Khon Kaen v Bangkok Utd
Police v Chonburi
BEC Tero v Nakhon Ratchasima
Bangkok FC v Air Force
PTT Rayong v Thai Honda
Ratchaburi v Chiang Mai
TTM Customs v Samut Songkhram
TOT v Ayutthaya
Sisaket v Ang Thong
Songkhla Utd v Singh Tarua
Siam Navy v Bangkok Glass
Osotspa Saraburi v Muangthong Utd
Nakhon Pathom Utd v Suphanburi
Buriram Utd v Chainat
Chiang Rai Utd v Army
Nakhon Nayok v Trat
The standard in Division 1 is the weakest (in my opinion) it's been for five seasons, so teams like Nakhon Ratchasima, Phuket and Bangkok FC will see this as a great chance of finding an escape route to the TPL. The team in the trio's way at this moment are table toppers Ang Thong. They will be hoping to emulate Chiang Rai United, Buriram FC, Chainat and Ratchaburi who have all recently taken the express route from the regional leagues to the top flight. Ang Thong are a hard working team that knows where the back of the net is. I'd say they are possibly punching above their weight and whether they can last the distance remains to be seen.
Nakhon Ratchasima are the only side yet to lose and they have only conceded four goals in ten matches. The experienced Ivan Boskovic seems to have found his level and is Korat's leading scorer. The league's top scorer alongside Mark Babo Landry is Valci Junior with nine goals. The well travelled Brazilian has filled the shoes vacated by Lee Tuck and if Bangkok FC can get a full season out of Valci, then the bitter disappointment of missing promotion at the death last season would be erased from their memory. Phuket surprisingly stuck with Deco as coach despite a horrific run of form towards the end of 2013. The former Chiang Rai Utd coach was given time to bring in his own players and this has reaped dividends for the Islanders.
Below the top four, Phitsanulok, Saraburi, Chiang Mai and Ayutthaya all have potential to break into the top three provided they can string a run of form together. Siam Navy and TTM are also in the top half of the table but I can't imagine either of those two being TPL bound come the end of the season.
At the bottom, it's a question of which three sides will accompany Sriracha Ban Beung to the lower leagues next season. The goals of Matius Recio have dried up at Khon Kaen and the T-Rex are consequently five points from safety. Roi Et haven't adapted to the first division as well as anticipated and one win from ten matches leaves Nakhon Pathom United in the bottom four alongside the White Squirrels. Krabi have found scoring goals difficult but their saving grace could be their defence which is leaking less than one goal per game. Pattaya have won four from their last six to recover from a disastrous start while BBCU are slipping in the opposite direction after an encouraging opening. On their day Trat can beat anybody in the league but they have been far too inconsistent so far.
As the TPL table stands just now, it appears that any five from the seven below will be taking the drop to the first division.
Current Position: 14th
Kouprey can be reasonably pleased with their return to the TPL after
a lengthy courtroom battle left them idle for the majority of 2013.
aren’t many household names in the squad, but that’s possibly why it’s
so far. Their key to survival is beating the teams currently below them
table. At this moment, they are just above danger zone courtesy of goal
difference. The important factor for Sisaket is to remain in the TPL and
build from there.
Current Position: 15th
parted ways with the wily Sasom Pobprasert during the off-season and they
probably regret doing that now. His replacement Rui Bento didn’t even make it
to Songkran festival and former Police coach Thawatchai has been given the task
of saving the Angels. I expect he'll be one of the busiest mangers in the upcoming transfer window as he brings in fresh faces to replace some of the well paid journeymen currently at the club. In the meantime, losing 7-0 at Tero a fortnight ago hardly inspires
confidence and the underachieving squad are in real danger of
dropping down a division.
Current Position: 16th
dream of being the Buriram of the south has never emerged and the club are on
route to return to the first division were the now extinct Songkhla FC once lingered.
The Fighting Bulls are averaging less than one goal per game and the have the equal worst
defensive record in the league. That’s not a good combination. Home form could
be their savior.
Current Position: 17th
It’s been a
Jekyll and Hyde start to the season for Police. An impressive 5-1 win over Air
Force and a 1-1 draw at Muangthong wasn’t capitalized on with the club losing
five out of their next six games. That run cost Carlos Roberto his job and he’s
been surprisingly replaced by Mika Lonnstrom. The Finn was recruited from a Roi
Et United side that were second from bottom in Division 1. If Police can get
their strikers firing, then they should be able to avoid the drop.
Current Position: 18th
Millionaires got off to a decent start and a comfortable mid-table finish
appeared on the cards. However, the turning point in their season came when
they blew a 2-0 lead at home to Chonburi, eventually drawing 2-2. Since then,
their solid defensive unit have started shipping goals and their only win came nine games ago against Samut Songkhram. Fortunately, for the club, they have
the money and resources to revamp their squad for the second leg.
Current Position: 19th
dysfunctional club seemed set for a stable season after a new sponsorship deal
allowed them to make early purchases in the transfer market. Unfortunately hardly any of them have lived up to their billing. The upgrade of
their home stadium has seen them relocate to the stadiums of Ratchaburi and
Army. In their absence from home, they’ve lost all four contests. The Mackerels
only win was at Air Force and they need to return to home base as soon as
possible if they have any chance of survival.
Current Position: 20th
dismal return to the top flight for Air Force. With no wins in 11
appears incredibly likely that they will be making an instant return to
second tier. Instead of building on their promotion winning team, they
dismantled it and brought in several new faces. Lee Tuck was acquired
Bangkok FC and with Kouassi Hermann, they were expected to bang in the
Neither of the duo have managed to find their first division goal
and as a result Air Force are rooted to the floor of the TPL. They are
already 7 points from safety and are in danger of being cut adrift at
Part 3 features the clubs that aren't expected to win the title but at the same time are far too good to go down.
Current Position: 4th
wasn’t high at the Home of Gentleman pre-season but so far most of the Army
support have been pleasantly surprised with what they have seen. In hindsight, I really should have included Army in the 'surprise packages' section rather than this one. Matt Elliott
has his side playing decent football and the unexpected emergence of Tanakorn has
boosted his side’s goalscoring options. With Goran Jerkovic upfront as well, Army are guaranteed goals provided the Frenchman is provided ammunition inside the box. New signing Wellington Priori has become a fan favourite and similar to Anderson dos Santos at Chonburi, he is just as comfortable in the back four or playing the slightly more advanced defensive midfield role. Army finished 7th last year
and they won’t finish far off that spot again. They will face a stiff test in the month of May as four of their next five games are against the top 4 sides of 2013.
Current Position: 7th
have a decent roster of players and are looking good for a top six finish. The
only hindrance appears to be their temporary home at the Rajamangala. Apart
from a 7-0 thumping of Songkhla, they’ve had a lean time at the national arena.
On the road, Osotspa are unbeaten and have enjoyed more success on their
travels. With Chananan, Komenan and Aron da Silva, the Saraburi club have no shortage of firepower.
Current Poition: 12th
Hornbills apparently have one of the biggest budgets in the league yet they
still linger in mid-table. Defensively they have been relatively sound but they don’t
score enough goals. They'll need to capture a striker or two to provide them with sufficient goals if they are to attain a top half finish. Unfortunately for Chainat, the only award they look like they’ll be winning in 2014 is the worst
shirt in the TPL.
Current Position: 11th
Glass have continued to be consistently inconsistent. On their day they can
beat the best and then follow that up with a dire performance against one of
the weaker sides. They have struggled away from their astroturf and have lost four out of six away days. BG are good going forwards but a couple of new defenders must be a
requirement when the transfer window reopens.
Current Position: 9th
fourth placed finish last year, Suphanburi were expected to kick on and were
considered title candidates. They brought in Mano Polking as coach from Army
who then proceeded to bring Bjorn Lindemann and Jung Myung Oh with him. The
fact that their position is no better than Army’s in 2013 shouldn't come as a big
surprise. In all honesty, Mano has a tough act to follow after the club
exceeded all expectations last season. Nonetheless, not even the most optimistic of the Suphanblood contingent would have predicted their 5-2 humbling of Muangthong last Sunday. That result coupled with Dragan Boskovic's imminent return from injury indicates that brighter times are ahead at Suphanburi after their sluggish start.
Current Position: 13th
flirtation with relegation last season, the northern side are back into their
more accustom mid-table position. Leandro Assumpcao has returned from Chonburi
and is the club’s top goalscorer. Pichitpong has brought grit and experience to
the middle of the park and home form should see them finish somewhere in the
middle of the pack.
Part 2 has a look at four of the sides doing slightly better than anticipated.
Current Position: 3rd
have offered any Singh Tarua fan 20 points after 10 matches in February, they’d
have bitten your hand off. The goalscoring form of Leandro Luz in the first
month of the season propelled Tarua to the top of the table. The Brazilian’s
form tailed off in April but other players stepped up and hard graft has seen
them grind out three gritty 1-0 wins recently. The big concern now is the long term injury loss of Leandro. The TPL leading goalscorer isn't expected to return
until the latter weeks of the campaign. In this season of unpredictability,
it’s difficult to envisage where Tarua will be positioned in the table by the time
he returns. The back up strikers of Joo Sung Hwan and Thierry Fidjeu have yet to impress and a big onus will now be on the effective central defensive pairing of Lee Sang Ho and Jakkapong to keep it tight at the back.
Current Position: 4th
second half of last season, TOT were atrocious. They only managed to stay
afloat because they had collected a decent haul points in the first half of
the season. During their woeful run, they were without the duo of Lee Junki and
Takahiro Kawamura for long periods. The fact that they are both back to full
fitness is no coincidence on how well TOT are doing this term. They aren’t
pretty to watch yet they should avoid any relegation scares this time around. A top ten finish and a year away from danger would be seen as progress.
Current Position: 8th
came flying out of the traps and they were being considered as serious title
contenders after six matches. The fact that they had travelled to Suphanburi,
Buriram, Chonburi and Muangthong and remained unbeaten astounded the Thai football
public. The manager of the month award for March was given to new boy
Ricardo Rodriguez but since then Ratchaburi have stuttered through an easier
batch of fixtures dropping to 8th in the process. A top 6 finish is a
realistic target for Ratchaburi
Current Position: 2nd
club are the only side yet to suffer defeat and they are probably the second favorites in the title race.
Their chief goal hawk Cleiton Silva departed for Mexico in the New Year and it
was highly anticipated that his goals would be a huge loss. However, Tero have
been defensively sound so far and their goals have been shared around the squad.
The news that Cleiton Silva may return for the second leg could be the final
piece in the jigsaw to end Tero's 12 year wait for a top flight title. In my opinion, they need to add another couple of quality signings if they are to lift the TPL trophy in November.
The TPL season to date has been one of the most unpredictable in recent memory. Here is a look at how the 20 TPL clubs are faring thus far. The first part focuses on the three sides that have dominated the title race during the last five years.
Current Position: 1st
couple of early unconvincing home performances, Muangthong have emerged from
the pack to top the table. The club parted ways with Scott Cooper after barely
a month of the season and they are currently under the temporary guidance of
caretaker Pon Chomchearn. The Twin Quilins have won their last four matches and on three
occasions they have netted four goals on their travels. In Mario Gjurovski
they have the TPL’s joint top goal scorer and arguably the best player in
Thailand. Jay Bothroyd has started finding the back of the net and that should
ease the blow when fans’ favorite Teerasil departs for Almeria on his one
season loan deal. The only worry for MTU would be their goals against column.
If they can stop conceding sloppy goals, then a return of the TPL crown to
Nonthaburi seems highly likely.
Current Position: 12th
It’s been a
difficult start for the 2013 treble winners. They have already been eliminated
from the AFC Champions League and their patchy league form has dropped them into the unfamiliar surroundings of
mid-table. The loss of Osmar Ibanez to FC Seoul has left Buriram weaker in both
boxes. The paper thin squad has struggled to deal with the burden of two games
in a week and it’s fair to say that the new signings haven’t lived up to
expectations. It's expected that a few of the foreign recruits will be shipped out and a clutch of new signings will arrive when the transfer window reopens next month. Under Alejandro Menendez, some of his players appeared to lack match fitness and
it was hard to fathom out his tactical formations at times. He has subsequently lost his job and the task
of salvaging something from this season rests on new head coach Bozidar
Bandovic’s shoulders. The target for the Serb will be to claw back the 10 point deficit on Muangthong and retain both the domestic cups.
Current Position: 5th
had a clearout of fringe players at the end of last season and similar to Buriram United they
never adequately strengthened during the break. The biggest fear of all
Chonburi fans came into being when star player Thiago Cunha was ruled out with injury
for the first half of the season. With mother nature catching up on Pipob and
Therdsak, there is a shortage of attacking threat at Chonburi. New coach
Masahiro Wadaseems a bit more clued up
them the previous incumbent, Withaya Laohakul, but with virtually the same
starting 11 to pick from, it’s hard to foresee Chonburi challenging for the title
this season. Another season of mediocrity and lack of silverware would not go down well with the Chonburi faithful.