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AFC Cup: Chonburi aims group win

AFC Cup
Beside Buriram United the second representative of Thailand, Chonburi FC, starts his international campaign on Wednesday. However, just a floor deeper, in the AFC Cup.

Two weeks ago the "Sharks" lost their qualification match to the group stage of the AFC Champions League 2012 against Korean side Pohang Steelers by two goals to nil. Which means instead playing in the AFC's top competition, the club has to play in the AFC Cup. For Chonburi its the third participation already in that competition. In 2009 as well as last year Withaya Laohakul's team failed in the quarter finals. But this year it should be nothing else than the title and wining the group should mark the first step. Finishing Group G as runner-up would mean Chonburi will have to play away in the round of last 16 what would be of course a disadvantage.

Chonburi FC is facing a substantially easier task in Group G than Buriram faces in the Champions League and is the very high favorite. The team must travel to Myanmar first, to face league champion Yangon United with whom for the first time a team from this country takes part in the AFC cup. The club was founded only in 2009, however, the played domestic league before under the name of Air Bagan.

Though Air Bagan is still a main sponsor and the son of the treacly rich owner Tay Za acts a manager of the club and is rumored to have close contacts with the military government. Beside the league, where one scored particularly from a strong offensive Yangon could also win the cup competition last year.

At the beginning of the year the Myanmar side strengthen its squad especially in defensive, with signing Macedonian Nikola Karvec and the Serbian Milan Jovanic as well as Mladen Ristic in midfield. Indeed, everybody of them had problems to adapt at the beginning of the season.

As a preparation on the game with Thailand's Vice champion, a friendly was set up at the end of February in Yangon against partner club BEC-Tero Sasana, which Yangon lost 0-2. However, Yangon missed four key players who meanwhile played with Myanmar's U-21  in the Brunei Cup. These four players, including important players like wingers Kyi Lin and David Htan, are going to be absent against Chonburi as well due to Myanmar qualified for the semi-final of the Brunei-Cup.

Chonburi had plenty of time to prepare oneself and might also be quite rather far with its preparation for the new TPL season. The last week three new foreigners were added to the squad with Anderson dos Santos, Ryuki Kozawa and Bireme Diouf. But none of those three entitled to play the game against Yangon United.

With the likes of Ekaphan Inthasen, Arthit Sunthornpit and Ney Fabiano the club had to report a few leavings. How much the departure of the loyal soul, assistant coach Jadet Meelarp is going to hurt the club remains to be seen. Under him as a boss Chonburi won is only championship title in 2007. The departures were balanced with players of Sriracha (3 players) and Pattaya United. From latter there came star striker Kengne Ludovick.

For the game on Wednesday against Yangon coach Heng must relinquish of Natthaphong Samana and Anucha Kitpongsri. Both defenders are out with injury.

Unfortunately, the tie will not be shown in Thai TV. The only chance to see the match, if you are able to receive MRTV4 from Myanmar. Kickoff  is at 16:00.

AFC Cup: Chonburi aims group win

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