Teerasil eyes final ACL hurrah before leaving for Japan

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Teerasil Dangda has set his sights on firing Muangthong United to AFC Champions League qualification as a farewell gift before moving to Sanfrecce Hiroshima.

Teerasil and Muangthong got 2018 off to a flier on Saturday by beating Sanna Khanh Hoa 4-0 to win the Toyota Mekong Club Championship 2017 with a 7-1 aggregate victory.

Just last month, the Thailand striker agreed to a one-year loan to Sanfrecce, where he will join compatriot Chanathip Songraksin in playing in the J1 League.

In 2017, Chanathip stayed with the Twin Qilins even after confirming his move to Consadole Sapporo and helped them reach the knockout round of the AFC Champions League, before finally leaving for Japan in July.

Although it does not appear that it will be the same with Teerasil, he is still looking to at least get them over the first couple of hurdles before the J1 League gets underway.

“I’m preparing to leave for Japan in February but, for now, I’m focused on helping Muangthong qualify for the group stage of the AFC Champions League,” said the 29-year-old.

“First, we have to get past [Johor Darul Ta’zim in] the second preliminary round and then we have a final playoff.

“I’m glad to have won the Toyota Mekong Club Championship and it’s a good sign to start 2018 with, even though we didn’t play that well.

“For the upcoming Champions League qualifiers, we will have to work hard to play according to the coach’s [Totchtawan Sripan] formations, but will will have more time to get ready for these games.”

Totchtawan has just over two weeks to prepare for the game against JDT and, should they emerge victorious, Japan’s Kashiwa Reysol lie in wait as their final hurdle to overcome.

And, while Saturday’s 4-0 win over Sanna Khanh Hoa was only their second outing in pre-season, there were plenty of positives for the Muangthong coach.

“I’m happy because it’s the first clean sheet of the season, we have brought happiness to our supporters and, overall, it’s a good start for the New Year,” explained Totchtawan.

“Considering it’s just the start of our pre-season preparations, there is a lot we can improve on.

“For now, I just want to focus on our opponents in the second preliminary round of ACL qualifiying and, after that, we’ll see where we are and take it from there.”