Yoon Jong-hwan handed tough opening night as he begins Muang Thong career

All eyes will turn to the SCG Stadium on Saturday evening as Yoon Jong-hwan attempts to lift Muang Thong United out of their Thai League (T1) slump.

The new head coach has a job on his hands, with his club having lost five out of seven games this year. A tough start sees the Kirins host league leaders Port FC but a victory could trigger a turnaround in their fortunes.

Here are three things to look out for in this week’s T1 fixtures.

  1. Muang Thong need a reboot

It has been a dreadful start to the season for Muang Thong United – a club that boasts some of the best attacking talent in T1 and is usually expected to compete for honours.

They sit 15th in the table after seven games and are in need of a new manager bounce as Yoon Jong-hwan takes charge for the first time. The South Korean has a strong CV and his profile makes it a very promising appointment.

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Photo credit: Muang Thong United

However, the 46-year-old’s biggest challenge will be to manage upwards as well as downwards at a club that is notoriously difficult to work at. He has plenty of talent at his disposal and should be able to take them in the right direction if he is given time, space and support.

After three defeats on the spin, they have their work cut out as they face Port FC, who have struck nine goals in their last two games on their way to the top of the league.

Muang Thong do have the advantage of a stadium with only home fans as the away support has once again been banned. That it took until two days before the match to confirm the latest ban was another poor example of how T1 fans are sometimes treated…

  1. Chiang Rai hope to find home comfort

Chiang Rai United have been on the road for the last three games, a run that has seen them take seven points without conceding a goal. A good point at Buriram United was followed by wins at Ratchaburi and Chiang Mai, taking the Beetles into joint second spot in the table.

Poor air quality has delayed their return home, but they have taken just one point from two games at the Singha Stadium. To maintain their rise up the table, they will need to improve upon the form that saw Muang Thong United take three points from Ailton Silva’s side last month.

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Photo credit: Chiang Rai United

Chiang Rai will hope that William Henrique and SIvakorn Tiatrakul can keep up their strong recent form as they bid to ensure that Samut Prakan City return south with nothing.

The managerial instability that struck Chiang Rai at the start of the season does not seem to have affected them too adversely as their policy of keeping faith with a very stable lineup continues. Samut Prakan will have to work very hard to take something from this game.

  1. Totchtawan on a tightrope as Sintaweechai absence bites

The sudden collapse of Suphanburi’s form has coincided with an injury to goalkeeper Sintaweechai Hatthairattanakool and they have leaked 10 goals in three consecutive defeats having lost just one goal in the previous four unbeaten fixtures.

Head coach Totchtawan Sripan’s tenure at Muang Thong United ended around this time last year following a 6-1 humiliation at Prachuap FC. Now sitting bottom of the league at the War Elephant, Totchtawan needs to turn things around quickly if he is not to follow his predecessor Pairoj Borwonwatanadilok by losing his job.

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Photo credit: Suphanburi FC

Pairoj led Suphanburi to safety in 2018 but quit after just five games in charge at Muang Thong this year. Totchtawan’s reputation was hurt by a poor spell at Police Tero last year and another failure would be another serious blow for a coach who was hot property in 2017.

Two years ago, Totchtawan was on his way to the last 16 of the AFC Champions League with defending T1 champions Muang Thong. When Nakhon Ratchasima visit Suphanburi on Sunday, he will need his players to rise to the occasion and start rising up the table again.

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