Historically one of Thailand’s more successful clubs, BEC Tero (as they were once known) were a formidable force at the turn of the century. The Fire Dragons won 2 league titles, 2 domestic cups, and became the one and only Thai side to reach the finals of the AFC Champions League back in 2003. More recently, the side produced many of Thailand’s current national team stars, including Chanathip Songkrasin and Tanaboon Kesarat among others.
Contemporary history, however, has been less kind to the side. They are no longer the giants they once were due to financial troubles, but their merger with Police United (hence the name) in 2018 has kept them afloat and fairly stable. The side bounced back well after their relegation in 2019, and currently have an interesting blend of youth and experience in their ranks.
Head coach – Rangsan Vivatchaichok
Former Thai national team star Rangsan Vivatchaichok played over 100 games for Tero between 2012 and 2016, and joined the club’s coaching staff directly after his retirement in 2017. He was given the managerial job on a temporary basis, before being replaced by Totchtawan Sripan towards the business end of the 2018 season.
Rangsan was called back in to save the side after a poor run of results, but the club legend couldn’t stop the Fire Dragons’ relegation into T2. With a blank slate to work worth in the second division, Rangsan rebuilt the side and earned promotion right back into the top flight.
Now starting his fourth campaign as head coach, Rangsan might be facing the biggest challenge of his coaching career thus far. Last season’s attempts to play possession-based football with young players quickly gave way to a more functional approach with recently acquired experienced heads when results took a hit. The Fire Dragons were able to survive in T1, but their lack of a consistent direction means more work will have to be done this year to keep progressing the team forward in what will likely be an even tougher relegation battle this time around.
Key Player – Isaac Honey
A leader at the heart of Tero’s defence, Ghanian defender Isaac Honey came through the side’s ranks and is now their go-to player at the back. Like some of the side’s younger players, he was trusted by Rangsan when the Fire Dragons dropped into the second tier, and he rewarded the manager’s faith with impressive performances over the last two campaigns. His physical presence and defensive acumen make him a crucial player for the side, and he even became captain during the second half of last season.
Key Player – Teeratep Winothai
After arriving on loan from Chonburi midway last season, Teeratep looked more like a Hollywood or nostalgia signing than a pragmatic purchase. However, the charismatic attacker proved to be a crucial player for the Fire Dragons in the second leg, making some decisive contributions to get the side over the line. Now 36 years old, he has extended his stay with the Bangkok-based club for another season and will be hoping to make a similar impact once again.
Rising Star – Kanokpon Buspakom
Despite being just 20 last season, Kanokpon Buspakom was one of Tero’s most important players. He played every minute of the first leg last season, and his ability on the ball was key for the side when they were looking to base their game around possession. His game time declined during the second half of the campaign due to fatigue, and the side’s new route-one approach didn’t play to his strengths as a central midfielder. However, his talent and ability will make him a standout performer nonetheless, and it will be interesting to see how his game evolves this season.
Reason to follow
The side’s history and location in central Bangkok have earned them plenty of support over the years. Whether under their current ownership or in their former guise of BEC Tero, the Fire Dragons are mainstays of the Thai League and have produced impressive players and teams over the years.