MD 10 Preview: All eyes on Mario, Danny and Gama after head coach overhaul

Mario Djurovski makes his Muang Thong United managerial debut with a short but testing trip to face Police Tero at the Boonyachinda Stadium on Thai League Matchday 10.

The club legend was appointed as head coach following the resignation of Alexandre Gama and he will hope to hit the ground running following some disappointing results for his side.

Danny Invincibile faces a daunting visit to Nakhon Ratchasima for his first match in charge of Bangkok United, while Buriram United begin life after Bozidar Bandovic with a trip to Trat.

Here are some of the big matches to look forward to on T1 Matchday 10.

Mario aims to make immediate mark

Djurovski gave T1 some its most memorable moments as a player with extravagant skills and spectacular goals. Now he has the opportunity to create some new memories as he begins life as the Muang Thong United head coach.

The club have placed huge faith in the 34-year-old, who has been coaching their U18 side and has no prior experience of working as a head coach for a senior side. Djurovski has former teammate Dagno Siaka and experienced coach Darren Reid to lean on as he takes his first steps in the role, but he will ultimately be accountable for the results that follow.

The Macedonian has been in Thailand for nine years and has been at Muang Thong for over five of those. This ensures the transition will be smoother than it can be for some head coaches who experience a huge culture shock when joining a club with some challenging internal politics.

A positive start at Tero would be the perfect way to indicate that Muang Thong have made a choice that is worth the risk.

Tero may not be in the impressive form that marked the early stages of their season but they showed their spirit last weekend by hitting back twice to earn a 2-2 draw at Prachuap.

Mohamadou Sumareh did not make the squad last week but the Malaysian may finally make his debut if he is fit enough following a long wait that has included a 14-day quarantine.

Swatcats lie in wait on Danny’s debut

Like Muang Thong, Bangkok United have opted to promote from within their ranks after the resignation of their head coach. However, Mano Polking’s replacement does not have the same profile as Djurovski.

Danny Invincibile has been head of Bangkok United’s academy for several years, having first come to Thailand to play for Army United in 2012. The Australian spent a large chunk of his playing career with Kilmarnock in Scotland, having previously played for Swindon Town in England.

Invincibile certainly has a tough task on his debut as he takes a team low on confidence to face a team that has just achieved one of the best results in its history. Nakhon Ratchasima will be buzzing after winning last week’s Isan derby with a determined performance in Buriram.

Invincibile’s first job will be to lift spirits following the departure of the popular Polking after six-and-a-half years at the club. He will also have to work on a leaky defence that conceded five goals at home to Sukhothai last week.

The 41-year-old is in the role on an interim basis but if he can turn around the form of a slumping side, he may just put himself in with a chance of earning the job.

Gama hopes to avoid another Trat fall on Buriram return

What a difference a week in football makes. Before Matchday Nine, Alexandre Gama was preparing his Muang Thong United side for a home match against struggling Trat FC. After suffering a 1-0 loss, he resigned as Kirins head coach.

Two days later, Buriram United were the third and final club to see their head coach quit after a Matchday Nine defeat. Bozidar Bandovic decided it was time to move on after losing 2-1 at home to Nakhon Ratchasima – the fourth defeat of the season for the Thunder Castle.

This weekend, Buriram travel to face Trat and Gama, the newly appointed Buriram boss, has a very early chance for revenge.

Gama’s appointment at Buriram was something of a surprise as the Brazilian had been heavily linked with Port FC and Buriram United. He was Buriram’s head coach between 2014 and 2016, and while he enjoyed considerable success, he left on a sour note with the team slumping in his final months.

Nevertheless, club president Newin Chidchob sees Gama as the man to turn around the season for a club that has suffered four defeats in eight matches so far and sit down in 10th place – ahead of Muang Thong on goal difference.

This may not be the best time to face Trat as they have followed seven losses with two victories. The win at Muang Thong will have been a massive confidence boost and they will feel they have nothing to fear when an unusually vulnerable Buriram come to town.

Sukhothai’s chance to make their move

Sukhothai have quietly moved their way into the Top Four with a string of impressive results and they could move within three points of top spot if they defeat leaders BG Pathum United at home on Sunday. 

The Fire Bats 5-4 win at Bangkok United last week was just the latest sign that this was a team that is set to challenge for a Top Five spot rather than battle against relegation.

Ibson Melo and John Baggio have forged a formidable attacking partnership while head coach Surapong Konthep has other players in the squad raising their game. 

BG – so solid against their title rivals – have looked vulnerable against certain opponents and, having dropped two points against 10-man Samut Prakan City last week, they will be determined to take the three points to stay in pole position for the title.

This could be the match in which Sukhothai confirm they are going to be battling for a place in next year’s AFC Champions League, or BG may again remind everyone why they are the team to beat.

Paul Murphy

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