Last year’s surprise package in Thai League 2, Lampang defied all the odds to win the promotion playoffs and secure a place in the top flight this season. The Emerald Chariots are punching well above their weight just by being in the division, and are many peoples’ favorites to go straight back down to the second tier.
The side are partnered with fellow T1 club Nongbua Pitchaya and haven’t invested as much as their fellow promoted clubs Sukhothai and Lamphun. One thing that may work in their favor is their inhospitable home ground and notorious pitch condition, which will likely be a stumbling block for some of the league’s more established, possession-based sides.
Head Coach – Sukrit Yothee
Sukrit Yothee has established himself as a promising up-and-coming coach over the past few seasons. After a three-year spell as an assistant at Nongbua Pitchaya, he was appointed in charge of feeder club Udon United FC in the Northeastern Amateur League at the age of 36.
After earning promotion to T3 in his first season, he went on to comfortably win the league’s Northeastern division with 15 wins from 16 games, ending the campaign nine points clear of their closest challengers. Unfortunately, his side lost the playoff finals to Rajpracha and missed out on back-to-back promotions.
However, Sukrit himself jumped up a division to take charge of Lampang FC, bringing many of the players he had worked with from the Udon United-Nongbua Pitchaya system with him. Together, they took a side that had finished 12th the previous season into the playoff spots, before beating heavy favorites Trat FC to win promotion. His achievement saw the Sukrit awarded as the T2 manager of the year last season,
Key Player – Deyvison (Striker, age 30)
Deyvison’s 20 goals from 28 league appearances last season were crucial in helping Lampang win their unlikely promotion, and saw him come second in the race for the Golden Boot. Fans will be hoping that the Brazilian marksman can carry that form over to the top division.
Rising Star – Jirunpong Thamsiha (Goalkeeper, age 25)
A product of Chonburi FC’s youth academy, goalkeeper Jirunpong Thamsiha first signed for Lampang FC in early 2020. He spent the 2020-21 campaign as the club’s first-choice keeper, making 21 appearances as the club finished 12th the season before coach Sukrit’s arrival.
His performances earned him a move to Prachuap FC, where he deputized for Kwanchai Suklom. Jirunpong ended up making eight league appearances and put in some impressive performances for the Killer Wasps. However, he has opted to return up north to join his former club in the top flight. His services in goal will surely be needed if the side are to stave off relegation this season.
Expectations for the season
In all honesty, it would probably take a minor miracle for Lampang to avoid relegation this season, as their squad has little T1 experience and no star names have been brought in.