Monday, February 16, 2015

5 Things I Noticed on the Opening Weekend

The standard of refereeing has not improved.
If anything it has gotten worse. The season opener between Saraburi and Chonburi will best be remembered for a shocking performance from the man in the middle. Missing one of the most blatant penalty decisions I've ever seen was bad enough, but it was his failure to master the basics that was more distressing. There were so many bad calls on corner and offside decisions.
On Saturday in the dying minutes of Army v Navy, the ref pointed to the spot when an Army defender had quite clearly made a last ditch tackle. On realizing his error, he then booked the Navy player for diving in a bid to save face. TOT players and coaching staff were also furious with the dithering match official after he allowed a disputed late goal for Ratchaburi.
It just makes you wonder if any training has been given to the referees during the close season.

There seems to be an extra sprinkling of pre-match fannying about.
The huddle was discussed indepth in the Chonburi clubwebsite 'tap room' last year, and with the exception of a couple of responses, the verdict was thoroughly negative. These days there is an obligatory minimum of two huddles per team. It seems now that they are trying to 'outhuddle' each other by seeing who can maintain their huddle for the longest time. Factor in the increasing trend for players to stand in front of their supporters while they sing the club anthem to them, it's almost ten minutes between the time players come out the tunnel to the kick off.

Where have all the glory hunters gone?
When Thailand lifted the AFF Cup back in December, they were cheered on by a new breed of younger fan. The YouTube generation though have shunned their domestic league in preference of other activities.
There was generally no significant increase in crowds for the season openers. As expected, it was packed to the rafters at Nakhon Ratchasima, but elsewhere attendances weren't overly impressive in the TPL. Arguably Chainat could be pleased with 8,000+ and 20,000 at Buriram is still a lot of people.  
In Division 1, the ten games played attracted less than 20,000 spectators. The highest crowd of the weekend was at newly promoted Sukhothai with 3,223 in attendance.

Saraburi and Navy are going to struggle.
I watched both of their games this weekend, and even though they received some praise, they both appear to be slightly out of their depth. Saraburi were gritty against a Chonburi side that appeared to have their eye on their AFC trip to Japan this Tuesday. Even though they overran a lightweight Chonburi midfield for periods, they rarely troubled the Chonburi keeper. Douglas and Bireme Diouf have plenty of TPL experience and they need to hit some consistency if Saraburi are to survive. That looked like Saraburi's best effort on Friday evening and it's difficult to imagine that they have anything more in the tank.
Navy on the other hand were incredibly negative at Army. When defending corners they had 11 men back in the box and even when they were chasing an equalizer, they still left three men standing on the halfway line while they had a corner kick. If they are going to use the height of Georgie Welcome then use it in the danger zone. It's pointless hitting long balls up the touchline for him to flick on. They won't be easy to beat, as Army discovered, yet at the same time they'll be lucky to average a goal a game on this display.

Is it worth screening live games at 6pm?
On Saturday and Sunday just as many of us were settling down for the football, the live feed was cut and the Junta news was broadcast on every channel. Like me, I'm sure you all enjoy digesting the daily news bulletins from the powers that be. However, this interruption is not a new practice for the TV sport companies. It's been ongoing for almost one year now. So, it would make sense to start the live games at 6.30 or 7pm rather than missing the first 20 minutes of action every week.

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