As City prepare to make history and embark on their maiden AFC Champions League journey, takes a look at the club that stands between City and passage to the 3rd and Final Qualifying Round of the 2020 AFC CL prior to the Group Stages Proper. Namely, Buriram United of Thailand.
Based in the city of Buriram in Buriram Province, the club currently competes in Thai Premier League (sometimes referred to as Thai League 1) which is the top level of domestic Thai football. Founded in 1970 as PEA FC (Provincial Electricity Authority Football Club), the club was reformed as Buriram PEA (2010) before converting to its current name of Buriram United in 2012. They currently play at the Chang Arena.
Name : (Known as) Chang Arena
Capacity : 32,600
Address : Mueang Buri Ram District, Buri Ram 31000, Thailand
The stadium is officially called the "New I-Mobile Stadium". However, it is also known as "Thunder Castle Stadium" but the stadium is often referred to as the "Chang Arena" due to the ground's sponsorship by Chang beer. The stadium is also referred to by its official name, Buriram Stadium, by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
1970 : Founded as Provincial Electricity Authority FC.
1998 : Club wins its first major title the Kor Royal Cup.
1998 : Club promoted to Thai Division 1 League (2nd Tier).
2003-04 : Club promoted to Thai Premier League.
2008 : Club relocates to Ayutthaya and plays its home games at the Ayutthaya Province Stadium.
2008 : Club wins the Thai Premier League for the first time in its history and qualifies for the 2009 AFC Champions League.
2009 : Following the take over of the club by Newin Chidchob, a politician from Buriram, the club moves to its current location.
2010 : Club renamed Buriram PEA.
2010 : Club loses 0-1 to Thai Port in the Thai League Cup Final.
2011 : The club enters its 'Golden Period' by completing the domestic Treble. After winning the Premier League Title with a then record points total of 85 points, the club went on to capture both domestic cup titles beating arch rivals Muangthong United in the Thai FA Cup Final and avenging the previous year's Thai League Cup Final disappointment by this time beating Thai Port. In doing so, Buriram PEA became the first club to win the Thai Domestic Treble.
2012 : For the start of the 2012 Season, the club was renamed Buriram United FC. The name it carries today. It also saw the club enter the AFC Champions League at the Group Stage. As it had done domestically, the club was to repeat internationally and create history. By beating J-League Champions Kashiwa Reysol 3-2 in the opening group match, Buriram Utd became the first Thai and South East Asian club to defeat a J-League club since the beginning of the AFC Champions League system in 2003. There was more history to be made when in Match Number 2, Buriram went to Chinese side Guangzhou Evergrande and earned a 2-1 away victory. Again becoming the first Thai and South East Asian club to complete this task. Ultimately though, the club were to finish 4th in their group. The 2012 Domestic Season saw the club win both the FA Cup and the League Cup.
The 2013 and 2015 Seasons saw Buriram sweep away all that came before them winning 4 trophies in one calendar year. 2013 - under the stewardship of Spanish Coach Alejandro Menéndez, the club were to become the first Thai club to win the Kor Royal Cup, Thai Premier League, the FA Cup and completing the set the Thai League Cup in one calendar year. In 2015 it was the turn of Brazilian Coach Alexandre Gama to guide the club to win all four trophies in a calendar year.
2016 : The trophies keep coming with Buriram winning the League Cup, Kor Cup and the Mekong Cup. However, failure to retain the League Trophy saw Coach Afshin Ghotbi lose his job.
2017 : Buriram Utd regained the Thai Premier League Title. A feat that was to be repeated in 2018.
2018 : After beating Cerezo Osaka 2-0, Jeju United 1-0 and drawing with Chinese side Guangzhou Evergrande 1-1, the club made the Round of 16 in the 2018 AFC Champions League only to go out 3-4 on aggregate to Korean side Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (winning 3-2 at home but losing 0-2 away).
2019 : Buriram Utd were moments away from retaining the Thai Premier League Title but a goal in the 86th minute meant that they had to settle for second place on goal difference and an appointment with Ho Chi Minh City in the 2020 AFC Champions League Qualifier. The club did however win the Kor Cup.
How to Get to the SVĐ Chang Arena
The distance between HCM and Buriram, Thailand is 735 km. You will need to travel through Cambodia if travelling by land making the journey a long, but interesting one in terms of road transport.
Plane - BE CAREFUL - There are no direct flights from HCM to Buriram and Bangkok has two international airports. When you book your flight, ensure that you are flying into and out of the same airport. Otherwise you might not have left yourself enough time to self transfer from your international flight to your domestic one. The distance between Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) and Don Muang Airport (DMK) is 29.5 miles (47.5 km). The free shuttle that runs to and from BKK and DMK has a transfer time of anywhere from 50 minutes to two hours depending on time of day and traffic. Prices to Buriram will vary between airlines and when you book. Currently you can buy a return flight for approximately đ5.5 million.
Train - Not surprisingly, there are no direct trains between HCM and Buriram. To travel by train you must first catch a bus (or take a plane) to Phnom Penh Cambodia. Trains from Phnom Penh only go as far as Poipet and take almost 11 hours. Then you will need to travel by road. This route is so convoluted and long that unless you have time to kill and like the challenge this route should be avoided.
Bus - As with the train, there are no direct buses between HCM and Buriram. You will again need to go into Cambodia and change buses. The best route would be HCM - Phnom Penh Khai Nam Bus Station (6 hours). Catch a local bus from Leang Heng Bookshop to Kuntha Bopha Children's Hospital (approx 14 minutes). Phnom Penh Virak Buntham Express to Poipet Virak Buntham Express (7 hours 30 minutes). Take a car/taxi to Aranyaprathet. From there you can catch a bus to Buriram which should take approximately 3.5 hours.
Supporters Club - Due to the historical nature of the game. It is highly likely that the Supporters Club will be running a bus to this venue. Any details can be found on their facebook page by following this link. Details will also be posted here when (if) available.