Teerasil unfazed by Muang Thong’s ACL challenge

Teerasil unfazed by Muang Thong’s ACL challenge

Thailand striker Teerasil Dangda has backed Muangthong United to learn from the mistakes made by fellow Thai Premier League side Buriram United in the AFC Champions League last season despite the daunting challenge faced by Slavisa Jokanovic’s side in Group H this year.

Teerasil Dangda
(Photo: Goal.com Asia)

Last year, then Thai champions Buriram opened their continental campaign with impressive back-to-back wins over J.League champions Kashiwa Reysol and Chinese Super League champions Guangzhou Evergrande only to lose their next four games and miss out on a place in the Round of 16.

And despite Muangthong being drawn to face Chinese double winners Guangzhou as well as Korea Republic’s Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Japan’s Urawa Reds, who are both former AFC Champions League winners, Teerasil feels reigning Thai champions Muangthong are in a better position to mount a continental challenge this season.

“I watched Buriram last year and now it is my turn to play in such a big competition like the AFC Champions League,” said last season’s Thai Premier League top scorer.

“Buriram won the first two games last year and had a lot of confidence, but they were unable to maintain that. Maybe they had some problems within the team and they lost the last four games, but I feel this will not happen to us.

“Every team in the AFC Champions League is a big team and it is a great opportunity to play against the best teams in Asia. It is our chance to learn from other teams and adapt the Thai way of playing to other teams.

“I am very excited to play in the AFC Champions League and it is a very big challenge for me which I am looking forward to.”

Teerasil will certainly be one of the players to watch in the AFC Champions League this season after following up his 24 goals in the Thai Premier League last season, which helped Muangthong reclaim the domestic title from fellow 2013 AFC Champions League qualifiers Buriram, by also being named top scorer at the AFF Suzuki Cup as Thailand lost in the final to Singapore.

“I worked very hard last season. Muangthong had a lot of investment in the team through sponsorship and that allowed the club to buy more good players,” added the 24-year-old, who scored five goals in the AFF Suzuki Cup at the end of last year having also top scored at the 2008 tournament.

“This helped improve the team but it also meant that I had to work harder to keep my place as there was a lot more competition. You have to earn the right to play.”

And having spent time on loan in England with Manchester City earlier in his career, Teerasil kicks-off the new season having enjoyed a two-week stint with Spanish side Atletico Madrid at the start of the year before linking back up with Muangthong under new Serbian coach Jokanovic.

“It was a very good experience. I learnt a lot about the speed of play and Spanish style and I know what I need to improve to match the Spanish style,” he said.

“I am not sure if my style is suitable for Europe, but if there was an opportunity, I would consider it.”

Muangthong begin their 2013 AFC Champions League campaign at home to 2006 champions Jeonbuk next week before travelling to Japan to face 2007 winners Urawa at the start of March.

Jokanovic’s side, though, are set to be without Thailand number one Kawin Thamsatchanan for the group stage after the goalkeeper suffered a broken leg during a pre-season tournament in Hong Kong earlier this month.

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