Mario Gjurovski’s reign at Muangthong United got off to a winning start as the Kirin netted three goals against Police Tero, while Alexandre Gama’s second debut with Buriram United saw them share the points with Trat FC.
Traditionally Thailand’s two biggest clubs, both Muangthong and Buriram were in the spotlight on Sunday as their new coaches were set to take charge for the first time. For the latter, Alexandre Gama returned the ground where he had won two Thai League titles previously, having departed from Muangthong the weekend prior. His replacement, club legend Mario Gjurovski, was eager to prove himself after stepping up into the hot-seat from a role within the club’s academy.
Buriram’s match was the first to kick off, as Gama was tasked with fighting off a resurgent Trat side who had won two games on the bounce – including against the Muangthong side he had coached the prior weekend. Marko Scepovic scored his first goal in Buriram blue to kick-start the second Gama era, but the side were soon pegged back by a strike from Rangsan Wiroonsri shortly after the hour mark.
The Thunder Castle looked poised to take all three points when Jakkaphan Kaewprom was fouled in the box, with Scepovic converting the resulting penalty. However, drama at the other end gifted Ricardo Santos with the same opportunity, and he stepped up twice (after being forced to retake) to snatch a point from the game in stoppage time.
Meanwhile, Gjurovski aimed to kickstart a new era at Muangthong and lift the side from their recent struggles. Rejuvenated by their new boss, the Kirin came flying out of the gates and thought they had scored after just five minutes, only for the linesman’s flag to rule out Derley’s effort. Their energetic start was responded to in kind by Police Tero, who squandered a few big scoring chances in what was to be a goalless first half.
Muangthong eventually struck the opener when VAR penalised Isaac Honey for a hand-ball in the area, with Willian Popp stepping up to complete the job. Tero levelled the scoring just four minutes later when Greg Houla’s cut-back found Adisak Srikampang in place to apply the finish, but Picha Autra came to the rescue for Muangthong with an excellent strike from outside the box. Popp added his second to seal the game after a tidy give-and-go with Derley in the 68th minute, sparking frenzied celebrations and a vital first three points for the new coach.
Sunday also saw league leaders BG Pathum United continue their run with a 3-2 win away against Sukhothai FC. An early strike by Sumanya Purisai put them in front after just ten seconds, followed by an own-goal from Satsanapong Wattayuchutikul which give the visitors an early two-goal lead. Both of the Fire Bats’ in-form forwards, John Baggio and Ibson Melo, managed to find the net, but they weren’t able to level the scoring thanks to a strike from Siroch Chattong. Meanwhile, Chiangrai United retained their place in second with a 3-0 win over Chonburi FC.
Gama and Gjurovski were not the only managerial debutants taking charge weekend, as Bangkok United’s interim boss Danny Invincibile played his first game against Nakhon Ratchasima on Saturday. The Angels found the net first after just 18 minutes, as Manuel Bihr was on hand to finish at the back post from a corner kick. The side pushed for a second, with Nattawut showing his deadly striking instincts with a header which came off the bar. Despite the positive signs, Bangkok United were punished for their failure to double the lead, as the hosts were awarded a penalty for Tristan Do’s supposed foul on Dennis Murillo. The Brazilian forward scored from the spot, and Korat managed to hold on for a valuable point.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Port FC relied on two spot-kicks to get past Prachuap in their first game at their new temporary home in Pathum Thani. Suphanburi also needed one to pick up three points from Samut Prakan City, with Patrick Reichelt scoring against the run of play in the final minutes of stoppage time. Lastly, Ratchaburi had no trouble dispatching Rayong FC, with Yannick Boli, Javier Patino and Steeven Langil getting on the scoresheet, with the latter registering two assists as well.