Football Tribe SEA Editor
The defending Thai League champions have a big task on their hands to defend their crown in 2020, aiming to do their best domestically while balancing it with their postponed AFC Champions League commitments. While the side have not invested heavily and will face an uphill battle to replicate the success of last season, here are some of the players which may give them a shot at doing so.
Wonderkid – Chotipat Poomkaew
Chiangrai signed most of their title-winning generation from other clubs during the 2017 season, raiding Muangthong United and their affiliate clubs for Siwakorn, Phitiwat, Thitipan, Chaiyawat, Shinnaphat, Suriya and more. Ekanit Panya is the exception to the rule, having come through the clubs academy, and the youngster could be joined by another for the upcoming season.
Having also spent last season on loan at Chiangmai FC, Chotipat has come in as right-back or right wing-back, as a long-term replacement for veteran Piyaphon Panichkul, who is now 32 years old. Chotipat has already demonstrated his attacking prowess early on this season and could bring more energy down the flanks for the club this season.
Key Signing – Sanukran Thinjom
Sanukran joins Chiangrai from Muangthong United, where he spent the last seven years. The midfielder hasn’t captured many headlines during his time with the Kirin and spent four loan spells away from the club during that time. However, that belies the fact that the Beetles’ new signing is an incredibly prized asset and represents a very smart bit of business by the defending champions.
The ultimate utility player, Sanukran is able to function well in a whole host of vital roles across the midfield. He experienced a brief renaissance during the second half of last season at Muangthong, where he was used to plug various holes in the team. His versatility will be vital in providing depth for Chiangrai and helping them get the best out of their team’s new central hub…
Team Leader – Siwakorn Tiatrakul
Last season’s title triumph was largely the coming-of-age story for two Chiangrai players, Siwakorn Tiatrakul and Phitiwat Sukjitthamakul. Even though the latter often dons the armband for the club, it is the former who gets on this list for the sheer significance of his role to the team.
Dropping into midfield as a deep-lying playmaker, Siwakorn often dictates the tempo of the match and is the central hub through which the team’s attacking plays go through. Supported on either side by Phitiwat and Lee Yong-Rae, Siwakorn is often tasked with picking out the defense-splitting passes and advancing play forward. His performance of this vital role, even against strong opposition such as Beijing Guoan in the Champions League, has earmarked him as one of the players to watch in the division. His performances have caught the eye of foreign clubs already, and his stock will continue to rise if he can perform consistently as his teams’ creative stalwart.