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AFC Champions League

Insider's View: Muangthong United

06:20 GMT 20/02/2017
Teerasil Dangda Muangthong United v Jeonbuk Motors AFC Champions League 26022013
The reigning Thai League champions will be aiming for their maiden ACL group stage win at Suncorp Stadium on Tuesday night

Brisbane Roar will come up against a pseudo-Thailand national team in the AFC Champions League (ACL) on Tuesday as Muangthong United is the home of the vast majority of Kiatisuk Senamuang's squad.

When the Socceroos stuttered to a 2-2 draw with Thailand in a World Cup qualifier in November, nine of the home side's starting XI were Muangthong United players including the hosts' star duo Chanathip Songkrasin and Teerasil Dangda.

Muangthong won the 2016 Thai League by five points but having not played in the ACL group stage since 2013, Thailand-based Goal journalist Kim Junumporn is concerned their lack of experience in the continental competition will hold them back in Group E.

Before each ACL match involving an A-League club, Goal will provide an 'Insider's View' on the opposition team, featuring a journalist from that club's home country.

The Big Issue

Muangthong have lost two key players in the past week with last season's top scorer Cleiton Silva moving to Shanghai Shenxin in China's second tier, while Thailand international midfielder Sarach Yooyen broke his ankle.

Yooyen, who was one of the Muangthong players to start against Australia, and sustained his injury in his club's 1-0 win over Sukhothai in the Thai League on Friday.

Brisbane Roar - Muangthong United Preview

"Yooyen's tragic injury will make him absent from Muangthong's squad for over four months," Junumporn said.

That duo's late departure will have put a dent in coach Totchtawan Sripan's preparations for the trip to Brisbane, while he has also seen another Thailand international Tanaboon Kesarat leave for Chiang Rai United since last season.

Cleiton scored 27 goals for Muangthong last term and will be nominally replaced by former La Liga-based striker Xisco, who started the 2017 season with a brace in the club's 4-0 Thai League-opening triumph over Bangkok Glass.

The Danger Man

Attacking midfielder Chanathip Songkrasin is the talk of the town in Thailand since signing an 18-month loan deal with J.League club Consadole Sapporo, although he will first move to Japan in July.

Chanathip also impressed in Thailand's 2-2 draw with Australia late last year but Junumporn still thinks striker Teerasil is Muangthong's key player.

The 28-year-old striker was previously on the books at Manchester City, where he was never able to play due to work permit troubles, and Almeria.

"Teerasil's experience overseas, along with his great quality on the ball, speed and great vision will make him a danger man," Junumporn said.

"He can score as well as create many opportunities for his team-mates."

 Teerasil scored 11 goals last season taking him just two shy of a century in the Thai League.

Why could Muangthong win?

With a strong core of Thailand internationals, Sripan's starting line-up at Muangthong have an innate understanding of each other's respective skills.

"The more often they play with the same people, the more they learn each other's moves and the more confidently they can play a pass because they know exactly where they will be," Junumporn explains.

Thailand 2 Australia 2

Against Sukhothai on Friday, Sripan selected the following internationals in his starting XI - goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan, defenders Theerathon Bunmathan, Peerapat Notchaiya, Adisorn Promrak and Tristan Do, plus Chanathip, Yooyen and Teerasil.

That group has played a combined total of 311 international matches for the War Elephants.

The familiarity and experience of Muangthong's defensive set-up played a vital role in the club finishing 2016 with the fewest goals conceded (24 in 31 games) of any team in the Thai League.

Why could Muangthong lose?

But Junumporn isn't convinced Muangthong know how to grind out results in the ACL.

"The side previously reached the ACL group stage only one time in 2013, and unsuccessfully ended winless," he said.

While Buriram United have proudly represented Thai football on the continental stage over the past five years, Muangthong failed to progress from the qualifying stages in both 2014 and 2016.

As league champions, Muangthong automatically qualified for Group E but when they visit Roar they will be looking for their first win at any phase of the ACL since overcoming Hanoi T&T in a 2014 qualifier.

Melbourne Victory 2 Muangthong United 1

Melbourne Victory subsequently defeated Muangthong 2-1 in Geelong to claim a spot in the group stage two years ago.

Muangthong United's form

A mixed pre-season saw Muangthong claim an impressive win over K League club FC Seoul in one of their friendlies but they also lost to J.League outfit Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Kitchee of Hong Kong.

Sripan's side then thumped Sukhothai 5-0 in the Thailand Champions Cup.

Muangthong have started the new Thai League campaign with wins over Bangkok Glass and Sukhothai and have yet to concede a goal.