MD 13 Preview: Last chance for Chonburi while Buriram look for more of the same

Chonburi have one final chance to stake a claim for a 2020 AFC Champions League (ACL) qualifying spot when they host Port FC on Matchday 13.

With just three matches to go before the decisive halfway point, the Sharks sit four points off fourth place, so there is no margin for error. But a Port win would see the visitors in touching distance of sealing the second group stage slot alongside BG Pathum United.

Buriram United can continue their resurgence if they win at home to Samut Prakan City, while Totchtawan Sripan could really lift spirits at Bangkok United by beating struggling Police Tero.

Here are some of the matches to look out for on T1 Matchday 13.

  1. Boskovic targets another former club

Dragan Boskovic’s goal sealed his former team Bangkok United’s second successive loss of the season. Two defeats became four and led to the resignation of head coach Mano Polking.

On Saturday, Boskovic has the opportunity to do damage to another of his old clubs when Chonburi take on Port FC.

The Sharks’ ACL hopes hang by a thread after last week’s loss at BG Pathum United, but they defeated another ACL challenger in Ratchaburi a couple of weeks ago and will hope for the same again this weekend.

Chonburi have won five of their six T1 home matches this season and will hope to make their home advantage count against a Port side that has won five in a row.

Boskovic was controversially released by Port at the midway point of the 2019 campaign and will perhaps feel he has something to prove in this one. The Montegrin struck again last week, though it was ultimately a consolation in a 2-1 loan at BG.

Boskovic retains a winning mentality and his leadership on the pitch may be vital if Chonburi hope to keep their slim ACL hopes alive.

2. Buriram bid for third successive win after finally coming alive

Watching Buriram United at Sukhothai last weekend was like watching a different side compared to the one that meekly surrendered at home to Nakhon Ratchasima in October.

All of the intense, energetic pressing that had been missing from the side was there in abundance as they smothered the Fire Bats in a dominant first hour in which they took a 2-0 lead. The defence then held firm when the home side built up a head of steam before Buriram killed them off with a late sucker punch.

This was a more familiar Buriram than the one that had generally laboured through the season so far as well as for much of 2019.

There has been a notable improvement in some individual performances in the last couple of matches, with Supachai Jaided scoring the same number of T1 goals in the last two games (2) as he did in the whole of 2019.

Kevin Ingreso has done enough to earn himself a new contract, while Jakkaphan Kaewprom’s form has him looking much more like his old self following almost two years of fitness issues.

Samut Prakan City are unlikely to relish their visit to the Chang Arena on Sunday, having won just one of their previous five matches to leave them just above the relegation zone.

Alexandre Gama may be starting to stamp his identity on this Buriram United team again and a third straight win would provide further evidence of his impact.

3. Totchtawan aims to pile pressure on Rangsan

Police Tero and Bangkok United were flying high at the start of the season, with Tero winning four of their first five matches, while Bangkok United went 100% over the same sequence. Since then Tero have failed to win at all, while the Bangkok Angels finally managed a victory again just last weekend.

Bangkok United’s slump forced the resignation of head coach Mano Polking and the appointment of Totchtawan Sripan. Having failed to win any of his last seven matches, Tero boss Rangsan Viwatchaichok must be wondering how much more time he will get to turn things around.

Totchtawan will be determined to ensure that Bangkok United’s winning run does not end at one and a home victory on Saturday would further increase the pressure on Rangsan.

Totchtawan must have breathed a huge sigh of relief last week when only a wonder save in added time prevented Trat from pulling back a two-goal deficit and claiming a point. As it was, Bangkok United ended a six-match winless streak on the new coach’s debut and there will be high hopes that this can be a turning point in the season. Depending on how other results go, Bangkok United can also get back into contention for an ACL spot with a victory.

Rangsan’s team has lost the high energy pressing that characterised their early season performances and he will have to work hard on a plan to stifle the Bangkok Angels and ensure Tero get back on track.

4. Ratchaburi set to take on step closer to ACL spot

Given Port FC’s current form, qualifying for a place in the 2020 ACL group stage looks an increasingly distant hope for Ratchaburi. However, if the Dragons can take care of business between now and their meeting with Port on December 13th, they can still hope to take second spot. 

On Saturday, they make the journey to face a Suphanburi sight that is still recovering from a bruising 4-0 defeat at Port last Friday. Ratchaburi’s recent form has been too inconsistent to confidently predict that they will come out on top, but if they have serious ambitions to keep their Top Two hopes alive, a win is an absolute must.

Yannick Boli’s role remains an interesting footnote in his side’s quest. Ratchaburi’s joint top scorer is expected to move to Port during next month’s transfer window, so his current goals could potentially harm his future employers.

Nevertheless, Boli has thus far remained committed to his current employers as four goals in his last three games demonstrate. Ratchaburi need this form to continue as they stay in the hunt for second place.

Paul Murphy

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