Mario aims to take Muang Thong back where they belong following debut win

Muang Thong United head coach Mario Gjurovski wants his team to be more dominant as he attempts to take the club back where he feels it belongs in the Thai League. 

The Kirins’ legendary playmaker took over from Alexandre Gama last week and watched his players fight hard to come away with a 3-1 victory at Police Tero on Sunday.

Adisak Srikampang had levelled Wiliam Popp’s penalty before stunning strikes from Picha Autra and Popp earned Muang Thong the three points – a result that still leaves them down in 10th place in T1.

Now Gjurovski is determined to recreate the winning mentality that the team had when he served them with distinction from 2012 to 2015.

“When I say ‘we are Muang Thong United’, that is not a story only for the players and for the fans,” he said. “This is the truth. I played here and I know when you don’t win a game, everyone is angry. We need to play with this attitude again.

“I don’t want to say that we will win all the games because it’s not easy. But we need to try to dominate games and to keep this intensity. 

“Today, in the end, I think we had five great opportunities that we couldn’t finish, but we could also have conceded more goals. Overall, I must be happy with the performance.

“One important detail from today’s game was that in the last minutes, we were leading 3-1 and Derley was running back, Popp was running back, Saharat was running back. They gave everything.”

Next weekend, Muang Thong travel to face old rivals Buriram United, who sit one place below the Kirins in T1.

Gjurovski was more familiar with the two clubs going head-to-head in top-of-the table clashes in his playing days and is looking forward to renewing the rivalry.

“The goal is to win the game,” he said. “I respect Buriram but, of course, I am a Muang Thong guy. I played in the most exciting games in Thailand against Buriram.

“This is the chance for the players to show they are united when there is real pressure on them. I believe in this group. I believe in every single player. They have an average age of around 25-26 and a lot of players are from the academy.

“I just promise I will give everything I need to wake them up, to give good advice, to help them every single day and try to win the games and bring Muang Thong back where they belong.”

Buriram are now managed by Gama, who made the move back to the northeast following his resignation from Muang Thong. Gjurovski knows Gama well but insists he could never make the switch from the Kirins to their rivals.

“I have a great relationship with Gama,” said Gjurovski. “He is the most successful coach in Thailand. But now he is at Buriram, so we don’t think too much about him. 

“About this move, I wish him all the best. But I just want to say that in my country it’s impossible. We have for example, Partizan and Red Star Belgrade – it’s impossible to move to the other team. But this is Thailand and we need to accept this.

“But I can tell you only one thing, you will never see Mario at Buriram. I cannot imagine that because this (Muang Thong United) is my club.”

Meanwhile, Popp was relieved to get off the mark for the Kirins, having sometimes struggled to make an impression since joining the club at the start of the year.

“I’m very happy to score because I have trained so hard for this,” Popp told ThaiLeagueCentral. “It has been a long time since I scored and I needed this because I’m an attacking player. But I’m very happy now because, first, we won and, second, I scored.

Popp added that Gjurovski had created a positive atmosphere in training last week and feels the results could be seen on the pitch.

“He gave confidence to the players,” said Popp. “He told us to enjoy the game and the group has been very happy this week, which is very important.”

Paul Murphy

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