Khon Kaen United and Nakhon Pathom United are set to face off in order to secure the last ticket to the 2021-22 Thai League season in T2’s playoff final,
Both sides are in the hunt for three successive promotions, after they were both demoted to T4 in 2018 due to financial and licensing troubles. Astoundingly, this will also be the third consecutive time they have played each other in a playoff, with the King Cobras of Khon Kaen taking the win to secure the T3 title in 2019 while Nakhon Pathom took the T4 crown the year prior.
The Isaan outfit secured their place after beating Phrae United, who were themselves a side promoted from T3 the previous year, following up a 3-1 away win with a 2-1 comeback victory at home to secure their place. Meanwhile, Nakhon Pathom overcame a challenge from Chainat, also winning both legs with a 4-1 aggregate scoreline.
For Khon Kaen, a victory in the playoff final will earn them their first-ever promotion to the top flight; an impressive feat considering that they were only founded in 2015. The side are currently coached by Patipat Robroo, a long time assistant at the club who took over in a caretaker position after the resignation of Sugao Kambe late in the regular season. He led the King Cobras to the T3 title under similar circumstances last season, taking over from Sarayuth Chaikamdee. The 39-year-old will be hoping to repeat the feat once again, and will surely garner attention from across the country if he is able to pull it off.
Meanwhile, Nakhon Pathom boast a far longer history, playing in the Thai top flight from 2007 to 2009. They are currently coached by Thongchai Sukkoki, who has been with the club since their disastrous drop to T4 in 2017 and is now just a step away from leading them all the way back into the top flight. The continuity of his leadership along with growing investment from the board have been crucial in propelling the King Tigers’ rise.
Both these clubs have climbed the divisions together and showed incredible ambition along the way. By next week, one of them will become just the second team in Thai League history to complete three successive promotions (after Ubon UMT), and recent history shows that there is very little to separate these two sides.