Apart from the success, Bandovic will also be remembered for spearheading Buriram’s movement towards youth development. The likes of Supachok Sarachart, Rattanakorn Maikami, Supachai Jaided and Suphanat Mueanta have all earned crucial minutes under the Montenegrin coach, with some excelling even on the international stage.
“We talked with the president and decided that we will try and promote young players and work with them,” Bandovic explained. “This is not a short-term plan, it is for the long term.”
In recent seasons, the club’s internal production line has replaced their need to recruit local talent from other teams, in a move that has all but ended their desire to sign big-name local stars. “I think promoting young players is important at this moment, and at any moment,” Bandovic explains. “I believe you don’t have to buy the player, you can build the player.”
Buriram famously promoted Suphanat Mueanta into the first team at just 15 years of age, but Bandovic insists that they are not rushing things. He believed the club are taking a considered approach with the talents that come through their ranks.
“First of all, when we did start, these boys didn’t come immediately in the first team,” he noted, “We made this plan for them; they were training with us, and we were preparing them for the next year. At this moment, we are doing the same thing.
“With these young boys, for some of it depends on their level, it depends on the game and the importance of the game,” he replied, when asked which youngsters we can expect to see make their debuts this season. “We need to think about the moment step by step.”
Foreign Player Recruitment
Buriram are going through a major transitional period in terms of their foreign stars. The side lost the bedrock of superstar Diogo Luis Santo and captain Andres Tunez, and have struggled to replace them. Very few of the Thunder Castle’s recent foreign recruits have lasted for an entire campaign. Buriram even refreshed their entire quota during the COVID-19 break, bringing in Serbian striker Marko Scepovic, Croatian defender Renato Kelic, and Uzbek and Israeli midfielders Akbar Ismatullaev and Gidi Kanyuk.
“Individually they are strong, they played in good teams, and tactically they are at a good level,” Bandovic explained, “I believe they can help the team.
“They have trained with the team and already played in friendly games. They are at different levels of physical condition, but they will be ready.”
Their signings also represent a significant departure from the regular markets which Buriram explore, having previously recruited heavily from South America. This may also be to do with how the new September-to-May schedule dovetails with the European calendar. But Bandovic insists that they have simply recruited the best players available.
“We looked at the market and we looked at many players, and we liked what we saw in these players, which is why we chose them,” Bandovic explained. “Even in this moment, we looked at all the possible countries, and we looked at the type of football we want to play, and we chose these players.”