Thursday, November 29, 2012

Div 2 Playoffs - Round 9 Preview

Group A 


Rayong United v Paknampo NSRU
Ayutthaya v Pattani
Phitsanulok v Roi Et Utd

A win for Roi Et Utd at Phitsanulok would be enough for the Esan club to secure promotion to the first division alongside Ayutthaya. Roi Et are unbeaten in six although they have drawn half of those games. Their weekend opponents Phitsanulok have won their last two home games 1-0 but their woeful away form has been their undoing.
Pattani in third travel to champions Ayutthaya who'll be in a party mood after sealing their elevation out of the regional leagues last week. Pattani have never really been serious promotion contenders yet a win yoked together with a Roi Et defeat would move them level on points with the White Squirrels.
The other fixture between Rayong Utd and NSRU has little riding on it other than pride.

Group B 


Rayong FC v Trat
Sisaket Utd v Trang
Chiang Mai FC v Thai Honda

The three sides chasing Trat for that second valuable promotion place all have home games in the penultimate round of fixtures. Rayong FC and Sisaket have been stuttering lately and the momentum certainly appears to be with Chiang Mai at this moment. The Lanna Tigers are six unbeaten after losing their opening two matches although it should be noted that they've failed to win any of their four previous home games with three draws and one loss so far. The CM faithful will be hoping that the visit of Thai Honda gives them their first home success of the playoffs.
Rayong FC are currently level on 12 points with Chiang Mai FC. If the duelling duo finish level on points after Round 10, Rayong would prevail as they can boast a superior head-to-head record. The Wild Horses welcome Trat this Sunday and they'll be hoping that Division 1 bound club take their foot off the gas now that promotion is in the bag. With only one win in the last six, a win for Rayong looks unlikely.
Sisaket Utd have lost their last two games 2-0 and need to bounce back when they welcome Trang. The Esan club are one point behind Rayong and CM and anything other than three points against Trang would surely end their promotion bid.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Div 2 Playoffs Round 8 Review

Division 2 Playoffs
(Group A)
Pattani 2-0 Phitsanulok
Roi Et Utd 2-1 Rayong Utd
Paknampo NSRU 0-1 Ayutthaya

An injury time inswinging free kick from Adu won the game for Ayutthaya as they beat Paknampo NSRU 1-0. The late winner means Ayutthaya will play in the first division next year.
Roi Et United look set to join Ayutthaya in Division 1 after they beat Rayong United 2-1. Kittisak gave the White Squirrels the lead and that was doubled when the unfortunate Dusit slid the ball into his own net. Souleymane gave Rayong Utd some glimmer of hope when he pulled one back shortly before half time. There was no further scoring in the second half although Whitsanusak and Kittisak hit the bar as Roi Et pressed for a third goal.
Pattani beat Phitsanulok 2-0 to keep their slim hopes of promotion alive.

(Group B)
Thai Honda 0-0 Rayong FC
Trat 2-0 Sisaket Utd
Trang 1-3 Chaing Mai FC

Trat's 2-0 win over Sisaket United ensured that they won Group B with two games to spare and more importantly they reserved their place in Division 1 for 2013. First half headers from Wuttichai and Ratthaporn put the White Elephants firmly in control. The game was delayed for 45 minutes due to a floodlight failure in the second period as Trat comfortably saw out the game.
Rayong FC couldn't find a way through on a boggy Thai Honda pitch. The Wild Horses struck the bar and Sarun had a penalty saved as they could only muster a point from the bottom placed club.
In the south, Chiang Mai's 3-1 win at Trang moved the Lanna Tigers firmly into the promotion picture.Warun netted from close in to give CM the lead before Kitsada broke through to level for Trang. Aliou Seck then restored the lead for the northerners and Chanatphol wrapped up the 3-1 win scoring directly from a free kick. Chiang Mai are now level in second place with Rayong FC on 12 points with Sisaket Utd one behind on 11.

AFF Suzuki Cup Group Stage Results

AFF Suzuki Cup 2012


(Sat 24)
Vietnam 1-1 Myanmar
Thailand 2-1 Philippines 

Two goals in two minutes shortly before half time won the game for Thailand. Jakkapan was on hand to convert Theerathon's cut back from the right flank on 38 minutes, while good link up play from Datsakorn and Teerasil allowed Anucha to weave through the Philippines rearguard before the Chonburi man fired into the roof of the net. Thailand had chances to wrap the game up after the break but they had to endure a nervous last 15 minutes when Mulders grabbed a consolation. The gloomy evening was compounded for the Azkals when coach Weiss was sent to the stand for petulantly throwing the ball at Anucha as he lay on the deck injured.
Myanmar upset Vietnam as they came from behind to earn a 1-1 draw. Vietnam controlled the rain swept first half and took the lead through a Le Tan Tai header. Myanmar improved in the second half and drew level when star player Kyi Lin won and converted a penalty.
(Tues 27)
Vietnam 0-1 Philippines
Myanmar 0-4 Thailand 

Thailand cruised into the semi finals of the AFF Cup with a 4-0 victory over Myanmar. Teerasil was the hero of the day netting three classy goals in the 20th, 81st, and 88th minutes as the Muangthong hitman enhanced his growing reputation with a hat-trick. The other scorer for Thailand was Apipoo who scored Thailand's second goal off the back of his head following an Anucha cross on the hour. The scoreline was a bit flattering but overall it was a comfortable evening for the Thai hosts.
Vietnam are on the brink of elimination after they lost 1-0 to the Philippines. The Azkals had to be patient with substitute Caligdong's 85th minute strike being the only goal of the game. Vietnam did hit the crossbar shortly after the goal but the Philippines held on to claim the valuable three points.

(Fri 30)
Philippines 2-0 Myanmar
Thailand 3-1 Vietnam

Winfried Schafer reshuffled his pack as Thailand beat Vietnam 3-1. The much maligned Kirati was the hero of the day as he finally proved his worth at international level with a couple of goals. His first was a tap in on the six yard line midway through the first half while his second was a precise glancing header just after the hour mark. Anucha then saw red for aiming a kick at an opponent before Nguyen Van Quyet beat the offside trap moments later to reduce the deficit for the Vietnamese. With 18 minutes left, ten man Thailand could have pressed the panic button, but they secured the game on 81 minutes when a Vietnam defender knocked a Sumanya corner into his own net.
The Philippines saw off Myanmar to ensure back-to-back semi final appearances in the AFF Cup. Second half goals from Phil Younghusband and Angel Guirado sealed second place for the Azkals in Group A.
Thailand won the group with 9 points followed by the Philippines on 6. Vietnam and Myanmar collected only one solitary point apiece.


(Sun 25)
Indonesia 2-2 Laos
Malaysia 0-3 Singapore

AFF cup holders Malaysia were stunned as they lost 3-0 at home to Singapore. Two first half goals from Shahril and a second half header from 42 year old Alex Duric moved the Lions to the top of the group.
It was heartbreak for Laos as an 89th minute goal prevented the underdogs from claiming a famous win. Laos took the lead from the spot through Khampheng Sayavutthi after Indonesia's keeper, Endra, was red carded. It was then 10 v 10 when Sopha Saysana got his marching orders for Laos before Maitimo drew Indonesia level.
In the 80th minute, Keoviengphet looked to have won the game for Laos but Vendry Mofu tapped in a rebound for Indonesia in the 89th minute to make it 2-2.

(Wed 28)
Indonesia 1-0 Singapore
Laos 1-4 Malaysia

Indonesia moved to the top of Group B after they snatched a late 1-0 win over Singapore. Andik Vermansyah was the match winner scoring a free kick in the 87th minute.
Malaysia got their first points on the board with a 4-1 win over Laos. The scorelines suggests it was a comfortable evening for the Malaysians but in reality it was a struggle with three second half goals papering over the cracks.

(Sat 1 Dec)
Singapore 4-3 Laos
Malaysia 2-0 Indonesia

Singapore had to come back from two down before they eventually beat Laos 4-3. The victory meant that the Lions topped the group and avoided tournament favorites Thailand in the semi final. Shahril Ishak's goal in first half stoppage time sparked the Singapore comeback into life after they'd fallen two behind. Singapore added three second half goals as the Laos side tired after the break.
Reigning champions Malaysia progressed to the semi finals as they beat Indonesia 2-0. The Indonesians actually started the game brightly but they were hit with quick goals by Azamuddin Akil and Mahalli Jasuli just before the half hour. Indonesia never really recovered as Malaysia comfortably saw out the game.
Malaysia will now take on Group A winners Thailand in the semi-finals with the first leg in KL next Sunday. Singapore will visit travel to the Philippines in the other semi-final.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

AFF Cup Fixtures & Div 2 Preview

AFF Suzuki Cup 2012
(Sat 24)
Vietnam v Myanmar
Thailand v Philippines
(Tues 27)
Vietnam v Philippines
Myanmar v Thailand
(Fri 30)
Philippines v Myanmar
Thailand v Vietnam

The group games involving Thailand will all take place at the Rajamangala Stadium. The Thais kick off their 2012 AFF cup campaign when the host the Philippines on Saturday evening.  The Azkals have improved massively over the last few years and reached the semi finals of the AFF cup in 2010.
With home advantage in the group stages, Thailand are considered hot favorites to progress to the semi finals with possibly Vietnam anticipated to join them.
The 22 man squad announced by Winfried Schafer on Friday was:
Sintaweechai (Chonburi)
Kawin (Muangthong Utd)

Theeraton (Buriram Utd)
Panupong (Muangthong Utd)
Piyaphon (Muangthong Utd)
Niweat (Pattaya Utd)
Nattaporn (BEC Tero)
Cholratit (Chonburi)
Anucha (Chonburi)
Prayat (Ratchaburi)

Adul (Chonburi)
Arthit (Chonburi)
Pichitphong  (Muangthong Utd)
Datsakorn (Muangthong Utd)
Jakkraphan (Muangthong Utd)
Apipoo (Osotspa)
Sompong (Bangkok Utd)
Sumanya (Ratchaburi)

Teerasil (Muangthong Utd)
Kirati (Wuachon Utd) 
Chanatip (BEC Tero) 
Pipob (Chonburi)

(Sun 25)
Indonesia v Laos
Malaysia v Singapore
(Wed 28)
Indonesia v Singapore
Laos v Malaysia
(Sat 1 Dec)
Singapore v Laos
Malaysia v Indonesia

All of the fixtures will be played at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium in Kuala Lumpur except Singapore v Laos which will take place at Shah Alam Stadium in KL.

Division 2 Playoffs
(Group A - Sunday)
Pattani v Phitsanulok
Roi Et Utd v Rayong Utd
Paknampo NSRU v Ayutthaya

Group A was plunged into a mockery midweek when NSRU failed to fulfill their rescheduled away fixture with Pattani. They game was postponed last Saturday without much prior notice and NSRU swiftly declared that they wouldn't oblige and play the rearranged match. As expected they didn't show and a 2-0 win was awarded to Pattani. The university club were also hit with a three point deduction and a 50,000 baht fine. NSRU have since hinted that they will not show for their last three fixtures. (Please note that sometimes information reported through Thai media sources can be inconclusive. Don't be surprised if this punishment changes)
Nonetheless, I do feel a degree of sympathy for the Nakhon Sawan team, but they have to realize that two wrongs don't make a right. Their stubbornness has almost certainly killed off their chances of reaching the first division.

With uncertainty surrounding the game between NSRU v Ayutthaya, the match between Roi Et and Rayong Utd has the most riding on it this weekend. A win for the White Squirrels would kill off Rayong Utd's promotion bid and would leave Roi Et looking favorites to join Ayutthaya in Division 1 next year. If Roi Et were to lose, the winner of Pattani and Phitsanoluk would close in on the top 2.

(Group B - Saturday)
Thai Honda v Rayong FC
Trat v Sisaket Utd
Trang v Chaing Mai FC

The decision to reply the controversial 2-2 draw between Chiang Mai and Trat has been shelved. This means that a win for Trat over Sisaket United would earn the White Elephants a place in Division One next season. Sisaket Utd haven't won in two games while Rayong FC have been huffing and puffing after a promising start. Three points are essential as they travel to Thai Honda this weekend.
Chiang Mai FC could jump into the top 2 for the first time if they win at Trang and Sisaket Utd and Rayong FC both lose. The last time Chiang Mai and Trang met it ended 2-2 with Trang scoring two injury time goals to snatch an unexpected point.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Weekend Review 17-18 November

International Friendly
Thailand 5-0 Bangladesh

Thailand will enter the AFF Cup in a confident state of mind after they enjoyed their second 5-0 friendly success of the week. It was far too easy for the national favourites with star striker Teerasil scoring a hat-trick on his return to the firing line. As with the Bhutan friendly last Wednesday, the game was over as a contest within a few minutes. Sompong got the faintest of touches to a Pichitphong free kick before Teerasil fired his treble past the unconvincing Bangladesh keeper. Samut Songkhram's Napat bagged his second goal in consecutive matches as Thailand completed the 5-0 beating.
The Thais will entertain the Philippines at the Rajamangala next Saturday as they begin their AFF Cup campaign. The opening match will be quickly followed by games against Myanmar and Vietnam.

Division 2 Playoffs
(Group A)
Pattani P-P Paknampo NSRU
Ayutthaya 1-1 Roi Et Utd
Phitsanulok 1-0 Rayong Utd

An injury time blooper from Theerapong allowed Roi Et Utd to snatch a point at Ayutthaya. The keeper allowed a speculative shot from Naronglit to squirm through his legs as the game entered stoppage time. It was a fiercely fought contest throughout and Justin Herve's 70th minute header looked to have won the match as Ayutthaya pressed home their second half dominance. The point apiece keeps both sides in the top two with Ayutthaya on 14 points and Roi Et on 10.
Behind Roi Et, it's becoming log jammed with three sides now on eight points. The game between Pattani and NSRU was postponed until Tuesday evening much to the disapproval of NSRU. Apparently the Rainbow Stadium wasn't available to host the match.
Phitsanulok's promotion hopes appeared dead and buried a fortnight ago, but two home wins have propelled the northern club to within two points of the top two. Beak Soo Hyun's looping shot on the hour was the only goal of the game. The win for Phitsanulok moved them level with the Elephant Warriors on eight points.

(Group B)
Trat 3-2 Thai Honda
Rayong FC 1-1 Trang
Sisaket Utd 0-2 Chiang Mai FC

Trat have one foot inside the Division 1 door after they won in Round 7 whilst their nearest two challengers, Sisaket Utd and Rayong FC, failed to pick up three points. Trat squandered a 2 goal lead against bottom club Thai Honda, but were rescued with a late Watcharaphol goal as they picked up three precious points to move five clear at the top.
Meanwhile, Rayong FC were surprisingly held at home by Trang to a 1-1 draw. Sarun gave the Wild Horses the lead on the half hour via a penalty kick before Prawet levelled for Trang 10 minutes later. Rayong couldn't find that all important second goal as they had to settle for a solitary point.
That result would have pleased Chiang Mai FC as they crept into promotion contention with an impressive 2-0 win at Sisaket Utd. Goals from Aliou Seck and Chanatphol ensured that the Lanna Tigers closed to within two points of Sisaket Utd and Rayong FC.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Weekend Preview 17-18 November

Division 2 Playoffs
(Group A - Saturday)
Pattani v Paknampo NSRU
Ayutthaya v Roi Et Utd
Phitsanulok v Rayong Utd

The pick of the weekend's clashes is the the top 2 showdown between Ayutthaya and Roi Et United. A win for Ayutthaya would virtually book them a promotion place. They currently sit four points clear of Roi Et with four games left to play.
NSRU and Rayong United are perched closely on the shoulder of Roi Et and they'll be hoping for an Ayutthaya win coupled with one of their own. The promotion seeking pair are both on the road with NSRU making the journey down south to Pattani and Rayong Utd travelling up north to Phitsanulok.

(Group B - Sunday)
Trat v Thai Honda
Rayong FC v Trang
Sisaket Utd v Chiang Mai FC

The top three placed sides all have home games as they bid to complete the double over their Round 7 guests. It's top versus bottom with Trat hosting Thai Honda. In their last meeting Trat eased to a 3-0 win in Lat Krabang. On glancing at the league table, a similar outcome seems likely.
With Trang basically out of the promotion picture, Rayong FC should collect three points from them while Sisaket Utd will face a stiffer test against Chiang Mai FC. Sisaket Utd dropped off the top of the pile last week when they were held at home by struggling Thai Honda. Another home draw would most likely see them overtaken by Rayong FC.

International Friendlies
Thailand 5-0 Bhutan

It's not easy to make an assessment of a 5-0 win over the joint worst FIFA ranked team in the world. The fact that Bhutan turned up wearing a plain kit that appeared to have been purchased from a bargain basement sale earlier in the day, hardly added to their creditworthiness as a viable opponent.
The game as a contest was over within the first five minutes after Apipoo had netted two easy goals. The Osotspa man bagged a hat-trick later in the opening period while goals from Napat and Rattana completed the 5-0 win.
Thailand probably should have won by a greater scoreline but they wasted several set piece plays particularly in the second half. 

Thailand v Bangladesh

The last of Thailand's warm up matches will be completed against Bangladesh this Saturday. It's another choice of opponent that hardly sets the pulses racing although it should give the national side another test in beating a side that their supposed to beat.
The venue for this final warm-up match will be the Thai Japanese Stadium once again.

EDIT: The game will be played at the Rajamangala Stadium not the Thai Japanese.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Weekend 10-11 November Review

Toyota League Cup Final
Buriram Utd 4-1 Ratchaburi

Buriram United won their second cup final of the week as they strolled to a 4-1 win over a Ratchaburi side that was down to it's bare bones. The first division champions had no substitutes listed due to having eight inelligable Buriram United loanees on their books.
With the unconvincing Pathomporn in the Ratchaburi goal, a giant killing never looked likely. In the 36th minute, the Dragon's keeper weakly flapped at a Theeratorn free kick allowing Ekwalla to open the scoring, and minutes later Jerkovic netted from close range to kill off the contest before the half time interval.
Osmar headed Buriram three in front just after the hour before Sivakorn feebly patted the ball onto the unsuspecting Adisak to give Ratchaburi a consolation two minutes later. Goran Jerkovic bagged his double three minutes from time as his header completed an easy day at the office for the Thunder Castle.

Division 2 Playoffs
(Group A)
Roi Et Utd 2-0 Pattani
Rayong Utd 3-1 Ayutthaya
Phitsanulok 1-0 Paknampo NSRU

There were three home wins in Group A as Ayutthaya finally tasted defeat for the first time. The Ancient Warriors lost 3-1 at Rayong United but they still have the benefit of a five point cushion on third place.
At the other end, Phitsanulok won their first game to keep their distant promotion hopes smouldering. Somlak's goal shortly before half time was the only goal of the contest.
Roi Et moved into second spot after they beat Pattani 2-0. A Piyapong penalty and a Michael Victor goal that shouldn't have stood in my opinion won it for Roi Et Utd.

(Group B)
Trang 0-4 Trat
Sisaket Utd 1-1 Thai Honda
Chiang Mai FC 0-0 Rayong FC

Trat were the only side to win on Round 6 as they submitted an impressive 4-0 win at Trang. An early Toth opener followed by a Wuttichai double and a late Raymond goal moved the White Elephants one point clear at the top with a game in hand.
It was a late show at Sisaket United with the points shared between the hosts and Thai Honda. Jimmy Shola's 85th minute goal appeared to have won the points for Sisaket United but they were denied late on when Pornchai's strike earned a point for Thai Honda. The late equalizer proved costly for Sisaket Utd as they dropped to second in the group.
Chiang Mai FC enjoyed the bulk of the chances against Rayong FC despite playing the majority of the game with 10 players. Even though Rayong FC had the man advantage, they seemed content to settle for a point. The draw keeps Rayong FC in third place one point behind Sisaket United. Chiang Mai are six points off the promotion spots although they do have the replayed match against Trat up their sleeve.

International Friendly
Thailand v Bhutan

Thailand host Bhutan in their second warm-up match for the AFF Cup. The Thais will be looking to build on last week's encouraging 2-0 victory over AFF holders Malaysia. I imagine Schafer will mix and match his team again as he bids to find his strongest 11. The latest FIFA rankings released on 7th November had Bhutan ranked in 207th place, equal last with San Marino and the Turks and Caicos Islands. It should be a comfortable win for Thailand which will hopefully be supplemented with a morale boosting performance.
The friendly will be played at 6pm on Wednesday at the Thai Japanese Stadium in Din Daeng.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Weekend Preview 10-11 November & International Friendly Result

Toyota League Cup Final (Saturday, Thammasart University, 5.45pm)
Buriram Utd v Ratchaburi

Buriram United will start as strong favorites to retain the trophy that they won last season, and complete the domestic cup clean sweep for the second consecutive year.
In the three seasons since the introduction of the Toyota League Cup, Buriram have only tasted defeat once which was back in 2010 to Thai Port in the final.
The Thunder Castle have saved their best form for the cups this season after floundering to fourth in a disappointing league campaign. Osmar Barba and Goran Jerkovic have been the shining beacons that have stood out in Buriram's cup runs.

Ratchaburi on the other hand, won the first division title in their maiden season after being promoted from the regional leagues in 2011. On the way to this final, the Dragons have taken the TPL scalps of Pattaya United, Wuachon United and TOT. Unfortunately, they won't be able to call on any player of theirs with any Buriram connections for this big occasion. In the FA Cup tie between the two finalists, Ratchaburi faced the same predicament and were trounced 7-1 on the night. From a neutrals point of view, let's hope Ratchaburi put up a better fight this time to make it a competitive spectacle.

Division 2 Playoffs
(Group A - Sunday)
Roi Et Utd v Pattani
Rayong Utd v Ayutthaya
Phitsanulok v Paknampo NSRU

As Group A has reached the halfway stage, the big question appears to be who'll be joining Ayutthaya in Division one next season. With a seven point cushion over third placed Roi Et Utd, it would take a catastrophic implosion for Ayutthaya not to be promoted. They travel to Rayong United who are incidentally the only side to take a point of Ayutthaya. That draw came back on the opening round of fixtures.
The story of this group for the rest has been too many drawn matches with Roi Et and Pattani amassing 7 out of a possible 10 between them. The pair clash on Sunday and as we enter the business end of the playoffs, these draws need to be turned into wins.
For bottom side Phitsanulok, they need to win all five of their remaining games and hope results go in their favour. Anything other than three points against second placed NSRU would be the end of Phitsanulok's season. NSRU on the other hand, will see this as a great opportunity for their first away win. 

(Group B - Saturday)
Trang v Trat
Sisaket Utd v Thai Honda
Chiang Mai FC v Rayong FC

On Tuesday it was announced that the Chiang Mai v Trat game from last Saturday would be replayed after the referee controversially allowed a late Trat equalizer to stand despite the fact that there were still Chiang Mai players off the park celebrating a goal they'd scored moments earlier.
Regardless of what happens in that replay, Chiang Mai need to concentrate on the task on hand this weekend as they host Rayong FC who have lost two out of their last three matches.
Trat were clearly unhappy with the decision to replay the game and will be brooding as they make the long trip to Trang. The Dugons won their first match last weekend and another win would keep their slim promotion hopes alive.
Back on Day 1, Thai Honda comfortably beat Sisaket Utd 2-0. Since then the fortunes of both have been polar opposites with Honda losing four on the trot while SU have won three and drawn one on their way to claiming the top berth. The visit of Thai Honda sees the Esan club play their second of three consecutive home games. On current form this match seems like a home banker!

International Friendly Result
Thailand 2-0 Malaysia

Thailand began their first of three warm-up matches for the AFF Cup with a 2-0 win over Malaysia. The result would have pleased Winfried Schafer despite the guests offering very little. The game was tough on the eye for the sparse crowd at the SCG Stadium with fouls and misplaced passes littering the contest.
Debutaunt, Prayat Bunya, headed the only goal of a scrappy first half and Arthit's long range strike with ten minutes left wrapped up the friendly win for the Thais. Adul was dismissed on 72 minutes for receiving two yellows within the space of three minutes and he was joined for an early bath when Malaysia's Abdul Rasak was ordered off shortly before full time.

Winnie Schafer will know his side still needs to improve before the competition begins on 24th November in spite of the encouraging 2-0 scoreline. The German still has his star pair of Teerasil and Datsakorn to return to the fold, plus a couple of the available Buriram United players who should return after the League Cup final. Next up is another friendly against Bhutan next Wednesday.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Weekend Review 3-4 November

FA Cup Final
Buriram Utd 2-1 Army Utd

Two goals from Goran Jerkovic helped Buriram United retain the FA Cup for a second successive year. The Thunder Castle always looked in control once Jerkovic had opened the scoring in the 37th minute. His second on the hour had Buriram in cruise control although a late goal from Isarapong gave the cup holders an anxious last 10 minutes. The win gives Buriram United entry to AFC action (I think) next season.

Division 2 Playoffs
(Group A)
Rayong Utd 2-2 Pattani
Roi Et Utd 1-1 Paknampo NSRU
Phitsanulok 2-3 Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya were the only winners in Round 5 which as a consequence extended their lead at the top to five points. The Ancient Warriors had to come from behind after Nloga had headed Phitsanulok into a 10th minute lead. The first half was rather scrappy, yet after the break Ayutthaya upped the tempo and three second half goals via Natthaphat, Chompoo and Antonio Vega tipped the scales in their favour before Phitsanulok grabbed a consolation right at the death. Phitsanulok's Violet Army once again brought shame on themselves as the game was held up for 15 minutes due to them throwing bottles onto the pitch shortly after Ayutthaya had gone 3-1 up. There will most likely be a home ban coming their way.
In the other two drawn games, Nolan Murray's deflected shot put Roi Et Utd ahead before a late Machuca penalty levelled matters for Paknampo NSRU while Rayong United twice came from behind to grab a 2-2 draw with Pattani. The point apiece keeps Rayong Utd and Pattani on the edges of the promotion scene.

(Group B)
Chiang Mai FC 2-2 Trat
Trang 2-0 Thai Honda
Sisaket Utd 2-1 Rayong FC

For the second successive home game, Chiang Mai FC were hit with a late sucker punch as they drew 2-2 in an eventful encounter with Trat. Wuttichai gobbled up a rebound to give Trat a 15th minute lead before Warut equalized shortly before the interval. The game looked to be sailing towards a 1-1 draw until Aboubacar's injury time goal appeared to have won it for the Lanna Tigers. Whilst a couple of Chiang Mai players were still off the pitch celebrating, Trat quickly restarted the game and ran up the park to level through Wuttichai's second of the afternoon. The game finished 2-2 with the referee and his assistants left to negotiate the gauntlet of wrath from furious home officials, players and fans at the final whistle.
Despite the point for Trat, they were overtaken at the top as Sisaket Utd's 2-1 win over Rayong FC moved the Esan club to the summit of the table. The hero of the day was the golden haired Preecha who netted twice for Sisaket Utd.
Trang finally tallied up a win with a 2-0 victory over Thai Honda. It's probably too little too late for the southern champs as they sit five points behind second placed Trat with five to play.

International Friendly
Thailand v Malaysia (Wednesday)

Winnie Schafer's troops begin their preparations for the forthcoming AFF Suzuki Cup with a warm-up against current AFF cup holders Malaysia at the SCG Stadium, Muangthong.
After a disappointing campaign in 2010, Thailand will be out to demonstrate that they are the top dogs in the ASEAN region. A win isn't essential in this friendly, although fans of the national side will be expecting a performance that will wet the appetite for the upcoming tournament that begins towards the tail end of the month.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

FA Cup Final - Buriram Utd 2-1 Army Utd

Buriram United held onto the FA Cup as Goran Jerkovic's brace helped them beat Army United 2-1.

The opening to the final was reasonably lively and was flowing from end to end without any real chances being created.

Bjorn Lindemann had Sivaruck scrambling across goal in the 13th minute as his angled shot crept wide.

The cup holders then began to dominate possession although they had to wait until the half hour mark until they finally tested Watcharapong in the Army goal. Adisak's header from Theeratorn's cross forced the aforementioned keeper to make a sprightly save with his left hand at the near post.

Five minutes later though, the Army keeper was beaten when Goran Jerkovic slotted past him after Surat had won possession in midfield to neatly tee up the goalscorer.

Spanish defender, Osmar, almost doubled the lead for the Thunder Castle as half time approached but his header from a corner flew just past the post.

On 55 minutes, Jakkraphan spurned a great chance for Buriram United when he fired over from yards out after Theeratorn's low cross found its way to his feet.

Buriram United did eventually double their lead on 62 minutes as Apichet ran into oceans of space down the right flank to cross to an unmarked Jerkovic to head home his second goal of the match.

Just when the Army fans were contemplating heading for the exits, Isarapong struck a daisy cutter past Sivaruck to reduce the deficit on 81 minutes.

The goal was to prove to be only a consolation as Buriram United held out to retain the FA Cup. Captain Apichet, with his well gelled hair, was the delightful recipient of the trophy.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Weekend Preview 3-4 November

FA Cup Final - Sunday, Supachalasai 7pm
Buriram Utd v Army Utd

Both sides have had difficult yet contrasting routes to the final. Cup holders Buriram United stayed at home in the early rounds as they beat Chonburi, Ratchaburi and BEC Tero. In the semi final, they ventured out from their backyard for the first time as they comfortably beat Bangkok Glass at the Rajamangala Stadium.
For Army United, their trip to the final has been a tale of unregistered players, penalty kicks and comebacks. In Round three, Army thought they were out after losing on penalties to regional league side Trat. However, Trat were swiftly booted out of the tournament after they'd been found to have fielded an unregistered player. Army took advantage of the unexpected reprieve and in the next round they successfully beat PTT Rayong following a penalty shootout. The quarter and semi finals then saw Army come from behind to progress. Two late goals helped them come from 2-1 down to beat the mighty Muangthong United while in the semi final last week, Army hit back to beat Chiang Rai United 2-1.

Buriram United will start as favorites to hold onto the trophy that they won last year. Incidentally, Army were the last side to beat Buriram in the FA Cup back in 2010 when a goal from Tatree won a fiery contest. It was however a massive brawl during the match that made the headlines the next day rather than the actual football. For Army they'll can also reflect on an inspired league come back last month against Buriram United as three second half goals in ten minutes snatched a 3-3 draw from the jaws of defeat at the Home of Gentlemen.

The winner on Sunday will pocket B1.5 million, and more importantly if we're still using the same format as 2011, the victor will qualify for AFC duty next term.

Division 2 Playoffs
(Group A - Saturday)
Rayong Utd v Pattani
Roi Et Utd v Paknampo NSRU
Phitsanoluk v Ayutthaya

It's top versus bottom as Ayutthaya travel to Phitsanoluk. Ayutthaya have won their last three games to open up a three point gap at the top while Phitsanoluk remain winless after four games.
The next two sides below Ayutthaya, NSRU and Roi Et Utd, clash this Saturday in Roi Et. An away success for the Nakhon Sawan university side would move them five ahead of their weekend hosts.
Rayong United have lost their way with two defeats after a promising start. They welcome Pattani who yet to win with three draws and one defeat accumulated so far.

(Group B)
Chiang Mai FC v Trat

Trang v Thai Honda
Sisaket Utd v Rayong FC

On Saturday, Chiang Mai FC face their biggest game of the season when they welcome group leaders Trat. A win for the Lanna Tigers would move them to within two points of Trat. On the other side of the coin, a loss would virtually extinguish their promotion bid while it would leave one foot in the Division 1 door for Trat.
The following day sees second placed Rayong FC at Sisaket Utd who sit two points and a slot below them in third. A win for the Wild Horses would move them five points clear of Sisaket Utd although I guess they'd take a draw now if it were offered to them.
The bottom two of Trang and Trat also face off. For either of these two to have any chance of sneaking back into the promotion picture, they need to win this and hope that Trat and Rayong FC lose too.