Fixtures are coming thick and fast for Thai League clubs, who have endured a frantic restart to the domestic season after the Asian Games break.
The league’s decision to downsize to 16 teams has been met with dissent in some quarters, as it means that no less than five teams from T1 will be dropping into the second division. Amid these tough odds, the struggle for survival has been more intense than ever before.
Air Force Central FC had their relegation confirmed last weekend after a 2-1 defeat away at Chonburi, while Pattaya United and Nakhon Ratchasima made huge steps towards survival in recent weeks. With 45 points being touted as a likely benchmark for guaranteed survival under this new system, every team from seventh downwards can consider themselves as a part of this dramatic end of season scramble.
The matchday’s most important encounter is likely to be the relegation “six-pointer” between Chainat Hornbill and Bangkok Glass. The two sides hover just above the drop zone and are separated by a mere two points. The newly-promoted side pulled off a highly unlikely 5-2 victory in the reverse fixture earlier in the season, and a similar result would go a long way towards their push for survival.
A dire run from Ratchaburi in recent weeks, consisting of three consecutive losses, has seen them drop to the relegation discussion as well. A loss tonight at the behest of third-placed Muangthong United, along with other unfavourable results, could see them fall into the drop zone.
Ubon UMT could see their relegation also confirmed by the weekend, as they face a tough trip to in-form second-placed Bangkok United, who continue to cling on to their fading hopes of a title charge. Leaders Buriram host Sukhothai, needing only a few more wins to secure the title.