Ten games, 33 goals, two managerial resignations and countless moments of intrigue capped off a weekend which will likely go down as one of the most eventful and pivotal in recent Thai League history.
The weekend began with defending champions Chiangrai United muscling their way back into the top four, as they saw off a stern challenge from Ratchaburi FC courtesy of their two Brazilian forwards Bill Rosimar and Jaja Coelho.
The hosts thought they had managed to hold on for their 1-0 victory when the full-time whistle went, only for the referee to call the game back for a frankly farcical penalty decision in favour of the trailing visitors, seemingly due to grappling in the box during an earlier free kick. Thankfully for the Chiangrai, goalkeeper Saranon Anuin managed to restore some sanity as he kept out Philip Roller’s strike to ensure that the home side returned to the top four.
It was a sanity which was in short supply elsewhere that evening, as Muangthong United succumb to a 1-0 defeat against relegation-threatened Trat FC courtesy of a first-half strike from Ricardo Santos. The Kirin were unable to spark anything significant going forward at a rain-soaked SCG Stadium, and ultimately slumped to their fourth defeat in eight games this season.
The result was enough to prompt head coach Alexandre Gama to resign from his post as head coach of SCG Muangthong United – bringing forward a departure which had already looked inevitable after a contract impasse with the club.
Bangkok United were in action the following day, hoping to recover from a three-game losing streak when they hosted Sukhothai FC. The game had the feeling of an ultimatum for head coach Mano Polking, who had never lost three on the bounce during his entire six-year stay with the Angels.
It was clear that the pressure was on for the hosts, who looked vulnerable to counter-attacks from Sukhothai’s John Baggio and Ibson Melo right from the get-go. It took seven minutes for Melo to break the deadlock, arriving at the back post to convert Sila Srikampang’s cross and ratchet up the tension at the Thammasat Stadium.
Things went bad from worse when Wanchai Jarunongkran headed the ball into his own net from a corner, before Ibson Melo undid the work of Thossawat Limwannasathian’s equaliser and saw Bangkok United go into the break to goals down. Vander Luiz gave the Angels hope five minutes into the second half, but Baggio and Jung Myung-Oh put the game beyond doubt. Nattawut Suksum and Brenner Marlos struck late to tease a comeback, but the devastating result still stood after nine goals scored.
As expected, the result was followed up by an emotional resignation from Coach Polking, who announced the conclusion of his six-year tenure at the club in front of the assembled press.
The unhinged frenzy will suit seven-time champions Buriram United, who succumbed to only their third home defeat in four years and first since June 2018 when they lost the South Isaan derby to Nakhon Ratchasima. Gidi Kanuk’s wonder-strike was sandwiched in between goals from Dennis Murillo and Leandro Assumpcao which saw the SwatCats take all three points from the ground of their local rivals for the first time ever. Thankfully for the Thunder Castle, their slip-up will likely stay out of the headlines due to all the intrigue elsewhere.
Elsewhere, league leaders BG Pathum United were held to a 2-2 draw against Samut Prakan City on Saturday, in what was arguably the weekend’s high-mark in terms of on-pitch quality. The visitors took an unlikely lead after just three minutes courtesy of former BG winger Chakkit Laptrakul, only to be pegged back by a free-kick from Toti and a penalty from Victor Cadozo. Despite being down to ten men, the Sea Fang roared back to earn a crucial point from the LEO Stadium. Both sides emerged fairly content from the encounter, with the visitors retaining their unbeaten record post-restart while BG had their lead extended to six points.