Thursday, July 5, 2012

Weekend Preview 7-8 July

Thai Port v Osotspa Saraburi
Chainat v Esan Utd
Pattaya Utd v Police
TTM v Chonburi
Chiang Rai Utd v Muangthong
BEC Tero v Army

Samut Songkhram v Wuachon Utd
TOT v Buriram Utd
Bangkok Glass v BBCU

The majority of the TPL clubs return to competitive action for the first time since the middle of June. For Buriram United, they haven't had the luxury of hastily arranging friendlies to fill in the gap as they've had to play catch up on missed games due to earlier AFC Champions League involvement. Whilst playing their four make up games, Buriram have only picked up four points and the buoyant optimism of 2011 is slowly disintegrating as their grasp on the TPL title has substantially loosened. The Thunder Castle travel to the capital for the third time in as many weeks as they visit TOT in Chaeng Wattana this Sunday. The other matches this Sunday evening are Samut Songkhram v Wuachon and Bangkok Glass v BBCU.

The top 2 of Muangthong United and Chonburi make the lengthy treks up north. The Kirins have the more difficult task as they'll have to contend with a passionate throng of Chiang Rai United supporters as the semi-built unimaginatively named "United Stadium" opens its doors for the first time. Meanwhile, Chonburi will be expected to beat TTM provided that they start with their strongest 11. TTM still have the unwanted record of being the only side in Thailand not to score a home goal this season.

Elsewhere on Saturday, the Army will roll into downtown Bangkok to encounter the red shirts of BEC Tero. The Fire Dragons have occupied the top 4 for several weeks now and the Army will displace them from the top 4 with a two goal or higher victory. Thai Port are aspiring to complete a hat-trick of wins in the TPL for the first time in over a year when they face a floundering Osotspa. The continued unavailability of the Thammasart means that the Police v Pattaya match has been switched to Nong Prue, and Chainat will be eyeing only their second home win of the year as they entertain an improving Esan United.

Division 1
Pattalung v JW Rangsit
Ratchaburi v PTT Rayong
FC Phuket v Krabi

Suphanburi v BangkokUtd
Sriracha v Korat
Raj Pracha v Saraburi
Chantaburi v Siam Navy
Bangkok FC v Khon Kaen

With 20 games left to play, the promotion race in Division 1 has thrown up six strong candidates with four of them facing off in Round 15. Table toppers Ratchaburi welcome fifth placed PTT Rayong while Bangkok United in second travel to Suphanburi in fourth.

Krabi in third make their shortest away trip of the season as they visit FC Phuket who have newly branded themselves as "the Islanders." Phuket also plan to unveil a new strip and logo when leg 2 begins at the end of this month.

Another match worth keeping an eye on is Sriracha in sixth against Korat who are one place below them in seventh. Last month, the Swatcats successfully advanced to the second round of the Toyota League Cup at the Blue Marlins expense to set up a lucrative tie with Muangthong United next Wednesday. A repeat of last month's victory would move Korat level on points with Sriracha.

Chantaburi's coach was quoted earlier in the week saying that coaching sessions are being held with only 3 or 4 players present. With rumours that players haven't been paid for 4-5 months, it makes you wonder how long it will be before the club folds. Nevertheless, next up for the Hares are Siam Navy. With 24 goals shipped in their last three games, keeping it to less than five would sadly be seen a reasonable achievement for Chantaburi.

Division 2 BKK
Rangsit FC v R-BEC

Samut Prakarn Utd v Chamchuri Utd
North Bangkok v Kasem Bundit
Bangkok Christian v Luk Esan
Samut Sakhon v Rayong Utd

Kasetsart v Thai Honda
Globex v Nonthaburi
Central Lions v Assumption Thonburi
Customs Utd v Krung Thonburi

Similar to Division 1, there are two big clashes this weekend involving promotion chasing teams. Leaders, Thai Honda aim to complete the double over a Kasetsart side that have only picked up one point from their last two outings. A defeat for the Emerald Nagas in this one would severely dent their play-off bid. Samut Sakhon v Rayong United will be a fiercely contested game and a draw wouldn't be too bad a result for either side.
R-BEC will play at the Leo Stadium on Friday evening against Rangsit FC while North Bangkok will entertain Kasem Bundit a few hundred meters along the Rangsit-Nakhon Nayok Road 24 hours later.

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