Students pass first test (Bangkok University 0:0 Chunnam Dragons (Mar 7, 2007)

BANGKOK – Thai league champions Bangkok University more than held their own on their first ever appearance on the continental stage in a goalless draw against Chunnam Dragons of Korea in the AFC Champions League Group F opener on Wednesday.

With Thailand having lost a place in Asia’s premier club competition to accommodate one of Australia’s two representatives, Bangkok University are the Kingdom’s only hope of having a side in the AFC Champions League knockout stage for only the second time after BEC Tero Sasana, finalists in the inaugural tournament in 2003.

While both teams were making their debuts in the competition, Korean FA Cup holders Chunnam were expected to return with all three points against a youthful Bangkok University side devoid of any senior international players.

However, the Thai champions were out to show they were not taking part just to make up the numbers and took the game to the Koreans with midfielder Kittisak Siriwaen attempting an audacious long range effort with just 60 seconds on the clock.

The visitors struggled to get into gear but had the best chances of an evenly-fought first half, the first coming in the 23rd minute when Weera Koedpudsa had to scramble to prevent Sandro pouncing after the Bangkok University keeper had spilled Kim Tae-su’s header.

Four minutes later Weera denied Chunnam with a double save, first from a curling Sandro Cardoso shot and then from a Kim header.

Weera perhaps should have caught the second attempt as his theatrical push was almost met at the far post by the diving Sandro, who is known in Korea as Sandro Hiroshi on account of his Japanese grandfather.

The Dragons’ period of dominance failed to dampen the home side’s gusto and they had the last chance of a goalless first half when Japanese midfielder Masahiro Fukasawa flashed a low drive wide from just outside the area after Kittisak’s free-kick had cannoned back off the Chunnam wall.

The home side squandered a glorious chance to take the lead five minutes after the restart when Suriya Domtaisong sprang the offside trap and charged towards the Chunnam goal with only Yeom Dong-gyun to beat.

However, the Thai forward’s powerfully hit shot was parried clear by Yeom and while it fell fortuitously into the path of Fukasawa, he blazed ball wildly over the bar when a bit of composure would have put his side in the lead.

Chunnam were struggling with the pace of the Thais but almost took the lead from a set piece when Kim Jin-kyu drew a fine save from the impressive Weera after Kim Chi-woo had back-heeled a free-kick into the path of his Korea Republic international team-mate.

With five minutes left to play, another Chunnam free-kick caused panic in the University defence when the two Kims combined at a retaken free-kick, with Jin-kyu’s shot deflected out from a corner by substitute Noppohon Phon-udom.

From the resultant flag kick Weera blocked an effort from Baek Seung-min before Chi-woo tried to snatch a late winner with a scuffed long range free-kick from Kim Jin-kyu but the underdogs survived the late onslaught to earn a thoroughly deserved point.