Football Tribe SEA Editor
Chiangrai United are set to begin a defense of their Thai League title on Friday night, opening up the campaign with a trip to face Samut Prakan City.
The Beetles may be fatigued after their 1-0 away loss to Melbourne Victory in the Champions League on Tuesday, and face yet another away match to start the campaign just three days later.
Both sides will want to make a statement heading into the new campaign. New Samut Prakan boss Masatada Ishii will be eager to get a win in his first competitive match and arrives with high expectations after his achievements in the J.League.
Samut Prakan struggled in the big games last season, with their open and expansive football falling foul to home defeats against Buriram United as well as Chiangrai themselves. A masterclass from the now-departed William Henrique was responsible for sinking the Sea Fang on that occasion.
Building on their sixth-place finish last season will require Samut Prakan to improve their results against the teams above them, leaving fans to wonder if the side will become more canny and pragmatic when facing tougher opposition. Friday night’s match could give some insight into how the side plan to approach and rectify one of their biggest weaknesses.
Meanwhile, the visitors will have little time to rest, seeing as they have another Champions League match against Beijing Guoan coming up on Tuesday. Champions League fatigue could be a threat to the side this season, and having it kick in right from the opening game puts Chiangrai in a very difficult situation. How the fairly young side balances their effort and energy for the two competitions could go a long way in determining how well they will do this season.