- 9. Prachuap FC
Prachuap are one of the few clubs to have made some eye-catching signings over the close season. The capture of William Henrique from Chiang Rai Utd looks quite a coup given the key role the enigmatic attacker played in the Beetles’ title triumph last year.
The League Cup holders have also brought in former Buriram midfielder Yoo Jun-soo, who played an important part in Ratchaburi’s improved form in the second half of 2019. Brazilian striker Bruno Mezenga has a second stab at success in Thailand, having seen a move to Buriram collapse last year, and overall squad depth looks good with further additions like Iain Ramsay, Baihakki Khaizan and Soukaphone Vongchiengkam.
Home form will be key as most clubs face at least a long bus journey to reach the stadium in isolated Prachuap. The town has really got behind the club in its two T1 seasons and they should cheer them to another solid finish. If things blend well among the new players, they can certainly push into the top half of the table.
Last season: 9th
Player to watch: William Henrique
After three seasons of fighting against relegation and just about surviving, Sukhothai have made a statement of intent with this year’s recruitment drive,
The biggest move was to bring in Ibson Melo after the Brazilian’s excellent
season at Samut Prakan City. The striker will unfortunately miss the start of the season through injury but he could make a huge impact alongside skipper John Baggio – Sukhothai’s undoubted talisman.
Evandro Paulista could prove a shrewd bit of business after several years in Japan and South Korea, while Nukoolkit Krutyai looks a good addition to the defence.
Midfielder Woranat Thongkruea should have the chance to revive his career after falling out of the picture at Samut Prakan last year, while the limited but sometimes effective Mongkol Tossakrai could be a good option for certain situations.
It remains to be seen if they have enough quality to steer clear of the relegation battle. Having suffering the fifth fewest defeats in 2019, it was strange that they finished 12th, but having won fewer games than any other teams, it’s clear that they have to turn a few draws into wins to maintain mid-table security.
Last season: 12th
Player to watch: Evandro Paulista
11. Nakhon Ratchasima
Nakhon Ratchasima’s first priority this season will be to avoid the kind of slog that was 2019 – a slog that cost head coach Milos Joksic his job with just a few matches remaining, and very nearly cost the club their place in T1.
Teerasak Po-on arrives as the new head coach after a successful spell at PTT Rayong. Fans will hope that he freshens things up after the pragmatic football under Joksic.
There haven’t been any particularly exciting arrivals but midfielders Wongsakorn Chaikultewin and Anon Samakorn look like solid loan signings. Teerasak has also brought in two of his former PTT charges – striker Dennis Murillo and left-back Abdulhafiz Bueraheng.
With the right guidance, the squad is strong enough to stay in T1, but they don’t look to have the quality to push into the top half.
Last season: 13th
Player to watch: Dennis Murillo
12. Police Tero
For those of a nostalgic bent, the return of Tero to the top tier is welcome, even if the club has gone through more makeovers than a washed-up celebrity since its early Noughties heyday.
They come back with modest aims, having made some sensible and low-risk additions to their squad. The core of the promotion winning side remains and the experienced wing-back Ekkachai Samre adds quality while strikers Yotdak Chaowana and Arthit Butjinda provide more depth up front.
It will be particularly interesting to see how French striker Simon Dia performs. The 27-year-old’s career has never really settled but he has the opportunity to make a name for himself with a strong showing at this level.
Dia arrived at Tero in June 2019 and scored a wide range of goals in the promotion push. At 194 cm, he will score a few headers, but he can also hit them from long range, net direct from free kicks and grab scruffy efforts from close range.
Last Season: 2nd (T2)
Player to watch: Simon Dia