Know Your Enemy: Ariel Strikes

 

With a catch-up game between Chiang Mai and Chainat scheduled for Wednesday, I decided to delay my run-down of gameweek 9’s results. Unfortunately that means my memory of almost two-week old games is less than crystal clear, but I’ll do my best!

 

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Know Your Enemy: Dirty Dozen

 

Gameweek 7

Results and Highlights

 

With last week’s Songkran holiday I didn’t have time to keep up with all of the gameweek 7 action, so in the absence of my reports above are the results and highlights of the action. All you really need to know is that due to Port’s resurgence in form and Buriram’s match being postponed, Port went top of the league, while an agonizing late concession from Suphanburi sent them bottom to the fortune of Muangthong, who went in to their gameweek 8 with clash in second bottom on goals scored. Indulge me a second while I bask in the hilarity of Muangthong being lucky to be second bottom.

 

Port 5-0 Prachuap

Bangkok United 4-0 Suphanburi

Trat 1-1 Samut Prakan City

Sukhothai 0-0 Chonburi

Ratchaburi 0-2 Chiang Rai

Korat 3-1 Muangthong

 

Gameweek 8

The Action

 

OK, there we go. Now, on to gameweek 8.

Buriram, as I mentioned, missed their last fixture, meaning that they needed victory over strugglers Trat to replace Port at the top of the league. There have been a lot of personnel changes for the champs throughout this season, with the most notable being the ignominious exit of big summer arrival and former Premier League player Modibo Maiga. Fortunately for Buriram, strike partner Pedro Junior has been picking up the slack in Maiga’s absence, while the gradual introduction of Japanese star midfielder Hajime Hosogai is now complete, with the former Budesliga man now finally fit to start. Fit being the operative word. This guy is an absolute workhorse. For the entire 90 minutes against Trat he never stopped running, harassing, putting his body on the line and providing a platform for his team’s creative talents to build on. I would credit him with most likely having most touches of the ball, most fouls, and most fouled. The Genki Nagasato award for effort can be handed out now. Unfortunately for Buriram, Hosogai’s hard work didn’t lead to much up top. Pedro returned to his early season form, looking anonymous and devoid of ideas, and the same could be said of most of his teammates throughout a poor first half for the favourites.

 

 

Trat stuck to the tactics that have served them well enough so far this season – putting Doumbouya up against physically inferior centre backs and hoping that he eats them alive – and once again he was as voracious as ever. Filipino-Austrian full back Stephan Palla, playing out of position on the left hand side of Buriram’s back 3, was the latest victim. Doumbouya shrugged him off like he wasn’t there just before the hour mark, running on to Chenrop’s hopeful flick and powering his way through before deftly chipping it over Siwarak. 10 minutes later Trat survived one of the most ludicrous goal mouth scrambles I’ve ever seen, but a few minutes later substitutes Sasalak, Supachai and 16 year old Suphanat Muenta, who recently became the AFC Champions League’s youngest ever scorer, eventually combined to draw Buriram level. It wasn’t to be enough for the champs though, who now had to watch and hope that Port wouldn’t extend the lead to 4 points when they faced Muangthong on Saturday.

As we well though know, having faith in Muangthong this season is a losing strategy. The report on a wonderful, mental day for Port fans is here courtesy of Linny Russell, although a sad, salty Muangthong fan in the comments section also plays a starring role.

Buriram, and indeed Port, were given another surprising bonus on Saturday, with underdogs Chainat the latest team to expose Bangkok United’s much discussed poor early season form. This time I can find absolutely no fault with Mano Polking’s team selection – he went with Havenaar and Bonilla up front and picked more or less the team that I would consider is his strongest – but still Bangkok have been unable to string a couple of polished performances together in 2019. The defence was culpable for Chainat’s opener, as Bangkok allowed both of Chainat’s strikers a chance to take a swing at a loose ball in the box. Leandro missed the ball almost completely, but Ricardo Santos eventually connected to send the ball past a wrong-footed Falkesgaard. I have only watched the highlights, but as seems as though Anon Amonlerdsak was a bright spark for Bangkok, hitting the post and drawing a save from Teerath, but it’s all about converting chances, no matter how scrappy, and that’s what Chainat did again in the 53rd minute. Kiatisak Jia-udom (no, me neither) seemed to have been foiled by Falkesgaard, but the ball trickled agonizingly towards goal where a combination of Chainat forward Chatri and Bangkok defender Everton bundled the ball home to extend Chainat’s lead. They all count. Ricardo was fractionally out with a monster volley, and soon after Bangkok spurned a good chance when both Bonilla and Everton went for the same ball, putting each other off. Bonilla did much better on 74 minutes, finding a superb cross just as the ball looked to be going out of play, and Bangkok’s super sub Leesaw was on hand to head home. Two minutes later the assistant ref did a good job spotting Ricardo Santos basically punching Manuel Bihr in the face as Bangkok prepared to take a freekick and the Brazilian was rightfully sent packing, but even the 10 men of Chainat were able to hold on to a precious three points, heaping yet more pressure on Bangkok United. Last season at this stage they put together 11 successive wins, and they’ll need to do something similar if they’re to mount another serious title challenge this season.

PTT Rayong hosted Ratchaburi in another game I didn’t watch, but the highlights show that Yannick Boli, Steeven Langil and Philip Roller starred in a comfortable Ratchaburi win. Boli won and cheekily converted a penalty, then Roller provided one of the assists of the season with a magnificent run down the left, before crossing to Langil who converted smartly. Langil then turned on the style with a magnificent third, making Ariel Rodriguez’ 92nd minute toe-poke nothing more than a consolation. With Boli, Langil, Kang Soo-il and Roller on form, this is a dangerous Ratchaburi side, although they do have their problems at the back, particularly in goal.

 

 

I won’t bother you too much with the details of Chiang Rai’s 1-1 draw against Samut Prakan City as there are much more exciting results to talk about on Sunday. This was a 1-1 draw in which William Henrique scored an excellent equalizer for Chiang Rai.

Bottom club Suphanburi’s clash with surprisingly high-flying Korat was of interest to Port fans, as a draw or better from Suphan would see them lift themselves off the bottom, leaving our darling rivals where they belong. Despite a slow start, Suphanburi’s talented squad eventually found their flow and confidence, making it a comfortable 3-1 win. Bernard Henri did put Korat in the lead, but the chances were almost exclusively being created at the other end. Samuel Cunningham was very busy in the Korat goal, making some superb saves to keep the scores level, but he also had some help from the Suphanburi strike force. Cleiton, looking utterly bereft of confidence, was guilty of a few wild shots, while Jonatan Reis was looking more frustrated by the minute. It took a substitute to snap Suphan out of their slump, and it was English-born Filipino Mark Hartmann who connected with a tricky header to send the home fans wild, and breathe life back in to the slumbering War Elephant. Even Cleiton managed to find the target a few minutes later after a scramble in the box, then Reis rounded things off with a decisive volley in the dying moments. Three goals for three foreign forwards which ought to give their talented squad the confidence to find the form to push them up the table where they belong.

The Prachuap vs. Sukhothai clash escaped my attention, but I’m told it was a riveting end-to-end clash with numerous chances for both sides. Jhon Baggio hit the bar twice with the same shot in the first half, but both sides somehow went in to the break scoreless. 5 minutes in to the second half Baggio once again peppered the woodwork. His shot hit the bar and then the post but this time just about crossed the line, giving Sukhothai a deserved lead. It was Prachuap’s turn to hit the woodwork in a frantic late passage of play which, in injury time, finally resulted in a Prachuap equalizer. It was horribly indecisive defending from Indonesian Yanto Basna which allowed Matheus Alves to sneak in and score, meaning that Sukhothai now have a remarkable 1 win and 7 draws so far this season. Being unbeaten isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

 

 

Last, and most certainly not least, Chonburi vs. Chiang Mai. What a game. There were 12 goals in total, with the Sharks netting an astonishing 7 to Chiang Mai’s 5. I only switched on for the second half, with Chonburi already 4-2 up. Lukian had netted every single goal for the hosts. Bloody hell. Surely the second half can’t be as mental. Wrong. Lukian added another to equal Boskovic’s single game scoring record of 5, then Chonburi actually wasted a few good chances before Sithu Aung scored a worldie and young Thai forward Sittichok Paso also got himself on the scoresheet. Chonburi captain and former Port star Kroekrit Thaweekarn was also involved with many of the goals, despite not scoring himself. Chiang Mai’s front three didn’t do too badly, either. Mustafa Azadzoy scored twice, highly rated young Thai star Eakanit Panya got one and Eliandro poached another. Substitute Wanmai Setthanan got the final goal for Chiang Mai, who must look to their defence to explain how they managed to score 5 goals and lose. It must be said I don’t think I’ve seen a worse defensive display. Ever. They were an absolute shambles. I can’t wait for Port to play this lot!

 

Public Enemy Number One

 

 

From my last recap… “He’s looking like becoming a regular on my shortlist, so I’d better get it out of the way and give the award to Lukian this time.” Well, he’s only gone and equaled the T1 single game scoring record, so I can’t very well give it to anyone else this week either. Lukian is a seriously effective striker and a serious contender for the golden boot this year.

Other shortlisted players are Kroekrit, Azadzoy – the first time three players in one match have made the shortlist – Baggio, Cunningham, Langil and Hosogai. Unsurprisingly, with the exception of Cunningham and Hosogai, it’s mostly attacking players as not a single team managed to keep a clean sheet. Thai League, I love you.

 

Results and Highlights

 

Buriram 1-1 Trat

Chainat 2-1 Bangkok

PTT Rayong 1-3 Ratchaburi

Chiang Rai 1-1 Samut Prakan City

Muangthong 1-2 Port

Suphanburi 3-1 Korat

Prachuap 1-1 Sukhothai

Chonburi 7-5 Chiang Mai

 

League Table

 

 

Know Your Enemy: Chainese Burn

 

I know what the fans want. Let’s give them what they want. First up, the incredible capitulation of Port’s greatest rivals went in to overdrive in a result reminiscent of the 0-6 annihilation by Prachuap. This time Muangthong let even more unfancied opposition have their way with them, with relegation candidates Chainat sticking 3 goals without reply past the fallen giants of Thai football. Whilst the attacking was pitiful from the last team to unseat Buriram as champs, the defending was absolute filth. Chainat’s first came via a header, with neither the crosser nor the striker particularly pressured by Muangthong’s obliging back line. Then, Korean midfielder Lee Ho passed it straight to a Chainat striker from a freekick, allowing a simple second goal. The third was a real screamer from the first ever Laotian T1 goalscorer Soukaphone, as if you needed another reason to watch the highlights. The main point to be made here has to be about Muangthong’s defence, though. At the moment they’re starting with the hilariously overrated short-arse Adisorn Promrak and the inexperienced short-arse Saringkan Promsupa in central defence. They’re both 5 foot 9. Their full backs are also miserably inadequate for a team with even top half ambitions. Yes they’ve been unfortunate with an injury to their new Korean centre half, but as I warned in my recap of Muangthong’s transfer activity, you need more than that in defence if you’re going to challenge for anything other than relegation.

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Know Your Enemy: Pairoj Walks Plank

 

The opening game of the week pitted the Swatcats against the Angels in what was to be an exciting 1-1 draw. Both goalkeepers were the outstanding performers, with Samuel Cunningham in the Korat goal and Michael Falkesgaard for Bangkok making a succession of crucial saves, whilst only being beaten by two superb efforts from Anon Amornlerdsak and Methee Thaweekulkarn respectively. Falkesgaard was truly outstanding though, even keeping out a Leandro Assumpcao penalty. After having watched highlights of his performance, I’m pretty sure his wrists are made of concrete. It’s another disappointing result for Mano Polking, who clearly hasn’t yet settled on a favoured formation or found a way to accommodate Mike Havenaar, who started today, and Nelson Bonilla, who came off the bench at half time.

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Know Your Enemy: Buri Bury Bangkok

 

T1 fans enjoyed a breathtaking weekend of action this week in undoubtedly the season’s most exciting gameweek so far. The upshot of all the hectic action is that the cream is slowly starting to rise to the top, although The Killer Wasp once again defiantly refuses to adhere to the natural order of things. For once I have a longlist rather than a shortlist of players who impressed enough to be considered for player of the week, inspired by a small clique of T1 goalkeepers’ collective decision to finally do something besides flailing around and spilling crosses.

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Know Your Enemy: Jumbo JET Lands

After an away day for the ages on Friday night, with Port provisionally going top of the league after a stunning comeback victory over Chonburi, it’s fair to say I was not that fussed what the rest of the league did for the rest of the weekend. Of course the ideal scenario would be the rest of the high-flyers to falter, preserving Port’s spot at the summit, with a couple of choice victories at the bottom sending Muangthong bottom. Let’s see what they had in store for us.

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Know Your Enemy: Football’s Coming Relegation Zone

 

It’s time for my roundup of T1’s gameweek 2 action, a week which saw two of the supposed big four title contenders continue to struggle. Both Buriram and Muangthong remain winless, after failing to overcome Suphanburi and Bangkok United. Early pace-setters Prachuap and Samut Prakan City are having no such problems, with two surprising wins from two, and there were also some really rubbish games which I can’t wait to tell you all about.

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Know Your Enemy: Four Favourites Falter

 

The new season is upon us, and so once again I find myself thinking up ways to write stuff that no one other than me wants to read. I started with gratuitous transfer updates, moved seamlessly in to Portlists, dabbled intermittently with Futsal and Academy games, and this year my regular must-not-read articles are going to focus on something most Sandpit readers care about even less than 5 aside in a warehouse: other T1 teams.

Yes, this season after every week of T1 action I’m going to be doing a brief run-down of the notable results and performances of Port’s competitors. My main focus will be those teams in close competition with Port in the standings, but I also reserve the right to disparage Muangthong however well or poorly they’re doing. This will mean watching as much T1 action as I can bear without poking my own eyes out. So highlights videos for the most part, with the odd 90 minute shitshow every now and then.

I’ve come flying out of the blocks this week, watching the Friday night game, then flicking between a few different ones on Saturday and finally watching a match and a half on Sunday. Don’t expect that level of diligence boredom every week!

 


 

The Friday match wasn’t exactly one to whet the appetite for the new season, but Ratchaburi hosted Trat in what, to my surprise, ended up being an absolute belter. In typical T1 fashion it was very much a battle between foreign strikers, one we know and one who was introducing himself to Thai football for the first time. Some of you will be familiar with Trat’s Lonsana Doumbouya after his excellent debut campaign for Prachuap last season. It was no surprise to see him ruthlessly bully his way through Ratchaburi’s lackluster defence and score twice, one a tap-in and one a superb solo effort. It wasn’t to be enough for even a point though, with Ratchaburi’s new signing Yannick Boli going one better and netting a hattrick. He scored his first with a powerful run and shot, before 2 headers secured the win for his side. Winger Steeven Langil also impressed, although Ratchaburi didn’t get the ball to him enough. Both goalies let their side down once each, but their incompetence was canceled out by each other.

 

 

On Saturday the headline match was Buriram vs. Chonburi, but unfortunately I had to sit through Suphanburi vs. Chainat first. Former Port midfielder Gorka Unda was pretty rubbish for Cheating Chainat, and so was just about everyone else, in particular Suphanburi’s former Muangthong gaffer Totchtawan Sripan who picked a useless team while leaving a few decent players on the bench. Thanks for a couple of hours of my life I won’t get back, Coach Ban.

Luckily Buriram vs. Chonburi was a classic, with most of the credit for the exciting game going to the referee. After Chonburi took the lead through Worachit Kanitsribampen, the ref booked a Chonburi player despite apparently not realizing he was already on a yellow, and then sheepishly had to send him off. Buriram quickly took the lead with a double from excellent youngster Supachok Sarachat, but Kroekrit Thaweekarn slid in to level the tie. Chonburi got a second red after Lukian, a really nasty piece of work who was rough and gobby all game long, was sent off. They held on for a super point, but Buriram will feel like they missed an opportunity to get their title defence off to the perfect start. Their new Brazilian Pedro Junior looked pretty good, but Modibo Maiga less so. After a couple of beers I think I used the phrase ‘poundshop Doumbouya’ to describe him. Ouch.

 

 

I also flicked on to the Pattaya, I mean Samut Prakarn City, game a few times, only to be so appalled by the defending on display from both sides that I quickly averted my eyes. My favourite T1 goalie Nont Muangngam put in a typically Nont display for Chiang Mai, being lobbed after a misunderstanding with a teammate, saving a penalty and generally being a bit mental. The difference was as usual the Brazilians, with Samut Prakarn’s big lump Carlao and new signing Ibson Melo doing slightly more damage than David Bala and Eliandro for Chiang Mai. Big Slovenian centre back Aris Zarifovic got the winner, but like all the other defenders we was apparently a bit dodgy.

The other Saturday game saw Victor Cardozo put in a man of the Match display for his new club PTT Rayong against Korat, although just after the award was announced he was beaten in the air by Leandro Assumpcao, who scored the only goal of the game with his header. The Swat Cats nicked the win despite apparently being second best throughout.

And then it was Sunday. I watched the first half of Sukhothai vs. Bangkok United, hoping to see another title hopeful falter, and surprisingly the football Gods indulged me once again. Sukhothai took Bangkok to pieces in the early going before conceding to a jammy deflected effort from Tristan Do. I didn’t watch the second half, but Sukhothai got the goal their performance deserved, and the game finished in a draw. Jhon Baggio was excellent as usual, and new Sukhothai forward Orlandic looked a real handful, although he should have done better in front of goal on numerous occasions. There was more surprising team selection, this time from Bangkok boss Mano Polking, who left big new signing Mike Havenaar out up front as well as key defender Mika Chunuonsee.

 

 

Meanwhile, Muangthong were busy making it a hattrick of let downs for this season’s challengers, being downed by a Caion penalty. I’ve only seen highlights of this one, but it looks as though Prachuap were a little lucky to secure their upset victory. Then again, is it really luck when Adisak shooting and missing from close range is involved? Nah, they knew he was going to miss, as did everyone else besides new coach Pairoj, who dealt with his overabundance of attacking talent by leaving out Mario and starting Adisak alongside Teerasil, Heberty and Aung Thu in the Muangthong attack. Oops. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

We all know what happened in Sunday’s late game, but here’s our report of Port’s dramatic 0-0 draw in Chiang Rai all the same. Since publishing that report, we now also know that we will be without not only Go Seul-ki, who is suspended following his straight red card, but also Rochela, who will be sidelined for about a month with the injury he picked up while getting his second yellow card. Rattanai is also expected to miss out after picking up a foot injury. I was already expecting a goal fest this coming Sunday, with Kevin and Nurul on Port’s left hand size squaring up with Roller and Langil on Ratchaburi’s right, and with Port missing our goalie, our captain and Todsapol’s fitness as usual unknown, we could be in for some absolute mayhem.

 

Public Enemy Number One

 

 

Every week I will also be choosing a Public Enemy Number One, who is the star non-Port performer of the week. Yannick Boli will be most people’s choice after his hattrick, but I’m going for Lonsana Doumbouya who was the focal point for Trat, a team who really don’t have a lot going for them besides the big Guinean. Scoring a brace is one thing, but doing so while enduring the utterly useless Chenrop Samphaodi as a strike partner is what pushes him over the line. Honourable mentions also go to Supachok and Baggio for excellent performances. Not really a week for defenders, this one!

 

Results and Highlights

 

Click on the results to see the official True Visions highlights package.

 

Ratchaburi 3-2 Trat

Chainat 0-0 Suphanburi

Buriram 2-2 Suphanburi

PTT Rayong 0-1 Nakhon Ratchasima

Samut Prakan City 3-2 Chiang Mai

Sukhothai 1-1 Bangkok United

Muangthong 0-1 Prachuap

Chiang Rai 0-0 Port