unbeaten home record on a wretched night to their fiercest rivals, Muang Thong. It was a total thrashing and at 0-3 it sent a few shockwaves through the league. Since then, the team from south Isaan have lost a further two homes games and drawn against some of the Thai Premier League’s weaker teams.

On the flip side, some credit must go to the team from Muang Thong who have managed to win 15 out of their 17 games which is a fabulous run of form for any team. Chasing MT all the way are Bangkok United who have added to their squad this year and look good to push on for a title challenge. In between the leaders and Buriram we find Bangkok Glass, making a trio of teams from north Bangkok at the head of the table.

As the season continues, we expect Buriram United to close the gap as MT’s players will undoubtedly suffer when we come to the international break as most of their team will be travelling around Asia with the Thai National Team in the World Cup Qualifiers. Buriram have invested in a host of new faces and welcome back Diogo Luis Santos, last season’s top scorer, for the 2nd half of the season.

Also pushing for top half finishes are Ratchaburi, Chiang Rai and Sukhothai. (Maybe it’s just an orange thing and so can we ask Nakhon Ratchasima to start performing again please!) Sukhothai, newly promoted to the TPL have been a surprise to many people. They have a star player in Jon Baggio and some of the best and loudest fans in the country, bringing a raucous atmosphere with them to every game.

At the other end of the table, BBCU appear to be doomed to return the Division 1 after just one year, Osotspa are struggling despite some great home support and Chainat maybe also go but have invested during the transfer window and my yet escape, with a few teams lying within reach.

The biggest disappointment this year is possibly Suphanburi who flew high last year but have not been able to repeat that form, and are now on their 3rd coach of the season.

If a couple of results at the top go against the top 2 and the chasing pack stay in touch, we could be in for an exciting climax to the 2016 season.

 

Have you ever visited these??

Have you ever visited some of the less well know Khmer Temples in Buriram Province. Most tourists head to Phanom Rung and Muang Tam, some venture to Wat Khao Angkarn but very few see more than those.

Located in Non Din Deang, the southern most part of Buriram Province in Prasart Nong Hong. It’s next to the reservoir know as Lam Nang Rong (which isn’t in Nang Rong so don’t be confused!). As you follow the track from the main road this Hindu Sanctuary is on the right hand side in the grounds of the local college and is not difficult to locate. It comprises of three brick towers on a laterite base, with all the towers facing east. It’s believed that this sanctuary was built in the 11th century as it’s constructed in the Baphuon style.

very atmospheric

very atmospheric

This is a small site but it makes for some great photographic opportunities and is free to visit. While you are here, continue to the reservoir at Lam Nang Rong and enjoy some fabulous food. In the hot season large numbers of locals come here to enjoy dining by the water as well as cooling off in the reservoir.

 

Twenty minutes north from here in Pa Kham, on the way to Nang Rong, we found the site of Prasart Khon Ngio (Ngiu). It’s signposted as you leave Pa Kham heading north. As you turn into the modern temple site look to the far right hand corner. If you find the monks’ accommodation then the temple site is hidden behind that!

Wander and climb all around

Wander and climb all around

It’s a small site with one main structure, built as a Mahayana Temple, with a square wall surrounding it and evidence of a small pond to one side. There are large numbers of rocks all around the outside which look like they were once numbered but you feel some more excavation work needs to be done. It’s officially a medical station, one of many built during the reign of King Jayaraman (1181-1218). Again, it’s a good place to climb around and take some photos.

Buriram United get a new coach

At the forefront of Thai football: Ghotbi leading Buriram into bright era

Many foreign residents of Thailand are familiar with the visa run to Malaysia. Afshin Ghotbi had barely arrived in the Land of Smiles before he was off to Kuala Lumpur.

It was the end of a hectic few days but a quick trip south gave the former Iran head coach time to absorb the fact that he is the now in charge of Buriram United, perhaps the biggest club in Southeast Asia.

“We will be challenging for trophies and every game we will play better football. Professional football is first about winning and then entertainment.”
– Ghotbi

Well, in charge as much as you can be in a club owned by Newin Chidchob, the former politician who relocated Provincial Electronic Authority to the north-east of Thailand in 2009 and then built a club, a stadium and a team that has won three of the last four Thai league titles.

So accustomed have United been to success that a dip in the league this season, and a dire performance in the group stage of the Asian Champions League, saw Brazilian Alexandre Gama leave after two largely successful years.

“I was very interested in Buriram’s story ever since I heard about the owner,” Ghotbi told FourFourTwo. “He has tremendous love for the club and the city and has the resources, both financial and political, to make this one of the best in Asia.”

 

Back to the top? Buriram have the ambition and the means to rule Asia again

Similarities abound

Ghotbi knows all about Asia. The 52-year-old, who left Iran in 1977 for California, where he started coaching, returned to the continent in 2001 to be part of Guus Hiddink’s coaching staff in South Korea.

After the success of the 2002 World Cup, he was back as an assistant to Dick Advocaat in 2005 and then Pim Verbeek a year later. In 2007, came the call from his homeland. At the end of his first season with Persepolis, he delivered a first league title to the Tehran giants in six years.

Our intention is to win everything domestically and then go the next stage and go where they have never been in the Asian Champions League.

– Ghotbi

Up next was a stint in charge of the Iranian national team and a last eight place in the 2011 Asian Cup after which he was off to Shimizu S-Pulse in Japan.

Ghotbi likens Thailand’s situation to Korea in 2001 with the country and its leading club ready to explode: “Professional football is growing and developing and I wanted to be part of that.  I have been impressed with the Thai players. They have open hearts and open minds and they want to do a job.”

image: http://images.cdn.fourfourtwo.com/sites/fourfourtwo.com/files/styles/inline-image/public/1_32_0.jpg?itok=1zftnJsL

Ghotbi’s immediate task is to salvage Buriram’s Thai Premier League season

There is plenty of work to do though this is a club still in the title race. After 44 league games without losing, Buriram tasted defeat twice in the space of three weeks in April and May and are eight points behind rivals Muangthong United.

The team has, Ghotbi feels, reached a plateau. “I saw half a dozen games before I said yes, I felt it had lost confidence, physically did not seem sharp enough and wasn’t tactically organised enough. I felt I could come and change things quickly, get a few good results and turn the season around.”

Room for expansion

A first game ended in a 1-0 win over Nakhon Ratchasima. More than most clubs in Asia, fans will expect more of the same. They are accustomed to success. Ghotbi is ready for the pressure.

“There was the same pressure in Persepolis. Buriram have fans in every city in Thailand. I welcome that expectation and it will bring the best out of me. I like pressure and I like to win.”

In Japan with Shimizu, the club often sold its best players. “One of the frustrating things at S-Pulse was that my ambition was greater than the club’s.”

There’s plenty of ambition at Buriram. “Our intention is to win everything domestically and then go the next stage and go where they have never been in the Asian Champions League,” he added. That would be going past the quarter-final reached in 2013.

image: http://images.cdn.fourfourtwo.com/sites/fourfourtwo.com/files/styles/inline-image/public/13233377_1044069155640740_1312529484_n_0_0.jpg?itok=D6Czwco9

After a difficult start, Buriram’s season is beginning to look up again

The return of injured star striker Diogo is expected soon and there will be more additions. “They have already decided what changes they will make in the transfer window. I will have to work with what is given to me. My approach is always first observe, then learn, listen, think and then try to find the solutions to improve the team. It is a step by step process.”

A winning mentality

Professional football is developing and I wanted to be part of that. I have been impressed with the Thai players. They have open hearts and open minds

– Ghotbi

It is certainly a challenge. “We will be challenging for trophies and every game we will play better football. Professional football is first about winning and then entertainment. My job is to create a team that, regardless of which player is available or not, sets a certain standard.

“I am impressed with the love the fans have for this club. I can feel how big this club is, it is massive. When you are outside, you don’t perhaps realise how big football is in Buriram and the owner can take the credit. He built something from nothing. He could have bought a club in Europe but invested in his own country and built something. That is an inspiration for everyone.”

“All over the world, coaches are judged by their last result, it is part of our industry and part of our job. We have to learn to live with it and welcome it. I enjoy the excitement that it brings. I am ready for the challenge.”

With thanks to www.fourfourtwo.com/my

http://www.fourfourtwo.com/my/features/forefront-thai-football-ghotbi-leading-buriram-bright-era#6dTYJGfcQHHZ3FhB.99

Time to get some exercise

If you live in Nang Rong or you’re here on a visit and you feel it’s time to get some exercise, then this is for you. We already know about the lake where you can take a walk around and the public swimming pools for a little recreation but now we also have something new.

Recently, a new gym and fitness centre has opened in Nang Rong and it’s got the funky name of the SoFit Fitness Centre. It has a fully equipped gym (with bikes, running machines and a whole lot more), a large outdoor pool, a studio for dance and exercise classes and a restaurant with a meeting area too. There are trainers available for all exercises and it’s open from 10.00 a.m. to late in the evening. Classes can be booked at the centre and if you want to attend on a certain day we recommend reserving your place.

Anyone for exercise?

Anyone for exercise?

It’s been open for a few months and offers a variety of membership packages, both monthly and yearly, depending on which facilities you need to use. Friends of ours who have been say it’s quite busy for classes in the evenings and if you’re a swimming fan, like me, and enjoy doing lengths of the pool then go in the morning as it’s virtually impossible in the evening. There are still some promotional offers for new members offering a trial and a taste of the healthy lifestyle.

Get fit, meet some friends and have a delicious meal afterwards in their lovely restaurant. There’s a good selection of healthy food (isn’t most Thai food healthy?) all at very reasonable prices.

(The centre has a Facebook page but I don’t suggest you use the map to find them. It’s a little out of place! Try calling the number and asking for directions.) It’s actually very close to the main traffic lights in the centre of town, of the north-west side.

The Car Park!

The Car Park!

Thai Premier League – 10 years from now.

Where will

Buriram's new player?

Buriram’s new player?

we be in 10 years time. Well, the Thailand League of Premier (as it’s now called) is based in Issan as all the teams in BKK have quit because their fan bases disappeared when gold was discovered in Kalasin making this the richest place in the world. The Udon Down Unders are the new guys on the block, with a complete team of players with one Thai parent and one Australian parent. Each team has become a representative of their local population with the Buriam Brits still the team to beat, although they are now being run by the next generation of the Chidchob dynasty from their safe house in Kensington, London. The Khon Kaen Canadians reflect their heritage and are still trying to convince people that playing on ice is more fun and practical in the summer. The Sakon Nakorn Swiss are climbing the mountain that is success at the newly sponsored Chang Ice Cream Cup. Finally, the Nakon Nowhere boys are still trying to locate their fathers!

Back in Bangkok and there is an attempt to bring football back but since Thai Port’s PAT stadium was over taken by the rising waters of the Chao Praya River and Chonburi had to move their ground further inland, all the way to Poipet (they are now the Poipet Porpoises) there seems little chance of a revival happening.
In the real world, Buriram United have completed their 15th consecutive treble season but have not yet managed to get out of their AFC Champions League group, despite being drawn against teams from Borneo, Timor Leste and the Solomon Islands.
Enjoy Songkran and stay wet!

Fun with the new Premier League Season in Thailand

It’s a few games into the new season and it’s feeling like silly season with an International break already disrupting play.

The table has a familiar look and so, with time on our hands and with thanks to Chonburi FC, a few expat fans have gone all fantasy, not picking teams but much more than than. Please have a quick look at the Chonburi FC site via this Fantasy League and give us your thoughts.

Chaos in the Thai Premier League

TPL

TPL

The confusion as to who will actually play in the Thai Premier League in 2016 continues. After initially deciding that the league would consist of 20 teams, the TPL decided it would remain at 18. That meant that BEC Tero, Thai Port and TOT would be relegated to Division 1.

However, Saraburi have confirmed that they are unable to meet the TPL financial regulations and have dropped into Division 1,allowing BEC Tero to remain in the Premiership. But who actually comes up is anybody’s guess.

Police United were runaway winners of Division 1 but it is believed that they owe 50,000000 bht in unpaid wages and the TPL are concerned that they will not be able to fulfill the financial criteria. Second placed Pattaya United have been taken over and the TPL are again concerned that the new owners may not meet the financial requirements as well.

BBCU F.C finished third but the two sides below them, Sukhothai and Nakhon Pathom did not complete their fixtures when their match last May was abandoned due to floodlight failure. This game is now being played on February 9 so nothing can be sorted until then.

Although BEC Tero have now stayed up, they also have new owners and many of their top players have left in the belief that they would be in Division 1 . Thailand have important World Cup qualifiers later in the year and it is vital that all of the squad are playing in the Premier League.

So all in all, it’s a bit of a mess. We will do our best to keep you informed. We have also published the first 6 months Buriram fixtures in a previous article, we will let you have a complete list when everything is cleared up.

Thanks to Graham Dressler at the Buriram Times for this.

When the weather gets warmer….

It appears that the latest craze in Southern Isaan is for Water Parks and so when the weather gets warmer, here are some ideas of where to cool off.

In Buriram Province, the Play La Ploen Boutique Resort has become established as a great place for families to spend a day, or longer, enjoying the multitude of activities on offer. Located about 35 kilometres north of Buriram Town on the road to Phutthaisong (just north of Khu Muang), the park offers a selection of adventure sports and water sports to keep kids and adults amused all day. There are activities for all ages and there is a hotel onsite too. Wall climbing and zip lining are just two choices and you can buy a ticket that includes everything or you can pay separately for each event. There is food and drink available onsite and there is even a hotel attached too.

A Fun Day Out

A Fun Day Out

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the same distance to the south of Buriram, the recently opened Siriya Park is a few kilometres to the west of Prakonchai Town, on the road to Nang Rong. It opened in 2015 and has a couple of pools and a choice of slides. Again, fun for all the family with food and drink available.

Closer to the town centre is the Water Play Park in Baan Yang, a few minutes out of town on the road to Satuk. Similar to Siriya, there are slides and two pools. There is also a shaded area for parents who would rather relax than enjoy the cool water. (I wonder if they could ban wifi here!).

Away from Buriram, there is a children’s water park open at The Mall in Korat. The pool is surprisingly large and features some long water slides and plenty of shade for the parents to hide under. I imagine that kids can play, assuming they’re able to swim, while the parents eat and shop.

Most recently opened is the water park at The Greenery Resort in Khao Yai (Nakon Ratchesima Province). This large water park has a huge wave pool, a great selection of slides and plenty of space to chill and watch everyone having fun. It opened in the last week of January 2016 and looks like being a huge hits with the tourists, both local and international. There is accommodation onsite and plenty of options around the area too.

Looks like fun!

Looks like fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you just wish to swim, of course there are some public pools around. Buriram Town has an Olympic size pool and Nang Rong has a public pool too. Most hotels will also let you make use of there pools for a small charge.

Enjoy the upcoming hot weather. Get some sun cream and have a fun day out.

 

The 2015 Football Season is over in Thailand

 

Buriram United 2015

Buriram United 2015

The concluding game of the season, on 26th December was the showpiece FA Cup Final between the two top teams in the country and the two fiercest rivals. Like the rest of the season, it became an exhibition of how strong Buriram United have become as they romped to a 3-1 victory over Muang Thong to secure a clean sweep of trophies this year.

In fact, such is the dominance of the team from the south of Isaan that the last time they lost a game of any sort was in the AFC Champion’s League back at the end of April. Since then, they have dominated domestically remaining unbeaten for the whole season. It looks like the tactic of keeping a coach for the entire year has worked well for them; their team even managed to have 7 players in the TPL Team of the Year.

For most of the 2015 season, there was little sign that Buriram United would finish so far ahead as they were pushed most of the way by Muang Thong. Special praise should go to Suphanburi who finished third but have cruelly been denied a place in the 2016 AFC Champion’s League by stadium regulations (their place going to Chonburi who finished fourth). At the bottom, TOT were relegated with some games to spare and on a very exciting final day, Port went with them alongside BEC Tero, one of the front runners from 2014. Navy finished the season with a real burst having looked relegated two months earlier. In 2016, we welcome Police and Pattaya back to the top flight with the final place still to be decided. Top scorer, by a long way, with over 30 goals was Diogo Luis Santo, Buriram’s Brazilian striker, who I’m sure the fans will want to stay for another year, at least. br

Top Scorer 2015

Top Scorer 2015

In the FA Cup, Chainat came close to making it all the way, valiantly going down to Buriram in the semi-final. Bangkok Glass, winners in 2014, were dumped out by Buriram in a reverse of fortunes from their winning season.

In the Toyota League Cup, it was wonderful to see some of the smaller teams making an impact deep into the competition with Phrae, Lamphun and Khon Kaen all making it to the quarter- final stages before succumbing to bigger clubs. Nobody will forget the sight of the Lamphun stadium bursting at the seems on a rainy night in August as Buriram strode into town. I’m sure the whole town was there, up trees, standing on cars, trying to get a glimpse of their glamorous opposition. The crowd got behind them and they secured an 0-0 draw, a game they actually deserved to win. In the end, it was Buriram United who met Srisaket in the final, a tight affair between the two teams from south Isaan; the game finished 1-0 to Buriram but it was a great occasion especially seeing half the National Stadium turned orange by the Srisaket fans.

As you might expect, players and coaches from Buriram United picked up the end of season awards and with them already strengthening for next year, it’s going to take a major effort from someone to overcome them in 2016. Thanks should go to all the fans who made the games great to watch. Mention to Nakon Ratchasima, the second best supported club with some of the most vocal fans. For those who’ve never seen a game in the Thai Premier League, try to visit one time. It’s a great experience.

The Rise of Buriram United

As most of you know, here at www.nangrong.info we are huge followers of our local football team, Buriram United. This week, the website http://thesefootballtimes.co/ has published a wonderful article about our team. The text is published below. Please read and enjoy and thanks to all at TheseFootballTimes. Thanks to Paul Murphy for writing this. Any questions, please contact him here:

NESTLED IN NORTH EAST THAILAND, 400km from the gleaming skyscrapers and tourist traps of Bangkok, at first sight Buriram seems an unlikely place for a football revolution to be taking place.

The north east of Thailand is considered the poorest part of the country, with many internal migrants heading to the capital in search of job opportunities. Buriram has a large Khmer influence, bordering Cambodia to the south. The province’s biggest tourist attraction is Phanom Rung Historical Park, a complex of Khmer temples set on the edge of an extinct volcano.

But now there is a new attraction that brings in thousands of football fans every year. Buriram doesn’t just have the most successful football team in Thailand. It also has a 4-star Buriram United-themed hotel next to the stadium and an international Grade A motorsport track.

When Thailand’s Premier League (TPL) began to include provincial teams in 2007, the club didn’t even exist. In US sports style, Buriram effectively took over a ‘franchise’ club when PEA FC (Provincial Electricity Authority) moved to the north east from Ayutthaya in 2010.

Backed by the financial clout of local politician Newin Chidchob, a brand new stadium was built just outside the city centre. On the pitch, the club soon made a big impact, winning the domestic treble in 2011, when still known as Buriram PEA.

Incredibly, after a rebranding as Buriram United in 2012, the upstarts caused some upsets in the AFC Champions League. The Thunder Castle defeated Japanese champions Kashiwa Reysol and Chinese champions Guangzhou Evergrande in the group stage. The winning goal against Guangzhou was scored by Frank Acheampong, a Ghanaian winger who had previously been on trial at Manchester City and Celtic.

The Thai side lost the other four games and finished bottom of the group but these victories served notice that they would no pushovers. Acheampong’s potential was noted by Anderlecht in Belgium and they signed him on loan before making the deal permanent. He has since gone on to establish himself in the Belgian top flight.

Buriram failed to retain the TPL title that year but they were the best supported team in the league, with average crowds of approximately 15,000.

Having lost the title, the club soon hatched plans in place to win it back. Just as they had discovered a gem in Acheampong, Buriram’s scouting network scoured the world for talents that would take the team to the next level.

After the successful capture of central defender Osmar Ibáñez in the middle of 2012, Buriram looked to Spain again. In came Spaniards Javier Patiño, a 25-year-old striker from Córdoba in Spain’s second tier, and Carmelo González, a 29-year-old playmaker from Sporting Gijón, who had represented Spain 12 times at under-21 level.

Despite having to qualify through a playoff, Buriram would enjoy an even more successful Champions League campaign in 2013. The Thais progressed from the group stages and defeated Uzbekistan’s Bunyodkor in the last-16 before succumbing to Iranian side Esteghlal in the quarter-finals.

Former Real Madrid assistant manager Alejandro Menéndez replaced Englishman Scott Cooper as head coach late in the year and the Spanish signings inspired Buriram as they regained the title from increasingly bitter rivals Muang Thong United, before sealing a domestic treble with victories in the FA Cup and League Cup.

When Venezuelan international defender Andrés Túñez was signed from Spain’s Celta Vigo in the summer of 2014, the Spanish speaking influence was peaking and the end of the season would see some changes. Buriram would again be champions but failed to win a cup competition and fell at the group stage of the Champions League, winning just once.

Menendez left, while Patiño’s fine form had caught the eye of Henan Jianye in the Chinese Super League and he signed for them early in 2015. González was allegedly told he was ‘too old’ at 31 for the Champions League and was allowed to join TPL rivals Suphanburi.

Brazilian head coach Alexandre Gama arrived and immediately made his country’s influence felt. In a league in which clubs cannot have more than five overseas players in their squads, the departures of González and Patiño made space for Buriram’s most audacious signing yet – Brazilian striker Diogo Luís Santo.

Diogo was once hot property and several big European clubs were weighing up a move for him before Olympiakos took the then 21-year-old to Greece for €9 million in 2008. Unfortunately, the move did not really work out and the striker has ended up in Thailand via loan spells and short-term deals back in Brazil.

There had been similarly high hopes for former Arsenal starlet Jay Simpson when he arrived at the start of 2014 but the striker never settled and scored just one league goal before returning to England to play for Leyton Orient. But Diogo has grasped the opportunity in Thailand with both hands. Unlike failed marquee signings like Robbie Fowler, Jay Bothroyd and Roland Linz at Muang Thong United, Diogo has knuckled down and is top scorer in the league, with a goal almost every game.

To partner Diogo, fellow Brazilian Gilberto Macena arrived from Hangzhou Greentown in the Chinese Super League. Macena has also given value for money with an impressive all-round game in addition to a fine goal tally.

The form of both was particularly significant in this year’s AFC Champions League group stage. Between them, they scored seven goals in six games as Buriram finished level on 10 points with the more fancied Gamba Osaka from Japan and Seongnam FC from South Korea. Unfortunately for the Thais, they lost out on the head-to-head rule despite having a superior goal difference to their two rivals.

Despite the disappointment, it was further evidence that this team from Thailand could compete and thrive at a higher level. The club are now on course for another domestic treble, though a tight TPL run-in with Muang Thong lies ahead.

Although the club’s success has put Thailand and the province on the map, Buriram United’s success has also created some resentment.

Newin is not the most popular figure in Thailand and some question how his personal wealth has been ploughed into the club and lament the lack of financial transparency in the game. The fact that Buriram and Muang Thong have formed a duopoly at the top of Thai football in a short space of time is evidence of the financial mismatch between them and other clubs in the country.

Going to a game in Buriram offers a different experience from many other teams in the country. Unlike many other clubs who are forced to lease the provincial stadium from local governments, Buriram have a new purpose-built stadium that holds over 30,000. Outside the ground on match days, there is vast open space where families picnic and friends gather for pre-match beers. The atmosphere is convivial, relaxed and welcoming. In the true spirit of football, the club clearly acts as a focal point for the local community.

Inside the stadium, spectators can get a reasonable view from any angle, unlike at many other clubs where stadia cater more for athletics than football crowds. From my complimentary seat, courtesy of the club hotel, I recognise other hotel guests in the same section. There are couples, groups of elderly expats and sometimes four generations of the same family sitting together.

Before the match there is the unusual sight (for those not familiar with Thai football) of the club chairman and benefactor leading the team talk instead of the head coach. Newin stands in the centre of a circle of players and is very animated as he tries to demonstrate what victory means to him.

Once the action gets underway, the most striking feature is the choir in the enclosure singing and dancing their hearts out in careful choreography. Fans of rival teams have often complained about this choir, suggesting that they are not real fans but cheerleaders on the payroll of the club owners. You cannot help thinking that they have a point when you see this group, numbering in the thousands, going through the songbook in unison, with what appears a complete lack of spontaneity.

While the choir is one thing that Buriram United may not have got right, there is no doubt that they have done plenty of other things well. Buriram have facilities that would put many European clubs to shame. As well as the new stadium, they also have a purpose built training ground a few kilometres down the road.

In the Thai context, it is a club ahead of its time and rivals are disappearing into the distance as the Buriram juggernaut drives on. Only Muang Thong United have remained capable of challenging them this season but most pundits believe that Buriram will eventually prevail.

From a standing start, Buriram United have become the best team in Thailand and have their sights set on becoming one of the best in Asia. In the most recent AFC club rankings, the club rank 17 in the region but the ultimate aim is to be a fixture in the top five. Given that they started from next to nothing just a few years ago, it is an ambition that has to be taken seriously.