Pattaya United will exchange professional and youth players with South Korea’s Busan I’Park as part of a cultural exchange between the two football clubs.
At a ceremony before the Pattaya-Busan friendly match at Nongprue Municipal Stadium Feb. 2, Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome and former I’Park Chairman Ahn Byeong-Mo signed an agreement for the four-time Korean League champs to help the Pattaya club with training up-and-coming players. The pact also allows each club to share training facilities.
In the match, I’Park drew with Pattaya United 2-2 in an entertaining contest. The visitors were coming off the back of a successful outing in the recent Chang Chonburi Invitation tournament and they took the lead midway through the first half when midfielder Lee Jong-Won capitalized on a mistake in the United defence to fire the ball into the back of the Dolphins’ net.
Pattaya United in action against I’Park at the Nongprue Stadium in Pattaya, Saturday, Feb. 2. (Photo courtesy Pattaya United).
United are still in the midst of pre-season training and it took them a while to shake off the ring rust, but they started to come alive as the game wore on and they carved out several scoring opportunities in the lead up to half time.
After the break, United wasted no time in drawing level as Russian forward Rod Dyachenko prodded the ball home from the edge of the Busan penalty area. The Dolphins continued to press and were rewarded with a second goal as Wasan Thanapat scored with a spectacular effort from 20 meters that left the Korean goalkeeper helpless.
United visibly tired towards the end and I’Park scrambled an equalizer when the home team were unable to clear their lines following a hopeful ball into the penalty area and Kim Ik-Hyun bundled the ball into the net.
Pattaya United President Ittipol Kunplome said that the proceeds from this match would be distributed to local charity foundations. Ittipol also commented on the link up with I’Park, saying the agreement would prove invaluable for the Dolphins as I’Park, owned by giant conglomerate Hyundai, has deep resources and experience in training football players.
The new Thai Premier League season gets underway on Saturday, March 2 and United face a difficult opening fixture with an away trip to Samut Songkhram FC.