In its inaugural AFC Champions League campaign, Melbourne City FC will fight it out with Thailand’s BG Pathum United, South Korea’s Jeonnam Dragons and the Phillippines’ United City FC for top spot in Group G.
In the first of this series of opposition overviews, you’ll get to know all about BG Pathum United, who put together the most dominant campaign in Thai football history upon their first season back in the top flight.
Traditionally scrapping it out for footballing superiority in Thailand’s capital city, Bangkok, BG Pathum United had garnered a reputation as an ambitious club with leading infrastructure that had been plagued by underperformance from their establishment in 2006 until their inaugural top-flight title in 2021/22.
Since moving north of the capital to the Pathum Thani Province, the club has seen its name changed from Bangkok Glass, honouring its management group of the same name, to BG Pathum United in order to recognise elements of both its geographic heritage and future.
With the club desperate for success, a fortune teller was allegedly sought in 2018 to provide direction on how the club should go about achieving it. The story goes that BG’s traditional green-and-white strip was changed to blue in the aftermath of the consultation. By the end of the season, they’d been relegated to T2, although it was under unlucky circustances.
In 2018/19, a season in which the Thai League 1 (T1) executed a planned downsizing of the number of teams competing from 18 to 16, ‘BG’ drew the incredibly short straw as one of the additional clubs to be relegated – in their case, solely on their head-to-head record against a fellow relegation battler, despite their goal difference being the best outside of the top six teams.
BG cruised to a T1 return in 2019/20 by comfortably winning the Thai League 2 (T2), with ambitions of doing far more than just surviving in their first campaign back in the top flight. Accordingly, the club won its inaugural first division league title with six rounds still to be played – the fastest title win in Thai football history.
In their inaugural title-winning campaign, BG scored 67% of their goals from set-pieces. Central defenders Andres Tunez and Victor Cardozo combined for 21 goals over the course of the season, with the latter winning the club’s top scorer award with 15 goals.
Curiously, title-winning manager Dusit Chalermsan was replaced before the 2021/22 season by a familiar Australian name; Aurelio Vidmar. The former Socceroo, in his second stint at the club, took charge of BG’s 2021 Champions League campaign in which the Thai Champions made quite the splash, winning four out of their six group games, losing only to Ulsan Hyundai and then on penalties to Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in the Round of 16.
However, the discontinuation of BG’s unique, title-winning formula (elite defence, but a set-piece reliant offence) due to the replacement of Chalermsan by Vidmar put the Aussie under immediate pressure to perform. The team has again been better defensively than offensively, but neither facet has been as strong as in 2020/21, with Vidmar’s eventual 65% win rate not enough to spare him from a November 2021 sacking.
With Makoto Teguramori now taking the reins, it was a slow start to 2021/22 season for the “Rabbits”, but their fortunes now seem to have turned.
They currently sit second on the table and are on 11 match undefeated streak with two league matches to come before it faces City on Wednesday 15 April. 34-year-old Brazillian striker Diogo has been the club’s top scorer netting 10 times from 14 appearances.