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.
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.