Gama returns as Buriram bid to bring back glory days

Alexandre Gama is returning as head coach of Buriram United, four-and-a-half years after the end of his first spell at the club.

The Brazilian arrives back in the northeast following stints with Chiangrai United, the Thailand U23 side and mostly recently Muang Thong United. He quit as Muang Thong boss last weekend, having already indicated that he would not be extending his stay at the club beyond the end of the year.

In a very ironic twist, for the second time, Gama takes over from Bozidar Bandovic as 2014 history repeats itself. Bandovic resigned on Monday after just over three years in the job.

Six years ago, Bandovic was technical director at Buriram and was called on to steady the ship after the departure of head coach Alejandro Menéndez. Despite doing a fine job in the short spell he had, Buriram turned to Gama, who led them to the title in that year and then to the domestic treble in 2015.

Gama was in charge at Buriram for a two-year spell between 2014 and 2016, the first 18 months of which were hugely successful. However, the club suffered a dramatic drop in performance in early 2016, leading to Gama’s departure despite the club having dominated Thai football the previous year and having also impressed in the AFC Champions League.

For those that believe ‘Never Go Back’ is a rule to live by, this is set to be an interesting test of such wisdom. Gama may have been incredibly successful in 2015 but he had the likes of Diogo Luis Santo, Gilberto Macena, Go Seul-ki and Andres Tunez in peak form, while Theerathon Bunmathan, Jakkaphan Kaewprom and Suchao Nuchnum were among the best Thai players in the league.

Many people consider Buriram’s 2015 vintage as the finest team in the club’s short history. When he takes the 2020 side to Trat this weekend, he will be in charge of a team that is low on confidence and struggling to score goals.

Buriram have scored just three times in four matches since T1 restarted last month and new striker Marko Scepovic still looks to be struggling for match fitness. Supachai Jaided remains out of sorts and the midfield has lacked coherence and creativity.

Gama will have to raise morale for what could be a very difficult match against a Trat side that has bounced back from seven straight losses with consecutive wins, including a victory over Gama’s Muang Thong last Saturday.

Paul Murphy

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