Last season was a story of two halves for Ratchaburi. First leg euphoria, which saw them qualify for the AFC Champions League for the first time in their history, was followed by a lacklustre second half in which the side registered only 5 wins from 15 games. Things eventually levelled out in eighth place, which many feel was a fair result all things considered.
Fresh off the back of their continental adventure, the Dragons will hope to build on that experience and improve even further. Given the strength of the squad, a top-half finish will likely be the minimum expectation within the camp. However, how good this coming season will be all depends on which Ratchaburi shows up in the crucial moments.
Head Coach – Somchai Maiwilai
An ever-present in the dugout, Somchai Maiwilai has been with the club since 2009 (when they were in the third tier of Thai football) and has made a career out of waiting patiently on the sidelines before stepping in to steady the ship between managerial tenures. He has more or less been de-facto head coach since the 2019 season, apart from short spells when Milos Joksic, Seksan Siripong and Nuengruethai Sathongvian were in the dugout. Given the volatility of the managerial situation at the club, his presence seems to be one of the few constants for the Dragons.
Key Player – Steeven Langil (Winger, Martinique, age 33)
Steeven Langil has undoubtedly been Ratchaburi’s talisman and standout star since joining the club back in 2018. Formerly of Nimes and Auxerre, Langil featured in the 2010-11 UEFA Champions League with the latter and even scored against Dutch giants Ajax. He arrived in Thailand via spells in Belgium, Poland and the Netherlands.
Capable of playing on either flank, Langil is known for his incredible dribbling ability and deadly pinpoint crosses with his favoured right foot. He registered an impressive 7 goals and 11 assists last year, and seems hungry to improve on that tally this season.
Key Player – Pawee Tanthatemee (CB, Thailand, age 24)
Towering central defender Pawee Tanthemee has become the heart of his side’s back-line over the past few seasons. Born in Ratchaburi, Pawee joined the Dragons’ academy after finishing high school at Bangkok Christian College and has always looked destined to be a big player for the club. His imposing frame and stature are a good start, but Pawee adds fierce determination and reading of the game to complete the package.
A fan favorite who regularly puts in crucial defensive contributions, Pawee’s performances earned him a call-up for the senior national team, for which he made his debut in 2019. He has taken the captain’s armband this season after the departure of Philip Roller, despite being one of the younger members of the squad – a testament to his importance and ability.
Rising Star – Thanathorn Chanphet (Winger, Thailand, age 19)
A skillful and diminutive winger, Thanathorn primarily plays on the right and likes to cut in onto his stronger left foot to cause damage to opposition defenses. He spent last season on loan with Lampang FC in the second tier, where he made 19 appearances and found the net twice. While he is unlikely to get regular game time this season, it is clear that Ratchaburi have a future star on their hands should they carefully nurture his talent.
Reason to Follow
Ratchaburi only has one gear – attack. Attempts to sit back and defend in the AFC Champions League yielded no results, so we can expect a return to familiar form for the Dragons during the upcoming league campaign. Furthermore, the club’s purpose-built stadium is one of the best in the country and is another draw for the neutrals.