Buriram Extend Lead as Rivals Drop Points
After a dramatic draw against Police Tero and a frustrating defeat against Prachuap, Buriram United returned to winning ways this Saturday. The game was a significant one for head coach Masatada Ishii, as he returned to the home of his former side Samut Prakan City, whom he left in the middle of the season.
The hosts were in poor form coming into this game, and are yet to win a single league match since Ishii’s departure. The side have fallen into the relegation zone under the stewardship of head coach Yasushi Yoshida, and were beaten by bottom-side Chiangmai United last weekend.
A reverse of this fixture was just played out in midweek, as the Sea Fang visited Buriram for the League Cup Round of 16. Coach Yoshida sent out a significantly weakened team, hoping to keep his preferred eleven fit and fresh for their more important league encounter. Buriram, meanwhile, went full-strength in both matches and managed to emerge with consecutive victories; their league triumph was sealed by a sole goal from Jonathan Bolingi.
As a result of their victory, the league leaders climbed eight points clear on top of the table. Meanwhile, the same teams which frustrated Buriram in recent weeks were now to thank for their rivals faltering. Bangkok United suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Prachuap, who overtook Samut Prakan to come within two points of an unexpected relegation escape. Police Tero continued their recent form with a late winner against Chonburi, who slipped down to fourth place in the process.
Khon Kaen United Continue Excellent Run
The King Cobras are now eight points clear of the relegation zone, sitting fairly comfortably in 9th place. Their success has come as a result of their performance in the ‘six-pointers’ against their direct relegation rivals: their results include doubles over Prachuap and Suphanburi, as well as away wins against Chiangmai United and now Nakhon Ratchasima this weekend.
Their turnaround is made all the more impressive by the fact they managed just one win in their opening seven games this season. Their five defeats during that run also included a 7-0 demolition at the hands of Chonburi, after which many thought they would be unable to recover and avoid relegation.
However, coach Carlos Eduardo Pareira was able to turn the situation around and get the players back onside, a commendable feat of man-management from the 40-year-old Brazilian. The side are led by talisman Ibson Melo, but their organization and quality all over the pitch is extremely commendable. Players such as Jakkit Palapon, Phalakon Wokiang, and Adisak Sosungnoen have emerged from obscurity to become solid and reliable contributors at a top-flight level.
Ratchaburi Comeback Relieves Relegation Worries
The dugout at the Mitr Phol stadium hosted yet another new face on Sunday evening, as Portuguese boss Bruno Pereira stepped in to take the reins from caretaker player-coach Jakkaphan Pornsai.
Having recently arrived in Thailand from Al-Nasr in Oman, Pereira oversaw the side’s 0-0 draw against Bangkok United from the stands before taking charge for the 1-0 victory over Police Tero in the League Cup. His side found themselves a goal down thanks to a moment of individual brilliance from William Henrique, but they managed to turn the tide with goals from Kasidech Wettayawong and Sittichok Kannoo, after dominating proceedings for most of the game.
Ratchaburi will rightly believe that they are ‘too good to go down’ with the squad at their disposal, though surviving relegation will have to be the first priority for the new boss. Taking the points off a direct rival – and an in-form one at that – makes this victory all the sweeter for the Dragons.