Football Tribe Thailand
Matchday 23 of the Thai League sees the four top clubs return to league action after gruelling midweek FA Cup fixtures. Leaders Buriram United had to fight back from 2-0 down andplayed through extra-time before beating Trat FC on the penalty. Bozidar Bandovic’s men will now face the White Elephant at the Trat Provincial Stadium for the second game running and will be without their coach, who was banned for showing his frustration and dissent on the touchline in Wednesday’s game.
Suphanat Mueanta and Nacer Barazite will likely return to the starting XI in place of Rasmus Jönsson, who continues to look out of place in his new surrounding. However, the Thunder Castle’s main concern is the defense and the fitness level of Pansa Hemviboon and Andres Tunez. The two experienced defenders look exhausted, barely making it til the end of 90 minutes in the last few games. The home side’s fearsome attack could be a massive test for them on Sunday.
Elsewhere, second place Chiangrai United visit Samut Prakan City. The Beetles will be without the suspended Chaiyawat Buran, so we may see Ekkanit Panya shifted out the to left and Siwakorn Tiatrakul returning further forward to his attacking midfielder role. Similar to Buriram United, Chiangrai United have a limited squad depth thus being forced to field mostly the same starting XI, resulting in built-up fatigue.
As for the Sea Fang, they didn’t feature in any midweek fixture so they’ll be slightly fresher. Yet, the pressure concerns are rather mentally than fitness-wise. Tetsuya Maurayama’s side has lost 2 of their previous games since the defeat to Buriram United when the 2 teams were competing for the top of the table.
Samut Prakan City took the lead against Ratchaburi FC and Trat FC, but somehow end up losing both matches. The absence of midfield controller Peeradol Chamratsamee and his ability to circulate the ball around, slowing down the tempo when needed, is suspected to be one of the key reasons behind the Samut Prakan City decline.
Ailton Silva’s side is a tough one to break through so in the case Samut Prakan City does score, they can’t let the lead go to waste – at least not in front of their own fans for the second-week straight.
At the Thammasat Stadium, Bangkok United face Chainat Hornbill FC without the presence of center-back Everton Goncalves and box-to-box midfielder Pokklaw Anan. Mano Polking lives to fight another day as the Angels’ head coach with an extra-time win over Nakhon Ratchasima FC. However, although results may not demonstrate, Dennis Amato’s side is one most successful teams at adopting a high pressing approach, at least for the majority of the match. The Hornbill’s proactive style is the perfect weapon against Bangkok United’s possession-bases football, especially when the home side his missing Everton’s ball-playing ability to bring the game forward.
Finally, the biggest game of the week sees Alexandre Gama’s Muangthong United travel to rivals Port FC. The Kirin are on blazing form and currently enjoying a run of four wins in a row. Heberty is their man of the moment, netting three goals and one assist in his last two outings.
A victory at the PAT Stadium plus Samut Prakan City and Bangkok United failing to pick up any point could see Muangthong United jump to four place – an astonishing achievement considering they were stranded in the drop zone at the end of the first leg of the season.
Port FC are at a slight disadvantage in terms of freshness due to their FA Cup battle with Chiangrai United. Head coach Choketawee Promrut has a dilemma of who to play as the Number 10; the more mobile Sergio Suarez, or Sumanya Purisai, who was fantastic when they beat Chiangrai United on Wednesday.
A big-money move at the start of the season, Sumanya has yet to show his best until only a few days ago. Previous attempt to fit him and Suarez together failed miserably, with Sumanya getting shifted to right midfield and struggling to make an impact.
The Port Lions’ results have improved in recent weeks but the same can’t be said about their overall performance. The PAT Stadium’s hostile atmosphere make it a tough ground to visit but you can’t look past Muangthong United’s tactical discipline instilled by Alexandre Gama. This match is shaping to be a battle between pure passion and an organized side with great game management.