Saturday, March 31, 2012

Thai Port 0-1 Police United

Police United won their first game of the season as they kept Thai Port rooted to the foot of the TPL table.

The gloomy gray skies surrounding the PAT Stadium during the game reflected the mood of the home fans throughout and they vented their feelings at the final whistle after another meek performance saw Thai Port lose their fourth consecutive game of the season.

The first half was largely forgettable, but it improved after half-time as Police upped the tempo. Surachart could easily have broken the deadlock twice shortly after the break. His first attempt was blasted over the bar with only the keeper to beat, and his second effort was tipped onto the post by Wanlop.

Police had been the better side and they were rewarded on 72 minutes when Leandro slotted home a pass from the right to net Police United's first goal this season.

As the game was drawing to a close, there were three sending offs within the space of a few minutes. The first to go for an early bath was Thai Port's Kiatjaroen for two yellows and he was closely followed by his teammate, Ittipol, for a similar offence to reduce the homeside to 9 men. The referee obviously fancied doing some after match paperwork as he dismissed Police United's Jerry Amara with a straight red (I think) in the final moments.

In between all the dismissals, Steven Robb's slided effort was denied an equalizer by the Police keeper, Patarakorn, and Pokkhao of Police missed a sitter from yards out after Wanlop had produced a smart save.

As the match finished, Mario Cesar was desperately baying for a handball in the area from the final play of the game.

As mentioned earlier, the final whistle was greeted with cries of "ork bai" by the Klong Toei army towards the clubs owners/management. The latest rumour tonight is that Piyakul Kaewnamkang has resigned as Thai Port head coach and Adul Luekijna has stepped into the role.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Weekend Preview 30 March - 1 April

Buriram United v Osotspa Saraburi
Army United v BBCU
TOT v Chonburi
Thai Port v Police United

BEC Tero v Chiang Rai Utd
Chainat v Muangthong
Bangkok Glass v Pattaya
Samut Songkhram v TTM
Isan United v Wuachon Utd

It's been a troubling start for Thai Port and Police United. Both sides sit in the bottom two and between them they have scored only one goal. Incidentally, that goal was an own goal scored by ex-Thai port favorite Ekkapoom who now plies his trade at Muangthong. It's not pleasant to say this at such an early stage in the season, but three points are essential for both sides this weekend. The loser of this contest will be in a very precarious position.
On the flip side of the coin, it's been an encouraging start to the season for Muangthong, Army Utd and Pattaya. A win for Muangthong at newly promoted Chainat this weekend won't be easy. Army will reacquaint themselves with their old tenants, BBCU, and Pattaya face their toughest test so far as they travel to unbeaten Bangkok Glass.
Thailand's AFC representatives, Buriram and Chonburi, spring back into action after a midweek siesta. Buriam welcome Osotsapa and Chonburi are back in the northern Bangkok environs once again as they visit TOT.
BEC Tero and Chiang Rai earned their first wins on Wednesday and they'll be looking to build on that when they meet at the Thephasadin. The fixture between Samut Songkram and TTM doesn't suggest many goals and Isan Utd v Wuachon is a tight one to call.

Division 1
Air Force v Suphanburi
Ratchaburi v Khon Kaen
Chantaburi v Korat
Siam Navy v Raj Pracha

PTT Rayong v Songkla
FC Phuket v Bangkok Utd
Pattalung v Sriracha
Krabi v JW Rangsit
Saraburi v Bangkok FC

Similar to the TPL, the bottom two sides clash in the first division. Before the season started, Saraburi and Bangkok FC were seen as potential dark horses to be involved in the promotion race. Somehow this hasn't happened as the pair of them are stuck to the bottom with zero points.
Four of the current top six play each other this weekend. It's fifth against first with PTT Rayong v Songkla and Pattalung in second host Sriracha in sixth. Ratchaburi and Suphanburi complete the top six with Ratchaburi taking on Khon Kaen and Suphanburi visiting the Thupathemi to play Air Force.
The rest of the fixtures see Chantaburi v Korat, Siam Navy v Raj Pracha, FC Phuket v Bangkok Utd and Krabi v JW Rangsit.

Div 2 BKK
Rangsit FC v Samut Prakarn Utd

Customs Utd v Luk Isan
Kasem Bundit v Nontaburi
Samut Sakhon v Chamchuri Utd
Globex v R-BEC
North Bangkok v Thai Honda

Kasetsart v Prachinburi FC
Bangkok Christian v Assumption Thonburi
Central Lions v Krung Thonburi

Division 2 Bangkok can trump division one with all of the top six playing each other this round. On Saturday Globex in fifth host high scoring R-BEC and fourth placed North Bangkok welcome third placed Thai Honda. On Sunday the biggie is Samut Sakhon v Chamchuri. The Chulalongkorn team now face some stiff tests after their early season fixture card was relatively kind to them. A win at Samut Sakhon would once again stamp their authority on the league table after they dropped their first points of the season last weekend.

Midweek 28th March - Review

Chiang Rai Utd 1-0 Samut Songkhram
Police Utd 0-2 BEC Tero
Pattaya Utd 1-0 Thai Port
Muangthong Utd 2-2 Bangkok Glass
TOT 3-3 Wuachon Utd
Army Utd 1-0 Isan Utd
Osotspa Saraburi 1-0 BBCU

Kone Mohamed scored his first goal back in Muangthong colors to earn the Kirins a 2-2 draw with Bangkok Glass. It was the away side who broke the deadlock on 38 minutes when Saruta scored before Muangthong levelled from the spot seconds before the break. Leesaw restored the lead for the Glass Rabbits on 52 minutes, but it wasn't to be enough as Kone's goal with 10 minutes left meant the spoils were shared.
It was a tale of 1-0 home wins as four of the seven contests finished with this outcome. Pattaya and Osotspa had to be patient before eventually beating Thai Port and BBCU. Chiang Rai's early goal was enough to hand Samut Songkhram their first loss this season and Tatree was Army's scorer as they beat Isan United 1-0.
BEC Tero finally got their season going with an encouraging 2-0 triumph at Police. Both goals were scored by Cleiton Silva in a four minute spell midway through the second half.
The game that produced the most goals was at the TOT Stadium as TOT and Wuachon split the points in a six goal thriller.

Division 1
Bangkok FC 1-2 PTT Rayong
Songkla 2-0 Krabi
JW Rangsit 1-4 Siam Navy
Raj Pracha 4-0 Chantaburi
Korat 0-1 Phuket
Bangkok Utd 0-1 Ratchaburi
Khon Kaen 1-1 Air Force
Suphanburi 0-0 Pattalung
Sriracha 2-0 Saraburi

The first division has a five way tie at the top with Songkla, Pattalung, Ratchaburi, Suphanburi and PTT Rayong all on 7 points. The unexpected leaders are Songkla who moved to the summit after a 2-0 home win over Krabi. Songkla's Elvis had Krabi all shook up with a couple of goals while Suphanburi and Pattalung cancelled each other out in the league's top billed game. Ratchaburi left it late at Bangkok United and PTT Rayong came from a goal behind to hand Bangkok FC their third straight loss of the season.
There were impressive 4 goal victories for Siam Navy and Raj Pracha as they both jumped into the top half of the table. Sriracha moved onto six points and sixth place with a 2-0 victory over struggling Saraburi. Phuket now sit one place behind Saraburi in seventh after they collected a satisfactory 1-0 at Korat. And finally, Air Force were denied their first win of the season as Khon Kaen scored in injury time to salvage a point.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Bangkok United 0-1 Ratchaburi

A last gasp goal from Ratchaburi inflicted a 1-0 victory over 10 men Bangkok United at the Thai-Japanese Stadium. It was slightly harsh on the home side as they'd fought bravely and seemed the more likely winners in the second half despite being a man short.

Strangely enough, in the first 45 minutes, Ratchaburi were the better side when it was 11 v 11. Douglas and Chitpon went closest for Ratchaburi in the opening period as the Dragon's play had more intensity about it than their hosts.

On 43 minutes, Bangkok United were reduced to 10 men when Alef was sent off for receiving two yellow cards within the space of a couple of minutes.

The visitors for some reason were subdued in the second half as Romain Gasmi began to stamp his authority on the game. An inswinging free kick midway through the half evaded everyone in the box and hit the post, and a defence splitting pass from Gasmi was blazed over the bar by Chatchai minutes later.

Just as the Angels looked to have earned a hard fought point, they were hit with a sucker punch when Ratchaburi's captain, Prayad, headed in at the near post from a 93rd minute corner to win the points for the Dragons.

I'm sure both clubs will be aiming to be in the promotion shake up come the end of the season. If Ratchaburi play like they did in the first and likewise Bangkok United in the second, then I'm certain the pair of them will be pressing for a top three finish. However, if you reverse the halves, then I'd reckon it will be mid-table finishes for the two sides.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Wednesday 28th March - Preview

Chiang Rai Utd v Samut Songkhram
Police Utd v BEC Tero
Pattaya Utd v Thai Port
Muangthong Utd v Bangkok Glass
TOT v Wuachon Utd
Army Utd v Isan Utd
Osotspa Saraburi v BBCU

The TPL has sensibly decided to include midweek fixtures this year. For the 2011 season, somebody came up with the bright idea to only play games on weekends. That was to prove a regretful decision as the season dragged on for 49 weeks due to ever-changing scheduling, postponements for international matches and of course, the flood.
Buriram United and Chonburi have been granted respite to prepare for their ongoing AFC competitions. That leaves the Muangthong v Bangkok Glass contest as the eye catching match this Wednesday evening. The last time these two sides came together in the TPL, Muangthong trounced BG 6-2. That result was probably the highlight of a disconcerting 2011 for the Kirins while it was a night that the Glass Rabbits have tried to erase from memory.
Thai Port will play their third consecutive match on the road with a tricky trip to Pattaya. Likewise for Wuachon and BEC Tero, it's their third away day, with visits to TOT and Police respectively.
Chiang Rai will play Samut Songkhram at the Mae Fah Luang University Stadium and they'll be aspiring to be the first team to score a goal against the Crazy Mackerels this season. Osotspa will be expecting a home win over BBCU as should Army United when they host Isan Utd.

Division 1
Bangkok FC v PTT Rayong
Songkla v Krabi
JW Rangsit v Siam Navy
Raj Pracha v Chantaburi
Korat v Phuket
Bangkok Utd v Ratchaburi
Khon Kaen v Air Force
Suphanburi v Pattalung
Sriracha v Saraburi

The first division has a full card this midweek as we enter the third round of contests. It has been an appealing beginning to the season with a top two of Pattalung and Suphanburi currently leading the way. The duo at the helm will clash in Suphanburi on Wednesday evening. Pattalung have hit the back of the net seven times in their first two games while Suphanburi have yet to concede. Suphanburi will start as favorites but the Swiftlets have already shown us this season that they are not to be underestimated.
Ratchaburi will face a stiff test of their promotion credentials as they travel to Bangkok United. The Bangkok Angels have a lousy home record in the past couple of seasons and this needs to be addressed. Korat will fancy beating Phuket while there is the intriguing southern derby with Songkla and Krabi set to grapple for 3 points.
Bangkok FC, Air Force and Saraburi have still to register any points. The Bulligans host PTT Rayong, Air Force fly up to Khon Kaen and Saraburi will play Sriracha on the Blue Marlin's artificial surface.
The other games are JW Rangsit v Siam Navy and Raj Pracha v Chantaburi which will inevitably only be watched by a few hardy souls.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Weekend Review 24-25 March

Isan Utd 2-1 Osotspa Saraburi
TOT 0-2 Army Utd
Chainat 1-1 Wuachon Utd
Pattaya 1-0 BEC Tero
TTM 0-0 Chiang Rai Utd
Bangkok Glass 0-0 Chonburi
Muangthong Utd 5-1 Thai Port
Samut Songkhram 1-0 Police Utd
Buriram Utd 3-0 BBCU

Burning effigies
It's business as usual as the last two champions of the TPL lead the way on six points. Buriram United could afford to rest several first teamers in their 3-0 victory over BBCU. Muangthong United showed they are the real deal as they disposed of the lacklustre Thai Port 5-1. Bangkok Glass and Chonburi kept in check with a point each in a 0-0 draw at the Leo Stadium.
Razor wire
Isan United won their first match in their new lodgings at the Tung Barupa Stadium by beating Osotspa 2-1. However, it was the events off the field which unsuitably took center stage. Prior to the match, security was beefed up and razor and barb wire were put around the vicinity of the stadium to deter unwanted Sisaket fans from causing trouble. It should be noted that during the match there were plenty of non-protesting Sisaket followers behaving themselves impeccably inside the stadium.  Just before half time though, a group of Sisaket fans carrying banners and megaphones turned up outside the away end and set alight a couple of effigies with Isan Utd tops. My feelings are with the Kouprey faithful, but this charade is not a good advert for Thai football!!
Anyway back to the action. There were wins for Pattaya, Army United and Samut Songkram while the games between Chainat v Wuachon and TTM and Chaing Rai ended in draws.

Division 1
Sriracha 4-1 Bangkok FC
Pattalung 3-2 Khon Kaen
Ratchaburi 1-1 Korat
Siam Navy 2-2 Songkla
FC Phuket 1-1 Raj Pracha
Chantaburi 2-2 JW Rangsit
Krabi 1--1 PTT Rayong
Air Force Utd 2-3 Bangkok Utd
Saraburi 0-1 Suphanburi

After two matches Pattalung and Suphanburi still have perfect records having taken a full 6 points from their first two games. If you want entertainment, then Pattalung appear to be the team to see. Their first two games have conjured up 11 goals. On Saturday they raced into a 3-0 half-time lead against Khon Kaen, but had to hold on nervously in the second period after conceding two goals. Suphanburi etched out a 1-0 win at Saraburi with a goal from Nawin to maintain their 100% winning record.
At the other end of the table, it's been a slow start for Bangkok FC, Saraburi and Air Force who prop up the league on zero points. The Bulligans will be disheartened to have started the season badly after well-provided investment was made in the close season. They might argue that they've played both games away from home against tough opposition. Next up for Bangkok FC is another tricky one against PTT Rayong. It is at home though, so a point must be the minimum requirement. Saraburi have had two difficult openers against Khon Kaen and Suphanburi, so form will be expected to be picked up once they have easier fixtures. The same could be said for Air Force who have lost to promotion candidates, Korat and Bangkok United.

Division 2 Bangkok
Luk Isan 0-0 North Bangkok
Thai Honda 3-2 Central Lions
Nontaburi 1-2 Customs United
Samut Prakarn Utd 2-1 Bangkok Christian
Assumption Thonburi 0-0 Globex
Krung Thonburi 0-1 Kasetsart
R-BEC 3-1 Samut Sakhon
Kasem Bundit 2-2 Rangsit FC
Prachinburi FC 0-0 Chamchuri Utd

Chamchuri dropped their first points of the season as they were held to a 0-0 draw at Prachinburi. Nonetheless they still have a three point cushion on last year's relegated sides, R-BEC and Thai Honda. The youthful R-BEC are the league's highest scorers with 15 goals. Thai Honda have quietly gone about their business and sit in third place. The other relegated team, CustomsUtd, beat ailing Nontaburi 2-1 to move themselves into mid-table.

* A big thank you to Thai Port Blogspot for providing the two photos. If you'd like to catch up on the latest news from Thai Port or read more on the Isan Utd v Osotspa game, then I recommend that you check out:

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Bangkok Glass and Chonburi Ends in Stalemate

TPL championship hopefuls, Bangkok Glass and Chonburi, played out a 0-0 draw at the Leo Stadium.
The first chance of the game came on 9 minutes when Sintaweechai had to tip a Samuel Ajayi shot around the post. From the resultant corner, Hiek's downward header bounced narrowly over the bar.
Chonburi's best chance of the half came on 14 minutes when the unmarked Kroekrit headed wide when he really should have it the target. Had Pipob been on the end of the cross, surely he would have opened the scoring.
The home team seemed happy to allow Chonburi possession and hit on the break using Ajayi and Saruta's pace.
On the half hour, Ajayi's shot smacked the base of the post after he'd played a one-two with Chatree. Minutes later the outside of the same post was struck by a cross from Sutee.
Chonburi had been quiet, but they reminded BG that they were still in the game when Ludo's powerful shot was knocked wide by Kritsakorn.
In first half injury time, Sintaweechai was called into action again to make a good save from Saruta's shot across goal. That was the last action of the half as the score was goalless at the break.
The second 45 minutes speaking politely was drab. The closest the game got to a goal was a Suree header from a Chonburi corner that sailed 3 feet over the bar.
Overall,  a point each is a reasonable return for both sides. They pair of them remain undefeated and their defences have yet to breached.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Toyota League Cup 2012 - Regional Draw

The draw for the regional league teams entering the Toyota League Cup was made yesterday.
There will be 4 teams qualifying from the South while there will be 6 each from the North, Northeast, Central & East and Bangkok equaling 28 teams in total who will join the 36 TPL/Div 1 teams in the last 64.

The Bangkok draw:

Chamchuri / Kasetsart v Globex
Central Lions v R-BEC
Kasem Bundit v Rangsit FC
Nontaburi / Thai Honda v Luk Isan
Customs Utd v Prachinburi FC
Samut Prakarn Utd v Krung Thonburi

North Bangkok, Samut Sakhon,  Assumption Thonburi and Bangkok Christian appear not to have entered. In total, 69 of the 81 region teams are in the cup.

The other regions are:

Nakhon si Thammarat v Nara Utd
Pattani v Phang Nga
Surat Thani v Hat Yai
Yala appear to have a bye

Kamphaengphet / Nan v Nakhon Sawan
Chiang Rai FC / Tak v Petchabun
Phichit v Uttaradit
NSRU / Phitsanoluk v Singburi
Lampang v Uthai Thani
Lamphun Warriors v Sukhothai

(Central & East)
Prachinburi Utd / Petchaburi v Ayutthaya
Kabin City / Sa Keao v Chachoengsao
Trat / Pathumthani v Muangkan
Nakhon Nayok / Lopburi v Ang Thong
Thanyaburi / Rayong v Thai Fleet
Prachuap / Samut Prakarn FC v Maptaphut Rayong

Mahasarakham v Sisaket Utd
Chaiyaphun / Yasothon v Nong Khai
Udon Thani / Ubon Tiger v Sakhon Nakhon
Nong Bua Lamphu / Roi Et v Nakhon Panom
Surin v Amnat Charoen
Kalasin v Mukdahan

The extra ties will be played on 3/4 April and the final qualifiers on 10/11 April.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Weekend Preview 24-25 March

Isan Utd v Osotspa Saraburi
TOT v Army Utd
Chainat v Wuachon Utd
Pattaya v BEC Tero
TTM v Chiang Rai Utd
Bangkok Glass v Chonburi
Muangthong Utd v Thai Port
Samut Songkhram v Police Utd
Buriram Utd v BBCU

Pre-season TPL favorites Buriram United, Chonburi and Muangthong enter the second round of games seeking to build on opening day victories.  Buriram should have too much for BBCU and if Thai Port's opening game is anything to go by, then Muangthong must be feeling the same way. Chonburi have struggled on their last couple of visits to the Leo Stadium and won't find it easy again as Bangkok Glass aim to make it two wins out of two.
The game between Isan United and Osotspa promises to be a contemplative affair. This will be Isan Utd's first game at their new home in Ubon, much to the disgust of the followers of Sisaket FC. The Kouprey diehards made their feelings well known last week when they attended the game between BBCU and Isan Utd at the Rajamangala. They booed every time Isan Utd touched the ball and some over enthusiastic fans even invaded the pitch when BBCU scored. Most fans of other Thai football clubs are in support of the Sisaket fans and hope that one day in the near future that they can get back to supporting the club that they love. Whether or not Osotspa have a few new fans in attendance for the game on Saturday remains to be seen.
The other games of TOT v Army, Chainat v Wuachon, Pattaya v BEC Tero, TTM v Chiang Rai and Samut Songkhram v Police should all be close contests and I can see a few of these being draws.

Division 1
Sriracha v Bangkok FC
Pattalung v Khon Kaen
Ratchaburi v Korat
Siam Navy v Songkla
FC Phuket v Raj Pracha
Chantaburi v JW Rangsit
Krabi v PTT Rayong
Air Force Utd v Bangkok Utd
Saraburi v Suphanburi

Division 1 sees Ratchaburi and Korat cross swords again and Korat will have a score to settle after they lost to Ratchaburi in the Division 2 Play-off final three months ago. The other two promoted sides, Krabi and Pattalung, will be buoyed by first day wins. Pattalung will play host to Khon Kaen and Krabi welcome PTT Rayong.
For the Bangkok sides, it was a terrible start and they'll be seeking to kick start their seasons. Bangkok United will be eager to forget their 4-2 home loss to Pattalung last week. They make the shortish trip up Vipavadee Road to Air Force who will also be out to earn their first points. Bangkok FC are away again, this time at Sriracha. Raj Pracha and JW Rangsit both have long journeys with Raj heading to the island of Phuket and JW going to Chantaburi.
The Saraburi v Suphanburi tie should test the title credentials of Suphanburi and Siam Navy face Songkla in Sattahip.

Division 2 Bangkok
Luk Isan v North Bangkok
Thai Honda v Central Lions
Nontaburi v Customs United
Samut Prakarn Utd v Bangkok Christian
Assumption Thonburi v Globex
Krung Thonburi v Kasetsart
R-BEC v Samut Sakhon
Kasem Bundit v Rangsit FC
Prachinburi FC v Chamchuri Utd

It's been five wins out of five for Chamchuri as they have stormed to the top of the league, although it should be noted that four of these games have been played at home. On Sunday they'll face their biggest test of the season to date as they travel to Klaeng to face Prachinburi FC. Also on this day, 4th placed R-BEC will meet 2nd placed Samut Sakhon. A draw in this game would suit North Bangkok, Globex and Thai Honda as they target closing in on the leading pack.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Double Joy on AFC Matchday 2

AFC Champions League - Group H

Kashiwa Reysol 5-1 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors
Guangzhou Evergrande 1-2 Buriram United

Buriram United moved to the top of Group H with a fantastic 2-1 win over Guangzhou Evergrande. Make no mistake, this wasn't a smash and grab as Buriram deserved their victory against their much fancied opponents.  Frank Achaempong was immense throughout and was unlucky not to have opened the scoring in the first half after he was twice put through clear on goal. The Ghanaian's pacey runs were a handful for the Guangzhou right back all night and on the hour he won the Thai side a penalty which was converted by Suchao. Ten minutes later the Chinese side were back in the match when Cleo headed in a Mariqui cross. It was cruel considering the hard work Buriram had put in, but on 78 minutes they restored their lead when Achaempong tapped-in after good work from Ohandza. The Thunder Castle's defence lead by Ekwalla held out for the remainder of the match as Buriram announced themselves onto the ACL stage.
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors suffered another 5-1 mauling as they were beaten by Kashiwa Reysol. The damage was done in the last five minutes of the first half as the Koreans conceded three goals to trail 3-0 at the break. Last year's beaten finalists are now in massive danger of being eliminated in the group stages.
Next up for Buriram is a double header with the ailing Jeonbuk Motors.  There is no evidence so far to suggest that the Thai side can't collect at least 4 points from the next two games and move on to the next stage. That would be an incredible accomplishment for the pre-group underdogs.

AFC Cup  - Group G
Chonburi 1-0 Home United
Citizen AA 2-1 Yangon United

It was double delight for the Thai sides as Chonburi also leaped to the summit of their group after they narrowly beat Home United 1-0. The only goal of the game was scored by ex-Home United boy Ludovick Takam on 70 minutes.
Citizen AA kept in check with Chonburi and Home United with a 2-1 win over Yangon FC in Hong Kong.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

ACL & AFC Cup Matchday 2 - Preview

AFC Champions League - Group H
Kashiwa Reysol v Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors
Guangzhou Evergrande v Buriram United

The opening games of this group saw Buriram United edge out Kashiwa Reysol 3-2 while in South Korea, the Chinese Super League champions, Guangzhou Evergrande, were running amok as they emphatically crushed Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 5-1. If Buriram United can come away from the Guangzhou Tianhe Sport Center undefeated, it would be regarded as one of the greatest results achieved by a Thai side in modern times. Guangzhou's South American attacking trio of Cleo, Muriqui and Dario Conca were buzzing in their opener against Jeonbuk and containing them is going to be an extremely onerous task for the Buriram rearguard. The Thunder Castle have leaked a couple of uncharacteristically soft goals this season and they'll need to improve if they plan to keep their Chinese opposition scoreless.
In the other match, Kashiwa Reysol and Jeonbuk both need to get points on the board after opening day defeats. A loss for either side would make qualification for the next round look highly unlikely.

AFC Cup  - Group G
Chonburi v Home United
Citizen AA v Yangon United

Chonburi welcome Home United of Singapore to the Chonburi Stadium.  The Protectors currently sit 4th in the S-League after their 2-1 victory at Hougang United last Thursday evening. Ex-Police United midfielder John Wilkinson makes a swift return to Thailand with Home United after he spent an unnoteworthy year in the TPL last season. The Sharks defence will have to keep an eye on 6ft 3in Frédéric Mendy and the Japanese striker, Shotaro Ihata. Mendy was the S-League's golden boot winner in 2010 while Ihata currently tops the 2012 charts with 6 goals in 5 league games. Nonetheless, Chonburi will be looking for 9 points from their three home games and failure to win this tie would be a disappointing outcome. This season has started brightly for Chonburi. They won the Kor Royal Cup last week beating Buriram United and in their TPL opener they easily dispatched Thai Port 4-0.
In Hong Kong, Citizen AA and Yangon United will both be seeking their first win in this group as they meet at the recently renovated Mongkok Stadium.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Opening TPL & Div 1 Review

Buriram United 3-1 Chiang Rai United
Pattaya United 0-0 Samut Songkhram
Muangthong 2-1 BEC Tero
Chonburi 4-0 Thai Port
Bangkok Glass 2-0 Wuachon Utd
Army Utd 1-1 Chainat
Police 0-0 TTM
Osotspa Saraburi 2-1 TOT
BBCU 1-0 Isan Utd

The three pre-season title favorites all opened their 2012 campaigns with home wins. Buriram United and Chonburi both had comfortable starts with victories over Chiang Rai United and Thai Port respectively. It wasn't plain sailing for Muangthong United as their game with BEC Tero provided two red cards and some late drama. Datsakorn's 35 yard rasper midway through the second period seemed to have earned the Kirins the 3 points until Khaled's 89th minute spot kick levelled matters. Within two minutes, the home side restored their lead and secured the points when Dagno Siaka headed home from a corner. Youngsters Thitiphan and Gilbert Koomson were both dismissed on 75 minutes as each side finished a man short.
It was a mixed start for the three promoted clubs. The Fighting Bulls (Wuachon) were tamed by Bangkok Glass while Chainat earned a reasonable point at Army. BBCU, who were cheered on by plenty of Sisaket FC fans, opened up with a 1-0 win over Isan United at the Rajamangala Stadium.
The games between Pattaya v Samut Songkhram and Police v TTM both ended in goalless stalemates and Osotspa beat TOT 2-1 in Saraburi.

Division 1
Krabi 2-1 Bangkok FC
PTT Rayong 2-1 Siam Navy
Songkla 2-0 Chantaburi
JW Rangsit 0-0 FC Phuket
Raj Pracha 1-3 Ratchaburi
Korat 2-1 Air Force Utd
Bangkok Utd 2-4 Pattalung
Khon Kaen 2-1 Saraburi FC
Suphanburi 2-0 Sriracha

Saturday's action began with Ratchaburi flexing their muscles to claim a 3-1 victory at Raj Pracha. The Dragon's debutant, Douglas Gardozo, netted two goals as did Krabi's pint-sized Laotian forward, Soukaphone, as the southern new boys beat Bangkok FC 2-1. PTT Rayong needed a 94th minute winner to edge out Siam Navy while the neglected sides of Songkla and Phuket will be happy with their opening day returns.
The following day Pattalung and Korat joined Krabi and Ratchaburi to complete a quartet of wins for the newly promoted sides. Korat had to come from behind with Anon's brace helping the Swatcats beat Air Force 2-1. Pattalung's Siwapoong fired an opening day hat-trick for the Swiftlets as they produced the shock result of the round with a 4-2 at Bangkok United.
Pre-season favorites Suphanburi beat Sriracha 2-0 with both goals coming from ex-Thai international Pipat. Khon Kaen were the only one of the three relegated sides to collect any points with a 2-1 win over Saraburi FC.

Division 2 Bangkok
Rangsit FC 1-1 Nontaburi
Kasetsart 0-0 Samut Prakarn Utd
Samut Sakhon 2-0 Assumption Thonburi
Customs Utd 0-2 Prachinburi FC
Chamchuri Utd 2-0 Krung Thonburi
North Bangkok 0-0 R-BEC
Cental Lions 1-3 Luk Isan
Bangkok Christian 1-1 Thai Honda
Globex 0-0 Kasem Bundit

Chamchuri moved four points clear at the summit of the league as their closest rivals, North Bangkok and R-BEC, cancelled each other out with a 0-0 draw. The Chula side had earlier taken care of business with a routine 2-0 victory over Krung Thonburi. Samut Sakhon's 2-0 win over Assumption enabled them to leapfrog over the drawing pair of North Bangkok and R-BEC into second place.
Bangkok Christian finally broke their early season losing streak with a share of the points at home to Thai Honda. They moved level on points with Assumption Thonburi, but remain in bottom spot due to having inferior goal difference.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Army United 1-1 Chainat

TPL new boys Chainat were held as Matius Recio's 82nd minute goal earned a share of the points for Army United.
Team line-ups

Thanakorn handed Chainat the lead in the 22nd minute as his sweetly struck free kick beat Kosin in the Army goal.

Bjorn Lindemann had a shot tipped around the post and the German also clipped the bar from a corner as the home side pressed for an equalizer before the interval.

In the second half, both keepers had to be alert to make crucial saves. Sarayoot was denied on 63 minutes when Panupong made a great save with his right foot after good build up play from the Army. About five minutes later, Kosin got his fingers to a Michael Byrne drive to knock it past the post to keep the Bangkok side in the contest.

With time running out, Army brought on their Argentinian striker, Matius, and within minutes the big man levelled as he beat the offside trap to notch his first goal in Army colors.

Chainat fans
Over the balance of play 1-1 was a fair result. Army fielded several new players and there were plenty of positives. Chainat certainly weren't overawed playing their first ever TPL game and showed that they will comfortably cope with the higher standard of football. Also a mention must go to the fantastic support that Chainat got from their fans. At a rough estimate I'd say they brought 2,500-3,000 down to the capital. Very impressive stuff!!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Opening TPL & Div 1 Weekend Preview

Buriram United v Chiang Rai United
Pattaya United v Samut Songkhram
Muangthong v BEC Tero
Chonburi v Thai Port
Bangkok Glass v Wuachon Utd
Army Utd v Chainat
Police v TTM
Osotspa Saraburi v TOT
BBCU v Isan Utd

Last season's top three sides, Buriram Utd, Chonburi and Muangthong, all kick off the season with home games this Saturday. It's going to be vitally important that no ground is lost early on, so three points are a must for each side. Muangthong probably have the most difficult task as they welcome back Robert Procureur and his new club BEC Tero. Both MTU and Tero have been busy in the transfer market and it will be interesting to see how the new signings bed in.
Wuachon v Bangkok Glass has been switched to the Leo Stadium as the Wuachon saga still rumbles on. The other promoted sides begin with Chainat visiting the Army Stadium and BBCU will play their first game at the Rajamangala as they welcome the former Sisaket FC side who are now newly branded as Isan United.
Elsewhere, Pattaya take on Samut Songkhram in Nong Prue, Police will host TTM just up the road at the IPE Stadium in Chonburi and Osotspa will be confident of a winning start over a TOT side that they beat 4-0 in the corresponding fixture last year. 

Division 1
Krabi v Bangkok FC
PTT Rayong v Siam Navy
Songkla v Chantaburi
JW Rangsit v FC Phuket
Raj Pracha v Ratchaburi
Korat v Air Force Utd
Bangkok Utd v Pattalung
Khon Kaen v Saraburi FC
Suphanburi v Sriracha

Suphanburi start the season as many people's pick to win Division 1. The Warriors have invested heavily in their squad and have made up to 20 new signings. New arrivals of note include ex-Thai international Pipat Thonkanya, the ever reliable Swa-Moise (Thai Port) and Ali Diarra (Muangthong).
The three relegated clubs from the TPL, Sriracha, Navy and Khon Kaen, have all had to downsize their squads and budgets accordingly as the reality of 1st Division football has kicked in. It will be a tough call for any of them to bounce back at the first attempt, but Khon Kaen and Sriracha do have experience of winning promotion out of this league back in 2010.
Ratchaburi, Korat, Krabi and Pattalung were all promoted from the regional leagues last season. Ratchaburi and Korat have splashed the cash and they'll be hoping to emulate last year's Buriram FC and Chainat who both made back-to-back promotions from Division 2 to the TPL. Ratchaburi have signed eight players from Buriram FC and they also claimed the loan signing of Abbo from Buriram United. Because of these signings, I'm tipping Ratchaburi to win this league. Korat have modestly stated that they plan to make the TPL within three years although the loan signing of Anon Sangsanoi would suggest that privately they aren't thinking so prudently. Pattalung and Krabi might settle for consolidation in their maiden Division 1 seasons. In saying that, there does seem to be a lot of expectation on the shoulders of Krabi's new Italian signing, Carlo Cappari.
Out of the Bangkok sides, Bangkok United appear to have the strongest promotion credentials. Head coach Sasom has been busy in the market making plenty of signings which include his old boys Sompong and Alef who have followed him from Thai Port via Buriram. Bangkok FC have also made some interesting acquisitions with a handful of former TPL players joining their ranks. The other three sides of Raj Pracha, Air Force and JW Rangsit have gone about their business quietly and may be looking at a mid-table finish at best.
PTT Rayong and Saraburi could be another couple of dark horses worth keeping an eye on in the promotion race while for Songkla, Phuket and Chantaburi their goal will unfortunately be survival.

Division 2 Bangkok
Rangsit FC v Nontaburi
Kasetsart v Samut Prakarn Utd
Samut Sakhon v Assumption Thonburi
Customs Utd v Prachinburi FC
Chamchuri Utd v Krung Thonburi
North Bangkok v R-BEC
Cental Lions v Luk Isan
Bangkok Christian v Thai Honda
Globex v Kasem Bundit

The top game of this weekend is the one between second placed North Bangkok and R-BEC who sit one place below them in third. North Bangkok have continued their strong form of last season as they aim to reach the division two play-offs for a second successive season. Top of the table Chamchuri should make it five wins out of five as they host Krung Thonburi. Globex, Thai Honda and Samut Sakhon make up the top 6 and each of them must have pencilled in three points from their games this weekend.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

TPL Team Guide 2012

Here is a brief look at how the 18 TPL teams are shaping up for the opening of the 2012 season.

The Big 3

Buriram United
Pundits on clique ridden football chat shows regularly state that it's more difficult for a club to retain a title than it is to win one. Well, currently Buriram hold three titles - TPL, FA Cup and Toyota League Cup - and repeating this feat would be a remarkable achievement. Buriram PEA lost just one game last season with their unbeaten streak stretching all the way back to June of last year. There is no doubting that Buriram PEA had the best crop of foreign players in the league last season. They've managed to hold on to the pick of that talent and have added to their already strong squad by taking the best Thai players from Buriram FC. The Thunder Castle will start the season as strong favorites for the title but they may be hindered by a tough AFC Champions League group, and surely exhaustion will creep in at some point due to a lack of proper rest during the close season.

Muangthong United
2011 was a disappointing campaign for Muangthong. They gave up their titles from 2009 and 2010 with barely a whimper as the finished an unacceptable 25 points behind winners Buriram PEA. Nevertheless, big things are expected this year as the Twin Kirins recently signed a lucrative sponsorship deal with the SCG Cement group. The latest coach ordained to the MTU hot-seat is the highly rated Slavisa Jokanovic. The Serb will be Muangthong's fifth foreign coach in barely over a year and you wonder if he'll last past Songkran if the opening results don't go his way. Muangthong still have the spine of their successful title winning team of 2010 with Kawin, Nattaporn, Datsakorn, Teerasil and Dagno Siaka still around. There is a lot of expectation on the new boys, Adnan Barakat and Mario Gjurovski, to help the Nontaburi side win back the TPL title that the Muangthong Ultras believe is rightfully theirs.

Last year's runners-up will be aiming to go one step further this season by lifting their first title since 2007. Last season, the Sharks possibly had the best selection of home grown players to pick from, but they seemed to suffer from having a poor stable of foreigners. That's been addressed for this season as all the foreigners bar Kazuto Kushida have been moved on. As far as arrivals go, Chonburi will be hoping that Ludovik Takem has brought his 2010 goal scoring boots from Pattaya and not his 2011 ones. Anderson Dos Santos and Diakite will add stability at the back and in Bireme Diouf they have signed a budding crowd pleaser if he can find some consistency. Chonburi should certainly finish in the top three but winning the league might just be a little bit out of their reach. Their best chance of success may be winning one of the domestic cups or reaching the latter stages in the AFC Cup.

The Newbies

Wuachon United (Fighting Bull United)
Wuachon United are the product of the failed metamorphosis of Buriram FC into Songkla FC. The story behind the formation of this club is a tedious tale of Thai "pu yai" stubbornness mixed with large splashings of face saving and I honestly can't be bothered going into it. On the playing front nobody quite knows how Wuachon will fair this season. They could finish anywhere between 4th and 18th. When you look at the players they have picked up, there is plenty of TPL experience with signings mainly coming from Chonburi or from last season's Buriram conglomerate. At this moment in time, it is still unclear where Wuachon will play their home games. Word on the street is that they'll eventually end up in Songkla just as they initially planned!!

Chainat followed up earning promotion from the second division in 2010 by securing their TPL slot after finishing runners up in Division 1 in 2011. The Horn Bills have already shown us last season that they can mix it up with the TPL big boys. They knocked Chiang Rai United out of the FA Cup and in the quarter finals they took Army United all the way to penalties before eventually losing on spot kicks. The TPL new boys have made some astute signings from home and abroad as they've indicated that they are aiming for more than just survival. Chainat will be hoping to emulate Chaing Rai United's feat of finishing mid-table last year as they begin their maiden season in the TPL.

This could be a long season for BBCU if the second half of last season is anything to go by. They had an impressive start to the campaign but from July onwards they stuttered and just made it over the promotion finishing line. The club have a small but loyal fan base who regularly turn up at games to dance along to the beat of the musical band whilst banging long inflatable tubes together. BBCU can no longer use the Army Stadium so they'll use the 65,000 Rajamangala Stadium instead. Their 13 new signings include Moussa Sylla from Bangkok Glass and the unpredictable Jacob Aikionbare from Thai Port. Head coach Kiatisuk 'Zico' Senamuang will be looking to new striker Pichet In-Bang and last season's top scorer Chainarong to net his side some valuable goals.

The Bangkok Boys

Bangkok Glass
It's been a quiet few months up at the Leo Stadium. In the last couple of seasons, Bangkok Glass have invested heavily in their squad, but this time around only 3 new players have arrived. The signings of the Thai schoolgirl's favorite, Leesaw, coupled with Valery Hiek and Elias Ferreira Miranda should be good additions. BG will be strong enough for another top 6 finish but not many outside of the Leo Stadium will consider them as realistic title challengers.

Thai Port
It's been another transfer window at the PAT Stadium where the revolving players door has seen more departures than arrivals. Last season's two best players, Ekkapoom and Moise, have left and will be a big loss as will the improving duo of Mongkol and Todsapol who joined Ekkapoom at Muangthong. Thai Port though have made a couple of canny signings with Olof Watson and Alex Ruella coming in to provide that bit of spark that was missing in the attacking third last year. The tall Korean defender, Whoo Hyun, has joined from Police United and should fit into the spot vacated be Moise. Some are predicting that the Klong Toei side will be involved in the relegation battle this term. I don't think this will happen as there appears to be a good spirit in the camp and Port should be capable of another mid-table finish.

BEC Tero Sasana
The Fire Dragons will be managed this season by young Englishman Andrew Ord who will almost certainly be guided by the watchful eye of ex Muangthong United  general manager, Robert Procureur. It's been a busy transfer window at the Thephasadin with about 20 new players arriving. Even though there has been an abundance of new additions, Tero have managed to hold on to their best players such as Ronnachai, Gilbert Koomson, Prat and Pisan from last year. Incoming players include experienced Thais Ekaphan (Chonburi) and Rangsan (Buriram PEA) while potential match winner, Cleiton da Silva, has been snapped up from Osotspa The attack minded pair of Karim Rouani and Tekenori Hayashi have been brought in from abroad. With this depth of talent, BEC Tero will be striving to break into the recent top three stranglehold of the TPL.

Army United
Last season's early Brazilian buzz fizzled out as Army United eventually dropped to finish in 13th spot. It was disappointing considering that the Army were the early season pace setters. Despite scoring 18 goals last season, Brazilian Leandro has been made surplus to requirements and has been replaced with Sarayoot from Bangkok Glass who himself weighed in with 15 goals at BG. Most of the other Brazilians have also been shown the exit door as Army have signed a various assortment of foreigners with an Estonian, three Argentinians, a German and an Australian all arriving. Army will consider a top 6 finish as being attainable this time out.

In the build up to last season, the ongoing dispute between TOT and CAT made it look unlikely that there would even be a team representing the communications company. The dispute was eventually solved days before the transfer window was set to close and a squad was hastily assembled. TOT's start was horrendous as they looked relegation certainties during the first few weeks. Things did eventually improve as they climbed out the relegation berths. The club also made a welcome return to their home stadium in Chaeng Wattana last August after a few years of exile. This time around, with a proper planned pre-season and a home stadium of their own, TOT will be looking to finish in the comfort zone of mid-table. The loss of last season's top scorer, Kone Mohamed, is a blow, but TOT have enough to avoid a second consecutive relegation fight. I can see them finishing in lower mid-table.

The Others

At the midway point of last season, Pattaya United were on the periphery of the relegation fight. However, hardly anybody would have predicted their second half to the season as they hauled themselves up to a fourth placed finish. It was a remarkable accomplishment considering they had one of the smallest budgets in the league. The Dolphins have kept the nucleus of the 2011 squad together as they aspire to build on the progress made towards the latter end of last season.

Osotspa Saraburi
In the last four seasons, Osotspa have finished 4th, 5th, 7th and 6th. They are one of those teams that appear capable of beating the top teams one week and then losing to a weaker side the next. They just seem like they're not quite ready to make that next leap forward. Nonetheless, they should be strong enough to secure another top half finish. Incoming players contain Dudu from Buriram and from overseas they've picked up Brazilian Douglas Alexandre Rosa and ex Kaiser Chiefs player, Sandile Michael Suge.

Police United
It's was a challenging second half to the season for Police United both on and off the field last season. After a dozen or so games, they were comfortably in the top 5 but poor form from June onwards saw them slide down the league ladder. Their Thammasart Stadium fell victim to the floods of 2011 and they had to play the last few home games in Suphanburi. Even now the Thammasart isn't ready for action, so Police will start the season off playing at the IPE Stadium in Chonburi. They've made a couple of bold signings with Leandro Dos Santos joining from Army United and the former highly rated youth player, Samir El Gaaouiri, coming in from the Netherlands. For me, Police have mid-table written all over them.

Chiangrai United
It been a remarkable three years for Chiang Rai United. They were founded in 2009 and worked their way through the Thai football set-up before securing a respectable 10th place in their first TPL campaign last year. Their Brazilian coach, Stefano Cuggura, will no doubt be eyeing a top half finish this time out in their second season in the TPL.The colorful Brazilians, Edvaldo and Alonso Jose Carvalho have left and have been replaced with Franco Hita, Adrian Caceres and Liberian international, Murphy Komunple Nagbe. The Orange Power will also be hoping that goal hawk, Wasan, can repeat his scoring exploits of 2011.

TTM Chiang Mai
The Thailand Tobacco Monopoly are on the move again, this time to the northern city of Chiang Mai. Their brief two year tenure in Phichit proved to be nothing more than two seasons of mid-table anonymity. The club will be hoping to entice supporters from local second division side Chiang Mai FC who are regularly watched by five figure crowds. TTM still have most of their South Koreans from last season and new head coach Somchai Chuayboonchum will be hoping his foreign clan offer more this season. Also the addition of Giorgi Tsimakuridze should add some entertainment on the pitch although not necessarily for footballing reasons. The ex TOT man is reportedly earning a tasty 300,000 baht per month.

Isan United
The club formerly known as Sisaket FC have moved to Ubon Ratchathani and will now be called Isan United. Not surprisingly, the move has proven very unpopular with the diehard Kouprey fans and even today there is still lots of bitterness hanging over this move. Sisaket endured a 12 game winless streak at the end of the 2011season and the new Isan United supporters will be hoping that the transition of the club sees an upturn of form. The Ubon side will be looking towards incoming Brazilian striker Cheyene Santos to provide the goals to fire them away from any relegation danger.

Samut Songkhram
Last season Samut Songkhram, backed by sponsors SCG, only secured their TPL status on the last day of the season. This time around they have no major sponsors as SCG have jumped ship and put their backing behind the more lucrative Muangthong United. Things are looking bleak for the Mae Khlong side and without any major financial support concerns are being raised over the future of the club. With several departing players from the 2011 squad and with no new signings of any note, it seems there is one one outcome for the Crazy Mackerels this year.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Div 2 Bangkok - Review 10-11 March

Div 2 BKK
Krung Thonburi 0-1 Customs
Luk Issan 1-0 Bangkok Christian
Thai Honda 2-1 Kasetsart
Nontaburi 1-3 Globex
R-BEC 3-1 Rangsit FC
Assumption Thonburi 0-0 Central Lions
Kasem Bundit 1-2 North Bangkok
Prachinburi 1-1 Samut Sakhon
Chamchuri 2-1 Samut Prakarn Utd

It's now four wins out of four for Chamchuri United as they beat Samut Prakarn United 2-1. It appears their closest challengers this season are going to be North Bangkok and R-BEC. North Bangkok are second after they earned a decent 2-1 victory at Kasem Bundit and RBAC, with their BEC Tero youth players, won their third consecutive game as they came from behind to beat Rangsit FC 3-1. Thai Honda, Globex and Samut Sakorn have to be regarded as title contenders also as they are hot on the heals of the early season pace setters.
Things are already looking bleak for Bangkok Christian, Nontaburi and even Kasetsart. The Christians have zero points from four games, Nontaburi have one point and one goal while Kasetsart have now lost the same amount of games (two) in less than one month of this season than they did in the whole of their 2011 championship winning one.

Chonburi win Kor Royal Cup after penalty shoot out

Kor Royal Cup Final
Buriram United 2-2 Chonburi (Chonburi win 4-3 on penalties)

A 95th minute goal from Ludovick Tatam with virtually the last kick off the game saw Chonburi come from two down to salvage a 2-2 draw with Buriram United in the Kor Royal Cup final. The Sharks then went onto to win the resultant penalty shoot-out 4-3 as they lifted the cup for the fourth time in five years.

The TPL champions started the game in the ascendancy and they could have scored twice in the first five minutes. Jirawat fired a shot across goal and Sintaweechai had to be alert to tip a Sumanya chip over the bar.

Buriram certainly were the better side in the opening period as they seemed to overrun the Chonburi midfield. The Sharks front two seemed isolated upfront as the league runners-up posed little threat.

It was no surprise when Buriram opened the scoring on the 31st minute. Theeratorn was given too much space to run through the Chonburi midfield. The youngster exchanged passes with Askar before his scuffed shot deflected off Diakite past the wrong footed Chonburi keeper, Sintaweechai. Teerathorn's shot looked like it was going wide and the goal should go down as an own goal in my opinion.

A couple of minutes later the lead was doubled when Frank Achaempong got his left boot to a Jirawat cross.

Chonburi had barely posed any shots on target, but they were back in the game as the half time interval approached. Adul pounced as Sivaruck's block with his legs fell kindly into his path after the Buriram keeper had denied Ludo.

The unwell Kazuto Kasido came on for the second half and with his arrival Chonburi began to improve. They held plenty of possession although they never really tested Sivaruk in the Buriram goal. Buriram meanwhile looked content to sit on their 2-1 lead as the clock slowly whittled down.

Just as the trophy engraver was getting ready to carve the letters "Buriram United" as 2012 winners, Ludo had other ideas as he swivelled in the six yard box to convert Chonlatit's cross.

The injury time leveller sent the match straight into penalties as no extra time was to be played.

The scoring of the penalties went: Jirawat (BU) miss, Diakite (Ch) goal, Suchao (BU) goal, Akarawin (Ch) miss, Theeratorn (BU) goal, Sukree (Ch) miss,  Prathum (BU) miss, Adul (Ch) goal, Ekwalla (BU) goal, Therdsak (Ch) goal, Ohandza (BU) miss, Kushido (Ch) goal

So it was Chonburi who lifted the Kor Royal Cup. For long periods off this game, that appeared unlikely. Buriram will regret not killing the tie off when they could have. Chonburi on the other hand will be delighted that they kept fighting right to the end. Next week both sides will open their respective TPL campaigns. I expect they'll relish doing battle again as the season progresses.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Weekend Preview 10-11 March

Kor Royal Cup Final
Buriram United v Chonburi (Sunday)

The Thunder Castle will be bidding to lift their fifth trophy this calendar year. They've already won the TPL, FA Cup, Toyota League Cup and most recently the Toyota Cup when they defeated Japanese outfit Vegalta Sendai after a penalty shoot-out.
Current Kor Royal Cup holders Chonburi qualified for this final due to finishing runners-up to Buriram PEA in the league. Last season the Sharks defeated an uninspiring Muangthong United 2-1 in the Kor Royal final.
Both sides have already kicked off their offensives for 2012 with respective AFC action during the week. Buriram United stunned J League side Kashiwa Reysol in a exciting 3-2 win in the AFC Champions league while Chonburi struck in the third minute of injury time to grab a point as their AFC Cup opener with Yangon United finished 1-1.
This season curtain raiser will be played at the Supachalasai with a 5pm kick off.

Div 2 BKK
Krung Thonburi v Customs
Luk Issan v Bangkok Christian
Thai Honda v Kasetsart
Nontaburi v Globex
R-BEC v Rangsit FC
Assumption Thonburi v Central Lions
Kasem Bundit v North Bangkok
Prachinburi v Samut Sakhon
Chamchuri v Samut Prakarn Utd

Leaders Chumchuri United hope to maintain their 100% record as they welcome Samut Prakarn United to the Chulalonkkorn Stadium. This game will be the The Crab Devils fourth consecutive game away from their home stadium. Second placed Samut Sakhon travel to Klaeng, Rayong, to face Prachinburi while third placed Central Lions make their first road trip as they venture the short distance to Assumption Thonburi.
The foot of the league table is grim reading for Bangkok Christian. They've played three and lost three. So far they've failed to score any goals whilst conceding ten in the process. This time out they meet fellow booby prize contenders, Luk Issan. Both sides will be aiming for their first three point haul of the season.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Buriram Beat Kashiwa Reysol 3-2 & Chonburi Snatch Late Draw

AFC Champions League - Group H

Buriram United 3-2 Kashiwa Reysol
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 1-5 Guangzhou Evergrande

Buriram United earned a creditable 3-2 win over Japanese champions Kashiwa Reysol in their opening game in the AFC Champions League. The Thai side showed they weren't overawed by the higher class of opposition as they opened the scoring after 11 minutes through Jirawat and then doubled their lead with a curled effort from Uzbekistani, Askar, on 38 minutes to give themselves a two goal advantage at the break. By the midway point of the second half though, the 2-0 lead was cancelled out through goals from Tanaka and Sakai. At this point, the Sun Kings appeared to be in the ascendancy, but fortunately for Buriram they seemed to tire. Jirawat's second goal on 78 minutes after good link up play was the decisive goal in the contest as the Thunder Castle won 3-2
The other Group H game in South Korea finished 5-1 to Chinese side Guangzhou Evergrande. Guangzhou's debut began a bit apprehensively, but they grew in confidence as the first half progressed and eventually raced into a 2-0 half time lead. The opening goal was a superb passing move that was finished by Brazilian, Cleo. The second was a free kick from 30 yards scored by Dario Conca. Guangzhou continued with their dominance in the second 45 with goals from Cleo, Dario Conca and Mariqui as they swept aside the Korean side. Jeonbuk's consolation goal was scored by Shung Hoon.
I watched both of these games and if Buriram United get anything from their trip to Guangzhou in the next game it will be a incredible achievement. For me, the Chinese team look like they could go on and win this tournament. 

AFC Cup  - Group G
Yangon United 1-1 Chonburi
Home United 3-1 Citizen AA

Chonburi rescued a very late point in Yangon as Sukree's leveller cancelled out the Burmese side's first half goal. The point will be regarded as one gained rather than two lost despite the fact that Chonburi would have seen this as a winnable match before kick off.
In Singapore, Home United staged a second half fight back to beat Citizen AA 3-1at the Bishan Stadium

Monday, March 5, 2012

Buriram & Chonburi Ready to Embark on AFC Crusades

AFC Champions League - Group H
Buriram United v Kashiwa Reysol
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors v Guangzhou Evergrande

Buriram United welcome Japanese side, Kashiwa Reysol, to the New I-Mobile as the stadium takes it baptism in hosting Asian Champions League football. It's difficult to predict how Buriram will fair against a higher level of opposition, but we do know that Buriram are strong defensively and can grind out wins when they have to. Kashiwa are experiencing Champions league football for the first time. The Sun Kings caused somewhat of a surprise when they won the J-League last season. It was a fine achievement considering they were only promoted from the J2 league in 2010. Last Saturday, Kasiwha added to their trophy collection when they beat Emperor Cup winners, FC Tokyo, 2-1 in the Japanese Super Cup final.
The other two sides that make up the group are K-League winners Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Chinese champions Guangzhou Evergrande. In modern day Champions league football, it's a rare occurrence to have four champions of domestic leagues meeting in the group stage.

AFC Cup  - Group G
Yangon United v Chonburi
Home United v Citizen AA

Group G in the AFC Cup is certainly a winnable one for Chonburi. The Sharks will be looking to get off to winning ways when they clash with Yangon United at the Thuwunna Youth Training Center Stadium on Wednesday afternoon. Yangon United currently sit 5th in the Myanmar National League and they were recently beaten 2-0 in a friendly by BEC Tero 2-0. The Burmese side might have the advantage in terms of match sharpness, but Chonburi have the stronger squad of players.
Later on Wednesday evening, Home United of Singapore host Citizen AA from Hong Kong in the group's other contest.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Weekend Review 3-4 March

Div 2 BKK
North Bangkok 2-1 Globex
Central Lions 0-0 Nontaburi
Customs Utd 0-1 Samut Prakarn United
Chamchuri 2-1 Thai Honda
Kasetsart 2-1 Assumption Thonburi
R-BEC 6-0 Bangkok Christian
Samut Sakhon 2-0 Kasem Bundit
Prachinburi 0-3 Krung Thonburi
Rangsit FC 2-2 Luk Issan

Chamchuri are the early pace setters after their 2-1 victory over Thai Honda made it three wins out of three. The Chuklalongkorn side lead the pack with 9 points and are closely followed by Samut Sakhon, Central Lions and North Bangkok on 7 points. Sitting closely behind on 6 points are R-BEC who announced themselves as the team to keep an eye on after they smacked big brother's tenants, Bangkok Christian, for six without reply.
In the Samut Prakarn local derby, a goal from Sutin earned the local bragging rights for SPK United as they beat Customs 1-0 at the Forza. Nontaburi finally got on the points board with a 0-0 draw at Central. Worryingly for the Eka, their lack of potency in front of goal seems to have carried over from last year. After three matches, Nontaburi's goal tally still equals zero.

Div 2 South
Yala 0-1 Pattani
Nakhon Si Thammarat 1-0 Chumphon
Nara Utd 1-1 Trang
Surat Thani 0-2 Ranong
Hat Yai 1-1 Satun Utd

A goal just before half-time was enough for Nakhon Si Thammarat to win a scrappy encounter with Chumphon 1-0. From what I saw of this game both sides look along way off being anywhere near as good as Krabi and Pattalung were last season.
In the other live SMMTV live game, a goal in each half earned Ranong an opening day win in Surat Thani.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Weekend Preview 3-5 March

Div 2 BKK
North Bangkok v Globex
Central Lions v Nontaburi
Customs Utd v Samut Prakarn United
Chamchuri v Thai Honda
Kasetsart v Assumption Thonburi
R-BEC v Bangkok Christian
Samut Sakhon v Kasem Bundit
Prachinburi v Krung Thonburi
Rangsit FC v Luk Issan

It's been an interesting start to the season with an unexpected top 3 of Chamchuri, Globex and Central Lions currently leading the way. Top placed Chamchuri have already netted 7 goals in their first two games and this Saturday evening they welcome Thai Honda who also have a 100% winning record. Central Lions will play their third home game in three and they'll fancy beating a Nontaburi side that have yet to score this season. Surprise package Globex will face a stiff test of their promotion credentials as they travel to North Bangkok. Also on Saturday, there is the intriguing Samut Prakarn derby with Customs and Samut Prakarn United set to battle it out for 3 points.
On Sunday the home teams of Kasetsart, R-BEC, Prachinburi and Samut Sakhon will all regard their games as winnable.
Finally to round things off on Monday, the pointless duo of Rangsit and Luk Issan meet at the Leo Stadium.

Div 2 South
Yala v Pattani
Nakhon Si Thammarat v Chumphon
Narathiwat v Trang
Surat Thani v Ranong
Hat Yai v Satun Utd

The SMMTV bandwagon moves south this weekend as the 11 team Division 2 League Southern Region kicks off. Krabi and Pattalung were promoted from this league last season and the vacant spots haven't been filled. As there are an uneven number of teams, somebody has to miss out each round. This weekend, Phangnga are the team sat at home with their feet up.
On Satuday, Nakhon Si Thammarat v Chumpon is the live offering on SMMTV while on Sunday it's Surat Thani v Ranong.