Port and Muangthong Look to Recover from FA Cup Defeats
Both Muangthong United and Port FC were dumped out of the FA Cup Round of 16 in midweek. The former’s result comes as a bigger embarrassment, as they were beaten by third-tier outfit Uthai Thani FC, who had recently also knocked them out of the League Cup, while Port failed to progress past defending league champions BG Pathum United.
Both managers are eager to return to winning ways, and the derby provides a perfect opportunity to get fans back onside. Muangthong suffered their first home defeat of the league season last weekend against leaders Buriram, while Port have had a turbulent start to the second leg, with two draws and a loss since the January restart.
Former Muangthong goalkeeper and fan favorite Kawin Thamsatchanan made his debut for Port in their cup match against BG Pathum, and could be set for an emotional return to the Thunderdome Stadium if he keeps his place. Striker Adisak Kraisorn is unavailable due to being on loan from the Kirin. With Nelson Bonilla on international duty with El Salvador, it will be interesting to see if the visitors play without a recognised center-forward, or trust 19-year-old Teerasak Poeiphimai to lead the line.
Meanwhile, Muangthong United are without playmaker Weerathep Pomphan and right-back Boontawee Thepwong due to yellow card accumulation – both will be big misses for the team. All of the side’s foreign players were present for their midweek disaster against Uthai Thani, save for ASEAN quota defender Jesper Nyholm.
A typically intense and fiery fixture, neither side can afford another defeat in what should make for an enthralling game.
SPC Coach Yoshida Needs First League Win
Life in Samut Prakan hasn’t started too well for new boss Yasushi Yoshida. The former Urawa Red Diamond’s coach has only registered one win with the Sea Fang since his arrival, a 3-1 victory over third-tier Pluakdaeng United in the League Cup. He suffered his first league defeat in midweek, after three consecutive draws in January. As a result, the side have slipped into the relegation zone, overtaken by Suphanburi, who have found their second wind.
His team’s trip to face Chiangmai United is surely the best opportunity to correct that record. The Northern side are now seven points adrift at the bottom of the table, with only one win to their name all season. They also parted ways with head coach Ailton Silva after their most recent game, a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Suphanburi, while assistant manager Surachai Jirasirichote has been promoted to take his place.
If the Sea Fang fail to capitalise on their hosts struggles this weekend, they could be in for a difficult battle against the drop.
In-Form Chonburi Have Chance for Landmark Victory
Chonburi were expected to be competitive in the top half of the Thai League table after their business in pre-season, but very few, if any, would’ve thought that the side would be in third place at this stage of the season.
Rather than falling away, the campaign’s biggest over-performers have stepped up into an even higher gear since the restart, and come into this game on the back of wins against Khon Kaen United and Port FC. South Korean striker Yoo Byung-Soo has scored four goals in his last three league outings, while new signing Faiq Bolkiah has caught the eye. Youngsters such as Chitsanupong Choti and Ratchata Moraksa have stepped up in recent weeks, joining the ranks of Kritsada Kaman, Chatmongkol Ruengthanarot and Songchai Thongcham as Sharks wonderkids.
Their upcoming trip to Chiangrai United could be the most significant test of the side’s credentials yet. The Beetles have had a quiet season, sitting in 6th with little hype surrounding the team. They are preparing for their third AFC Champions League group stage campaign in April, and the resulting fixture congestion could take a toll on their fairly thin squad. If they want to be in the competition once again next season, they will likely need full points from this game.
While the Sharks have been excellent at home, they’ve only won 3 of their 7 games on the road so far, and Chiangrai are the only side this season to have come away from the Chonburi Stadium with a win this season.
Elsewhere, league leaders Buriram United dropped their first points under new coach Masatada Ishii in midweek, when they played out a thrilling 2-2 draw with Police Tero, featuring no less than three stoppage time goals. They host a Prachuap side who picked up their first win since October against Korat last weekend.
Tero will be hoping to carry the momentum from their midweek heroics to their upcoming match against Nongbua Pitchaya. The Gamecocks have been excellent so far this season, climbing up to 8th in the standings, and their are unbeaten since the league restart last month. However, they are yet to win a single game on their travels so far this season, so this fixture could provide a chance for Tero to get some more distance between them and the drop zone.
Chasers Bangkok United are at home to Ratchaburi, hoping to close the six-point gap between them and the league leaders. The visitors, meanwhile, have to worry about their proximity to the drop zone just three points away. Interim player-coach Jakkaphan Pornsai presided over a frustrating 0-0 draw with Samut Prakan on his debut match, leaving them in need of more points.
Lastly, Khon Kaen United host a newly invigorated BG Pathum, bouyed by the recent goalscoring form of new signing Ikhsan Fandi, while Suphanburi will be looking to build on from their recent drop-zone escape when they host Nakhon Ratchasima.