Buriram United hope to prove that their recent recovery is not a false dawn when they host Ratchaburi on Thai League (T1) Matchday 17.
It has been a challenging season for Alexandre Gama’s side as they missed out on qualification for the AFC Champions League (ACL) due to a slow start. However, they have won five of their last six T1 matches to move into fourth place and a victory on Saturday would see them leapfrog the Dragons and into third.
Elsewhere, BG Pathum United will aim to maintain their seven-point lead at the top of the table with a win at Police Tero, while Prachuap and Suphanburi meet in a huge relegation battle.
Buriram aim to pick up where they left off
Buriram United have generally been a shadow of their former selves over the last two years. But recent form has seen signs of a sustained revival.
Gama’s return to the club he led to the T1 title in 2014 and 2015 is beginning to look like a smart move for both parties as he lifts the club out of a rut of inconsistent form.
Recruitment of foreign players has been one of the biggest issues in recent years and, once again, Buriram have to integrate several new signings at once. All eyes will be on the likes of Brazilian strikers Samuel and Maicon to make a difference, while Australia’s Brandon O’Neill and Myanmar’s Aung Thu add other options.
Having had time over the league’s suspension to help the new players adapt, they should be confident of a positive result against a Ratchaburi side that has lost its best striker in Yannick Boli.
Both sides were boosted by FA Cup wins in midweek but Buriram’s penalty shootout victory at Port FC was more impressive than Ratchaburi’s edgy extra-time triumph over T3’s Songkhla.
BG’s dream duo may be set to shine
Diogo Luis Santo could have illustrious company in the BG Pathum United frontline when the league leaders make the short journey to face struggling Police Tero on Saturday.
Diogo made a brief cameo as a substitute against Suphanburi in December and now Teerasil Dangda may be ready to take his place alongside the Brazilian in a strike partnership that promises to be the final piece in the BG jigsaw.
The Rabbits have built their title bid on an extremely mean defence and set piece goals. With the added flair and goal threat of Diogo and Teerasil, they now look unstoppable on paper.
If the strike pair are selected, they will still have to live up to the considerable hype that has greeted their arrivals back in Thailand, with Diogo having spent two years in Malaysia while Teerasil was in Japan in 2020.
It is certainly an exciting prospect, but Tero will be determined to keep them out as they target a vital three points, having won just one of their last 11 games.
Prachuap and Suphanburi face off in classic six-pointer
Prachuap’s recent run of just one point from nine leaves them in the relegation zone, three points behind Suphanburi. Victory over the War Elephant on Sunday would be a huge boost in their bid for survival. They cannot contemplate a defeat that would leave them six points behind Suphanburi and at least five points behind other clubs.
Uzbek defender Artyom Filiposyan has returned to the club and he, along with former Thai international Anawin Jujeen, provide significant experience at the back. They need striker Willen Mota to keep up the form he was showing before the break, while William Henrique remains despite much speculation that he would leave.
But Suphanburi have made a couple of eye-catching signings that could help them in their bid to move away from trouble. Veteran striker Leandro Assumpcao could forge a formidable partnership with Herlison Caion as head coach Adebayo Gbadebo attempts to avoid a similar ending to the 2019 season.
The visitors may be satisfied with a point but only a victory will do for the home side.
Samut Prakan hope to avoid a role reversal
The first enforced suspension of the T1 season could not have come at a worse time for Bangkok United. They topped the league after winning four matches in a row when the first lockdown was announced.
When they returned to action six months later, the Bangkok Angels could not rediscover their form, quickly slid down the table and Mano Polking was replaced by Totchtawan Sripan as head coach. Totchtawan has not been able to engineer a revival so far, and Bangkok United were on a streak of just one T1 win in 11 after Matchday 16.
Samut Prakan, on the other hand, endured a miserable start to 2020, but they very much hit their stride following the league’s initial suspension and ended the first leg as one of the league’s form teams.
Bangkok United will be hoping for a reversal of this trend when they host the Sea Fang on Sunday. The early signs are promising as they were boosted by an FA Cup victory on Wednesday that sees them into the quarterfinals. Meanwhile, Samut Prakan were flat in their defeat at Muangthong United.
Bangkok United could slip into relegation trouble if they don’t start picking up wins but Masatads Ishii’s men will be aiming to make it five T1 wins in a row.