Tragedy casts a shadow over Thai League (T1) Matchday 11 following the passing of five Port FC fans in a road accident on Wednesday.
Tributes have been pouring in for five of the club’s most dedicated supporters since they became the latest victims of Thailand’s treacherous roads on their way to the League Cup clash with Nongbua Pitchaya.
Port’s home clash with Bangkok United on Saturday had been shaping up as a potentially pivotal clash in the title race but the importance of the match has been put into perspective as the club mourns.
Here are three things to look out for on T1 Matchday 11.
- Off-pitch tragedy overshadows big match
Port FC sit on top of T1 a third of the way into the season, eight points ahead of Bangkok United – many people’s pre-season favourites.
While the Bangkok Angels have flattered to deceive, Port have shown the value of continuity as the squad that was inconsistent last year has clearly grown into a stronger unit.
This game may have a significant impact on the outcome of the season but the result is not something that too many home fans will be concerned about at this time. It promises to be an emotionally charged occasion as the club pays tribute to five people who represented the best of Thai fan culture.
Long-time Port fan Dominick Cartwright described what the fans meant to the club and its supporters.
“As a foreign fan these are some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met, fans who would walk up to me, tell me it’s good to see me at PAT Stadium, offer me a beer and we’d have a chat before the game,” said Dominick. “I have enjoyed years of following the club and they’ve made me feel welcome and part of the Thai Port family. They were all part of the club and they will all be sadly missed.”
Port FC are donating gate receipts to families of the deceased and there will be a memorial service from 5pm, with fans asked to dress in black for the occasion.
- Better days haunt Totchtawan and Muang Thong
It is amazing that just two years have passed since Totchtawan Sripan and Muang Thong United were making headlines across Asia as they reached the last 16 of the AFC Champions League, following some scintillating performances from Chanathip Songkrasin.
Since then, Chanathip has become a superstar with Consadole Sapporo in Japan, while the fortunes of the club and its former head coach have nosedived.
Photo credit: Suphanburi FC
This Sunday sees Totchtawan’s 14th-placed Suphanburi take on T1’s bottom side Muang Thong in a stunning reversal of fortune.
Despite investment in two of T1’s top strikers, the War Elephant have lost five of the last six games. Muang Thong have taken just one point from their previous six fixtures so both sides come into this with morale very low.
You have to imagine both would be happy with a point just to stop the rot.
- Samut Prakan aim to prolong Prachuap travel sickness
Few would have expected to see Samut Prakan City so high in the table at this stage but the club has made light of the upheaval of taking on the licence of Pattaya United and moving to a different province.
Players who came from Pattaya have given the side a solid foundation while the additions of Slovenian centre-back Aris Zarifovic and Brazilian striker Ibson Melo have been inspired.
Photo credit: Samut Prakan City
With Peeradol Chamratsamee pulling the strings in midfield after missing most of 2018 through injury, Samut Prakan look to have the potential to finish in the top five.
On Sunday, they host 2018’s surprise package Prachuap FC, who sit just two points behind them in fifth place. Prachuap remain a formidable opponent at home but have lost four times on the road this year and were spanked 6-1 (at Bangkok United) and 5-0 (at Port FC) on their last two visits to Bangkok.
Samut Prakan have taken 10 out of 12 points from their home games so the hosts must be favourites to consolidate fourth spot as we approach the halfway point of the season.