After a week of drama at Port FC, Jadet Meelarp’s side hope that the upheaval will be worth it in their desperate attempt to maintain a challenge for the Thai League (T1) title.
Port take on Chonburi, with some new faces on board, having apparently decided to sideline another of their top players to leave during the transfer window.
Buriram United and Bangkok United will also hope to get back to winning ways after two disappointing weekends.
Here are four things to look out for on T1 Matchday 18.
- Port hope for a fresh start
It’s out with the old at Port FC as a dithering management team throw money at their poor run of form to try and keep them in the title race.
The indifferent performances of striker Dragan Boskovic in the first half of the year prompted the signing of Josimar Rodrigues in an attempt to provide more of a cutting edge. However, just one T1 game into his second stint at Port, it seemed that Josimar may be surplus to requirements following the arrival of Panama striker Rolando Blackburn.
Photo credit: Port FC
But it now seems that the foreign player to make way will instead be centre-back David Rochela, who prior to this year’s injury-hit campaign had arguably been the club’s best player over the previous three years.
Port have also acquired the services of once promising striker Chenrop Samphaodi. Now 24, the former Thailand U23 skipper has become better known for the physical side of his game and his poor goal scoring record and it is hard to see him as anything other than the solid squad player he was at Muang Thong United.
Chonburi visit the PAT Stadium on Saturday after a difficult week of their own. They have lost their top scorer Lukian, and last weekend’s defeat at Samut Prakan was their fifth straight away loss without scoring. As the Sharks attempt to stay away from the drop zone and Port try and end a four-match winless streak, it promises to be a night of drama.
- Battle of the top strikers at Bangkok United
The top scorers in T1 face off at Thamassat Stadium on Sunday as Trat’s 13-goal Lonsana Doumbouya meets Bangkok United’s 12-goal Nelson Bonilla.
Both sides are in desperate need of a win, with title-chasing Bangkok United having let five points slip from winning positions in the last two matches, while Trat’s three-game losing streak sees them back to just four points above the relegation zone.
Photo credit: Bangkok United
It all looked so different for these two clubs just a few weeks back when Trat were on an eight-match unbeaten run and the Bangkok Angels were on a winning streak.
One thing that has remained consistent has been the form of Bonilla and Doumbouya but their teams now need their goals more than ever as one tries to stay in contention for the title and one tries to steer clear of relegation trouble.
- Misfiring Buriram aim to make the most of their luck
Only the inability of the teams around them to sustain a consistent run of form is keeping champions Buriram United at the top of T1. For the past two weekends, four out of five Top Five teams have failed to win, with Buriram failing to score.
The Thunder Castle travel to Prachuap FC to face an out-of-sorts side who have taken just four points from their last six games. It looks like the best possible time for a trip to the seaside town where they were one of only two sides to win a T1 match in 2018.
Photo credit: Buriram United
Prachuap have taken just one point from their last three home matches so the fear factor has very much gone from the Sam Ao Stadium.
Buriram’s new strike pair of Nacer Barazite and Rasmus Jonsson failed to find the target last weekend but head coach Bozidar Bandovic needs them to provide the firepower and take full advantage of the faltering form of their title rivals.
- Samut Prakan’s big chance to ‘do a Leicester’
From Matchday Three to Matchday Eight, Samut Prakan City took just three of the 18 points available. Their form since then sees them top of the form table and just one point behind leaders Buriram.
There is no better time for a complete underdog to lift the T1 title, with the usual suspects all below par. Samut Prakan’s rise has been remarkable given they have only existed since the start of the year, albeit with the foundation of a decent Pattaya United side as their backbone.
Photo credit: Samut Prakan City
Unfortunately, as they prepare to take on PTT Rayong at home, they have lost skipper and inspirational midfielder Peeradol Chamratsamee to injury, while goalkeeper Patiwat Khammai is set to miss the rest of the season.
PTT Rayong have found their feet in T1, winning four of their last six games to move away from the relegation zone. Along with Buriram and Bangkok United, they are one of just three teams to have beaten Samut Prakan in T1 and they will hope for an unlikely double that hinders Samut Prakan’s chances of ‘doing a Leicester’.