Waiting for Buriram International Airport

TRAVEL operators have urged authorities to upgrade Buriram Airport to international status to increase the number of South-East Asian tourists travelling to the North-East of Thailand.

International: Coming Soon

International: Coming Soon

A former president of the Professional Tourist Guide Association in Buriram province, said that tourism operators such as hotels and travel companies wanted the government to promote Buriram Airport as an international airport as well as add a new cargo terminal to the airport in order to attract more domestic and international airlines.

Buriram has been a favoured destination for sports fans due to the success of Buriram United and we can now add to that the Chang International Racing Circuit.

Big matches at the stadium, particularly Asian Champions League fixtures, have brought both youth and families to the province while local organisations had identified Buriram as a meeting and cultural destination due to 60 ancient castles there and six inactive volcanoes.

The view is that if Buriram Airport is promoted as an international airport with a cargo terminal and a customs office, it should attract more domestic and foreign airlines to operate flights there and it will result in an increase in tourists visiting the province.

At the moment, only Nok Air and Thai Air Asia use the airport and more than 80% of tourists travelling to the region are from other provinces.

If the airport were upgraded, other provinces in the lower North-East region such as Surin, Sisaket and Ubon Ratchathani could expect to attract more visitors, especially from South-East Asia.

A leading travel company owner in Nong Khai in the upper North-East of the country, said that most tourists visiting the province were from Vietnam, China, and South Korea. Also a large number of  retired expats from Japan and Western countries live in the province and would welcome the upgrade.

(with thanks to The Nation)

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.

 

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.

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.

World Touring Cars at Buriram this weekend

 

 

Thanks to WTCC

Thanks to WTCC

This weekend (31/10 and 1/11) the World Touring Cars circus is coming to our own Chang International Circuit for a festival of speed and skill. It’s the first time this event has been held here (and the first time for an FIA event in Thailand) and it promises to be a wonderful weekend of racing with the potential for a world champion to be crowned on Thai soil.

The season has 12 races of which this is the penultimate race, the final one being in Qatar in November. Currently, José María López is leading the standings from Yvan Miller and a high placed finish will confirm him as World Champion.

The Buriram Chang International Circuit is located 400 kilometres north-east of Bangkok and can be reached by road, rail or air, the nearest airport being Buriram Airport, 30 kms north of the town.

Buriram is one of the most up and coming towns in Thailand, not only hosting the racing circuit but also the current Thai Premier League football champions, Buriram United.

Coame up and enjoy the racing, enjoy the town and explore this lesser known area of Thailand.

 

Buffalo Racing

What would you think when someone asks if you want to go buffalo racing? Something similar to horse racing maybe but without the jockeys. Of course it has to be without riders because who, in the right mind, would happily sit on top of a buffalo as it raced along a track.

Race Time

Race Time

Well, it appears that there are plenty of people willing to take part in this sport, a sport that must be unique around the world. Starting on October 26th in Chonburi province, Thailand, less than 100 kilometres south of Bangkok, is the annual Chonburi Buffalo Racing Festival. 

The buffalos are coaxed down a straight track with cheering crowds roaring them on and it’s the job of the jockeys to stay on and ride their beast at the fastest possible speed. Entrance is free and there is usually a mixture of locals and tourists who come to watch. This year (2015) is the 144th time this event has been held.

Miss Buffalo Beauty Pageant

Miss Buffalo Beauty Pageant

 

Aside from the races there are also other events such as the Buffalo Beauty Pageant. For more information contact the local authority here.

Meanwhile, here’s what it looks like!