Buriram United captain Suchao Nutnum has dismissed suggestions his side carry extra pressure as the only Thai side remaining in the competition.
Fellow Thai Premier League sides Chonburi and Bangkok Glass were both eliminated in the final qualifying round, leaving last year’s Thai Premier League champions as the only representative from the South East Asian nation.
“Of course we are only one of the club that represent Thailand,” the 31-year-old told Football Channel Asia. “I don’t think that there will be extra pressure, because Buriram United always play in AFC Champions League.”
The two-time defending Thai Premier League champions went on a fairytale run in the 2013 ACL, knocking out Uzbekistan titans Bunyodkor in the Round of 16 before being eliminated by Iranian side Esteghlal 3-1 on aggregate in the quarterfinal.
The Kanchanaburi-born midfielder is confident the 2015 Buriram United side can achieve the same feat.
“Of course I’m confident that we will make it [to the quarter finals] again,” he said. “But it all comes down to performance in the competition. Firstly we have to qualify to the round of 16, and then we will see what will happen next.”
Suchao also rejected the theory that teams must prioritise between either their Asian or domestic campaigns, but not both, given the extensive travel and strain on players.
“The local trophy and AFC champion league trophy are important to the team,” he elaborated. “We will focus on both competition, because we nearly made it in 2013 when we won all local trophies except AFC trophy.”
He also refused to be drawn on which of his team mates will have a breakthrough season, maintaining a team-first mentality.
“Every single players here will have a big year,” the former Persib Bandung man said. “We play as a team and we always help one anther on the pitch.”
Buriram have been drawn in the ACL’s Group F alongside Japan’s Gamba Osaka, South Korea’s Seongnam FC and China’s Guangzhou R&F. They open their 2015 ACL campaign at home on Tuesday night against Seongnam FC.