Southeast Asia Thailand

Chiangrai United set for attacking boost as star midfielder returns to full-fitness

Ekanit Panya gives an update on his physical condition as The Beetles prepare for Thai League‘s return.

The 20 years old attacking midfield helped boyhood club Chiangrai United win their first Thai League 1 (T1) title in 2019 but suffered a major injury shortly after the season ended.

William Henrique’s moved to PT Prachuap and Ekanit being sidelined left a huge dent in Chiangrai’s attack, evidence by the fact they only manages to score only 4 goals in 6 games across all competition.

“The mood in the dressing room is fantastic.” Ekanit told CRUTD “The senior players are focused on tactical and physical training every day. We are yearning for football and is really happy to be back training together again.”

“With regard to injury, I have fully recovered but still some way off my fittest condition. I’d say I am 80% fit at the moment, not yet 100%, but hopefully, I will reach peak condition soon. I am sure I’ll be match-ready by September when the competition returns.”

Despite once the record holder for Thai League’s youngest goalscorer (15 years old), Chiangrai was patient with Ekanit, letting him honed his crafts in the lower tier before bursting onto the T1 stage last season. Ekanit was the standout performer while on-loan with newly-promoted Chiangmai FC and was soon recalled by his parent in the second-leg. The Chiangrai-born wonderkid went on to finished the 2019 season as T1’s highest Thai goalscorer (10).

Ekanit’s creativity and eye for goal caught the attention of Thailand national team head coach, Akira Nishino. A goal and assist in the World Cup Qualifier victory over UAE justified Nishino’s faith in Ekanit.

“Previously, the coach gave me the chance to training and compete with other senior players but now I’m actually part of the team. I never imagine getting picked for the national team at 19.” Ekanit talking his excitement of joining the senior squad in 2019.

It’ll be interesting how Ekanit’s versatility in attack while changes the tactical duty of those around him and whether Ekanit could lessen Chiangrai’s dependent on the likes of Bill Rosimar or Sivakorn Tiatrakul.