Bangkok United have a growing belief that 2019 will be their year as they look to finally lift the Thai League title after coming close for several years.
Mano Polking’s side have finished second, third and second in the last three seasons, but there is a strong feeling that it is now time to deliver after adding several proven talents to the squad.
Thailand wing-backs Tristan Do and Peerapat Notchaiya have arrived from Muang Thong United, while the attack has been bolstered with the additions of Mike Havenaar and Anon Amornlersdak.
Photo credit: Bangkok United
The most important signing, however, could be El Salvador striker Nelson Bonilla, who made such a big impact with his 25 goals at Sukhothai in 2018. The 28-year-old admits that the prospect of lifting silverware was the main reason for making the move from Thailand’s former capital to Bangkok.
“I feel great to be here because it was one of my ambitions to aim for the top and win a Thai League title,” Bonilla said.
As one of several new recruits, Bonilla recognises the importance of his new club’s moves in the transfer market but is putting a collective triumph over personal glory.
“I believe that the club has recruited players in key positions that required attention after last season,” he said. “With the staff and the people that are working together, we have the best opportunity to take the next step.
“Last season, I worked very hard to achieve what I did at Sukhothai. This year, I will work extra hard again but whether I score five goals or 50 goals, it doesn’t matter as long as we win the championship and I have played my part in it.”
Bangkok United skipper Anthony Ampaipitakwong is also confident of success after seeing the club’s development over a four-year period.
“For the past four years, we have proven that are one of the top teams in Thailand,” said Anthony. “We have made a couple of key changes to our roster, but we’ve kept our core players together for a long time.
“This year, we believe we have another shot. If you had asked me last year, I would have said the same thing. I thought we could have won it last year. There nothing that is different, we have the same mentality. We just have to put it all together now to have a successful season.”
Anthony believes that the quality of the additions to the squad can help the club overcome their rivals but he does not underestimate the challenge of integrating the new arrivals as they seek to become successful as a unit.
“The biggest thing with the new players coming in is getting chemistry because they have to adapt to our style and players and we have to adapt to how they play,” he said.
“We have two new wing-backs in Tristan Do and Peerapat Notchaiaya, who are tremendous players and national team quality. We have a couple of new foreign players up top who are also showing great quality.
“We expect them to come in and make an impact immediately. For the guys who haven’t been here, we have a standard and they’re going to have to live up to that standard with us and also bring us to another level.”
In 2019, Buriram United will be aiming for their sixth title in seven years, while Muang Thong and Port FC will also be looking to make a challenge. And Anthony admits he expects his team’s biggest threats to come from familiar places.
“Every year, it’s the same kind of teams that are challenging for things,” he said. “The teams that are there or thereabouts at the end of the year are the ones that can be consistent. We might have teams that start strong but then towards the end, they fall away.
“But the teams that always stay on top are the Burirams and the Muang Thongs. And then you have teams like Port FC and others who stay in the mix. These are teams that should give us a challenge but in the Thai League anything can happen.”