Domestic Leagues

Ampaipitakwong: Title-chasing Bangkok United hungry for success


Bangkok: Anthony Ampaipitakwong has insisted Thai League 1 pacesetters Bangkok United have much more to give as the capital city side target a first top-flight title since 2006.

It’s been more than six months since Bangkok United opened their campaign with four straight wins to top the standings before Thailand’s domestic championship was brought to an abrupt halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, as the capital city side prepare to resume competitive action with a top-of-the-table clash against Ratchaburi Mitr Phol on Saturday, their captain is happy to admit that they already have their eyes on the prize.

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“To become champions is always our main goal and our preparation is what we believe will guide us to success, but we must never become too comfortable and always look to improve,” Ampaipitakwong told the-AFC.com.

“We are very excited to get the season started again; we have been preparing for six months for this game. It has been a very difficult year for everyone around the world and we as football players are aware of how the pandemic has affected peoples’ lives.

“With that said we still miss the game, and the competition. We are very grateful and excited to be able to have our sport back up and running again, and to give back to the fans that have been waiting for football to return.”

Bangkok were part of a dramatic four-team title race in the 2019 season but fell away in the final few weeks and ultimately finished fourth as Chiangrai United won the league for the first time.

While it was not the finish they would have hoped for, the campaign marked a fourth straight season in the top four as the steady progress under long-serving head coach Alexandre Polking continued.

With Bangkok only making one major signing in the off-season – Brazilian forward Brenner – it was a largely settled side that began the 2020 (now 2020-21) campaign in stunning fashion, with four wins on the bounce including a 4-1 victory over the defending champions.

“Every season comes with its challenges and trials; for any club to be champions at the end, you must have a lot of things go right your way,” noted the midfielder.

“A healthy squad is very important, good chemistry from top to bottom of the organisation and a little luck. We as a team have found ways to improve and we are doing all the right things in our preparation leading up to the upcoming season, so we just hope it’s our year this time around.

“We are very proud of our start, but we also know it’s only four games. There are still many games to go and points to win. We are not worried about any other team but ours and that focus will be put into each game one at a time.”

Born in Texas to a Thai father and American mother, Ampaipitakwong began his professional career Stateside and appeared for San Jose Earthquakes in Major League Soccer before moving to Thailand just over eight years ago to join Buriram United.

Success came almost immediately as the midfielder won both the FA Cup and League Cup with the northeastern side, but after a season in Buriram he was on the move to the bright lights of Bangkok to join his current team.

Now in his eighth season with the capital city club, the 32-year-old has been a key figure in a side that has progressed from also-rans into one that is challenging for the top honour as well as eyeing a first AFC Champions League appearance.

“I’ve been honoured to watch this club grow from my arrival in 2013 and the crazy thing is we have more to grow,” insisted Ampaipitakwong.

“I’m not getting comfortable with where we are, we want more, much more, and our hunger is what’s driving us to keep improving.

“We definitely acknowledge how important making the AFC Champions League would be for our club. It’s nice to know we have the opportunity to do it but, again, our focus is on each game. And in the end if we succeed in the Thai League, it would be an honour to move to the next step.”

While Ampaipitakwong’s immediate focus remains on the Thai League 1 title, he admits he has not given up hope of adding to the two caps he won for Thailand back in his early days in Southeast Asia.

“It was an honour to get some caps with the national team in the past and I’m grateful for that; if they believe they need me in the future I am ready,” he added.

“But if not I will always support them and wish them success. I believe the national team is going in the right direction and will continue to grow with the quality of young players coming up.”

Photos: Bangkok United, Buriram United

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