2011 AFC Cup - Muang Thong and Chonburi ahead of their tasks

After a four months break, continental action is back in Asia, and so the AFC Cup is. With Muang Thong and Chonburi, Thailand still have their two horses in the race. With Nasaf Qarshi and Kuwait SC, both sides are to face tough opponents in the quarter final knock out stage.

Muang Thong United is going to play away first in what is a two legged match and Kuwait SC is the opponent. The club from Kaifan, a suburban area of Kuwait City, was founded in 1960. It is the third-most successful club of the country and his best times where in 70's. After a long hard haul during the 80's and 90's, the club is back under Kuwaitis biggest since about 10 years. Kuwait SC squandered their chances to win the national championship when they eventually lost to Al Qadsia on the very last day of the season. Al Qadsia is the same club who kicked out Thai Port FC in last years AFC Cup quarter finals.

Kuwait's biggest success came in 2009, when lifting the AFC Cup trophy and becoming the first club from Kuwait to win it. However, in 2010, the that time defeding champion, lost to Al Itthihad from Syria at the earliest stage of the knock out round. Later in the semis, Al Itthihad beat Muang Thong United and went on to the 2010 AFC Cup final.

During the 2011 group stage, Kuwait SC didn't really knew to convince albeit they qualified finishing second. Nevertheless club officials are confident to repeat the 2009 success. In the round of the last 16, Kuwait SC met their local rival Al Qadsia, to whom they lost the Kuwaiti League on the last day of the domestic season 2011. They where able to beat them in penalties after two rounds.

The new season in Kuwait isn't underway yet and is not due to start in a few months time. The only chance to get some match practise is the current Crown Prince Cup. Four ties have been played so far and Kuwait won all of them.

Croatian Dragan Talajic is the coach who just signed recently. Talajic who coached Al Wehdat before joining his new club, led Saudi Arabian side Al Ittihad to a AFC Champions League title in 2004. The former goalkeeper was named Best coach of Asia by Al Jazeera Sport last year.

However, a new head coach is nothing special for Kuwait SC, because during the past 10 years, not less than 20 coaches were coming in and coming of. Players you should pay attention to are offensive midfielder Rogerio from Brazil as well as striker Ali Al Kandari wearing number 11. Both should be marked by Muang Thongs defence.

Al Kuwait Stadium is able to hold up to 18,500 spectators and MTU coach Henrique Calisto should be able to draw from nearly all resources. Even though, on fire striker Teerasil Dangda is missed because of slight injury as well as Pakistan international Zesh Rehman. At least Kawin Thamsatchanan and Nattaphorn Phanrit are expected to be back in the squad. Hopefully Robbie Folwer and Christian Kouakou will have enough fire power to score one goal wich would be essential.

The game is broadcast on Star Soccer (True channel 75) and therefore as usual is shown on a big screen at the Yamaha Stadium.

Chonburi v Nasaf Qarshi

Chonburi FC is going to welcome his opponent Nasaf Qarshi from Uzbekistan at first on home soil. It couldn't become tougher for the "Sharks" as Nasaf considerably is one of the favourites to win 2011 the AFC Cup. The Uzbeks distinguished himself as the offensively strongest team of the remaining eight. Not less than 4 players have scored four or even more goals during the current tournament. Ivan Bošković (Montenegro) is leading the scorer list with 8 goals so far. Although Pipob On-Mo doesn't need to hide with his six goals he scored up to now. Without any defeat and 30-4 goals Nasaf managed to overcome the group stage and cruise into the knock outs. In the round of the last 16, Nasaf eliminated 2005 and 2006 AFC Cup winner Al-Faisaly (Jordan). However, at the same stage Qarshi failed last year loosing to Al-Karamah. While latter eventually lost to Muang Thong the following round last year.

Nasaf was founded in 1997 in the city of Qarshi, located in the very southern part of Uzbekistan, close to the border of Turkmenistan. Nasaf Qarshi soon established themselves as one of the best in the country, beside Bunyodkor and Pakhtakor Tashkent. Their biggest domestic achievement was winning the national cup in 2003. On continental level the club managed to advance to semis of the 2002 AFC Champions League season. Uzbekistan domestic season is on half way and Nasaf currently ranks 2nd behind Bunyodkor.

Chonburi's opponent current squad holds three Uzbek senior internationals, as well as three under-23 players. However, probably the best known player might be the Lithuanian Andrej Perepļotkins. He have been under contract already with RSC Anderlecht, Southampton and Derby County.

The team is coached by the Ukrainian Anatoliy Demyanenko. In case there should be any problem for the two coaches to communicate in English, both presumably could talk to each other in German. It's known that Chonburi's coach is still able to speak decent German from his spell in Germany and Demyanenko for six month was under contract with German side 1. FC Magdeburg in 1991. In 1985 Demyanenko was awarded Player of the year in the Soviet Union at that time. He got more than 300 caps for Dynamo Kiev where he played alongside legends like Oleg Blokhin and Igor Belanov. He was coached by non other than Valeriy Lobanovskyi.

Chonburi's rehearsal last weekend in the TPL resulted in a 1-0 win over relegation struggling side Siam Navy. However, coach Heng have to relinquish the service of Natthaphong Samana, Anucha Kitpongsri and Ekaphan Inthasen. Natthaphong and Anucha got slight injuries in the game against the Navy and Ekaphan Inthasen is still not fit after a long time injury. Chonburi's coach is aware of the heavy task lies ahead. In spite of all his aim is not to concede any goal and to score at least 3 which would put his team in a good posotion ahead of the return match in two weeks.

Chonburi vs Nasaf will be broadcast on True channel 103. For Streams of both games, please check our Facebook page or Twitter.
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