Football Tribe Thailand
Bangkok United’s fine start to the season continues with a 2-1 win over Muangthong United – the Angels’ first victory at the SCG Stadium since 2016.
Mano Polking named an unchanged XI from the side that beat PT Prachuap FC last weekend. 22-year-old striker, Nattawut Suksum kept his place up top – providing creativity behind him were Vander Luiz and Anon Amornlerdsak. Former-Japanese international, Hajime Hosogai, reprised his deep-lying midfield role for Bangkok United with class and composure. Together with Anthony Ampaipitakwong, the pair circulate the ball with accuracy – add Pokklaw Anan’s energetic runs to that, and it’s no wonder the visitor’s midfield-3 were able to outplay their counterpart in the first half.
Alexandre Gama’s decision to drop Wattana Playnum into defense in place of Saringkan Promsupa may have been an attempt to bypass Bangkok United’s pressing by having a better passer in the build-up phase. Completing the Kirin’s midfield three alongside Sarach Yooyen and Sorawit Panthong is Weerathep Pomphan. The youngster, who impressed during pre-season, offered increased mobility compared to Wattana and made sense if Gama intends to hit Bangkok United when possession is turned over.
Yet, Sorawit and Weerathep’s instinct to venture forward often left Sarach exposed on the counter and that’s where Bangkok’s opener came from.
Vander Luiz was allowed to pick up the ball in the middle of the pitch, with time and space, because Weerathep had made his way into the Bangkok box just seconds earlier. The Brazilian escaped from Sorawit with a quick turn. Right-back, Petcharat Chotipala tried his best to hold onto Vander but the attacker kept on running – looking to take advantage of this five-versus-three counter-attacking situation. Vander slipped Anon through and he fired a neat shot across Dang Van Lam to put Bangkok ahead.
Muangthong upped the tempo after conceding – Derley trying to bulldoze his way to the goal, Sardor Mirzaev’s shot flew inches wide of the far-post in the 34th minute.
The home fans got to celebrate just before half-time when Mirzaev ran at the Bangkok defense then curled a delicious strike into the side-netting – a move that began by Weerathep setting the Uzbekistani free on the break. However, after a lengthy VAR check, the goal was chalked off due to Weerathep’s handball leading up to the goal.
After the break, Gama’s team returned to the pitch even more aggressive. The urgency in possession and hunger to win the second ball had risen significantly. Derley hit the post in the 53rd minute, as Falkesgaard just about redirected the shot away.
Then, out of nowhere, Muangthong equalized via an Everton Gonçalves own goal. Saharat Kanyaroj’s tireless pressing forced the Brazilian defender into a backpass, and he didn’t even have time to look up and check where his keeper was. Falkesgaard was unable to receive the pass, and it was all square on the hour mark.
With the momentum on Muangthong’s side, Mano Polking adjusted to a more balanced approach, bringing on central midfielder Thossawat Limwannasathian for goalscorer Anon who is already booked.
A headed clearance from Bangkok United’s corner kick sat Thossawat up perfectly for a long-range volley and the former Kirin player didn’t let this chance go to waste. It wasn’t the cleanest hit but still a goal nonetheless.
The score was 2-1 to the visitor and it remains that way. Bangkok United have now collected maximum points after two games, whereas it’s 2 straight defeats for Muangthong United.
“In football, we have to learn to suffer,” said Bangkok United head coach, Mano Polking, in his post-match press conference. A true statement of how proud Mano is with the win.
Under his tenure, Bangkok United is widely praised for their attacking prowess but also criticized and labeled as a team that favors style over substance. Even so, the side was evenly matched with Muangthong for most of the first-45 but displayed the resolve to weather the storm at the beginning of the second before managing to pull together, get the winning goal, and killed the game off.
“We showed a fighting spirit, [a] very good team unit that could suffer and comeback. That’s why we won the game, that’s why we are very very happy.”
As for host, Muangthong United, they too, could also “learn to suffer”. On paper, zero points after two games is a huge disappointment, nevermind that it came against oppositions many pundits expected to perform well this season.
In Alexandre Gama, Muangthong has one of Thai League’s most successful coaches – there’s no argument about that. It has only been two games, and young players will prove to be inconsistent, but the team’s general performance is improving. Academy graduate Wattanakorn Sawatlakhorn is looking promising at left-wingback. Same for the likes of Sorawit or Weerathep in their respective roles.
The new signings look good; Saharat is adapting well, Mirzaev is quality and it’ll be interesting to see what Willian Popp can add to the attack once resume full-fitness.
If they want this “REDvolution” to succeed, the club must stick together, be brave, focus and keep their eyes on the long term goal at the end of the season.
Rayong FC away on Wednesday is looking the perfect fixture for Gama and the boys. A potential three points against the newly-promoted side will get Muangthong’s season going and surely give them a much-needed confidence boost leading into the “Thai-Clasico” versus Chonburi FC on Sunday.