The all-pervasive winning influence of coach Alexandre Gama in Thailand’s domestic football scene this year was evident in Buriram United’s 1-0 win over visiting Cambodian side Boeung Ket Angkor.
The match was the final of the Toyota Mekong Club Championship, held at the Suphachalasai Stadium in Bangkok yesterday evening.
Crowned the Thai league champions with an unbeaten streak over 34 games earlier this month, the winners of the Kor Royal Cup and the League Cup, Buriram added another piece of silverware to their treasure chest on the back of a 68th minute penalty conversion by Venezuelan import Andres Tunez.Boeung Ket goal-keeper Sou Yaty’s heroics had kept coach Prak Sovanara’s side on an even keel in the face of Buriram’s relentless hunt for a first-half goal, spearheaded by Brazilian striker Diogo Luis Santa. Santa was also the Golden Boot winner in the Thai premier league with 33 goals.
But, on the other side of the break, Diogo had the last chuckle. On-loan Dzarma Bata brought down the speedy South American as he dashed into the box and the referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty to the home side. From the spot Venezuelan Andres Tunez packed enough power into his left-foot flick to steer well away from Sou Yaty’s dive to his far right.
Ironically, minutes before this dramatic twist, Dzarma Bata was the one who had gone closer than any of this team-mates in breaking the Buriram resolve.
After working round a couple of defenders Bata was at a sweet spot well inside the box, from where his goal-bound shot was intercepted with by Buriram’s most reliable goal keeper, Siwarak Tedsungneon. Tedsungneon holds the enviable league season record of 15 clean sheets on the top of conceding just 24 goals in 34 matches.
Boeung Ket were distinctly lucky to come away with a goal-line save by one of the defenders minutes before regulation time. On a quick counter, the Cambodian league seasonal goal-topper Chan Vathanaka was nudged well inside the box where he appeared to be well poised for a strike.