Bangkok United head coach Mano Polking is fully focused on securing a qualifying place for the AFC Champions League (ACL) after a 3-2 victory over Bangkok Glass on Matchday 27 of the Thai League campaign.
The Bangkok Angels are now nine points clear of third-placed Port FC and Muang Thong United but the title is surely beyond them after champions elect Buriram United defeated Chiang Rai United 1-0.
Here are three of the key stories from Thai League Matchday 27.
- ACL within sight for Bangkok United
With Buriram United maintaining a nine-point lead at the top, Bangkok United’s focus is on holding off the teams below them to stay in second spot and earn an ACL qualifying spot.
Bangkok Glass put up stiff resistance at Thammasat Stadium as Thitiphan Puangchan equalised after Mika Chunuonsee’s opener. Everton put the hosts ahead again on the stroke of half-time, but Ariel Rodriguez levelled early in the second half.
With just four minutes left on the clock, Robson drove inside from the right and fired a low shot home from the edge of the box to seal the three points.
“If you consider that second place gives you the chance to play in the ACL, when there are just two places available, plus one for the FA Cup winner, if you can be there every year, then it is always a good season,” said Polking.
“But, at the same time, if you asked me that question before we played at Buriram, I would say it’s not that good because we have been fighting together for four years and it’s clear that we want a title, we want to win something.
“Now It seems that second place is always possible. We can be pleased if we get into the ACL but we are very far behind Buriram and we want more than this. But it’s still a good season if you look at where we were three or four years ago.”
- Battle for third heats up
With a possible route into the ACL qualifiers coming through third place in T1, an intriguing three-way battle is starting to take shape.
With Buriram and Bangkok United more or less locking in the top two places, just one point separates Port FC, Muang Thong United and Prachuap FC in third, fourth, and fifth and sixth spots.
Port travelled to Prachuap on Wednesday and gifted the opening goal to Jonathan Reis before receiving a gift of their own as Piyachart Tamaphan put into his own net with a slight deflection off Dragan Boskovic.
But an excellent strike from Reis moved Prachuap within just one point of Port, keeping them very much in the running for third place.
Muang Thong striker Jaja Coelho was the hero as his second-half double helped his side come back from an early goal down at home to Chonburi. Charyl Chappuis and Heberty Fernandes grabbed the other goals as the Kirins pulled level with bitter rivals Port on 48 points.
- Tero strike back in Sukhothai
Michael N’Dri was the hero as Police Tero fought back to win 2-1 at Sukhothai in what could be one of the most crucial results in their battle to beat the drop.
John Baggio gave the hosts an early lead but the turning point of the came early in the second half as Prat Samakrat conceded a penalty and was sent off for what was seen as a last-man foul.
N’Dri slotted home the spot-kick and soon added the winner to take Tero three points above Sukhothai and out of the relegation zone on goal difference.
With Suphanburi winning 2-1 at Ratchaburi, Chainat were the big losers on the night as they were defeated 5-4 at home to Ubon UMT United.
The Hornbills’ goalkeeper Teerath Nakchammarn had a shocker and was red-carded in the final seconds for a wild challenge.
Chainat have joined Sukhothai in the bottom five after taking just two points from their last five games.
Incredibly, they are still level on points with four other teams – Police Tero, Bangkok Glass and Suphanburi, while two teams – Chonburi and Ratchaburi – sit just two points above them.
The relegation battle saw some interesting developments on Wednesday but it is far from over.