Football Tribe Thailand
Port FC held the advantage of playing before the other table toppers when they visit the ever inconsistent Ratchaburi FC Saturday. Jadet Meelarp’s Lions were on a run of 3 straight defeats and in desperate need of a win in order to sustain their title hope.
To do so, the experienced coach swap right-winger Pakorn Prempak for Nurul Sriyankem, a quicker option with better one-on-one ability. Targetman Josimar was dropped after one game with the skillful Sergio Suárez now leading the line and 2019 marquee signing Sumanya Purisai slotting in the number 10 position. Left-back Punphanpong Pinkong replaced Kevin Deeromram, who injured himself last time out. Goalkeeper Rattanai Songsangchan returns for his second T1 start and Thai international Tanaboon Kesarat made his debut alongside Go Seul-Ki as the double-pivot.
Unfortunately, it was another toothless performance from the Klongtoei side, only earning a dull 1-1 draw at the Mitr Phol Stadium. Sergio Suárez offered pace in behind the home side compact defense whose plan is to limit Port’s playing area by setting up their defensive line in the middle third of the field. Yet, the visiting midfielders were consistently too slow in releasing through balls and were thus unable to capitalize on what Sergio Suárez has to offer tactically. But when they did, the Spaniard won the team a penalty which was converted by captain David Rochela.
Ratchaburi FC pegged one back via star-striker Yannick Boli’s 65th-minute goal from a corner, redeeming himself from a penalty miss moments earlier. Port FC, needing a win, shifted to a more offensive approach but just can’t find a chink in the Dragon’s armor. Even bringing a gifted passer such as Pakorn on didn’t help the side connect with Suárez. And with their sole striker cut-off, Port shape at times resembles a static “4-5-0.” Ironically, that’s also how the official Thai League line-up sheet labeled them, listing Suárez as a midfielder (MF) and having no strikers on the pitch.
On Sunday, Chiangrai United only managed a home draw with Nakhon Ratchasima FC. The trailblazing William Henrique skipped past two defenders like thin air before squaring it to Sivakorn Tiatrakul for a simple tap-in. Unable to extend their lead, the Swatcat equalized when a deep long ball found Bernard Henry’s bursting run. The striker then laid it right for debutant Mark Hartmann to score.
At another early Sunday kick off, Samut Prakan City hit the Chonburi Sharks with a 93rd-minute winner, courtesy of a lightning-quick counter-attacking move finished by Chayawat Srinawong. Chonburi FC head coach, Sasom Probprasert, was quite displeased with his team performances, highlighting in his post-match interview how much they missed topscorer Lukian in attack and that “this is not the time for pretty football but results alone.”
Later that night, league leaders Buriram United face off against Suphanburi FC, who were second from last, in what was expected to be a walk-over by the Chang Arena. Sadly for the Thunder Castle, since his appointment, head coach Adebayo Gbadebo has restored Suphanburi FC’s defensive structure. He has also brought in some new faces at the back to freshen things up, including Chutipol Thongtae from Ratchaburi, who supplied that creative energy in the heart of midfield they greatly need.
Suphanburi FC was happy to absorb pressure and hit back on the break. Chutipol and striker Jonatan Reis forced a save from Siwarak Tedsungnoen in the first half. New defender Michael Siroshtein also rattled the bar with his volley in the 52nd minute.
The home side’s closest opportunity came when Rasmus Jonsson got on the end of Nacer Barazite’s in-swinging cross but the Swedish striker’s attempt whisked past the far post. Both side then created a few more half chances each but were unable to make them count and the game finished 0-0; a massive triumph for the relegation struggler.
However, the biggest and possibly most consequential result of the weekend must be the blockbuster clash between Muangthong United and Bangkok United at the SCG Stadium.
In terms of personnel, all of Muangthong’s new signings – Striker Derley, defensive midfielder Bruno Gallo and left-back Daisuke Sato – started from the get-go. In the other corner, Nelson Bonilla returns from the CONCACAF Gold Cup to spearhead the Angels attack while Mika Chunuonsee is handed his first T1 start in four months in place of the injured Tristan Do.
Both teams headed into the game with a cautious approach. Mano Polking men had slightly more possession but found it hard to break through Alexandre Gama’s organization. The visitors were prevented from throwing everything forward, as they were forced to consider the pace of Heberty, Derley and Teerasil Dangda in the Kirin’s attack.
To the joy on neutral fans everywhere, Bangkok broke the deadlock when Pokklaw Anan blasted in a hard low shot from the edge of the area. In spite of that, a clumsy attempt to clear the ball from centreback Everton presented Bruno Gallo with an opportunity at the edge of the box, which he didn’t miss to make it 1-1 after 42 minutes.
In the second half, talisman Bonilla put Bangkok ahead once again with a fantastic solo effort, as he skipped past 2 Muangthong defenders and fired a shot past Dang Van Lam at the near post. A moment later Muangthong equalized for the 2nd time at evening when Charyl Chappuis’s shot rebounded onto the path of Teerasil who rifled one in with precision.
The home team almost went ahead when Heberty’s freekick ricochet off the post and Adisak Kraisorn’s diving header was tipped away by Michael Falkesgaard. Luckily, they would go on to win it in style thanks to Heberty’s long-range screamer in the 91st minute.
This victory meant Muangthong United will spend another week outside of the relegation zone, one point above 14th placed Chainat but only three behind 6th place Trat FC.
As for Bangkok United, they have now gathered 29 points from 17 matches, only four points behind leaders Buriram United. And as Mano Polking stated in his post-match interview, they are still in this title race.
Samut Prakan City is the only team from the top five who managed a win on matchday 17, driving them upwards to 2nd place, only a solitary point adrift of leaders Buriram. They also still have a home game against the reigning champions still to play. However, the Sea Fang’s only issue of concern would be the injury of 3 key players; defender Aris Zarifovic, goalkeeper Patiwat Khammai and midfield maestro Peeradol Chamratsamee.