Chonburi Bluewave's star players, Suphawut Thueanklang and Kritsada Wongkaeo, attracted interest across Asia after their starring roles in helping their club become the country's first team to win the AFC Futsal Club Championship.
Against the defending champions, Iran’s Sanaye Giti Pasand, in the final at Ocean Arena in Nagoya, Japan, on Sunday, the Thai side found themselves a goal behind early on following Hossein Tayabi’s fifth-minute strike.
Thai international Suphawut forced extra time with a dramatic equaliser one minute from time before Chonburi eventually prevailed 4-1 in the penalty shoot-out. The 24-year-old, one of the Thai players who successfully converted the spot kicks, received the MVP award for his outstanding display in Chonburi’s historic run to the coveted title.
“It is a very memorable night for me as a professional futsal player. I had never thought of winning a top individual award like this and it would not have been possible without the support of my team-mates and coaching staff as well as the Chonburi Bluewave president,” Suphawut was quoted as saying on the Asian Football Confederation’s website, the-afc. com.
Chonburi manager Adisak Benjasiriwan later revealed a Japanese club approached him about the availability of both Suphawut and Kritsada, who formed the backbone of the team.
“If they offer the wage of less than Bt200,000 a month for the two, we would not let the pair leave the team,” said Adisak.
The fact that Chonburi’s success was made all the more remarkable after they became the only unbeaten side in the tournament pleased Spanish coach Pazos Mendez.
“There’re no boundaries of our happiness tonight,” the Spaniard told reporters after the match.
“First of all they are finalists and defending champions and beating them to lift the title is a kind of icing on the cake. We have shown what Thai futsal can do in Asia. We were the deserved winners as we never gave up until the end and always had the belief of comeback.”