Beetles favourites in high-stakes duel

Beetles favourites in high-stakes duel

Coach insists Chonburi have what it takes to win FA Cup

The contenders: Clockwise from top right, Chonburi coach Sasom Pobprasert and captain Kroekrit Thaweekarn, and Chiang Rai skipper Phitiwat Sukjitthammakul and coach Emerson Pereira pose with the FA Cup trophy.
The contenders: Clockwise from top right, Chonburi coach Sasom Pobprasert and captain Kroekrit Thaweekarn, and Chiang Rai skipper Phitiwat Sukjitthammakul and coach Emerson Pereira pose with the FA Cup trophy.

Chiang Rai United are favourites to lift the FA Cup trophy when they meet fellow Thai League 1 side Chonburi in the final on Sunday.

The match at Thammasat Stadium in Rangsit kicks off at 6pm and will be played behind closed doors following a new surge in Covid-19 cases.

It will be shown live by NBT, T-Sports and AIS Play.

The champions will get 5 million baht in prize money and more importantly a place in the 2022 AFC Champions League group stage.

In the semi-finals on Wednesday, Chiang Rai edged past Bangkok United 2-1 with Bill Rosimar scoring the winner while Chonburi stunned title favourites Buriram United by the same scoreline.

Chiang Rai finished fourth while Chonburi narrowly escaped the drop in the 2020/21 Thai League 1 season which ended last month.

Chiang Rai, who have been one of the most successful teams in recent memory, defeated Chonburi both at home and away in T1.

Established in 2009, the Beetles won the FA Cup in 2017 and 2018, Thai League 1 in 2019 and League Cup in 2018.

Chonburi have also won the FA Cup twice in 2010 and 2016 although their last success came when all four semi-finalists were declared joint champions following the passing away of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great.

The Sharks won the top-flight title in 2007 before the league was revamped in 2009.

Both sides are confident of claiming their third FA Cup title and have been engaged in a war of words.

Chiang Rai chief Miti Tiyapairat said the Beetles would show the Sharks how a champion plays.

Chonburi coach Sasom Pobprasert shot back, saying: "My players are 'boys from hell'. They have learned what to do to become champions."

The outspoken Sharks boss praised his players for their do-it-or-die attitude against Buriram in the semi-finals.

"They were not afraid of death. People would talk about the win for years," Sasom said.

Sasom questioned Chiang Rai striker Bill's physical strength.

"Chiang Rai are a strong team and have a dangerous player in Bill who is 36," Sasom said.

"His age is similar to that of [former Chiang Rai forward] Jaja [Coelho] who has been punished for doping. Is he [Bill] too strong?"

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) handed Jaja a four-year ban for doping this week after failing a test at an AFC Champions League match last year. Jaja was found guilty of breaking anti-doping rules in Chiang Rai's group stage game against Australia's Melbourne Victory in November.

The Brazilian left Chiang Rai after the end of the first half of the T1 season.

Chonburi captain Kroekrit Thaweekarn said: "This is the first final for a number of our players and we want to become champions."

Chiang Rai interim coach Emerson Pereira said: "It won't be an easy game although we beat Chonburi in both legs in the league. This is a Cup match and we can't make mistakes. We are not under any pressure because we are well-prepared."

Chiang Rai skipper Phitiwat Sukjitthammakul said: "We are ready and looking forward to the game. We are good enough to beat Chonburi."

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