Southeast Asia Thailand

Buriram Looking to Fend Off Rivals’ Title Challenges

Obb Deewajin

Football Tribe Thailand


Saturday’s early kick-off sees League Cup finalists PT Prachuap FC host 4th place Bangkok United. Angels’ head coach Mano Polking will be missing the service of box-to-box midfielder Pokkaw Anan but will be pleased with Vander Luiz’s recent form. The Brazilian attacker was pushed upfront a few matches ago and netted both of his last two Thai League outings.

Bangkok United have a habit of earning draws against teams that defend with a low-block such as Suphanburi FC (1-1), Nakhonratchasrima FC (2-2) and Sukhothai FC (2-2) is evidence of Bangkok’s weakness. However, Mano Polking seems to found a solution to this issue last weekend when he gave the opposition more possession and adopted a medium-block within their half. This forces the opposition (in this case, Chainat Hornbill FC) to come out off their shell and play – leaving spaces behind the defence. That is where Bangkok pounce on the counter with the pace of Vander Luiz and new striker Chananan Pombuppha.

Killer Wasp head coach Thawatchai Damrong-Ongtrakul is having a tough time replacing the goalscoring output of Lonsana Doumbouya and Jonathan Reis – two key players that left the club before the start of this season. The 45-year-old will have to rely heavily on his side’s solid defense which saw them concede only 11 times at the Sam Ao Stadium. 

If Bangkok can lure the home side a few yards forward, they will have much more chance of scoring. Fail to do so, and it could another frustrating night where they try to unlock the defense only to get hit back on the break. 

Meanwhile, at the Chang Arena, Buriram United welcome Ratchaburi FC who seems to be slowly cooling off from their red hot form in recent weeks. Both sides are without any suspended players but Buriram United may be a little jaded having to play just two days after beating Nongbua Pitchaya FC in the League Cup semi-final.

They might not be as fancy as they were last year but Bozidar Bandovic’s side is taking it game by game and, most importantly, getting the job done. Versatile winger Sasalak Haiprakhon is in the form of his life and will be the man to watch as he goes head to head with the Dragon’s wide men, who aren’t known for tracking back. 

Looking to overtake the Thunder Castle is Ailton Silva’s Chiangrai United who just got knocked out of two domestic cup competitions in a week. Sitting only one point behind Buriram, the league is now all they have to fight for. 

Unfortunately, the Beetles have lost two key players to injury – attacking midfielder Ekanit Panya and defender Shinnaphat Leeaoh – in midweek’s cup defeat to PT Prachuap FC. Meanwhile, their opposition, Sukhothai FC, is slowly regaining their “tough to beat” mojo back since the return of former head coach Pairoj Borwonwatanadilok. New Salvadorian striker Irvin Herrera, is gradually forming a decent partnership with playmaker John Baggio and wide shuttler Iain Ramsay. 

This is a battle of two strong, pragmatic, sides playing similar football. Whoever makes fewer mistakes at the Singha Stadium will most likely be the victor.