The Bangkok Angels have been among the league’s strongest sides over the past five to six seasons, but they are yet to win a major trophy during that time. Initially the favorites to break the Buriram-Muangthong duopoly, they have been superseded in recent times by the likes of Chiangrai United, Port FC, and now their noisy neighbors BG Pathum United.
Last year was a transitional season for the capital club, as they replaced long term coach Mano Polking and sought to take the team in a new direction. Their task was certainly made tougher by the stop-start nature of the campaign, but they will be disappointed with their 5th place finish, which represented their worst since 2015. The side have recruited well during the off season, and will likely be in contention for Champions League qualification this year.
Head Coach – Totchtawan Sripan
A former Thai international with over 100 caps as a player, Totchtawan Sripan had a romantic start in management, guiding his hometown club Saraburi FC from the fourth tier all the way to the top flight. Following a successful spell with Police United, ‘Coach Ban’ was tapped for one of the biggest jobs in Thai football, taking charge of Muangthong United’s ‘dream team’ of budding national team stars in 2016. The former midfielder won the league in style, and followed that up with a run to the knockout stage of the AFC Champions League in 2017.
After departing the Kirin in 2018 on the back of poor results, Totchtawan struggled to implement his style of football at Police Tero and Suphanburi FC. He returned to club management midway through last season, having served as Akira Nishino’s right-hand man for the Thai national team from 2019. Known for his progressive style of football, he still is considered by many to be one of Thailand’s best coaches, and will be looking to reassert that status this season.
Key Player – Heberty Fernandes (Attacking Midfielder/Striker, Brazil, age 32)
Undoubtedly one of the league’s greatest players of all time, Heberty amassed 124 goals from 183 games playing for Ratchaburi FC and Muangthong United between 2014 and 2020. He joined Bangkok United midway through last season after a short spell at Port FC, and reunited with head coach Totchtawan after their time together at the SCG Stadium. Primarily operating as a support striker or inside forward, Heberty’s game has evolved over the years from playing on the last line of defence to dropping deep into pockets of space to pick up the ball and drive forward. He managed to score 9 goals from 15 games during the second half of last season, and will be hoping to further improve that tally now that he’s had more time to settle in with his new teammates.
Key Player – Thitipan Puangchan (Central Midfielder, Thailand, age 27)
Captain and leader of last year’s title-winning BG Pathum United side, Thitipan made a surprise move to the Thammasat Stadium after failing to agree new terms with the Rabbits. The Thai international joins Bangkok United on an initial loan deal for the remainder of 2021, and looks set to sign a longer-term deal at the end of that period.
The former J.League midfielder is known for his relentless energy and a tidy all-round game, capable of both breaking up and launching attacks in equal measure. Thitipan’s presence has also been crucial for the national team in recent years, and is arguably a game-changing acquisition with regards to what’s possible for Bangkok United this season.
Rising Star – Nattawut Suksum (Striker, Thailand, age 23)
Arguably last year’s most impressive breakout performer, Nattawut Suksum returned from his loan with FC Tokyo in style, netting 11 goals from 29 appearances for the Angels. His predatory instinct and finishing ability make him a rare player in Thai football and rightly earned him a call up to the senior national team.
However, this coming season will likely be far tougher for the budding marksman. Nattawut will be competing with Australian target-man Anthony Carter for a starting spot, who clearly offers something different in terms of all-round play. How the young forward responds to these new demands and adapts his game could greatly affect the trajectory of what looks to become a very exciting career.
Reason to Follow
From Mano Polking to Totchtawan Sripan, the side have always been committed to playing expansive football, which looks to continue this season. Whether this club and this approach can finally scale the last hurdle to deliver a major trophy is a perennially exciting watch in the Thai League.