Southeast Asia Thailand

Muangthong Welcome Sukhothai while Port and Buriram Battle Continues

Obb Deewajin

Football Tribe Thailand


After a decent performance during the weekend, Yoon Jong-hwan’s Muangthong United welcome 10th place Sukhothai FC before the Thai League’s international break. The Kirin may have deserved at least a point from Buriram United, but they must not lose focus on the job at hand – 3 points could potentially pull them out of the drop zone. Heading into the break on a positive note is vital for their long term relegation fight and anything less than a win may cause a drop in squad morale.

This season, head coach Ljubomir Ristovski has transformed Sukhothai FC into one of the toughest T1 teams to beat, as the Fire Bats have lost only one game so far. However, the added pragmatism has lowered the Firebats’s attacking prowess quite significantly, as evidenced by their results of 8 draws from 11 games.

The side’s transfer market moves reflect this change in emphasis. Pacy Njiva Rakotoharimalala was replaced by the hardworking Iain Ramsay. The absence of creative central midfielders such as Baworn Tapla and Sansern Limwattana is another huge miss. Targetman Petar Orlandic is also the complete opposite type of player to Nelson Bonilla, who the club sold to Bangkok United, so there’s not much of a surprise when he has failed to work with John Baggio and match his predecessor’s goal tally.

Speaking of Baggio, he’ll be Sukhothai’s only real threat with pace as they look to sit back and strike on the counter. His team may have lost 4-3 the last time they visit the SCG Stadium but, individually, the Madagascan was unplayable on the night, beating opponents with tricks and skillful turns. Coach Yoon has struggled to integrate the club’s full-backs into his system, leaving a space that Baggio can look to exploit. Keeping this little magician quiet is a tough job for any T1 defender but if Muangthong could pull it off then a win is not that far from reach.

Elsewhere, Buriram United travel to Chainat Hornbill, who’ve lost all of their last four league fixtures. Narubadin Weerawatnodom and Korrakot Wiriyaudomsiri have been turning in outstanding performances down both flanks in recent weeks. Their stamina to sprint up and down all night could play a big role in Buriram’s attempt to escape Chainat’s high pressing tactics.

All of Chainat’s home win this season has come against bigger clubs such as Muangthong United and Bangkok United but realistically, the Thunder Castle should be strong enough to zap the big bird into further misery.

Similar to Buriram United, Port FC is preparing for an easier home tie against Chiangmai FC after a hard-fought draw with the Swatcat on Saturday. Two points were robbed from the Lions due to a late controversial penalty so they’ll be yearning for all three back at the PAT Stadium, where they are undefeated this season, especially with Buriram breathing down their neck.  

Jadet Meelarp’s side are on a 7 matches unbeaten run and scoring for fun thanks to the form of left winger Bodin Phala, who is perhaps the best Thai player in T1 this minute. The absence of Sergio Suarez allowed for the inclusion of right winger Pakorn Prempak and for Sumanya Purisai to move inside into his natural position. 

Last but not least is the battle amongst the 3rd to 8th place teams that all face each other tonight, meaning there could be many changes on the table once the dust has settled.

Bangkok United head north to challenge a weakened Chiangrai United side who have been unable to fill their substitute bench. Fifth place Samut Prakan City welcomes sixth place Nakhon Ratchasima FC while high-flyer Trat FC visit last season’s equivalent PT Prachuap FC.

Midweek football can often be seen as too much of a hassle for some fans but matchday 13 is shaping into an eventful occasion.