Buriram United aim to complete rare treble in League Cup final, while Thai Port look to produce an upset

The Thai Premier League champions are aiming to lift their third trophy this season, while the League Cup holders are hoping for a shock victory in Saturday's decider
Cash (5 million baht (€120,000)) will be a major motivation for the financially-ailing Thai Port FC on Saturday, when the club takes on Buriram United in the rescheduled final of the 2011 League Cup.

The final was originally due to be played in October 2011, but had to be postponed as the country suffered its worst floods in 50 years.

Should Buriram win this year's cup in what is a rerun of 2010's final - which Thai Port won against the odds - they will have secured a unique treble, having just won the Thai FA Cup, following a virtual stroll to the Premier League title.

Indeed, the clubs could hardly be more different, Buriram enjoying the patronage of a 'slick' political benefactor, Newin Chidchob. A flashy new stadium (The Thunder Castle), money and marketing nous have ensured that for fans of the Thunder Army, Buriram really is the 'City of Happiness' - this season's league win is the club's second consecutive title and was captured with a 16-point margin over its nearest rivalChonburi FC.

In stark contrast, Thai Port have had plenty of off-field problems recently and a fairly average season, although many of the club's fans were actually very happy with The Lions seventh-place finish. Goals have been in painfully short supply over recent weeks, though; going a period of 360 minutes without one! The fact is the club just doesn't have a natural goalscorer in its ranks.

And the future's not looking too bright for the club either, as it was recently announced that it will be losing three of its local players - Worawut Wangsawad and Mongkol Namnaud (Muang Thong United) and Todsapol Lated (Suphan Buri).

ASTV Manager reported this week that Worawut has already signed for Suphan Buri, which suggests he may not actually be available for Saturday's clash.

Four foreign players - Cameroon pair Munze Ulrich and Moudourou Swa-Moise, Nigerian Jacob Aikhionbare and South Korean Kim Dong-Chan have also been released, although rumours suggest that they may still be able to appear in the final.

Although Thai Port caused something of an upset in the 2010 League Cup final by defeating Buriram 2-1, most Thai football afficionados seem to think that this year such a fairytale ending is much less likely.

Buriram stormed to the league title with ease this season, while dispatching Muang Thong United with relative ease in the Thai FA Cup final. The club's coach Attaphol Buspakom has successfully combined a group of experienced local players with several talented foreigners, mainly from Africa.

The Cameroonian pairing of Ekwalla Herman and Florent Obama has looked solid at the back, while their compatriot Franck Ohandza, the leading scorer in the 2011-12 TPL.

Eighteen-year-old Frank Acheampong has also been impressing football fans and journalists alike, with some enthusiastic members of the local press going so far as to label him 'Ghana's Messi'.

Thai Port's coach Thongchai Sukkokee, nevertheless still won't rule out an upset, based on his recent comments at a pre-cup final press conference held at the Golden Tulip Sovereign Hotel last week in Bangkok.

Thongchai said that Thai Port's aim is to “defend the title” and prevent Buriram from bagging the treble. While conceding that his playing squad was “inferior”, he gave credit to the power of the club's '12th man'.

“The mental strength of our squad and the support from our fans can help guide us to victory,” he said.

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