Suphanburi have made a habit of cheating death in recent years. They were saved in 2019 by the sudden dissolution and folding of PTT Rayong, allowing them to remain in the division despite finishing in the bottom three. Things looked dire for the Elephants once again last season, but the arrival of Brazilian forwards Caion and Leandro Assumpcao turned things around with a combined 14 goals during the seasons’ second leg, culminating in a dramatic final-day victory over Sukhothai which sent the Fire Bats down in their place.
The side will hope they won’t have to pull off a dramatic escape for a third year running, and will be looking to stay clear of the drop zone this time around. Regardless, their experience fending off relegation might give them an advantage should things come down to the wire again.
Head Coach – Adebayo Gbadebo
Adebayo has worked at Suphanburi in various capacities since 2012, and is currently in his second spell as head coach. He guided the side to safety after the departure of Totchtawan Sripan midway through the 2019 season, and remained in charge through the entirety of the 2020-21 campaign. All things considered, the Nigerian coach has done well to keep the club in the division given the budget and conditions at the club. His team is built on defensive solidity first and foremost, while relying on foreign players to make the difference in the final third.
Key Player – Suphan Thongsong (Center Back, Thailand, age 27)
Suphanburi native, club captain, and senior Thai international Suphan Thongsong is (quite literally) synonymous with the club he plays for. His return from injury was a massive reason behind their great escape last season, and he regularly puts in dominant defensive displays to grind out points.
However, he is yet to renew his contract with the Elephants, and is set to become a free agent in December. As would be expected, he has attracted interest from the league’s top sides and could be angling for a move. The club need to do all they can to keep him for the business end of the season.
Key Player – Lossemy Karaboue (Attacking Midfielder, Ivory Coast, age 33)
Signed from Ratchaburi during the off-season, Karaboue will likely be the difference maker for Suphanburi this season. Capable of playing down the middle or on either flank, the Ivorian is lethal in the final third with his pace and dribbling ability. However, he has shown a preference for dropping into deeper positions and taking on the responsibility of a playmaker – a profile that the club have not had in recent seasons.
Rising Star – Chayapol Supma (Right Back, Thailand, age 23)
After impressing during the second half of last season on loan from Muangthong United, Suphanburi moved to retain Chayapol Supma’s services for another year. A solid and versatile player, Chayapol is capable of playing on either side of defense as both a full-back in a four or wing-back in a five. While defending is his primary strong suit, he has also shown an ability to get forward and contribute to attacks when needed.
Reason to Follow
Despite their struggles, the side remains one of the league’s best supported clubs, and the passion on display after their dramatic survival last season is testament to that. Fans will be hoping that the club can use that memorable moment and remarkable achievement as a launching pad to return to their former glory.