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Crystal Balls 2019: Nakhon Ratchasima FC

 

The Swatcats surprised us all with an impressive 7th place finish last season, and also delighted us Port fans by losing to us 4-0 both home & away. Can they repeat last season’s top half finish, whilst also providing us with another 6 points? Here’s Brit Swatcat fan Russ John, editor of The Swatcat Blog (one of Thai football’s longest-established English language fan sites) with his thoughts on the season ahead…

How did your team perform in 2018? Where do they need to improve?

For a team with a mediocre at best squad, finishing in 7th place was incredible. Milos Joksic set up the team to avoid relegation by playing with defensive formations which led to the team having the 4th best defensive record in the league (conceding one less than Port!!). The downside of this survivalist strategy was that that watching the Swatcats was as dull as ditch water with the team scoring only 36 goals (beating only Air Force and scoring less than half of the Port total!!) fans turned their backs in the latter part of the season.
So in conclusion we need to score more goals!!!

Transfer window – which new signings are you most excited about? Which departing players are you sorry to see go/happy to see the back of?

Milos vowed to produce more attacking football this season and to that end the club have signed some exciting attacking players, namely Amadou Quattara and Bernard Doumbia (Henri). Adding these two into the mix with Assumpcao should provide real firepower this season. I also expect newcomer Chitchanok Xaysensourinthone (easy for me to say) to have an impact.
It looks like we have got rid of Antonio Pina who was a decent squad player but not a tremendous loss.

Happy with your club’s coach?

Emphatically yes!! He has done a great job with limited resources. If he can get the forwards scoring some goals, he will continue to move the club forward. He has promised a “certain top seven finish” this season but I’m not 100% convinced!!

What are your realistic ambitions for the 2019 season?

Top ten will do – we still need to cement ourselves as a continuing TPL side. I will be happy with a mid table finish. Until someone comes in and spends loads of money, I fail to see how we will make further progress – but that’s OK!!
This is the most optimistic I have been preseason since we arrived in the TPL!!

Which teams will be in contention for the title? Which teams will struggle to survive?

Bangkok United will push hard for the title this year and with Buriram without Diogo, it could be a breakthough year for the Angels. Port will be lurking in case these two stumble.
At the bottom I think Trat and Chang Mai will struggle and Sukhothai without Bonilla could be joining them in Tier 2.

Tell us your very favourite, and your absolute least favourite, things about following your club

I love the Stadium (yes I know its got a running track), the fans are superb and I love the fact that a great city like Korat has a TPL side at last. I even like their colours!!
There’s really nothing I dislike about the club.

 

Tim Russell

Tim Russell

The founder and editor of The Sandpit, Tim has been in SE Asia since 2003 and in Bangkok since 2012, where he runs a travel tech business. Tim has followed Port FC since 2014, and is also a fan of his hometown club Coventry City, and French club AS St-Etienne. He has written for the likes of Football365, ITV.com, NME and The Quietus, and is a regular contributor to God Is In the TV. He's a keen photographer and his work can be seen on his website.

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