Title Decider Matchup Between Lanexang United FC and Buriram United FC
After an intense tournament with its fair share of upsets, two teams remain to fight it out and clinch the title of the Toyota Mekong Club Championship (TMCC) 2016. Lao Premier League winner Lanexang United FC currently holds the advantage after their 1-0 victory over TMCC 2015 champion, Thailand’s Buriram United FC.
The first leg of the finals took place on 4th January at Chao Anouvong Stadium in Vientiane, Laos . However, Buriram United FC still has a chance to defend the title when they will host the second leg of the tournament’s final on 8th January at the Thammasat Stadium in Bangkok. There is still a high possibility that Buriram United FC can overturn the slim deficit in the first leg.
Leading up to this important moment of their careers, the coaches of both teams took very different paths to reach their current positions. Lanexang United FC’s head coach, Leonardo Vitorino, has a lot of experience coaching teams within Asia and the Middle East. He has also worked with the team currently standing between him and the TMCC trophy, having previously served as a director of Buriram United FC’s youth team. The Brazilian knows the Thai Premier League very well and has worked with many of Buriram United FC’s current players, providing him with vital insights into his opponent’s tactics and style of play.
Opposing him is Buriram United FC head coach, Ranko Popovic, who spent much of his career with several teams in Europe and Asia, including stints at Cerezo Osaka in Japan and Zaragoza in Spain’s second division. His tactical experience has proven very beneficial to his current team and has largely contributed to Buriram United FC’s success in 2016 season.
Looking at each team’s on-field experience, Lanexang United FC beefed up its defense with the recent addition of Australian center back Aaron Evans, who brings a strong aerial defensive ability to his team’s back four. Evans also has valuable experience playing in the Thai League for Kampangpetch FC.
Defensively, Buriram can rely on their Brazilian center back, Rubenilson dos Santos da Rocha, who has previously evolved in Russia with FC Terek Grozny. Rubenilson recently demonstrated his versatility on the pitch, showing that he could play in the role of defensive midfielder and has the ability to destroy his opponents’ offensive play.
However, Buriram United FC’s strength comes from their ball possession and their ability to exert control over the middle of the field, thanks to the talent of midfielder Jakkrapan Kaewprom, who also plays for Thailand’s national team. Lanexang United FC will look to disrupt Buriram United FC’s game plan with the help of their playmaker, Soukaphone Vongchiengkham, who has been impressive in previous games through his goals and assists. With his previous experience in the Thai league, having played for two seasons with Krabi FC, this midfielder is another key player for Lanexang United FC.
Lastly, both teams have good forwards that can change the game. Buriram United FC will look to Diogo Luis Santo, one of the star players of the Thai League, who has often proven to be his team’s driving force. He will be paired with striker Rogerio Coutinho, a duo that has demonstrated a strong synergy and made Buriram a major offensive threat. Lanexang United FC will hope to respond through the experience of Khampheng Sayavutthi, who scored a goal at the first leg of the finals. With his experience of having played against the team two years ago when he was with Angthong FC, it will be a daunting task for the Buriram United FC defenders to keep him away from the goal.
With the final game of the TMCC2016 rapidly approaching, the anticipation is rising for what is set to be a highly contested match. One might say that Buriram United FC is favored to win with its star-studded lineup. However, Lanexang United FC’s surprise victory in the first leg has upended the odds and shows that the Laos team deserves its place in the tournament’s final, following their blistering path, defeating all odds against them, from SHB Da Nang FC and Yadanarbon FC to an unexpected and crushing 3-0 victory against Boeung Ket Angkor FC. Buriram United FC, facing a one goal deficit, is expected to increase the pressure and play with a very offensive focus, hopefully leading to an entertaining championship decider.
The Toyota Mekong Club Championship finals will be held at the Thammasat Stadium in Bangkok on 8th January 2017, at 19:00. This will be the decisive title match for one of the toughest football tournaments in Mekong countries.