Chonburi Bluewave: Champion of Asian Futsal

Futsal in generall
Chonburi Bluewave Thai Futsal and Thai Football fans have new heroes after the Chonburi Bluewave have ended a long title drought last Sunday by winning the AFC Futsal Club Championship. Not enough, the club made history by lifting the trophy as first club from Thailand ever.

With a smile on their faces, the freshly crowned "Kings of Asian Futsal" arrived at Bangkok Airport this Monday. In the bag: the cup and the trophy for the most valuable player for Suphawut Thueanklang. The Futsal superstar decisively contributed to the historic triumph. He and goalkeeper Mehr Abbasian rose to heroes the night before when defending champion Giti Pasand could be defeated for twice within days.

The way to the final

Before, both sides have met at group stage for the first time. After a 2-2 draw in the opening game against Ardus, the second game against the favorite Iranians was crucial for Chonburi. Losing the tie could have mean an early end to any hope to reach the knock-outs. And it almost looked like. Three minutes to go in the second half and the Thai representative was down by two goals. However, with fighting spirit, Chonburi could turn the game around; scored three goals and won it with 4-3. With it, the semi-final was within reach for the first time after one had to go home early in 2011 and 2012.

It was Suphawut Thueanklang who scored the winning goal, right before the end, to make it 3-2 against Al-Sadd in the third and final game of group B. Hence the Bluewaves even managed to finish the group at the top. It was important in such a way, that the Thais could dodge the host and winner of group A - Nagoya Ocean. Now the much easier task with Shenzen Nanling was waiting in the semis. Chonburi have beat the team from China in the qualification round earlier this year by 4-1, and so the Thais did again with ease and cruised to the final after a 5-2 victory. As the only team without a single defeat, from the qualification to final round, Chonburi made it to the final of the AFC Club Championship.

Differently than to the group game, it was on to Giti Pasand, to take an early lead after four minutes. In the further course of the final a goal for Chonburi simply didn't wanted to materialize and the clock ticked relentlessly against the team of coach Pulpis. The goalkeeper was already substituted for a while with an additional fielder to generate power play, when the digital clock stopped at 1:21. It was the coming MVP of the tournament, who absolutely unmarked has found the back of the net for the equalizer. Now of course there was no limit for the excitement within the small group of Thai supporters and their chants started to dominating the hall. During the remaining minutes of normal and extra time, nothing more happened and the game went on to penalties.

Suphawut Thueanklang

Suphawut Thueanklang

After Thailand's international rose to hero minutes before, now it was on to Mehr Abbasian to follow suit. Could Mohammad Taheri convert the first penalty for Giti Pasand, the Chonburi goalkeeper saved the both following. Jirawat Sornwichian was the last of the scorers on sides of the Thais and his winning kick was sent straight into the bottom right corner.

As the first club from Thailand the Chonburi Bluewave are crowned Asian Futsal Champion. In a tournament that was dominated almost exclusively by Nagoya Ocean and clubs from Iran in the years before. Now the winner's trophy, which reminds rather of a hubcap screwed on wood, will find its way in the clubs trophy cabinet for the next month, indeed, without prize money. Since the AFC simply didn't offer any bonus for the winner.

The Chonburi Bluewave were welcomed at the airport by a dozen of fans and club officials. But incumbent FA president Worawi Makudi, who is always one of the first to congratulate with flowers, was absent. To see how he would have had hand over a bunch of flowers to the clubs manager and his rival "Mr. Futsal" Adisak Benjasiriwan, would have looked a bit weird nevertheless. Because one cannot really argue that Makudi and the FA had a portion in the success. After all, everything was stemmed by Chonburi. The domestic league pauses since the spring, and how it goes on, nobody knows at the moment. Already after the World Cup 2012 in Thailand, it was a missed opportunity on the part of the federation to take advantage on the euphoria around the sport and to build up on it. Now after the success of the Bluewaves similar impends to happen.

However, neither Chonburi nor the AFC want to rest on the laurels. The Sharks which are already qualified as a titleholder for the issue in 2014 want to host the tournament next year. Then it will take place in annual rhythm for the last time following a decision of the AFC Futsal Commission on the edge of the Club championship. From 2014 onwards it will be held in a two-year rhythm.

AFC set the course for the future

Besides, a U-21 championship should be introduced for national teams starting from 2017 and from 2015 a competition is also planned for women's national teams. 10 nations should be allowed to take part in, based on the results of the Asian Indoor Games of 2009 and 2013. Therefore Thailand's women, who are without any domestic competition in Futsal for years now, should be granted as they performed as one of the best in 2009 and 2013. Another decision: The AFC Futsal Championship 2014 will be held in 2014 in Ho Chi Minh City/Vietnam.
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