Sukhothai striker Nelson Bonilla has Muang Thong United in his sights on Thai League (T1) Matchday 32 after helping his side to two consecutive wins with five goals.
The El Salvador international has now netted seven times in four games as he attempts to almost single-handedly take the Fire Bats to safety.
Elsewhere, there are other big matches in the battle to stay in the top tier. Here are five things to watch on T1 Matchday 32.
- Bonilla aims to add to Kirins misery
Muang Thong United followed up their dispiriting 3-0 defeat at home to Buriram United by losing 2-1 at Chainat, blowing a one-goal lead in the last 10 minutes.
Bonilla will be very keen to prove he is more than a match for the Kirins front pair of Heberty Fernandes and Jaja Coelho, having outscored both despite being embroiled in a relegation battle.
Photo Credit: Sukhothai FC
Sukhothai have won three of their last four games, largely due to Bonilla’s contributions and the side from northern Thailand certainly have the momentum while Muang Thong struggle to stay in third place.
If the home side can keep Muang Thong’s front two quiet, Bonilla may well make another telling contribution.
- Showdown in Suphanburi
Bangkok Glass can all but ensure their own safety with a win at Suphanburi, their relegation rivals sitting a point behind them.
But the War Elephant will be full of confidence after last weekend’s 2-0 win at Port FC made it three wins in five games. Suphanburi have lost just once in the last six games, so they have hit form at the right time.
The same applies to Bangkok Glass who can point to an even more impressive run, losing only one of the previous nine T1 matches.
Something has to give here, with both still battling for survival. Ariel Rodriguez should return for the Glass Rabbits, while, as usual, Cleiton Silva will be Suphanburi’s main danger man.
A win for either wide would be a huge step towards ensuring a place in T1 in 2019. A defeat would possibly leave them in considerable danger.
- Time up for Tero?
In one form or another, Police Tero have been hugely influential in Thai football for almost 20 years. Their heyday of the early Noughties as BEC Tero Sasana may be long gone, but they were recently instrumental in the development of some of Thailand’s top talents, including Chanathip Songkrasin, Tanaboon Kesarat and Tristan Do.
However, six points from safety with three games to go, they really need to win all three matches to have a realistic chance of survival.
The first of these is at home to Ratchaburi on Sunday, another side in the thick of the relegation struggle.
The Dragons will have to pick themselves up after conceding an equaliser in the final minute of their FA Cup semifinal on Wednesday before losing to Chiang Rai Utd in extra time. They will be without influential defender Joel Sami, who is suspended.
Victory for the visitors may seal Tero’s fate depending on results elsewhere while a win for the home side would keep them hopeful of a great escape.
- Chainat must take their chance
A late comeback for Chainat handed them a 2-1 win at home to Muang Thong United and they must make the most of their reprieve when they travel to an off-form Prachuap FC.
The Wasps have not been performing with the same intensity of late and have failed to win in their last four games.
It seems the perfect time for the Hornbills to travel south in an attempt to become just the second side to earn a T1 win at Prachuap this year – the other was Buriram United.
Denis Amato knows that to keep their place in T1, this is a match that Chainat must win, with tough games against Bangkok United and Suphanburi to come.
- Chonburi aim to remove all doubt
Chonburi’s victory at Ubon UMT United last week seemed to spell the end of their relegation worries but with several relegation rivals also winning, there is still a need to earn more points to make absolutely certain.
Defeat to Nakhon Ratchasima coupled with wins for Suphanburi, Ratchaburi, Sukhothai and Chainat would have the Sharks just one place above the relegation zone with two games left.
A win over Nakhon Ratchasima would certainly ease any remaining nerves but the Swatcats will also be looking to make relegation a mathematical impossibility.
It’s indicative of such a strange season that even the 8thand 9thplace teams in the league still have worries at this stage.