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Big in Thailand: Japan soccer catches on in Southeast Asia

The J-League has a head start in mining a region expected to be a 'vein of gold'

Theerathon Bunmathan of the Yokohama F. Marinos is one of five Thai footballers plying their trade in Japan and helping the J-League grow its popularity in their home country.   © Kyodo

TOKYO -- The J-League, Japan's pro soccer circuit, had a big weekend -- in Thailand.

On Saturday, Thais were particularly interested in a game between the J-League's Shimizu S-Pulse and Consadole Sapporo. The game pitted two Thai stars against each other, Shimizu's Teerasil Dangda and Sapporo's Chanathip Songkrasin. Chanathip, 26, is a national hero back home, and Teerasil, 32, is a member of the Thai national team.

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