The Killer Wasps will be competing in their fourth consecutive top flight campaign, having been promoted for the first time in 2018. The sea-siders have achieved a fair amount on a tight budget, and have developed a reputation for resilient home form and impressive recruitment.
After hovering just above the relegation zone for long portions of last season, Prachuap survived thanks to a late run of form which saw them finish in 10th place. Despite that, senior management saw fit to replace long-time head coach Thawatchai Damrong-Ongtrakul, who oversaw their promotion into Thai League 1, in hopes of progressing the team forward with a new man at the helm.
Head Coach – Masami Taki
Masami Taki was considered a fairly under-the-radar appointment for Chiangrai United at the start of last season. Between working as a youth coach in his native Japan for clubs such as Cerezo Osaka, Jubilo Iwata and Vissel Kobe, Taki had two spells with Thai Honda FC in the lower tiers. His 1.64 points per game tally was a fairly decent return for Chiangrai, and turned out to be enough to see them qualify for the 2021 AFC Champions League before his contract expired at the end of the season’s first leg.
The Japanese coach then signed with Rayong FC, a club rooted to the bottom of the league and likely doomed before his arrival. While there was no great escape for the Dragon Horses on that occasion, many noted an uptick in performances and the rejuvenation of key members of the squad. Now with the time and space to work, this upcoming season will be the true test of Taki’s abilities.
Key Player – Adnan Orahovac (CB, Montenegro, age 30)
The towering central defender from Montenegro has been with the club for four years now, having first joined in 2018. His consistent performances have made him arguably the club’s most important and reliable player during their spell in the top flight. Prachuap severely struggled in his absence during the first half of last season, which was due to COVID-19 travel bans. His defensive strength will be crucial in providing a platform for the Killer Wasps to build upon this season.
Key Player – Ratchapol Nawanno (CM, Thailand, age 35)
An experienced head at the base of midfield, Ratchapol will likely wear the campaign’s armband for the Killer Wasps this season. Defensively solid and usually tidy on the ball, he has been a key presence since joining from Muangthong in 2018. At 35 years old, there will surely be younger players looking to snag his starting spot, but his performances during the last campaign suggest that feat won’t necessarily be easy.
Rising Star – Mehti Sarakham (LW/ST, Thailand, age 22)
A highly talented and pacey attacker, Mehti Sarakham failed to break into the first team at both Buriram United and Samut Prakan City before finally getting his chance at Rayong FC. The versatile forward excelled under Taki’s guidance last season, and was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dour campaign for the Dragon Horses. Now rejoining his boss at Prachuap, Mehti’s continued development could be an exciting watch this season.
What’s to like
Based in a picturesque sea-side town, Prachuap are a small team consistently punching above their weight. The club’s commitment to their previous coach for an impressive five years earned them plaudits from neutral observers, and their fearlessness to re-invent themselves despite avoiding relegation last season should also be commended.