Just two games into the 2019 Thai League (T1) season, Muang Thong United head coach Pairoj is already the subject of speculation over who will succeed him
After two 1-0 defeats for the Kirins at the hands of 2018’s 6th and 2nd placed teams, Thai football’s most eligible head coach Kiatisuk Senamuang was linked with the Muang Thong job, forcing him to dismiss the possibility.
While it is an absurd over-reaction to question coach Bae’s credentials so soon, it is clear that nothing less than a win is necessary when his team host Chiang Mai on Saturday.
Here are five things to look out for on T1 Matchday Three.
- Time for Teerasil’s return to scoring form
The return of Teerasil Dangda created much excitement for the Muang Thong United faithful in the close season. After a year on loan at Sanfrecce Hiroshima, the Thailand legend was back and it was the equivalent of signing a new top striker.
But after two games in which the overloaded Muang Thong front line has failed to deliver, it is surely time for Teerasil to unlock the opposition defence. When a combination of Teerasil, Heberty Fernandes and Adisak Kraisorn fails to provide goals, there is something amiss.
Photo credit: Muang Thong United
Pairoj was seen as a safe but uninspiring choice of head coach when appointed. At the moment, he simply looks uninspiring. Goals from Teerasil may just help him start to turn things around.
- No room for Trat fall
Bangkok United successfully negotiated a huge hurdle when they beat Muang Thong United last weekend. As well as earning three points against a potential title rival, they also rid themselves of a damaging psychological barrier with their first ever home win over the Kirins.
Now that they have reinforced their pretensions to be serious title contenders, Mano Polking’s side must ensure that they can travel to tricky places like Trat and come away with a victory.
The newly-promoted side proved a difficult opponent for Ratchaburi on Matchday One and were only denied victory last week by an added-time equaliser from Chainat. Lonsana Doumbouya will give the away side’s backline a challenge and a vociferous home crowd should be in attendance.
Title wins are built on wins in fixtures like this and this is Bangkok United’s chance to make an early statement.
- Buriram must take sting out of Killer Wasps
Thai champions Buriram United have made an inauspicious start to the T1 campaign, taking just two points from two games. They have also failed to score in the last two fixtures, having drawn 0-0 at Suphanburi last weekend and lost 3-0 to Urawa Reds in the AFC Champions League on Wednesday.
Photo credit: Buriram United
On Sunday, they host T1’s joint leaders Prachuap FC, who have taken six points out of six without conceding a goal. With expected challengers Bangkok United potentially five points ahead of them by kickoff time, there is no margin for error for Bozidar Bandovic’s side.
Prachuap are looking good again and will approach the fixture without fear but this is surely the time for Buriram to flex their muscles.
- Dragons and Swatcats in early battle for supremacy
It may not be a fixture that immediately catches the eye but Ratchaburi vs Nakhon Ratchasima could be a hugely significant match for the sides involved.
The hosts’ excellent home record was severely damaged last year in a season to forget, while Nakhon Ratchasima’s positive start to 2019 was swiftly punctured by a home defeat to Chiang Rai United last week.
These are two clubs who aspire to be in the top half of the table and head-to-head clashes like this could be hugely influential in deciding which team is battling against relegation and which is sitting comfortably in mid-table.
Ratchaburi’s Matchday One hat-trick hero Yannick Boli was just about stifled by Port FC’s Elias Dolah last weekend. With Kang Soo-il fit again and possibly joining Boli up front, Swatcats defenders Chalermpong Kerdkaew and Lee Won-jae will have to be at their best to help their side take at least a point.
- PTT need to turn things around
Samut Prakan City sit on top of the T1 table alongside Prachuap FC – two unlikely pace-setters in a league with many twists and turns to come.
At rock bottom sit PTT Rayong – a club that’s invested much in ensuring that their second T1 adventure did not end like the last one – after one season.
Photo credit: PTT Rayong
It is vital that PTT start to put points on the board to prevent the season becoming a slog to survive. With T1 champions like Anawin Jujeen, Koravit Namwiset alongside talents like Victor Cardozo and Ariel Rodrgiguez, PTT should be aiming for the top half rather than survival.
The visit of Samut Prakan City on Sunday is a challenge that could have a profound effect on the season ahead. A third straight defeat for the hosts would be hugely damaging, while a win could be the launchpad for better things to come.