Defending Champions and Relegation Strugglers in Need of Points

After delays and postponements marred the opening weekend of the Thai League’s second leg, all 16 T1 sides returned to action in the League Cup. Now with rule changes in place, we can look forward to a full slate of fixtures this weekend.

Can Dusit Return BG to Winning Ways?

Both Muangthong and BG Pathum were left disappointed on Matchday 16, taking the lead against Chonburi and Ratchaburi respectively before being pegged back and held to a draw. After four games without a win in the league, the defending champions now sit just one place above their hosts on the standings.

Muangthong suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Uthai Thani in midweek, starting with a lineup comprised mainly of substitutes before bringing on the regulars in the second half. Meanwhile, BG Pathum turned on the style against Songkhla and ran out 4-1 winners, with new signings Worachit Kanitsribampen and Ikhsan Fandi both on the scoresheet.

This fixture was played on the final day of last season, in which Muangthong were able to inflict BG’s only defeat of the campaign and prevent them from securing an invincible title at the final hour. It was Dusit Chalermsan’s one and only top flight defeat with the Rabbits before he was stunningly replaced by Aurelio Vidmar in the off-season. Curiously, he is yet to win a league game with the club since his reappointment – a run he will be hoping to break at the same venue where it started.

Second Successive Relegation Scrap for Prachuap

Prachuap will be looking to make amends after their 1-0 defeat against Khon Kaen United last week, which saw them dominate proceedings but fail to break through the King Cobras’ defence. They were reduced to 10 men late on due as defender Adnan Orahovac lashed out at opposing defender Alef, meaning the club will be without their star defender for their next match.

The Killer Wasps will once again be hosting a relegation six-pointer, this time facing Suphanburi FC, who sit one place and two points above them. This will be Suphanburi’s first league game of 2022, as their match against Chiangmai United was delayed last week due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

Despite shrewd winter business and a host of interesting signings, Suphanburi were stunned by third tier side Krabi FC in midweek, losing 3-2 in the final minute of extra time. Prachuap similarly had a marathon of a game against second-tier Lamphun Warrior, but were the beneficiaries of a stoppage time own goal which sent them through to the last 16.

Neither side can afford to drop points in this match, and both will likely be playing for a win. However, avoiding defeat is even more crucial for the hosts, who could be in a truly dire situation if results don’t go their way this weekend.

Buriram’s Belated Return to Action

After their match against Police Tero was postponed last week, the long awaited debut of head coach Masatada Ishii and return of Theerathon Bunmathan took place in the League Cup instead. Buriram’s midweek trip saw them travel to Rayong FC, who they defeated 2-0 courtesy of goals from debutant Jonathan Bolingi and fellow returnee Sasalak Haiprakhon, back from a loan spell with K-League giants Jeonbuk. The side lined up in the same 4-4-2 which Ishii fielded in Samut Prakan, with Theerathon playing the same ‘inverted’ role he played for both the Thai national team and former club Yokohama F. Marinos.

Their hosts on Sunday, Chiangmai United, have a new forward line to debut as well, featuring Chiangrai United loanees Bill Rosimar and Ekanit Panya. The pair will reunite with former boss Ailton Silva, with whom they won the 2019 Thai League and were arguably the league’s outstanding players of that campaign. Making up the nine-point deficit needed to rescue their new side may be an even tougher task than their feat three years ago, and it is crucial that they get off to a good start.

Elsewhere, Bangkok United will be eager to pick up all three points when they host Samut Prakan City on Sunday evening. Yasushi Yoshida’s men looked good in the first half of their match against Nongbua last weekend, though their defensive collapse in the second will be a worry.

Nongbua themselves will host third-placed Chonburi this weekend, where their new forwards Barros Tardeli and Mahmoud Eid will hope to impress the home crowd and link up with top marksman Hamilton Soares.

Port FC followed up their frustrating draw last weekend with a loss at the hands of Muang Loei United in the league cup, and will be hoping for a better result on their travels this weekend. Meanwhile, their hosts Khon Kaen United are on the rise, following up last week’s victory over Prachuap with a cup triumph over Kasetsart.

Lastly, Ratchaburi host Chiangrai while Nakhon Ratchasima travel to Police Tero.

gianchansrichawla

Thai League fan and writer. Editor at Football Tribe Asia. University student.

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