Mario has double vision as Kirins host old rivals Buriram

Muangthong United head coach Mario Gjurovski is targeting a league double against Buriram United on Thai League (T1) Matchday 25 on Saturday.

The Kirins won 3-2 at the Chang Arena in Gjurovski’s second match in charge and Muangthong will hope to defeat their rivals again and close the gap between the sides to four points.

At the bottom of the table, things are getting more desperate for Suphanburi who need three points at Police Tero, while the Bottom Two meet in a match between two sides that look doomed.

Mario aiming to make up for lost time

As a Muangthong United player for four years, Gjurovski was never on a winning team against Buriram. He was a player who rose to the occasion and he scored several goals in what was often a fiery clash between the two dominant teams in Thai football in the 2010s. But the playmaker never came away with three points.

He immediately put that unfortunate statistic behind him as a head coach, traveling to Buriram and taking three points in a 3-2 victory in October. Gjurovski must now lift his players after Tuesday’s surprise home loss to Police Tero as he attempts to make it two wins out of two against Alexandre Gama.

But this looks a much tougher proposition than it was four months ago. Back then, Buriram had taken just one point from three matches and had lost to Nakhon Ratchasima in their previous fixture at the Chang Arena. Gama’s side go into Saturday’s match on a five-match winning streak and having won 12 of 14 games since that defeat to Gjurovski’s side.

It has been almost five years since Muangthong’s class of 2016 secured the club’s first league double over Buriram. It will take an upset over an in-form team for Mario’s class of 2021 to match the achievement.

Suphanburi running out of time

A home match against a side that had suffered a 6-0 home defeat just three days earlier looked like the perfect opportunity for Suphanburi to take a much needed three points in their battle against relegation. It was all going according to plan when Sakunchai Saengthopho gave the home side a first-half lead against Samut Prakan City on Wednesday.

But the visitors turned things around and left town with a 2-1 victory and left Suphanburi in the relegation zone following a 10th defeat in 12 games. If the War Elephant are going to dig themselves out of this hole, they need to start winning and the match at Police Tero on Saturday is surely one of the better opportunities in what looks a very tough run-in.

Tero had looked like joining Suphanburi for a relegation fight but a recent revival has seen them move nine points clear of Adebayo Gbadebo’s side. Tero’s 2-1 triumph at Muangthong United has further lifted morale.

The veteran Dragan Boskovic has really made a difference since signing for Tero in mid-season, while Teerathep Winothai has also played his part, including netting the winner at the SCG Stadium.

It can’t be argued that Suphanburi’s mid-season buys haven’t delivered. Caion and Leandro Assumpcao have scored a combined eight goals in eight games. But the Brazilian strikers need more backup to ensure that they stay up.

Trat could put Rayong out of their misery

Relegation for Rayong is only a matter of time and it could be confirmed this weekend if they lose at Trat. With just 10 points on the board, Masami Taki’s side are destined for an immediate return to T2 regardless.

Trat look very likely to join them, but they could have the teams above them looking nervously over their shoulders if they can take three points in this one. They have a kinder run-in than some of the teams who are also battling to beat the drop but a win in a fixture like this is absolutely essential.

But despite suffering their ninth straight defeat at home to Ratchaburi on Wednesday, Rayong have not been making it easy for their opponents. They lost by just one goal to BG Pathum United and Chiangrai United, while they were just one behind against Port FC and Ratchaburi before late goals killed them off.

English center-back Adam Mitter picked up an injury in midweek and may be absent from a match that Rayong will hope to win in their attempts to finish a tough campaign with a flourish. But Trat certainly look to have the stronger squad and while they maintain a glimmer of survival hope, they should emerge triumphant.

Changing of the guard at the Leo Stadium

With the T1 title in the bag, BG Pathum United’s attention will now turn to having an invincible season. Buriram United’s 2015 treble winners were the last team to go through a T1 season undefeated and BG host last season’s champions in the latest test of their mettle.

Chiangrai United’s defence of their title has been somewhat subdued but they will surely be determined to show that they will be ready to challenge again next season. If BG have indulged in too much celebration and lost focus, Chiangrai will be ready to take advantage.

The Beetles showed the fighting spirit that took them to the 2019 title when they beat Chonburi 4-3 at home on Thursday. But BG have shown that they can mix things up and have taken whatever teams can throw at them in their stride. 

It promises to be a fascinating clash as BG’s history makers look to add another chapter to an incredible story.

Paul Murphy

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