Underwhelming – again

CMFC pre match at Uttaradit – picture @simes.salmon

Chiang Mai FC

2022-2023 Review of the season (early apologies – this is quite long!)

It says much about this season when my favorite moments were the 8-7 penalty shoot-out win at home to Sukhothai in the Revo League Cup and watching Veljko Filipovic barnstorming 80 yards down the right wing while defenders waved white flags as he passed.

Our League season simply failed to deliver; a good win was usually followed by limp defeats; in particular in the second half of the season when we failed to score in over half of our matches.

Six of our first eight goals of the season were scored by Stenio Jnr; injured in our seventh game at home to Krabi we never saw him again as, after recovering, he was taken away to our BGPU masters.

This neatly led us back to the pre-season question of where would our goals come from?

The opening games of the season saw three road trips in the first four games; a fine, fluent win at Uthai Thani was followed by a scrappy single goal defeat at NakhonSi United. We came back to Chiang Mai for a waterlogged home defeat to Rayong before three successive wins raised confidence around the club; including away wins at Phrae and Kasetsart.

The 2-1 win at Phrae was our best away performance of the season; well supported by traveling fans. Two goals from Stenio; two assists from Kim BoYong.

Stenio again excelled with both goals (before he was injured) in a come from behind home win against Krabi.

The away win at Kasetsart was inspired by Im ChangKyoon coming on as substitute with 15 minutes to play and having a foot in two of our three goals.

So what happened? How was it that the momentum of three successive wins could be followed by a turgid goal-less draw at home to Customs and then three successive defeats; including a 1-2 loss to the other Chiang Mai club at the 700th anniversary stadium – in front of 2,916 fans, some 2,000 of which were penned noisily into the away fans corner.

A 2-1 home win against Trat was memorable for an 89th minute winner from Filipovic who powered in a header from seven yards. No one could have stopped him, or the header. But it was a rare outing into the opponents’ penalty area for the towering Serbian reflected by only scoring twice this season.

Yet six days later we contrived to lose away at Rajpracha. Best not to dwell on that stinker.

Seven points came from the last three games before the mid-season break included a solid home win over Chainat and a comfortable 3-0 win at bottom-of-the-league Udon Thani.

At mid-season we were 9th; just two points from a play off spot. Reinforcements would have made us strong contenders for at least a top six place. Instead BGPU came, raided and left little in return other than the sour taste of betrayal.

Yuta Hirayama was the most promising of our replacements but he was injured in his debut at Nakhon Pathom.

Louis Panmanee May arrived from the UK – and did not get a minute of playing time.

Chitchanok arrived but with a long term injury that restricted him to just 73 minutes of football.

No one at the club will ever officially say this; there was always talk about the process and preparing for the next game. But at mid-season we gave up on ambition. While other teams were strengthening their squads for the second half of the season we gave up key players and settled for at best a mid-table finish.

We deserved nothing more.

Onto January 2023 and after losing 0-1 at Nakhon Pathom and a home draw with Uthai Thani we then beat NakhonSi United 3-2 at home. It was arguably the best performance of the league season. NakhonSi arrived in first place; it was 2-2 entering injury time when Suchanon headed home the winner. The NakhonSi bubble was burst. Coach Wanderley was fired and the club would only collect four points from their remaining seven away fixtures and slid from 1st to 8th.

So how, after that exuberant win, did we then roll over 1-4 at Rayong and fail to score at home to Phrae and away at Krabi? Part of the answer is the nagging doubt that Coach Fukuda never really knew his preferred team; at no time in the season was the starting line-up the same for successive games.

There is an argument that says this is making the best use of a squad of players; the counter is that players build confidence from being picked for a run of matches. Footballers want to play rather than sit on a bench; be sent to warm up, and then return to the same bench.

It also reflected an excess of caution in too many of our matches especially away from home.

The official club facebook page is happily telling us that CMFC is in the top 5 goal-scoring teams in T2 this season with a total of 49 goals.

And that in home games Chiang Mai FC’s tally of 31 goals was equal to Nakhon Si United with only Uthai Thani FC scoring more.

But you can make statistics tell any story. We scored just nine goals at home in the first half of the season and of the 22 in the second half 13 were scored in the last three home games against the three relegated teams.

On the road we failed to score in six of our eight away games in 2023.

Away games had become an ordeal.

So back to mid-February and the rest of the season; goals came at last against Kasetsart – but the 4-2 home win was followed by five successive defeats where we scored just once; against Chiang Mai United. That was our season over. We mastered the art of falling a goal behind and apparently then doing our best to protect a 0-1 defeat.

A little sanity was restored at the end of the season with four wins in the last five games; but all against teams below us in the League. Im ChangKyoon started scoring goals; and they were glorious goals.

Im would finish the season as our leading goalscorer with nine; but seven of those came in our last five games and only one on the first half of the season.

With so much talent why did he miss so many games early in the season? He made just four starts in the first 17 league games before becoming a regular starter in the second half of the season.

Was it by accident that a player described as the best number 10 in the league was suddenly allowed to play as a number ten? He had been largely wasted playing wide right.

We salvaged a mid-table finish when we won four of our last five games; we scored 16 goals in those games; Thammayut’s free kick against Rajpracha was one of the goals of the season.

But we also lost 0-1 at Chainat where our caution was again our undoing.

In the FA Cup we won at Sisaket City, after navigating through the floods to get to the stadium, before losing to a strong Bangkok United side.

The REVO League Cup saw us progress to the quarter finals after beating Uttaradit, Sukhothai (famously on penalties) and Khon Kaen United before our parent club came to town to put us in our place and we lost 0-3 to BGPU (in front of another big crowd.)

For that REVO quarter final Chiang Mai made nine changes to the side that beat Kasetsart 4-2 in the League the previous weekend. The argument was to protect players for the League game at Customs. But that Customs match was to be the first of five successive defeats. So we were out of the cup and out of the League. In hindsight that cup game was the beginning of the end of our season.

The last three games of each half of the season were played against some of the league’s weaker teams; those six games generated 16 points; the other 28 games generated 30 points in total.

My simplistic view of the season is that the CMFC whole ended up as less than the sum of the parts. We had a good goalkeeper behind a strong defense; a midfield that was strong defensively albeit a little short on creativity. We were fit. When we wanted to we moved the ball forward quickly. But goals were like London buses; if we scored one we scored a few. We beat poor teams while struggling to break down the better teams in the League.

Four teams did the double over us – including the other Chiang Mai team – with a tip of the hat to Melvin de Leeuw for a fabulous match winning free kick at the Municipal Stadium.

Coach Fukuda is (I think) one of just five T2 coaches who was retained for a full season by his club. I think he was overly cautious. Goal difference is not an issue in this league. There were games when we would fall behind and look bereft of ideas….moving the ball in any direction except forward; making substitutions and changes too late to impact the match.

We did not have a powerful centre forward – a Ricado Santos or Nilsson or Rodrigo. It is no surprise that the leading thirteen goalscorers in the League are foreign players with 12 goals for more – and none are Asian.

Stenio Junior could have been that player; how different could the season have been without his late injury and move to BGPU?

Kim BoYong came to us from Korea as a winger. He made 32 league appearances and never stopped trying but he is neither a natural goalscorer or a big target man who can hold the ball for those around him.

Meanwhile Patrick Gustavsson is also now scoring goals for BGPU.

We were also a nice team to play against; no one would have feared playing against us – unless Filipovic was allowed to join the attack; then we were a threat.

There are clearly players that have improved under Fukuda’s coaching – Ronnayod, Stewart, Sarawin to name three.

There is also something decent about this squad – and that has to come from the coach. We never saw players turn on eachother – compare and contrast to NakhonSi United; we never saw players rolling around with time-delaying injuries. The whole squad and staff would, win lose or draw, thank the home crowd.

There was much to like about this squad and the club’s management; less to like about some of the results.

Looking forward it is also not just the end of the season but the end of six seasons of being hostage to the needs of a parent club – whether that was Chiang Rai United or Bangkok Glass.

The sale of the club by Boon Rawd brings with it lots of potential changes and a whole list of tasks that must be quickly achieved. The strings have been cut. We will need our own bus, social media team, new kits, branding and sponsors; our own backroom staff; and ideally a plan that capitalizes on the potential of, by some distance, the best supported football club in Chiang Mai.

I miss it already!

Deja Im

The last team picture of the season – from cmfcofficial

Thai League 2 2022-2023 : Sunday 30 April 2023

Chiang Mai FC 3 Ranong United 2

Chiang Mai FC:

Ryhan Stewart (sub Sarawin, 74’)
Sarawut (sub Filipovic, 89’)
Ronnayod (sub Phommin, 89’)
Im ChangKyoon (sub Yuta Hirayama,89’)
Kim BoYong (sub Suchanon, 61’)

For the second week running this was the Im ChangKyoon show; two masterful goals, one assist and a sense of space and awareness that cannot be taught.

It also takes his tally to six goals in the last three games; while the opposition has been three of the league’s weaker teams there has been no such thing as an easy game this season; other perhaps than Uthai Thani’s 8-1 humiliation of Udon Thani this evening.

This was a highly entertaining match, with some terrific goals, end-to-end drama and moments of near comedy.

It was also a game where the crossbar was struck so often that the woodworm will all have headaches.

The only disappointment was that this was a game that had no impact on promotion, playoff and relegation and it was distracting to spend the game looking at scores from elsewhere, on an evening of high drama.

As early as the 8th minute a long ball forward from the Ranong penalty area fell kindly for Chamsuddeen (7),  who was in behind Stewart and beyond the reach of Suwannapat. Taking the ball to the left of the six yard box he tried to slide the ball under the advancing Fahas; the ball defected off the keeper’s boot and onto the base of the far post.

Stewart cleared; Thammayut played the ball forward; Im ChangKyoon smartly retreated from offside allowing Kim BoYong to chase down the ball and cross left-footed into the area where Amornthep’s header also came off the base of the post – this time into the arms of a grateful goalkeeper.

Ranong’s opening goal in the 19th minute combined comedy and controversy. It should probably not have been allowed.

Athiwat beat Sarawut with ease on the right side; his shot beat Fahas but dropped down off the crossbar. Piyachanok swung to clear the ball as Chan (4) launched himself horizontally at the Chiang Mai captain. His feet were high; the challenge dangerous.

In the melee the ball fell for Chamsuddeen (7) who hooked a shot goalwards. Fahas appeared to have made a comfortable catch of the bouncing ball but as he fell it squirmed from his hands and was over the line before he could claw it back. Fahas’ look of misunderstood innocence was a joy. Suwannaphat was booked for his protest. The goal stood.

On the half hour Ranong hit the crossbar for the third time. A good move down the right side saw Athiwat combine with Saraphob (19) who slid the ball to the six yard line for Chan who struck his shot against the bar from six yards as he fell.

At the other end Amornthep, who had a lively game on the right side, pulled the ball back for Kim BoYong alone on the penalty spot. Kim slipped and the chance was gone.

Ronnayod’s long range drive was well held by Kampon (1) in goal.

Into first half injury time and a slip by Narongrit (5) left Kim BoYong with an unchallenged run on goal; his shot was scooped over the bar.

Thammayut then had a goal disallowed after a belated offside whistle against Piyachanok who had mysteriously turned up on the left wing. It was probably the correct call.

Half time and Ranong led 1-0.

The second half was to be dominated by Chiang Mai.

Kampon saved at close range from Kim BoYong before Ronnayod slapped an 18 yard shot – yes – against the underside of the abused crossbar.

Chiang Mai were not to be denied. The equalizer came as Im ChangKyoon, in predator mode, loitered just outside the Ranong penalty area. A left side Chiang Mai corner was not cleared. Sarawut laid the ball back for Im who had time to take a steadying touch before hitting a shot with dip and bend into Kampon’s bottom left corner.

Ranong were running out of steam.

Amornthep was pulled down in full flight on the right edge of the penalty area. Muhammadburhan (11) was booked; a red card and penalty would not have been a surprise. Thammayut’s left foot free kick was punched clear by Kampon.

Ranong came close to a second with a terrific counter attack; a long cross-field ball released Chanchon (2) on the right; his first time ball was perfect for the head of Chamsudeen rushing into the penalty area but his powerful header was directed straight at Fahas.

83 minutes gone and Chiang Mai’s second goal was one of measured simplicity. Sarawin held the ball up by the right corner flag. Im ChangKyoon was standing twelve yards from goal perhaps covered with an invisibility cloak as the three defenders around him simply stood and watched. Sarawin’s pass was measured, albeit bobbling, across to Im who with one swing of that cultured right foot dispatched  it past Kampon.

A minute later Suchanon (on for Kim BoYong) took a touch to control Im’ s direct pass into the penalty area then swept the ball home with power. Welcome back.

Ranong had not given up; Athiwat headed against the crossbar and Sarin scored from a simple far post tap in set up by Saraphop and Athiwat.

Enough drama; other than a couple of casual moments Chiang Mai had controlled the second half and were deserving winners.

Ranong set off for the long drive home and to play next season in T3. They played with spirit today and we wish them well.

Fans. Just an inconvenience.

Picture: Stranded Simon

Thai League 2 2022-2023 : Sunday 23 April 2023

Samut Prakan City 1 Chiang Mai FC 3

Chiang Mai FC:

Ryhan Stewart
Im ChangKyoon
Kim BoYong

Let me quickly deal with the football.

This was the Im ChangKyoon show – he set up the first for Amornthep and scored two excellent second half goals; the first a right foot shot curled into the top left corner and the second a run from the edge of the penalty area into the six yard box finished with a delicate chip over the goalkeeper.

Samut Prakan’s first half equalizer started with a missed penalty – Fahas went right and the ball went left and bounced off the post to be cleared for a corner.

The corner was deflected high above the six yard line and bulldozed into the net by Tiraporn.

It was Chiang Mai’s first away win of 2023.

I feel bad for Im as this report should be an ode to his talent.

But that is not the story of the night.

Tonight was the Wan Lai Songkran Water Festival in Phra Pradaeng, the Bang Phli Housing Community in Samut Prakan; and the stadium was at the very centre of the party.

Around and outside the stadium crowds had massed on the streets. Traffic was at a standstill.

CMFC management found out about the event on the morning of 23rd. The team bus was given a police escort to the ground from Bangna Road.

Did anyone at the club think that posting details of the event on their social media might be helpful for traveling fans? Of course not.

Was there anyone involved with the club who thought if we need a police escort to the ground how will our supporters get there? Apparently not.

Did anyone at Samut Prakan City wonder how they could help fans traveling from Chiang Mai? Of course not. No information; no assistance.

Did anyone at either club or at the Thai League consider rescheduling the match? Of course not. Why not play it on Monday night – the day after the Songkran event?

Some CMFC fans did get to the stadium – there are a number living and working in Bangkok. A few even made it from Chiang Mai – but only after leaving their cars and walking the last kilometer to the stadium.

Others gave up – including some Samut Prakan fans traveling to the game.

Some Chiang Mai fans had flown down for the game; another, for instance, drove the 713 kilometres leaving at 5.45 this morning.

I was with Tai. Instead of a 45 minute drive we were in our Grab car for 2 and 1/2 hours from Rama IX before we gave up – and headed back into Bangkok.

This event was not a surprise. Just move the matchday. But no one involved from the league or either club gives a flying f*** about the fans…yet still people wonder why crowds are falling and why there is growing disinterest in the Thai League.

If you treat fans with indifference that is all you deserve in return.

If football is not for the fans then who exactly is it for?

Finally, today was the day that I realized that however much this page has tried to promote CMFC and the Thai League, to give as much information as possible, and to encourage people to come to watch games no one involved with the club gives a f*** in return.

Fans. Just an inconvenience.

Six of the best

Picture: cmfc official

Thai League 2 2022-2023 : Saturday 8 April 2023

Chiang Mai FC 6 Udon Thani FC 0

Chiang Mai FC:
Ryhan Stewart
Saharat (sub Ronnayod 46’)
Srithai (sub Phommin 59’)
Im ChangKyoon (sub Chitchanok 70’)
Yuta Hirayama (sub Tawan 46’)
Kim BoYong (sub Pongrawit 81’)

Chiang Mai handed Udon Thani a six goal spanking on Saturday night as, at long last, the team cast aside caution and doubt and went after their hapless opponents with a determined zeal.

There were opening minute opportunities for Im ChangKyoon and Hirayama. Then a corner in the opening minute found the towering head of Filipovic but he was not on target.

The pressure was relentless – Ratchanon tried to clear upfield from his eighteen yard line; his clearance was charged down by Hirayama who reacted quickly to set the ball to his left into the path of Kim Bo Yong and he confidently slotted the ball passed the onrushing Tjeerawat.

Im ChangKyoon’s close range shot was deflected wide; Filipovic headed the resulting corner over the crossbar.

Theerawat intercepted Kim Bo Yong’s low cross before it could reach Hirayama.

A rare corner for Udon Thani saw Phuwanart flick on Jetsada’s near post corner; it was comfortably held by Fahas who presumably missed last week’s game while deciding on a new hair style and coloring.

Back in the Udon goal Theerawat was busy – he saved well from Hirayama getting a hand to the forward’s close range shot and then saved sprawling to his left from Thammayut.

But a minute later Thammayut’s pass inside from the left wing found Im ChangKyoon in space and with apparent nonchalance he moved the ball onto his right foot before, with the shortest of backswings launching the ball into the keeper’s top right corner from 25 yards.

Before the half hour it as 3-0 with a first goal in Thailand from Yuta Hirayama. Theerayut went walkabout chasing a ball some 30 yards outside his goal despite the nearby presence of two defenders. Kim Bo Yong was first to the ball but his shot was blocked by Ratchanon on the six yard line; Hirayama was alert enough to be first to the rebound and he happily slid the ball home. A goal to celebrate with his proud family visiting from Tokyo.

Chiang Mai should have added a fourth with a penalty after Kittinat tripped Saharat in the penalty area. Im ChangKyoon’s tame penalty was an easy save for Theerawat and the Korean forward then skied the rebound high over the crossbar.

Other than the wonderful penalty shootout with Sukhothai our penalty success record is woeful.

Kittinat was booked for a rugby tackle on Kim and then in injury time Filipovic went on one of his battering runs from his own half before being blocked in the Udon Thani penalty area. The crowd loved it. More would follow in the second half.

Many in the crowd of 776 were still unseated when Chiang Mai added their fourth. Filipovic, appearing like a genie on the right wing, passed inside to Im ChangKyoon; unchallenged he advanced towards the penalty area and this time with his left foot launched the ball past Theerawat. Another fabulous strike.

Udon Thani were close to pulling one goal back when de Silva’s header from a left wing cross bounced off the base of the far post.

Chiang Mai’s fifth was another first; a first league goal in Thailand for Rhyan Stewart.

Ronnayod’s laid a lovely ball into the path of Tawan who took one touch to push the ball past Theerawat who, outside his penalty area, appeared to catch Tawan with a flying right elbow; the ball rolled forward where Stewart who had made a fabulous run in support of the forwards was able to roll the ball home.

Tawan was able to continue after treatment. Theerawat was fortunate to escape punishment.

Filipovic again brought the crowd to life as he picked up the ball in his own half and accelerated forward; rather like the driverless train in ‘Unstoppable’ he just kept on going. Until, after leaving defenders floundering in his wake, from a borrow angle some six yards from goal, he thumped the ball against the near post.

At the other end Fahas stretched well to turn away a Jetsada freekick

In search of number six Tawan curled a trademark right foot shot millimetres wide of the far post and Filipovic then launched himself on his most spectacular run. It was Moses parting the Red Sea as the defense disappeared. Reaching the goal line his cross to the six yard box was met by Chitchanok and saved by Theerawat’s outstretched left boot.

Filipovic was not to be denied – although his role in Chiang Mai’s sixth required a little less effort. Tawan’s run took the ball to the left goal line; he picked his spot and slid a pass for Filipovic at the back post to tap in. His smile showed how much his rather overdue second league goal meant.  

This was football played by a team with a point to prove; to the fans; the coaches and maybe even to eachother. As a team they took the game to Udon Thani from the first until the last minute.

A word for two solid performances at the back Suwannapat was immaculate; and Chaiyapruek’s first league start of the season was a reminder that he is a very capable defender.

Maybe the only regret is that we have not seen more of this new found boldness over the previous eight months.

There is a break next weekend before our final two league games – away at Samut Prakan City on 23rd and finally at home to Ranong on 30th April.  

That same old song

Picture: Official CMFC

Thai League 2 2022-2023 : Saturday 1 April 2023

Chainat Hornbill FC 1 Chiang Mai FC 0

Chiang Mai FC:

Im ChangKyoon
Kim BoYong

It was the same old song on Saturday night in Chainat. CMFC have played seven games on the road in 2023 – played seven, lost six, drawn one, scored one, conceded nine. The only goal coming in the 1-4 drubbing at Rayong.

Five of the seven games have ended in 0-1 defeats.

For traveling supporters this is increasingly grim, verging on masochism. The story was a familiar one; fall behind; create some chances; fail to score; lose game.

Narawit started in goal as Fahas is carrying a shoulder injury. Kim BoYong was preferred up front after his strong second half in midweek. Sarawin returned in a back four.

Chainat might have scored in the first minute when Fittaree (6) ran goalside of Sarawut and was halted by an alert block from Narawit.

Wellington (34) had Chainat’s next effort on goal with an overhead kick that looked impressive but was lobbed at Narawit.

In the tenth minute Chainat scored. Filipovic and Diego Silva(24) tussled outside the penalty area; Diego doing well to hold off the challenge and slide a pass for Chatuphum (30). Running into the edge of the area he rifled the ball beyond Narawit before Chatchai and Ronnayod could intercept him. It was a well worked and well taken goal.

Diego was sporting a blue rinse which suggested that his last haircut was in Chernobyl.

Chainat might have added to the score ten minutes later as a Chiang Mai attack broke down and Chataphum’s long crossfield ball found Tanayut (14) on the left of the penalty area; his stepover beat Sarawin but his shot bounced off Narawit’s knees.

Chiang Mai’s first chance of note fell to Kim BoYong running onto a clever pass from Im ChangKyoon but Pathomtat (25) was quickly off his line to make the block.

There was little of note in the remainder of the half; though Tawan moved out to the left wing and looked lively; he might have been unlucky not to win a penalty; the referee suggesting a dive rather than the fairly obvious push in his back.

Half time saw Srithai replace Ronnayod.

And for the first ten minutes of the second half CMFC looked threatening.

Pathomtat turned Im ChangKyoon’s angled shot over the crossbar; Sarawin’s corner falling for Kim BoYong whose half volley from six yards was straight at the Chainat keeper.

Im ChangKyoon, who always appears to have a little more time than others, released Tawan with a ball splitting the defense but Tawan’s shot from a narrow angle hit the outside of the upright.

In a near replica minutes later Tawan’s cross (or was it a shot?) was parried by Pathomtat; Kim BoYong reacted first to reach the rebound but could only direct the ball against the base of that same well-used upright.

That was about it for Chiang Mai going forward.

Sarayut (28) and Narawit collided for a through ball into the Chiang Mai penalty area; Sarayut caught the Chiang Mai goalkeeper and was booked. It was probably the right decision despite an angry reaction from Suwannaphat and especially Phommin.

Maybe still shaking off the earlier blow Narawit could only shovel Tanayut’s 22 yard shot out in front of goal and Suwannaphat was alert to clean up the danger.

Amornthep replaced Tawan with 25 minutes remaining. Some things I just do not understand. Why leave the pace of Hirayama on the bench? Why take off Tawan who we know can score goals and who had looked lively when moved to the right side?

Amornthep’s time was to be short. Six minutes after coming on he was sent off for a high challenge on Pathomtat as he chased a ball into the penalty area. In real time it did not look good. I suspect though that there was minimal contact as Pathomtat was quickly to his feet to complain to square up to Amornthep.

Given the earlier challenge on Narawit a yellow card would have been sufficient.

Chiang Mai went to three at the back.

Chainat started to spend even more time taking rest breaks. They are masters at the art of lying down and waiting for the trainer to attend to their mystery ailments.

With ten minutes to go Chitchanok at long last made his Chiang Mai debut. He could have come on as soon as Amornthep was sent off – that would have given him a little more time to make an impression.

Filipovic moved to centre forward for the last five minutes but it all felt like too little, too late.

The only remaining satisfaction was seeing Wellington booked in injury time for a ludicrous dying swan impression as he fell in the Chiang Mai penalty area.

On a hot summer’s night the one consolation was that the Chainat air was significantly better than the toxic Chiang Mai air.

Next Saturday’s game is at home to already relegated Udon Thani. CMFC are not out of the relegation woods yet.

Late goals secure win

Chiang Mai take a 2-1 lead with Im ChangKyoon’s penalty

Thai League 2 2022-2023 : Wednesday 29 March 2023

Chiang Mai FC 4 Rajpracha FC 1

Chiang Mai FC:

Im ChangKyoon
Yuta Hirayama

Chiang Mai supporters will remember this game for the two fabulous strikes that book-ended our first win in the last six games.

Thammayut’s 18th minute free kick and Kim’s 94th minute strike were highlights in what looks like a comfortable win; though it was never certain until second half injury time.

Unfortunately a combination of smog, heat and the 5.30pm start meant this was CMFC’s lowest home crowd of the season. Just 662.

Credit must go to both teams for serving up an entertaining match despite air that you could cut a knife through and the high temperatures throughout.

Chiang Mai set up in a 3-4-1-2 with Filipovic, Suwannapat and Piyachanok as the back three and Yuta Hirayama and Tawan playing in front of Im ChangKyoon.

The surprise was the return of Phommin in central midfield. It was his first start since the opening day at Ranong and it was no surprise when just 11 minutes into the game he picked his first fight and was remarkably fortunate to escape a card.

The game saw early chances; Tawan, running onto Im’s lovely pass in behind the defense, shot straight at Phatcharaphong; at the other end Danilo Alves (9) left Stewart in his wake as he ran into the penalty area for a Ronnachai (14) pass but with time to pick his spot his left foot shot cleared the crossbar. Alves is a forward who looks like he cannot buy a goal.

It was Rajpracha who took the lead – Koki Narita (10) bravely running onto Jansada’s (21) chip behind the Chiang Mai defense and narrowly winning the race with Fahas to chip the ball over the Chiang Mai keeper.

The lead was short-lived. Pakpoom received a yellow card for a foul on Im ChangKyoon 25 yards in front of goal. Thammayut took the free kick and curled it with pace and bend over the wall and into the keeper’s top left corner. His calm reaction suggested he does this every day. It was a very good free kick.

The next chance fell again to Rajpracha as Santitorn (16) beat a half-hearted Phommin challenge and set up a shot that bounced off the base of Fahas’ right post.

A Rajpracha free kick was struck with power by Ronnachai but narrowly wide.

Stewart’s perfectly weighted right wing cross was headed narrowly over by Hirayama running behind Pakpoom at the far post and in the final action of the half Somroeng (20) headed wide for Rajpracha when it appeared easier to hit the target.

It has been an evenly fought first half.

Before the crowd were re-seated for the second half Koki Narita had shot over the bar from eight yards as Rajpracha pushed forward. Chatchai was then booked for a fairly agricultural challenge on the same player.

A long ball forward from Suwannapat on half way left Pakpoom challenging Kim BoYong (on at the start of the second half for Hirayama) in the penalty area.

Kim went down under Pakpoom’s clumsy challenge. Penalty. And a second yellow card for Pakpoom. He was very reluctant to leave the pitch.

The Rajpracha team either surrounded the referee of scuffed up the penalty spot. Finally after some five minutes Im ChangKyoon was able to step up and score from the spot sending the goalkeeper one way and the ball the other.

Minutes later Rjpracha were awarded a free kick for a foul by Im on Somroeng (20). The Rajpacha player jumped up and immediately belted the ball against the nearest Chiang MI player – in this case Chatchai.

The referee booked Chatchai – presumably for not retreating ten yards; though he would have had to be Usain Bolt to retreat before that free kick was taken. A second yellow card meant the teams were both down to ten a side.

After the Rajpracha shithousery following the penalty award this was bizarre refereeing unless he felt the need to even up the teams.

Rajpracha pushed forward for an equalizer though they have not scored more than a single goal in a game in 2023. Alves’ free header from a corner was deflected wide off Koki Narita’s knee and Veljko was booked for bringing down a Rajpracha forward – the free kick was given on the edge of the penalty area – from a distance it looked more inside than outside.

A tidy little pass from Ronnachai in behind the Chiang Mai defense released Alves but he pulled his shot wide of both the advancing Fahas and the far post.

That was to be Rajpracha’s last chance as they ran out of ideas and Chiang Mai rediscovered that goalscoring is fun.

In the 91st minute Kim BoYong under pressure could only scuff his shot but it ran across the six yard line for the onrushing Sarawut to confidently first time the ball home.

Then in the last minute of injury time and some 35 yards from goal Im let the bouncing ball run across him before hitting a high, looping, swerving volley with the outside of his left boot that Phatcharaphong could only admire as it sailed passed him into the roof of the net.

In the end 4-1 did rather flatter Chiang Mai – but at last we had a match where we both created chances and took them.

We also ended a depressing run of single goal defeats and can hopefully end the season in style.

Out next match is away at Chainat on Saturday 1 April – a 6.30pm kick off.

Trat go top

Thai League 2 2022-2023
Saturday 18 March 2023 – 17.30pm

Do you think we might get a start next week?

Trat FC 1 Chiang Mai FC 0

Chiang Mai FC:
Saharat Posri
Im ChangKyoon
Yuta Hirayama
Kim BoYong

Trat moved to the top of the M150 Championship with a comfortable 1-0 win over Chiang Mai FC this evening. The goal coming from their Egyptian forward, Essameldin, after 64 minutes.

This was Trat’s sixth successive win; a sequence in which they have conceded just a solitary goal.

A few initial observations – Trat is a very long way to travel; the away fans’ zone is bird crap central; and the pitch is presumably used on non-match days for cattle grazing. It is poor.

CMFC gave a second start to Yuta Hirayama and reverted to a 3-5-2.

Trat look a very settled side and their foreign front three played with strength, pace and confidence.

The surprise of the night was that the score was still 0-0 at half time. Piyachanok had been outstanding at the back and he and Filipovic had hung on – sometimes literally – to keep CMFC in the contest.

Chiang Mai’s best chance of the half fell to Hirayama in the sixth minute. A free kick was played wide for Sarawin to cross to the edge of the penalty area; replicating his leap in the derby, Filipovic headed the ball down for Hirayama in space ahead of Chiraphong. Falling he could not get any power into his left foot shot as he tried to hook it on goal.

Filipovic was then booked for pulling back Dos Santos as he ran onto a ball behind the Chiang Mai defense. The yellow card might easily have been a red.

The chances kept coming for the home side; A long diagonal ball found Valdo inside the Chiang Mai penalty area; his first time shot was well saved by Fahas diving low to his right.

Breaking down another Trat attack CMFC moved the ball quickly forward for Kim BoYong; with Hirayama unmarked in space on his left Kim instead ran into a wall of defenders and eventually dragged the ball wide from a tight angle.

Dos Santos shot wide; a Pornpreecha cross from the left evaded Katano and Essameldin. Fahas intercepted a clever interchange of passes between Dos Santos and Valdo; Essameldin shot wide and then into injury time his cross from the goal line left Dos Santos stretching just too far to turn the ball home.

One half chance in injury time for CMFC saw Im ChangKyoon and KimBoYong combine to set up Hirayama on the right of the penalty area. Once again he failed to make a solid connection and the ball rolled to Sappawat in the Trat goal.

Pongrawit and Tawan replaced Hirayama and Thammayut for the second half. But the pattern of the game was little changed.

A Dos Santos shot was parried away by Fahas.

Pharadon released Dos Santos down the left side. His chipped cross found Essameldin creating space behing Sarawut near the back post and he headed home for the only goal of the game.

Two minutes later Valdo made some space on the edge of the CMFC area and his powerful shot was met by Fahas with a fine diving save to his left.

One chance for CMFC as Tawan met Sarawut’s cross from the left but headed the ball over the crossbar.

Even moving Filiopvic up front had little impact on the outcome.

Trat attacked with pace and vigour. Too often Chiang Mai were plodding their way forward through a series of dead ends and u turns. The single goal defeat rather CMFC. It was always going to be a difficult night for the visitors.

The good news is that players, staff and supporters now get a break until our next home game against Rajpracha on 29 March.

The late De Leeuw show

When you lose the local derby – picture: cmfcofficial

Thai League 2 2022-2023 – Wednesday 15 March 2023

Chiang Mai FC 1 Chiang Mai United 2

Chiang Mai FC:

Kim BoYong

Chiang Mai FC lost at home 1-2 on Wednesday night to promotion-chasing Chiang Mai United in front of 2,617 fans; by some distance our biggest home crowd of our T2 season.

Two top class goals bookended the match, which was predictably competitive and occasionally feisty,

CMFC gave a first start to Japanese striker Yuta Hirayama in a 4-2-3-1 formation which often left Hirayama chasing scraps up front.

Ryhan Stewart returned to the starting line up for the first time since 3 February sporting a Vinnie Jones (ask an older UK football fan!) style haircut.

Thammayut and Saharat Posri also started in a side that looked like it was designed for speed and mobility.

CMU opened the scoring after just 2 minutes. It was a lovely goal. Starting with Pairot (35) in goal five CMU players were involved in a pacey series of passes down the left side. The last of the five, Deyvison (10), eased past Saharat to the goal-line and his low cross was turned home by Worayut (65) running at pace towards the six yard box.

Injured when scoring the goal Worayut was replaced soon after by Nanthawat.

Minutes later Kittipat’s (8) cross from the right side was headed over by Deyvison but it was a rare goal threat in a first half that simmered along without quite boiling over

Surawich (5) twice pulled down Kim BoYong; and the referee eventually booked Thanawich (19) for a foul on the Korean striker and then booked Pansiri (27) for bringing down Stewart on the right wing.

Surawich was leading a charmed life; he pulled back Hirayama in full flight down the Chiang Mai right. Hirayama is quick and if he had got away from the defender he had a clear run on goal. Remarkably, still no card.

Pansiri’s shot drew a comfortable save from Fahas as, led by Deyvison, CMU continued to press forward.

In first half injury time Ronnayod’s 25 yard shot was deflected wide and Veljko headed the subsequent corner past the far post under pressure from Ronnapee (55). Half time saw Kim BoYong pushed up to center forward after Hirayama was substituted. Im ChangKyoon coming on to the right side of midfield.

Kim saw as little of the ball as Hirayama before him and was taken off on the hour. At which point CMFC made what appeared to be an inspired change. Tawan came on and he and Suchanon played as a front two. The impact was immediate.

Im’s free kick was only partially cleared by CMU and Im was able to stab the loose ball forward into the penalty area; Filipovic leapt above Sirisak (15) to nod the ball down into the path of Tawan who thumped the ball past Pairot from six yards before his usual gravity-defying celebration.

CMU wanted the three points; Melvin de Leeuw (23) had missed the last two game with a shoulder injury. He replaced Kittipat (8).

Yet for all of the effort in midfield neither goalkeeper was required to make a save of note. Deyvison’s threatening cross from the left side was blocked. Im ChangKyoon’s reverse pass into the penalty area found Suchanon who shot high and wide.

86 minute gone and De Leeuw and Suwannapat jumped together for a long ball forward from Pairot. There looked to be nothing in the challenge but the referee awarded CMU a free kick some 25 yards from goal.

De Leeuw’s left foot free kick was as good as any you will see all season. It flew past the wall, past Fahas’ dive and into the goal off the right hand upright.  

Sarawut was then booked for a lunging late challenge on Deyvison in front of the East stand. It could have been a straight red. The two teams piled in for a pushing match. Even the goalkeepers ran to get involved.

Water bottles and paper cups were thrown onto the pitch. Suwannapat pleaded for calm. The linesman and Deyvison, who appeared to be the target of fans’ anger while he was on the touchline waiting to return after the foul, both headed for safety on the pitch.

Five minutes of injury time turned into nine as peace was restored.

CMFC will no doubt get a heavy fine from the Thai FA; especially since this was a repeat of similar scenes at the 700th at the end of last year.

CMU had earned their win; they simply showed greater desire. After equalizing CMFC looked like they would have been comfortable to take a point. CMU wanted all three and De Leeuw’s strike was a worthy match-winner.

The game had been feisty, hard-fought and entertaining. With two wins in two games Wanderley has had an impact at CMU and they must be one of the favorites for automatic promotion.

Chiang Mai meanwhile head to Trat for a 17.30pm kick off on Saturday. Trat have won five in a row and put eight past a hapless Udon Thani side last night and six past Ranong last weekend. 

Taking the long road to a professional career

Picture – official cmfc

cmfcenglish spent a very pleasant ninety minutes with our Japanese forward, Yuta Hirayama, before last Friday’s match at Suphanburi.

If my grandmother had spent over an hour with Yuta she would have exclaimed with some enthusiam – “he is such a nice young man.”

And that is meant in the nicest possible way – he is just that.

Born in Japan in 1997 Yuta knew when he was six that he wanted to play football – and that the road would be a long one. His youth football was played for SS Cantera, and Musashi Ogose HS.

At secondary school Yuta would cycle a 20km round trip to train almost every day.

With the constant support of a sporting family Yuta persisted.

His is a family of many talents – his mother teaches dance while his sister is an actor. A family of performers.

His father, Yuji Hirayama, is something of a legend in Japan. He started climbing in his teens and moved to France to pursue the sport competitively in Europe. UK Climbing describes Yuki as “a Japanese rock climber who has excelled in most forms of the sport since the mid-1980s. He has won World Cups, climbed up to 9a+, set speed records on El Capitan, onsighted F8c, bouldered 8B+ and opened hard multi-pitch climbs. There aren’t enough superlatives to describe this legend.” He also owns a climbing gym in Saitama to teach the next generation.

In Japan Yuki is one of the pioneers of Sawanobori, the art and challenge of climbing waterfalls – this video explains the challenge. Sawanobori – Climbing Waterfalls in Japan

Climbing competitions took Yuki around the world. An international perspective that was reflected in Yuta attending Tokyo International University where although he did represent the University football team he was unable to find a J League side.

But when one door is not open try another. A new path to climb.

Working with a Japanese/Australian agent Yuta joined Western Pride FC in the suburbs of the Queensland state capital. Playing in the Queensland Premier League.

Yuta was just 23. Western Pride were a semi-professional team paying a match fee but not a living salary. Yuta needed work. 50 hours a week were spent running deliveries of Japanese foods to restaurants and stores. Then there was training and then match days.

4.30am starts every morning were both a work and a training requirement. If you want something enough you have to work for it.

Crowds of maybe 50 people came to the ground. It was not glamorous. Some of Yuta’s Western Pride goals are in this link – https://fb.watch/jeYwTofacm/

Yuta’s goals earned him the Golden Boot for the QPL 2020 season. And also earned him the attention of more senior clubs. Staying in Brisbane was an attractive option and Yuta would spend the next two seasons with Brisbane City where Matt Smith was the player/coach. At that time Brisbane City were also in the QPL after relegation in 2020.

The club would bounce back to the NPL Queensland after promotion in 2021.

Golden Boot for Western Pride FC

As a quick aside the NPL Queensland is one of the eight state leagues that sit below the AFL.

Underneath the NPL Queensland is the Queensland Premier League which alongside other state leagues make up the third tier of Australian football.


The step up to the NPL Queensland was straightforward. Yuta was having fun on the pitch – 14 goals in 21 league games in the 2022 season is a good return by any striker in any league.  Add to that three goals in 2 Australia Cup games.

2022 also saw Brisbane City mark their 75th anniversary season with a first-ever Australia Cup Round of 32 appearance and a 3-1 win over Cockburn City from Western Australia. Brisbane City’s opener came through Yuta Hirayama’s left-footed strike which flew in from a tight angle.

Follow this link for highlights of the cup win.

The connection to Thailand was through Matt Smith (now head coach at BGPU) and Matt’s agent, 360 Sport Management, who became Yuta’s new agent.

Matt Smith left Brisbane for Bangkok Glass Pathum United in late October 2022. It was no surprise that he saw Yuta as a player that could make an impact in the Thai League.

At the end of the 2022 season in Australia there was a Hirayama family gathering in Tokyo; the first time that family had been together for almost four years due mainly to the Covid blight.

Yuta went back to Brisbane; he was offered, and signed, a new contract with BGPU and moved to Thailand at the end of December 2022 knowing that the contract would see him playing for the second half of the Thai season at second tier Chiang Mai United.

That really was not a concern. It was Yuta’s first full time professional contract. No more 4.30am starts and delivery runs. Chiang Mai also had a Japanese coach (Jun Fukuda) and a collection of international players from Singapore, Serbia and Korea.

It has been an easy city and football club to settle into.

But almost immediately he suffered an injury. The first game of the second half of the season. On as a second half substitute at Nakhon Pathom Yuta tangled with the back leg of the Nakhon Pathom captain, Anukorn, when they were both running into the penalty area. Anukorn sensibly told him to stay down and wait for the medics to assess the injury.

It was not good news. A torn hamstring that would keep him out of the squad for 7 weeks; even now after three short run outs as a substitute it is clear he is not yet at full match fitness and sharpness. Such an unfortunate injury – but Yuta is philosophical about it and is determined to come back stronger.

Instead of 17 games Yuta now has just seven games in which to make enough of an impression to get a new contract for 2023/2024.

And there is the issue – he likes Thailand and Chiang Mai. He is unclear what sort of opportunity he might be given by the new owner. All he can do is try to make an impression but he needs the playing time to do that.

Spare time is spent showing Veljko how to lift weights in the gym, (yes, I made that bit up!) having lunch with the CMFC Koreans or studying. Music is not J Pop. He loved Australia but prefers Thailand.

“George” was a school and university nickname. Please call him Yuta.

He likes our fans and the noise – after playing in front of 50 in Brisbane the CMFC crowds must be very welcome.

If he was not a footballer his thought out responses suggest he has a future as a diplomat.

His network of Japanese players includes Yuto Ono at Chiang Mai United. It would be fun to see them both start on Wednesday. He is also good friends with Ryo Matsumura who scored some of the best goals seen in Chiang Mai in recent years. Ryo is on loan from BGPU to Persis Solo from Surakarta in Indonesia.

So what next? Yuta is young, works genuinely hard, and knows how to score. F it was my call I would give him a run of games until the end of the season. But that is the coach’s decision.

Whatever happens his story is one of pursuing a dream and of being supported and encouraged along the way. There is a lesson for many of us in that.

I must not complain

Thai League 2 2022-2023 – Friday 10 March 2023

Suphanburi FC 1 Chiang Mai FC 0

Chiang Mai FC:

Im ChangKyoon
Kim BoYong

This hurt. Even more.

But I have been told that I complain too much. Back to school – and write 100 lines of “I will not complain.”

Douglas Tardin’s 44th minute opportunism gave Suphanburi all three points on an unpleasantly warm Friday night that leave the home team four points clear at the top of the table before the weekend’s remaining fixtures.

CMFC rested Filipovic and played with Piyachanok and Suwannapat at centre half. Srithai came in for Saharat Posri.

Despite the long bus ride to Suphanburi, and the early evening heat, Chiang Mai started on the front foot reflecting the confident style they had shown against Ayutthaya.

Three minutes into the game Tawan’s direct run into the Suphanburi penalty area was halted by a last ditch tackle from Lee JongCheon (15) who was hurt making the challenge. He would be replaced shortly after when he uncomfortably halted Suchanon in the penalty area with the help of Phiyawat (18) in goal.

A Matheus Souza (33) free kick was blocked by the CMFC wall and Kittipong (10) headed over a cross from Rachanon (3) on the Suphanburi right.

Twenty minutes gone and Sarawin’s pass in behind the defense released Im ChangKyoon whose low cross from the by-line arrived awkwardly for Suchanon under pressure from Panuphong (21) and the danger was cleared.

Phiyawat was then quickly off his line to beat Kim BoYong to a ball chipped over the backline.

A CMFC giveaway in midfield allowed Rachanon to release Tardin (9) between the two centre backs for a run on goal. The offside call was in CMFC’s favour but was marginal at best.

Then, with half time whistle  looming Jetjinn’s (2) ball forward did not look threatening; a rebound off  Sarawut allowed the ball to roll into the path of Tardin who reacted quickly, took one touch and thumped the ball home from twelve yards.

There were two immediate changes for Chiang Mai at the start of the second half with Hirayama and Pongrawit on for Tawan and Lim.

Pongrawit ‘s 25 yard free kick was curled on target where Phiyawat made a good save diving to his left to turn the ball away.

Sarawin halted the run of the lively Nethithorn (39) on the edge of the penalty area. Pongrawit was booked and Piyachanok followed soon after for a spectacular late tackle on Patipan (14)….practising for the Chiang Mai derby?   A last chance for Chiang Mai came as Pongrawit’s cross was headed on by Suchanon for Hirayama but, pushed too far left of goal, his shot sliced wide.

When CMFC should have been chasing the game, too much of our football was square or even backwards. We should not be frightened of taking chances doing the unusual in the pursuit of a win or even a point; for instance playing Filipovic up front for 20 minutes.

We CMFC have now to score in five of our last six games and only nine points in ten games in 2023 tells its own story. It was also our third successive 0-1 defeat.

Not a complaint – just a statement of facts!

There is a confidence issue in front of goal – and it is unclear how, and if, it can be solved.

Suphanburi meanwhile may not look like they have the depth or quality of a promotion team but they continue to eke out results; away games at Nakhon Pathom and Nakhon Si United may determine how they finish the season.

Next up for CMFC is the Chiang Mai derby at the Municipal Stadium on Wednesday 15th. More details on that game at the start of the week. And next weekend we are away at Trat on the 18th. It is a busy week.