Thursday, February 28, 2013

Division 1 Team Guide 2013

Here is a brief guide to the first division line-up for 2013.


Singhtarua (Thai Port), BB-CU and TTM all meekly bowed out of the TPL last season. The three clubs would have taken note that none of the three sides relegated in 2011 from the TPL were able to regain their TPL status at the first attempt.
Thai Port v TTM
The newly named Singhtarua have arguably lost their two best players from last season, Whoo Hyun and Sivakorn, while top scorer Olof Watson was let go to Bangkok FC. Their squad has been boosted though with several new Thai recruits plus the foreign signings of the skillful Leandro Luz, Leichenstein internationalist Mathias Christen and Jerry Amara from Police United. Ri Myong Jun and Diarra Ali have also joined on loan from Muangthong United. Out of the three relegated sides, Singhtarua look the best equipped to make a swift return to the TPL.
There weren't many tipping BB-CU to survive in the TPL last season and this was to be the case as they were demoted after only one season from the top flight. Again, there won't be many predicting an instant return to the TPL for BBCU yet the acquisition of the powerful duo of Bouba Abbo and Cheik Fofana suggest that they could be an outside bet to bounce back.
Last season's move to Chiang Mai was a disaster for TTM as they finished cut adrift at the bottom of the TPL. The vagabond club have upped sticks again and this time they'll be based in Lopburi. Reports have indicated that salaries still haven't been fully paid to staff for 2012 and as a consequence they've failed to attract the quality of player that will fire them back to the TPL. Although the loan signing of Jorrin John from Muangthong United will boost their attacking threat.

Moving On Up

In the last three seasons, four sides have risen from the regional leagues to the TPL in successive seasons. The four newly promoted sides of Ayutthaya, Trat, Rayong FC and Rayong United will be hoping to emulate Chiang Rai United, Buriram FC, Chainat and Ratchaburi who have taken the express route to the top tier from the lower levels.
Trat and Ayutthaya would be most likely from the quartet to complete this jump although they might have to settle for a season of consolidation just as Krabi and Nakhon Ratchasima had to do last year.
The pair of Rayong clubs don't appear to have the resources and survival will be a realistic goal. Rayong United have made a couple of interesting acquisitions with the flamboyant David le Bras joining from Korat while young Welshman Jonny Brown will improve striking options in Klaeng. The Wild Horses (Rayong FC) still have the core of their promotion side and hard work and good team spirit will be the key to survival for them.

Sentence Served

Nakhon Pathom FC were unceremoniously booted out of the Thai football structure two years ago after violence marred the end of their TPL/Division 1 playoff against Sisaket FC in 2010. A club representative was seen brandishing a gun as fans and staff invaded the pitch. The referee was attacked while opposing fans had to flee for their lives as infuriated NP louts called for their blood.
Now that the two year sentence has been served, the club have returned to Division 1 under the slightly tinkered new name of Nakhon Pathom United. The team are basically starting from scratch again, and with a modest budget and a squad list that doesn't catch the eye, it's going to be a tough ask for the club to reestablish themselves again.

The Likely Lads

Last season Suphanburi achieved promotion by splashing the cash. PTT Rayong, Bangkok FC, Phuket and debatably Nakhon Ratchasima all fit into that category with all four clubs boosting their sides with a glut of TPL experienced players.
PTT Rayong have been on the brink of making the breakthrough for the last two seasons without really coming close to boarding the TPL promotion train. This time around, the petroleum backed football club have added Kirati, who recently represented Thailand at the AFF Cup, while ex international, Pipat, and the unpredictable Christian Nade will also boost their fire power.
The Bulligan
Bangkok FC's substantial budget last season didn't guarantee them success as they spent last term at the wrong end of the table. Countless new additions have been added to the squad yet the most important piece of business could be keeping hold of last season's Division 1 golden boot winner, Lee Tuck.
2012 began as a grim year for Phuket with owners threatening to close the club after they'd lost interest. The Islanders just managed to hold their heads above water both on and off the field as they saw out 2012 with their Division 1 status intact. With a fresh injection of funds, the horizon is far brighter in 2013. New recruits include the volatile duo of Dudu and Giorgi Tsimakuridze while Moudourou Moise and Geoffrey Doumeng have recently tasted AFC Cup football and will bring vital experience. The impish Juninho has also joined after a spell at BBCU last season.
Nakhon Ratchasima's hopes could rest upon how quickly their new Japanese trio of Satoshi Nagano, Shota Koide and Yusuke Kato bed into their new surroundings. Last season's poster boy Anon has returned back to the TPL with Esan Utd/Sisaket FC via parent club Muangthong, but the loan signing of midfield starlet Saruch, from the TPL champions, could provide the final piece in the promotion jigsaw. Also the Swatcats will be hoping that Prompong continues his rich vein of goal scoring from the second half of last season.

The Inbetweeners

Sriracha, Krabi, Siam Navy, Saraburi, Khon Kaen, and Air Force United complete the first division picture for 2013. For me all of these sides don't appear strong enough to go up, yet they should have enough not to be dragged into affairs at the wrong end of the table.
Air Force v Krabi
Sriracha and Krabi both finished in the top 6 last season and with similar resources this term, another top 6 finish would be seen as a decent return.
Khon Kaen and Siam Navy were both demoted from the TPL in 2011 and never threatened to instantly return in 2012. I can't envisage anything different for this coming year.
Air Force have flirted with relegation in the past couple of seasons before eventually pulling away to mid-table finishes. Holding on to last season's top scorer Kaoassi Yao Hermann was vital and should keep the Airmen out of danger. They did however lose the ever reliable Devala Gorrick between the sticks while defender Scott Baginski has left for Saraburi. The Warlords finished 12th last term and a similar position appears on the cards. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

TPL Team Guide 2013

Here is a brief look at how the 18 TPL teams are shaping up for the opening of the 2013 season.

The Title Contenders

Muangthong United
The disappointing campaign of 2011 now appears as a distant blip on the radar after big spending Muangthong cruised to the TPL title last season. The lucrative sponsorship deal signed with a well-known cement group helped them pick up their third title in the last four years. With the same backers still on board, the champs will start the 2013 season as favorites.
Slavisa Jokanovic remains at the helm with the strongest pool of players in the division at his disposal. New signings include, Austrian internationalist, Roland Linz, Korean defender Kim Yoo Jin, while the Thai striking duo of Napat and Chainarong will feature on the fringe of the squad. Teerasil's much hyped transfer to Athletico Madrid had the Thai press purring with open mouths, but as strongly suspected the move never materialized and Mui has returned to Nonthaburi. The club were dealt a major blow in a pre-season tournament in Hong Kong when Kawin suffered a broken leg. As a consequence, the big keeper is expected to miss the first half of the season. Another thing which could distract the champions is their involvement in the AFC champions league. Muangthong will face a hectic schedule in the early weeks of the season although league fixtures either sides of AFC ones will be alleviated for the reigning champs.

Chonburi have finished as runners-up for the past two seasons. Last season the Sharks reached the semi-final of the AFC Cup which consequently left them looking a rather tired team by the end as they finished 14 points behind Muangthong.
The mid-season signing of Thiago Cunha proved a master stroke with fans of Chonburi now expecting the Brazilian to spearhead their title quest this time. He'll be joined up front by Montenegrin Ivan Bošković and the wildly unpredictable Samual Ajayi who arrived from Bangkok Glass. Chonburi's coach, Withaya Laohakul, came in for criticism from sections of the Chonburi faithful, and with him still in charge, it's hard to see Chonburi winning the league. It will be essential for Chonburi to come flying out of the blocks as Muangthong and Buriram will be preoccupied with ACL Champions League action in the opening two months. This will be the window of opportunity for the Sharks to make their move.

Buriram United
The all conquering squad of 2011 has been dissembled and the one about to embark for this 2013 campaign is almost unrecognizable from the treble winning side. The African core of the 2011 team has all been moved on to pastures new. The new boys, Goran Jerkovic and Osmar Barba, showed last season that they can cut it at this level but it's unknown how the other new foreign recruits will fit in. The attack minded duo of Bustos and Gonzalez both made their debuts last weekend and initial impressions were certainly positive.
Even though Buriram United won the cup double last season, I'm sure the vast majority at the Thunder Castle would have swapped both cups for retaining the TPL crown. Finishing 30 points behind Muangthong in fourth place would have seriously irked the club dignitaries and fans. The priority now will be to wrestle the TPL trophy back from Muangthong's grasp. Similarly to Muangthong, they'll have to juggle the TPL with AFC competition in the early weeks.

BEC Tero Sasana
Tero finished third last year and will be considered an outside bet to win the TPL this season. The revolving players door has been rotating again but not as rapidly as the past couple of seasons. Apichet and Sarif have arrived from Buriram United while the pacy Yai Nilwong will boost attacking options. Incoming foreign players include Japan's Sho Shimoji, Gabriel Davis of Brazil and French striker Jonathan Béhé. Cleiton Silva, Arzu, Nattaporn, Rangsan and the promising youngster, Chanathip, still remain on board from last season. The club will be hoping that their move back to the outskirts of Bangkok will increase their fan base. A cup success appears a more realistic route to silverware.

The New Kids on the Block


The Dragons of Ratchaburi have climbed from the regional league through the first division in the space of two seasons. Last season they won Division 1 with a large percentage of the experienced playing staff being loaned from Buriram United.
The close season bizarrely saw the removal of Fluke Boii as coach only for him to be reappointed again days later. Strikers Douglas Cardozo and Pornchai have been retained as has recently capped defender Prayad. Incoming players include the experienced Brazilian Wellington Oliviera while former K-League player Cho Jin Soo will be expected to deliver goals. Local boy Ekkapoom has also been brought in from Muangthong Utd.
Pre-season results have shown promise from the Dragons and the depth of talent available in the squad should see them clear of danger.

Suphanburi invested heavily and added plenty of experience to their squad as they made their way out of Division 1 last year. The club have continued to spend money during the off season improving their stadium and training facilities. Sensibly realistic expectations have been quoted with a season of consolidation being their ultimate goal. Notable additions to their experienced squad include Prat from BEC Tero, the reliable keeper Kosin from Army Utd, Mika Chunounsee and Bireme Diouf.
Suphanburi were solid but unspectacular to watch as they won promotion last year. There appears to be good spirit in the camp and they should be capable of a mid-table finish.

Bangkok United
After two seasons outwith the top flight, Bangkok United make their return to the TPL. Last season they finished third in Division 1 with Romain Gasmi taking many of the plaudits with a series of classy displays. A lot will rest on the Frenchman's shoulders and he'll be vital to keeping the Angels in the TPL. The broody Ronnachai has been coaxed from BEC Tero and could net anything between 2-20 goals for the Angels. The reliable Tony Pinho and Mario da Silva have added to the Brazilian clan at the Thai Japanese Stadium as the club prepare for a tough battle ahead in securing their TPL status.

The Rest of the Bunch

Osotspa Saraburi
Osotspa continue to be at the forefront of the chasing pack yet they never seem to mount a serious challenge on the top 4. In the last three seasons they've moved up the rankings one place each year with 7th, 6th and 5th placed finishes.
The impressive Namibian striking duo of Lazarus Kaimbi and Tangeni Shipahu are still on board while the Brazilian Dudu has been released. They've also included three experienced Japanese players in Hiroyuki Yamamoto, Saguru Hasimoto and Hiromichi Katano in their squad for 2013. Again it's highly likely Osotspa will finish in the top half, but there in nothing new to suggest that they'll be pressing the top 4.

Esan United / Sisaket FC
Esan United's first season in Ubon Ratchathani was a surprising success as they claimed a sixth placed finish. Despite the lofty placing, nobody really regards Esan United as a top 6 club with many neutral fans judging them an unnoteworthy replacement for the well supported Sisaket FC.
The rumblings of discontent over the transfer from Sisaket to Esan Utd still hang over the club. The latest news is that the deal to move the club lock, stock and barrel to Ubon Ratchathani was deemed to be illegal, and the club must hand back the rights to Sisaket FC. Yet again, there is still plenty of drama to unfold with both factions of the club firmly believing that they have the right to rule.
The constant guessing for the players must make them feel like they've stepped onto the film set of Clint Eastwood's Heartbreak Ridge. Nonetheless, with Gilbert Koomson and Anon added to the player roster, Esan Utd have enough depth to avoid any danger and a mid-table finish should be achievable. That is provided the off field shenanigans doesn't carry over onto the playing side of things.

Edit - Just dimiss what's been written above as Sisaket have a totally different playing squad to that of Esan Utd

Samut Songkhram
Before the start of last season, it was looking bleak for a sponsorless Samut Songkhram. Thankfully for the Mae Khlong side, financial backing eventually arrived and they climbed out the relegation zone to secure a rather unexpected top half finish.
If you wind the clock forward one year, Samut Songkhran are virtually back to square one with most of their best players long since departed. Coach Somchai is used to wheeling and dealing on a tight budget and has brought in a host of players from the fringes of other teams with Ney Fabiano and Obama Florant being the most renowned captures. At this moment, any thoughts of another top half finish appear implausible. It seems they'll be scrapping at the other end of the table this year.

Bangkok Glass
Bangkok Glass had a clearout during the close season as the owners of the club finally lost patience with the failure of any end product on their investments. On reflection of the 2012 season, pre-match team photos had the BG players looking more akin to models posing for a metrosexual magazine rather than football players about to commence battle on a football pitch.
With approximately 15 new additions, the side will be quite unrecognizable from the one last year. Goals will be expected from new boys Leandro dos Santos and Bill Mehmet while goalkeeper Narit and the defensive additions of Shinnosuke Honda, Piyachart, Jose Mena and Goran Subara should add some steel to the back line. I can't see them challenging for the league title but a top 6 finish should be the minimum of expectation. If results don't go well from the onset, you have to wonder how long Phil Stubbins will be given in the BG hot seat.

Chiangrai United
Chiang Rai United are now firmly established as part of the TPL scene with two successive mid-table finishes achieved. Regularly backed a large home following at their new United Stadium, this could be the year that CRU challenge for a top six finish. The Fighting Beetles have largely kept faith with the same squad as last season although they have added the powerful striker Leanardo who was one of the few shining beacons in a desperate TTM side last season. He will add to the strong Brazilian connection at the club while the reported capture of ex Manchester United trainee Kyle Nix should excite the Orange Power.

Army United
Since Army United's transformation from an military team watched a few hardy souls to a more cosmopolitan one embracing the local community, the club have enjoyed positive openings to their last two campaigns before their early season promise fizzled out. Reaching the FA Cup final was a decent achievement last year but lack of consistency in the league has slightly irritated the fans.
A lot of the Thai squad players have been made surplus to requirements as has crowd favorite Tony Pinho who's made the short distance move to Bangkok United. The side lacked a proper striker last season and they have recruited Matthew Mbuta and Bakary Diakite to help address this problem. Army Utd will be aiming for the top 6 but more likely they'll flounder nearer the bottom 6.

Police United
Last season was a massive underachievement for the Thammasart based club as they spent the vast majority of the season scrapping for their survival. It was only after collecting enough points in a late run of seven home matches that the Crimson Cops pulled away from danger.
The signing of Brazilian scoring machine Leandro dos Santos never really worked out and he has been moved on to pastures new. Ludovik Takem has been brought in from Pattaya to replace him while the return of Whoo Hyun will improve the defence. Police should be able to avoid trouble this year and could possibly finish in the top half.

The communications company settled back into their Chaeng Wattana surroundings and enjoyed a comfortable season last time out. With boardroom disputes a thing of the past, it has allowed the team to blossom on the field.
With a similar squad and set up this time, complacency could be TOT's biggest enemy. The reliable Lee Jun Ki and Takahiro Kawamura are still at TOT as is the Serb, Rodoljub Paunovic, who weighed in with a few goals after his mid-season arrival last year. Regrettably midfield playmaker Diego Walsh has had to call it a day, yet the team should be good enough to avoid relegation with a lower mid-table finish seeming more realistic.

Songkla United
The transformation of Buriram FC into Songkhla United took 12 months longer than planned. The guise of Wuachon United has been dropped while Songkhla FC's existence has been terminated to allow this metamorphosis to happen.
On the field, Wuachon relied on a host of loanees to guarantee their survival last year. This time with only a maximum of 6 loanees allowed, it's going to be harder for them to stay up. Home form will be vital for Songkhla and I'll be curious to see how many times they'll get 30,000+ crowds this season.

Chainat's started their maiden TPL season in encouraging form but ended up only securing their TPL status in the penultimate weekend of the season. The Hornbills shipped in an alarming 72 goals which was by far the highest amount of any side. Fortunately they scored 59 at the other end which was a total only surpassed by MTU, Chonburi and Buriram United.
New coach Surachai came in at the tail end of last season and during this transfer window he raided his former club Bangkok Glass bringing several recruits up to Chainat. The most notable one was the loan signing of central defender Valery Hiek which came as a surprise to Bangkok Glass supporters. If the Hornbills can shut up shop at the back, then they should avoid another relegation dogfight.

The Dolphins continue to baffle as they dropped from a 4th placed finish in 2011 to a 4th bottom finish in 2012. The goals from Ludovik Takem were vital in the second leg of last season in keeping Pattaya in the TPL. Pattaya seem to play at their best when nothing is expected of them, so if this is the case expect them to finish in the top half this time.
Last season's top scorer Ludo has left as has their reliable keeper Narit. The new arrivals aren't much to write about and another season of unpredictability looms.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Thai Clubs Fightback to Earn AFC Draws

Vegalta Sendai 1-1 Buriram United

Defender Osmar Ibanez's 76th minute header secured a point for Buriram United in their opening AFC encounter at Vegalta Sendai.

The game was played on a bitterly cold night and it was fair to say that the first half was at best lukewarm as a spectacle. Buriram's defence lead by Osmar defended well limiting Vegalta to only a couple of shots that flew wide while Anawin and Bustos had half chances at the other end.

Whatever the homeside had with their half time sake seemed to work as they came out fired up. Muto should have opened the scoring four minutes into the half, but he miscued wide when he should really have scored.

Shortly afterwards, Vegalta were awarded a penalty after the ball deflected on to Osmar's arm via his face. It was slightly harsh but the referee from Hong Kong probably made the right call.

Ryang Yong Gi hit the penalty low to Siwarak's right to score despite the Buriram keeper getting a hand to it.

Within a minute of the goal, Anthony spurned a great chance when he failed to convert a free header from Theeratorn's cross. 

The Japanese side started to look dangerous on the counter attack and Siwarak thwarted a couple of their breaks with sprightly saves to keep the Thai side in the contest.

Buriram must have been thankful for their keeper's saves as Osmar levelled on 76 minutes. The big Spaniard glanced home Theeratorn's pinpoint corner to silence the Sendai Ultras inside the Yurtec Stadium.

Buriram kept it tight and held out for a deserved point. Apart from a 20 minute spell at the beginning of the second half, the Thai side more than matched their more illustrious opponents.

Next up for Buriram will be a home game in warmer conditions against FC Seoul who spanked Jiangsu Sainty 5-1.

Muangthong United 2-2 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

Muangthong United twice came from behind to ensure that the spoils were shared at the Thunderdome.

The home side set themselves up rather cautiously, yet they were dealt an early blow when Panupong was unluckily penalised for a trip on Sangmin. The Iranian referee pointed to the spot and the veteran Lee Dong Gook stepped up to smash low and hard past Weera in the sixth minute.

Teerasil should have done better five minutes later when he blasted a great chance over the bar after he'd latched onto a through ball.

Despite the early set back, the Thai champions were still content to sit back allowing the Koreans to control the play and possession.

When they did eventually come out of their shell, Muangthong forced a couple of chances from Djurovski free kicks. First up, Yoo Jin flicked narrowly past the post while Pichitphong forced Eun Sung to make a low save following a beautifully rehearsed free kick.

Weera finally made his first real save on 37 minutes as he spectacularly tipped over a goal bound Lee Dong Gook header.

On the stroke of half time, the hosts were awarded a penalty after Teerasil was bundled over in the box by Kyuro. Mario Djurovski then nonchalantly dinked the ball down the center over the Jeonbuk keeper who'd sold himself a fraction too early. 

After the break, Linz was pushed forward and had a couple of headed efforts in the opening ten minutes of the half. The first was headed straight at Eun Sung, but the second following a corner hit the side of the post with the keeper beaten.

The game then settled down for a period and it appeared that both sides would have gladly settled for a point.

Kevin Oris celebrates
That changed on 77 minutes when Kevin Oris towered above a cluster of players to nod home a hanging freekick to put Jeonbuk back into the lead.

As time was running out, Muangthong brought on Weerawut and Sarawut in a bid to salvage the game. With two minutes left on the clock, Weerawut won a corner. From the resultant dead ball, Yoo Jin ran from the back post to guide the ball home even though there were hints of a deflection off a Jeonbuk defender.

Weera still had to be alert in injury time to save a left footed shot from Hyuk as Muangthong grabbed a deserved point.

In the other group game, the Chinese powerhouse Guangzhou Evergrande comfortably beat Urawa Reds 3-0. Muangthong will travel to Japan in a fortnight hoping to inflict more misery on Urawa Reds.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Muangthong Utd 0-2 Buriram Utd

New boy Ramses Bustos stole the show scoring twice to help Buriram United beat Muangthong United 2-0 in the Kor Royal Cup Final

Any spectators arriving late to the stadium would have missed a frantic first five minutes with Muangthong coming close twice before Buriram opened the scoring in the fifth minute. Teerasil lost his marker from a floated Pichitpong free kick but his header was centimeters wide, while Djurovski beat the offside trap before firing his angled shot into the midriff of Siwarak as the TPL champs opened brightly.

Opening goal
With the next attack, it was debutant Ramses Bustos who opened the scoring. A innocuous long ball into the Muangthong box caused alarm as the defence failed to clear it. The ball eventually landed at Bustos who flicked it up with his left foot, just like a tennis player would with a serve, before twisting and smashing it into the net with the same foot.

After the initial excitement, the game slowed down with the Korean referee issuing a sprinkling of yellow cards as the game was peppered with niggly fouls.

Five minutes before the break, Muangthong had a great chance to level when Linz broke through on goal but his weak shot was saved by Siwarak.

In injury time, Anawin's dipping drive was tipped over by Weera as the FA Cup holders went into the interval 1-0 up.

The game took a twist on the hour when Mongkol was given a second yellow card for blocking the ball with his arm on the halfway line. It was a silly foul to concede and the Korean official called it correctly by giving the former Thai Port man a second yellow.

As a result of being a player down, Muangthong were exposed at the back and should have been two down when Bustos rounded Weera on 69 minutes. The angle just wasn't right for the Chilean and his shot hit the woodwork with the empty net beckoning.

Five minutes later, Buriram had a goal chalked off after Theeratorn was adjudged to have been offside when he rolled home a square pass from Bustos.

The clincher came on 83 minutes when substitute Anthony set up and unmarked Bustos who controlled and side footed home with his left foot.

It was a deserved win for Buriram as Suchao lifted the cup in front of the watching GU12 (Nope, me neither!!)

On the evidence of the final, Buriram's new signings certainly played better than their opponent's ones. Bustos will obviously take the plaudits yet Chappuis sits nicely in front of the back 4 and Carmelo Gonzalez had a promising debut.

Muangthong looked devoid of ideas upfront and the system to accommodate Linz didn't work. At the back, they defended far to high up the park and were caught out several times as Buriram broke their back line on far too many occasions.

Man of the Match: Ramses Bustos - Lively debut with two goals

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Customs United 2-1 Laem Chabang City

Laem Chabang City
Laem Chabang City's inaugural game in the regional league ended in defeat as they lost 2-1 to Customs United. Their cause wasn't helped when they had a player ordered off on the stroke of half time.

The home side started on the front foot forcing a couple of early chances but it wasn't until the 42nd minute that the deadlock was broken. Chavarit's surging run released Yu who was upended in the box. The Japanese striker got up to convert the spot kick despite the keeper in the Laem Chabang goal getting a hand to it.
1-0 - Keeper almost saves

Just before the interval, Tawatchai was sent off for the visitors after a robust challenge on the touchline earned him his second yellow card.

Within a minute of the restart, Sukchai doubled the lead for Customs when his shot beat the keeper into the bottom left hand corner.

The new boys should have been dead and buried but they fought well with 10 men. Marit fired in a free kick on 72 minutes to give City some hope. It was United however who held on for a win that they probably just deserved.

Both sides looked decent defensively although I didn't see anything to suggest that either will be challenging for the end of season playoffs. Mid-table seems the most likely position for the duo.

Laem Chabang fielded only Thai players but they were quite big physically. Wasan at the back was the pick of the bunch for me as he controlled their back line. As far as their support went, there were about 100 of them who had made the journey up from Laem Chabang. They were fairly quiet by Thai standards, despite having two drums, yet they did look like they'd made the journey by choice rather than been forced to by employers/institutes which is often the case.
K. Duah

Man of the Match: Duah (Customs Utd) The youngster was composed at the back

Buriram United 0-2 Nagoya Grampus

Jungo Fujimoto's double won the Toyota Cup for Nagoya Grampus as they beat Buriram United 2-0 at the Supachalasai Stadium.

Buriram were given an early warning of Fujimoto's attacking threat when a questionable offside decision by the assistant referee ruled out his goal after he'd dinked the ball over the advancing Siwaruck before tapping it into the empty net.

For large periods of the first half, the Japanese side bossed the centre of midfield, and they were rewarded on the half hour when Naoshi Nakamura was allowed to waltz across the Buriram rearguard. He linked up with Fujimoto twice before the Nagoya number 8 flicked the ball past the Buriram keeper with his left peg.

Buriram United appeared tired after their midweek exertions and made some second half changes which made little effect. With nine minutes left on the clock, "Denso" timed his run perfectly to latch on to a through ball to kill the contest with his second goal.

The Thai League Cup holders hit the bar late on but it was the Japanese club who were celebrating at the end. They become the first Japanese side to lift the cup since it was introduced three seasons ago.

Next up for the Thunder Castle is a trip to the Rajamangala* next Saturday to take on Muangthong United in the Kor Royal Cup. That will be followed three days later with Buriram heading to Japan to meet Vegalta Sendai in their opening AFC Champions League match. Incidentally, Buriram beat Vegalta Sendai after a penalty shoot-out in the Toyota Cup last season.

*Game switched to Supachalasai

Man of the Match: Jungo Fujimoto

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Penalty Joy as Buriram Beat Brisbane Roar

Siwaruck was the hero of the day, saving three penalties as Buriram United beat Brisbane Roar 3-0 in a penalty shoot-out after both sides couldn't break the deadlock during 120 minutes of action. The Thai side enjoyed the Lion's share of possession and chances over the piece against a lackluster looking Brisbane Roar.

Shockingly there was no TV coverage of the game on terrestrial TV or on True Visions, so the only option for watching the game in Thailand for armchair viewers was on a choppy Internet stream which basically meant writing a proper match report was a non-starter.

Anyway now that Buriram United have qualified for the group stages they'll face FC Seoul, Vegalta Sendai and Jiangsu Sainty in Group E. The schedule for Buriram United is as follows:

26 Feb - Vegalta Sendai (A)
12 Mar - FC Seoul (H)
02 Apr - Jiangsu Sainty (A)
10 Apr - Jiangsu Sainty (H)
24 Apr - Vegalta Sendai (H)
01 May - FC Seoul (A)

Before Buriram United can embark on their latest AFC Champions League adventure, they will take on Nagoya Grampus in the Toyota Premier Cup at the Supachalasai on Saturday. Kick off 4.15pm.

On the following weekend they'll be back in Bangkok to battle with Muangthong United for the Kor Royal Cup. This game is currently scheduled for the Rajamangala Stadium on 23 February with a 5pm start.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Regional League Roll Call 2013

The 84 team regional league has expanded from five to six divisions for 2013. The leagues (except the South) are set to start this weekend.
Below are the listed teams for each region:


Bangkok Christian, Chamchuri Utd, Thai Honda, Nonthaburi, North Bangkok, Paknampo NSRU, Kasetsart, Kasem Bundit, Raj Vithi, Customs Utd, Samut Prakan Utd, Laem Chabang City, Assumption Thonburi, R-BEC

Central West

Krung Thonburi, Luk Tapfah Pathum Thani, Globex, Thonburi BG Utd, Prachuap, Petchaburi, Futera Seeker, Muangkan Utd, Raj Pracha BTU, Samut Sakhon, Singburi, Hua Hin City, Ang Thong

Central East

Kabin Utd, Thai Fleet, Chantaburi, Chachoengsao, Nakhon Nayok, Pathum Thani MWA Utd, Prachinburi Utd, Phan Thong, Rangsit Uni, Maptaphut Marine, Thai Airways Luk Esan, Samut Prakan FC, Pluak Daeng, Sa Kaeo City


Trang, Pattani, Nara Utd, Pangnga, Satun, Chumpon, Nakhon Si Heritage, Phatthalung, Ranong, Surat FC, Yala


Chiang Mai, Phitsanulok, Nakhon Sawan, Phrae Utd, Kampheang Phet, Uttaradit, Phichit, Lamphun Warriors, Uthai Thani Forest, Phayao, Nan, Lampang, Sukhothai, Petchabun, Chiang Rai City, Tak


Roi Et Utd, Sisaket Utd, Udon Thani, Loei City, Nakhon Phanom, Nong Khai, Yasothon Utd, Maha Sarakham Utd, Amnan Charoen Town, Kalasin, Chaiyaphum, Nong Bua Lamphu, Surin, Sakon Nakhon, Mukdahan City, Ubon Ratchathani

  • From what I can gather, the top placed team from the South and the top two from the other five regions will qualify for the playoffs. The last spot will be decided via a playoff between the runners up in the South and the best placed third team from the North and North-east sections.
  • As many of the Bangkok Division 2 sides are now split over three leagues, I won't be submitting weekly reviews any more. I will still write match reports from any matches that I attend and off course I'll still cover the playoffs once we reach October.

Monday, February 11, 2013

AFC Champions League Playoff - Buriram United v Brisbane Roar

Trips to FC Seoul, Vegalta Sendai and Jiangsu Sainty await the winners of Buriram United and Brisbane Roar this Wednesday. The one-off playoff match will determine who claims the final berth in Group E.

Last season, Buriram United took Asian football by storm as they won their first two ACL games against Kashiwa Reysol and Guangzhou Evergrande. After the initial success, opponents gradually sussed the Thai champions out, and the campaign ended with four straight defeats as they slipped to the bottom of Group H.
This time, Buriram will be able to add Osmar and Goran Jerkovic to their squad after they impressed in both triumphant domestic cup runs last season. Other new foreign arrivals include Igor Burzanovic, Charyl Chappuis, Dennis Buschening, Lee Saong Min, Elizondo, Kai Harano and Arial Santana. It's difficult to foretell how the selected new players will perform in this playoff and what to expect from Buriram this term. Pre-season results haven't exactly been anything to write home about.

Brisbane Roar endured a winless campaign during the ACL in 2012 collecting only three points. This season in the A League, the Roar haven't fared particularly well and currently sit in 8th place some 21 points behind leaders Central Coast Mariners.
The Roar won't have much time to recharge the batteries after they lost 2-1 at Sydney FC yesterday.
The Queensland based club have struggled since Ange Postecoglou left to Melbourne Victory last April. His assistant, Rado Vidosic, stepped into the hot seat but it didn't work out and he was recently moved sideways. The relatively inexperienced Mike Mulvey has been placed in the interim role until the end of the season. He had a similar role at Gold Coast United last season before they folded.
Word on the street tells me that The Roar like to attack opponents while playing a possession based game. They'll also try to press when defending and win the ball as high up the pitch as they can.
Two players to keep an eye on are Besart Berisha and Tomas Broich. The Albanian striker, Besart Berisha, is quick to close defenders down with the aim of pressuring them to make mistakes. The fiery striker equalled the all time league scoring record last season winning the golden boot with 19 goals.
Tomas Broich is a former German under 21 international. He landed the Jonny Warren award in 2012 for the A-League's best player and in his earlier days he was labelled as the next "Beckenbauer."
Stefan Nijiland has also arrived on loan from PSV Eindhoven to boost attacking options. Since his arrival, Brisbane Roar have tinkered with their customary 4-5-1 formation to accommodate him in a 4-4-2 or 3-5-2 structure.

The playoff match is a 6pm kick off this Wednesday.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Toyota League Cup Qualifying Results


R-BEC 0-0 Paknampo NSRU (R-BEC win 5-4 on penalties)
Assumption Thonburi 2-1 Thai Honda
Kasetsart 2-0 Bangkok Christian (AET)
Samut Prakan Utd 2-0 Nonthaburi

Central East

Chantaburi 0-1 Maptaphut Marine
Nakhon Nayok 1-2 Thai Fleet
Luk Esan 3-0 Samut Prakan (AET)

Prachinburi Utd (qualified)

Central West

Raj Pracha 1-0 Thonburi BG Utd
Petchaburi 1-1 Muangkan Utd (Petchaburi win 8-7 on penalties)
Luk Tapfah 3-1 Globex

Hua Hin City (qualified)


Phayao 0-1 Lampang
Uthai Thani Forest 2-0 Tak
Phitsanulok 3-2 Sukhothai

Phichit, Phrae Utd & Lamphun Warriors (qualified)

North East

Kalasin 2-1 Ubon Ratchathani (AET)
Nong Khai 1-0 Chaiyaphum (AET)
Nong Bua Lampu 2-1 Sisaket Utd (AET)

Udon Thani & Roi Et Utd (qualified)


Yala 0-1 Phang Nga
Phatthalung 2-2 Surat (Phatthalung win 6-5 on penalties)

Trang (qualified)


Mukdahan City 0-1 Laem Chabang
Phan Thong 1-2 Krung Thonburi

The qualified teams join the big boys in the last 64. The TPL calander says the Round 1 will be played on weekend 23-24 March.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Winnie's After Match Comments & Goals Clip

Here's what Winfried Scafer had to say after the disappointing 3-1 loss to Kuwait:

This evening was disappointing for everyone. Congratulation goes to Kuwait. The yellow cards at the beginning were not an expression of fair play, but of fighting spirit and the uncompromising will to succeed is the basis for sporting achievement. Sometimes that looks ugly, but it works. A long term preparation under perfect conditions, the close by golf cup, all of that gave them confidence. Anyway if you want to be successful international you have to face such an attitude and I am sure we can do that, I am sure we can do better, much better and that’s why I am disappointed. We have a lot to discuss, a lot to plan for Lebanon.

We have to do everything possible to prepare as good as possible and then we have still a good chance.

In the next weeks I will visit the clubs, take a look at the players, there some new ones in my focus and I will look for a dialogue with the team manager and the president to discuss all the issues that must be discussed and plan the next important steps so develop and improve.

After such a sad evening three points that made me very happy:

Adul. He fought with a nasty injury the last week but today he was fearless and ready to give it all. A real man, a fighter, a player of always 100%. You can be proud Chonburi, that’s a real jewel.

Jay, the little whirlwind. He is Thailand’s future, so be warned Asia.

And… I know I repeat myself. You, the fans again. To make it short. cheer even after a 3:0 when we made a goal, that’s outstanding and touched us all. Thank you so much. But I really think the Rajamangala isn’t the best choose for a game at Wednesday night. Not easy for you to reach it, so we are even more thankful for your support. Hope the FA will find an alternative next time.
Source: facebook

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Thailand 1-3 Kuwait

Thailand's qualification hopes for Australia 2015 took a massive blow as they were soundly beaten by Kuwait 3-1 on a churned-up Rajamangala pitch.

The first chance of the game came when Al Mutwa split the Thai defence with a through ball only for Yousef Naser to fire wide from the edge of the box with only Kawin to beat.

Kuwait continued to use the pace of Naser on the counter attack as they sat back comfortably containing any early Thai attacking threats.

On 25 minutes, the deadlock was broken when Thailand's defence was too easily cut open. Al Mutwa's cross shot from the outside of his right boot was probably just creeping wide, yet the ball was knocked into the empty net by the unfortunate Theerathorn as he tried to clear it.

Just after the half hour, there were loud shouts for a penalty when Fadhel's lunge at the ball caught Teerasil on the ankle. TV replays showed that there was contact but the foul happened inches outside the box. In the end it didn't matter as the Japanese referee didn't whistle for any offense.

The Atletico Madrid trialist then miscued a shot wide minutes later after Anucha had set him up, and the same man warmed the palms of Al Khaldi seconds before the interval as Kuwait went in 1-0 to the good.

The hosts came out on the offensive after the break, but yet again slack defending proved costly when an unmarked Hussain Fadhel headed home Al Mutwa's floated free kick on the hour.

Not long afterwards, the game was put to bed as substitute Hamad Aman slotted past Kawin with his first touch after Al Mutwa chipped the ball over the static Thai defense.

Substitute Chanathip was called from the bench and the youngster pulled a goal back ten minutes later for Thailand with his long range shot creeping into the bottom corner.

Yousef Naser rattled the crossbar and forced Kawin to make a strong one-handed save as Kuwait comfortably saw out the game 3-1.

Overall the match was a massive disappointment for Thailand. The back four defended like four players on a table football rod while crosses into the opponent's box were woeful. The Kuwaitis defended stoutly and were lively on the counter attack. After tonight's game, I'd be very surprised if they don't qualify for Australia 2015.

Man of the Match: Bader Al Mutwa - Involved in all three goals

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Toyota League Cup Qualifying - Results & Fixtures


Raj Vithi 1-2 R-BEC
Assumption Thonburi 4-3 Kasem Bundit
Customs Utd 1-2 Kasetsart (AET)

R-BEC v Paknampo NSRU
Assumption Thonburi v Thai Honda
Kasetsart v Bangkok Christian
Samut Prakan Utd v Nonthaburi

Central East

Nakhon Nayok 3-1 Pathum Thani MWA Utd
Chantaburi 5-2 Chachoengsao (AET)
Pluak Daeng 0-3 Luk Esan Thai Airways
Prachinburi Utd 1-0 Rangsit Uni

Chantaburi v Maptaphut Marine
Nakhon Nayok v Thai Fleet
Luk Esan v Samut Prakan
Prachinburi Utd (qualified)

Central West

Samut Sakhon 2-3 Raj Pracha
Petchaburi 1-0 Prachuap
Hua Hin City 3-2 Singburi
Ang Thong 3-4 Luk Tapfah (AET)

Raj Pracha v Thonburi BG Utd
Petchaburi v Muangkan Utd
Luk Tapfah v Globex
Hua Hin City (qualified)


Uthai Thani Forest 2-0 Nan
Chiang Rai City 0-5 Phitsanulok
Phichit 4-1 Kamphaeng Phet
Petchabun 0-1 Phrae Utd
Nakhon Sawan 0-1 Phayao
Lamphun Warriors 3-0 Uttaradit

Phayao v Lampang
Uthai Thani Forest v Tak
Phitsanulok v Sukhothai
Phichit, Phrae Utd & Lamphun Warriors (qualified)

North East

Amnaj Town 1-2 Kalasin
Udon Thani 5-0 Maha Sarakham Utd (AET)
Surin 0-2 Nong Khai
Nong Bua Lampu 1-0 Sakon Nakhon
Roi Et Utd 2-0 Yasothon Utd

Kalasin v Ubon Ratchathani
Nong Khai v Chaiyaphum
Nong Bua Lampu v Sisaket Utd
Udon Thani & Roi Et Utd (qualified)


Pattani 0-1 Yala
Nakhon Si Heritage 2-4 Trang (Penalties)
Ranong 1-2 Phatthalung

Yala v Phang Nga
Phatthalung v Surat
Trang (qualified)


Mukdahan City v Laem Chabang
Phan Thong v Krung Thonburi

The next round of qualifiers will be played next weekend. The winners of these ties will join TPL and Division 1 clubs in the draw for the last 64.

Friday, February 1, 2013

AFC Asian Cup: The Road to Australia

The road to Australia 2015 begins with Thailand hosting Kuwait at the Rajamangala Stadium next Wednesday. The Thais will have been buoyed by their recent performance in the AFF Cup despite the fact that they lost to Singapore in the two-legged final. The national side will be looking towards the west of Asia with Lebanon and Iran competing in Group B alongside Kuwait. The top two will progress from the qualification stages to the finals while there is also a best third-placed spot up for grabs.
Iran will inevitably start as favourites, so Winnie Schafar must surely have pencilled in home wins against Kuwait and Lebanon if his troops are to progress.
Thailand's fixture list is as follows:

6 Feb - Kuwait (H)
22 Mar - Lebanon (A)
15 Oct - Iran (A)
15 Nov - Iran (H)
19 Nov - Kuwait (A)
5 Mar (2014) - Lebanon (H)

All home matches are presently scheduled for the Rajamangala Stadium.

Below is the squad listed for the Kuwait match:

Kawin (MTU), Yosapol (Buriram Utd), Chatchai (Osotspa)

Artit, Panupong, Piyaphon, Thitipan (MTU), Cholratit (Chonburi), Theerathon (Buriram Utd), Narubodin (BEC Tero)

Datsakorn, Pichitphong, Jakkaphan (MTU), Anucha, Adul (Chonburi), Chanatip (BEC Tero), Apipoo (Osotspa), Sumanya (Chainat), Teeratep (BG)

Teerasil (MTU), Chatree (BG), Kirati (PTT Rayong), Tana (Police Utd)