Wrong place, wrong time, wrong message – Qatar 2022

The mascot of Qatar 2022

A friend (yes I do still have one or two) left me a message yesterday – “I went looking for your thoughts on the World Cup on “rascott.com” and didn’t see any.”

There are so many other commentaries on this world cup that it feels churlish to try and write about it – I am not going to add anything new. So here does!

My eleven years in Dubai should give me some insight. It does. There is a great deal about the gulf states that should make people very uncomfortable – in particular the treatment of migrant workers – without whom, and without their vast numbers, city states and emirates like Qatar and Dubai would not exist.

Here is John Oliver for HBO’s Last Word Tonight on FIFA/Qatar and the World Cup from two weeks ago at the beginning of the tournament.

It is a tournament being held in the wrong place; at the wrong time and is sending out some appalling messages, mainly that if your throw enough money at something people will forget or ignore all that is wrong.

Remember Qatar was awarded the world cup back in 2010. They bid (as everyone had to) for a summer world cup. Qatar was very much the Gulf’s ignored state. Even Bahrain still carried greater weight. But propelled by its natural gas wealth Qatar could look at Dubai and say that it could be bigger, bolder and brasher.

FIFA eventually realised that a summer world cup in Qatar was impossible; at which point they should have torn up and dismissed the Qatar bid. Instead FIFA bent over in every direction to accommodate Qatar and to play a winter world cup which the other bidding nations of course had never been allowed to bid for.

I should preface this by saying that I have defended the idea of a Middle East World Cup – every nation in the Middle East embraces football – they just tend to watch foreign teams in preference to their own.

Indeed the Qatar World Cup may have gone a long way to mending divides in the Middle East – Qatar was involved in a pretty serious, if non-violent, conflict with a range of their neighbours very recently. From 2017 to the start of 2021 a coalition of Arab countries, led by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic relations with Qatar and blockaded the country, effectively trying to isolate them from the world.

This led to consequences as varied as the Saudi-Qatar land border being closed, to Qatar Airways being banned from the airspaces of several nations, to a variety of countries instructing their citizens to leave Qatar, to the feed of beIN Sports being pirated in Saudi Arabia. The dispute was ultimately settled in January 2021. Neither side won.

Did the World Cup enable an end of the dispute? Thousands of fans are staying in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain and commuting into Doha on special World Cup charters. Mohammed bin Salman was feted as a guest of honour at the opening ceremony. A region that has always had its share of tribal, territorial and family disputes looks more united than ever.

Will this new found unity continue long after the last kick?

The idea of a single city world cup was admirable. There are 11 time zones in Russia where the 2018 tournament was played. Brazil in 2014 took teams from the tropics in the north to the southern hemisphere winter chills. Canada, USA, Mexico (CUM – oh dear!) will be a travel/logistical/expense nightmare for players and fans.

In Doha supporters, players and officials stay in one hotel or camp for as long as they remain in Dubai. The new metro system takes supporters to the eight stadia. The longest distance between any two venues is 35 miles 46kms) and some are within sight of one another. It is prohibitively expensive – but this is a World Cup for the well-heeled and well-finance fans.

The human toll of this world cup is execrable. It was not just stadiums that were being built – a new airport; a metro system; some 100 hotels, roads, all of the supporting infrastructure. And being built in daytime temperatures that exceed 50 C in the summer months.

This week the Qatari official responsible for delivery of the 2022 World Cup has said the number of migrant workers who have died on World Cup-related projects is “between 400 and 500”.

Previously the authorities had claimed the number was just three.

Hassan al-Thawadi, the secretary general of the Supreme Committee for delivery and legacy, made the admission in an interview but said a precise figure for the number of fatalities was still “being discussed”.

“The estimate is around 400,” Thawadi told the TV show Piers Morgan Uncensored. “Between 400 and 500. I don’t have the precise number, that is something that is being discussed.

After the interview there was anger at Thawadi’s comments with Nicholas McGeehan of the advocacy group Fair Square saying: “This is just the latest example of Qatar’s inexcusable lack of transparency on the issues of workers’ deaths. We need proper data and thorough investigations, not vague figures announced through media interviews. Fifa and Qatar still have a lot of questions to answer, not least where, when, and how did these men die and did their families receive compensation.”

The Supreme Committee has always maintained there have been only three work-related fatalities and 37 non-work-related deaths among migrant workers at World Cup stadiums since construction for the tournament began in 2014.

In 2021 the Guardian published research that showed that more than 6,500 migrant workers fhad died in Qatar between the start of 2011, the year after country won the right to host the World Cup, and 2020.

The Qatari government did not dispute the Guardian’s figures, but said that “the mortality rate among these communities is within the expected range for the size and demographics of the population”. The official figure of three stadium work-related World Cup deaths was repeated by Fifa and used in a speech by its president, Gianni Infantino, in an address to the European Council this year.

Infantino sees FIFA as his feifdom and appears happiest with autocrats and dictators. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is rumoured to be bidding for the 2030 World Cup.

What about Russia? – cry the Qatari loyalists. What about human rights abuses in your own countries? What about colonalism? What about slavery?

There is so much diversion and delusion. It is possible to be more than angry at one thing. It is also possible to hope that past lessons have been learned. It is also possible to accept that two wrongs do not make a right – that something was done before does not justify repeating it.

The Qatari bid and message said everyone was welcome. But it is clear than many are not. The migrant workers as in Duabi are kept out of sight; there is no interaction with the rest of the population or visitors. The LGBTQ community are told to conform; many will have chosen simply not to attend.

And many who have attended will have enjoyed a wonderful spectacle in a very special atmosphere. There have been shock results; shock exits and some heart-pounding football.

Qatar is a global crossroads; the local population are vastly outnumbered by imported workers and now by football fans. The African, Asian and Middle East fans have lit up this world cup with colour and noise.

The European nations are not bossing the tournament. Germany, Belgium and Denmark are already on their way home. Honestly none of them will be missed. Japan beat both Germany and Spain – brilliant.

Saudi Arabia beat Argentina. Australia and Morocco are both in the last 16.

The late decision not to see alcohol in the stadiums seems like common sense.

Here is ITV’s main presenter Mark Pougatch on twitter with his assessment of the tournament that is now almost down to the final 16 teams. FIFA and the Qatar authorities will be happy.

“An honest assessment of #Qatar2022 from a broadcaster’s perspective…

The atmosphere 👏
No alcohol 👍
One-city World Cup 🤝

How have you seen this #FIFAWorldCup so far? pic.twitter.com/H9oeuCIpVM— Mark Pougatch (@markpougatch) December 1, 2022

Twitter

But this is not about a conflict where the two sides offset eachother. It is very reasonable to praise the football, the organisation and the atmosphere – while at expressing concern and anger at human rights issues, migrant worker deaths and the huge environmental impact of building eight air conditioned stadiums for just a few weeks use.

This link takes you to The Guardians’ excellent page on “Qatar: beyond the football” collecting together years of reporting on the issues around the Qatar World Cup

The football could linger long in the memory. That is the players’ legacy. But no one should forget all the rights & lives sacrificed for this World Cup. That is FIFA’s legacy.



Phommin’s nightmare

Thai League 2

2022-2023

Saturday 19 November 2022

Rajpracha FC 1 Chiang Mai FC 0

Chiang Mai FC:

Fahas
Suwannapat
Filipovic
Suwit
Stewart
Ronnayod
Srithai
Pongrawit
Im ChangKyoon
Kim BoYong
Gustavsson

It may be harsh to blame this defeat on one person or a single moment. But since I am still angry about both the defeat and the rather mai-pen-rai reaction someone has to be yelled at.

Phommin had come on for Srithai with five minutes of normal time to play.

His first challenge (in reality a body check) should have earned him a booking; his second was little better and his third three minutes into added time earned him a booking and gave the home side a free kick mid-left of the Chiang Mai half.

Kittisak’s inswinging free kick would have been dealt with by Filipovic as he had all night; instead Phommin decided he should be first to the ball and his flicked header redirected the ball inside Fahas’ far post; the goalkeeper had no chance. It was the sort of finish that our strikers must dream of; but at the wrong end.

It was the end of a miserable 10 minute cameo for the CMFC midfielder – and it is genuinely hard to tell what, or if, he was thinking. Just horrible.

Otherwise it had been a decent 0-0 draw with both sides creating opportunities but both looking desperately short of confidence and awareness in front of goal.

It was thirty minutes before the first half saw any meaningful action. By then Chiang Mai had already lost Pongrawit to an injury in a tackle and Im ChangKyoon to a hamstring problem.

A strong Suwit run down the left side ended as so many do with a hasty, albeit powerful, angled shot straight at Phatcharaphong in goal.

Ronnayod’s deep free kick was met by Filipovic at the far post; his header back into the six yard box beat Supawit and ran perfectly for Kim BoYong whose stabbed the ball from close range into the foot of the Rajpracha keeper. The ball rebounded back to Kim and bounced off the Chiang Mai forward wide of the post.

A minute later Samroeng looped over a deep cross from the right; Stewart found himself on the wrong side of Teerwut and bundled him over. It was clear penalty.

Fahas, however has had a lot of penalty practice this week. “Sam” Ronnachai took the kick – left footed – dive left. Fahas made another fine stop pushing the low shot onto the post.

Half time. 0-0. Chiang Mai emerged with an encouraging urgency with Kim BoYong and Patrik Gustavssom taking turns to give eachother gilt-edged chances that neither could convert.

A long clearance was headed by Gustavsson finding Kim in space running into the penalty area. With time to pick either side of the goalkeeper his shot cleared the crossbar.

Phatcharapong then kept out a well struck Gustavsson shot.

Another one touch ball from Gustavsson for Kim was touched out for a corner by Diawara’s outrageously long leg.

Two corners were defended with difficulty by Rajpracha; but after weathering this initial storm the home side would come back into the game. An Atthawit drive from 22 yards was athletically tuned over by Fahas.

Konare, the third of Rajpracha’s three Mali players, drew a fine save from Fahas sprawling low to his left.

At the other end Suwit’s fine cross evaded both Phatcharaphong and Diawara – but Gustavsson at the far post was unable to do better than turn the ball into the side netting.

This felt like time to push Filipovic up front and to create some havoc in the Rajpracha penalty area. Perhaps both coaches were already settling for a point.

Into injury time and a fine direct run on goal by Gustavsson deserved better than a rather tame shot at the goalkeeper. Chiang Mai’s last chance before Phommin’s late moment of madness.

Four defeats in our last five league games is relegation form largely due to our inability to convert goal attempts into goals. Suchanon and Tawan were both out of the squad though injury. Kim and Gustavsson have a solitary league goal between them this season. There will need to be changes in the season break.

Shootout at the Tessabaan

Picture: CMFC Official

REVO League Cup – 2022-2023
Round of 32

Wednesday 16 November 2022

Chiang Mai FC 0 Sukhothai FC 0
Chiang Mai FC win 8-7 on penalties.  

Chiang Mai FC:

Fahas
Thammayut
Piyachanok
Sarawut
Sarawin
Kiadtisak
Phommin
Tawan
Suchanon
Amornthep
Gustavsson

After 120 minutes goal-less minutes this cup tie was settled by the high drama of an eighteen penalty shoot-out.

After 18 minutes of penalties Sukhothai’s Pattarapon missed their ninth when Fahas sprawled to his right to make the save; Sarawut, who had an excellent outing as one of two centre-backs stepped up and lashed the ball past Suttipong for a memorable win.

Goalkeeper Fahas was the only survivor of the team that beat Trat at the weekend as coach Fukuda sent out an entirely new outfield for this REVO Cup tie with League 1 Sukhothai.

On a bumpy pitch the game itself was long on effort but shorter on quality. Until the drama of the penalty shoot-out.

Chiang Mai perhaps had the clearer chances in the first half but rarely troubled the Sukhothai goalkeeper; Suchanon shooting high, Amornthep heading and then shooting over as he opted for power over precision.

Meanwhile Fahas saved a deflected free kick at the near post; then dived to his right to gather Peeranat’s low shot, and pushed away Pattarapon’s header at the near post from a free kick by Sarawut.

Pattarapon could also have done better than volleying over a corner at the far post

Stalemate at half time. Suwit replaced Tawan on the left side.

The second half was livelier and was dominated by the home side. Gustavsson’s shot was deflected for a corner; Thammayut and Phommin both tried, rather pointlessly, to score from near the half way line.  

At the other end Sukhothai’s Sarawut volleyed over the crossbar from close range.

Into the last quarter of regular time and Im ChangKyoon’s free kick reached Chiang Mai’s Sarawut on the right side of the penalty area; he shot wide from a good position. A Suwit ball in from the left reached  the stretching Amornthep who once again shot over.

Kim BoYong created space in the penalty area for a powerful right-foot shot – but straight at Suthipong.

Better followed when Im ChangKyoon cut inside from the left wing, found space between two defenders and curled a shot towards the far post – where Sutthipong leapt to his left to claw the ball away.

And so to extra time; Amornthep once again blasted over from a good position; then his hard low cross has a little too much momentum and escaped Gustavsson.

As the end of extra time approached Chiang Mai did have one last chance after Kiattisak sprinted the length of the pitch and won a corner; the corner found Kim BoYong who scooped his shot over the crossbar.

Basically Chiang Mai had battered Sukhothai through the second half and extra time without having the composure or good fortune to score. What was impressive was the fitness of the side and their persistence.

And so to penalties; Sukhothai would go first which is usually an advantage in a shoot-out. Eighteen penalties were taken; impressively none missed the target; three were saved.

First up for Sukhothai was Anuchit, last week’s goalscorer at BGPU, Fahas diving to his right and saving with a strong left hand.

Im ChangKyoon was first up for Chiang Mai and his penalty was also saved. After that Kim BoYong, Phommin, Tanin, Kiadtisak, Amornthep, Chatchai, Suwit (an outrageous penalty!) and finally Sarawut all scored. Fahas had saved Pattarapon’s ninth Sukhothai penalty.

It was high drama; the crowd of 696 loved it. The celebrations were joyful. And Chiang Mai FC are in the last 16.

In other REVO Cup news from last night League 3 Samut Songkhram beat Port FC. Ayutthaya beat Chiang Rai United. Nakhon Pathom beat Chonburi; Dragon Pathuwan Kanchanaburi beat Police Tero and there was a crowd of 9,546 at the Walailak University Stadium to watch MH NakhonSi City against Buriram.

The teams through to the round of 16 of the REVO League Cup are:

T1- Bangkok Utd, Muangthong Utd, Lamphun, Buriram Utd, Prachuap, Khon Kaen Utd, Nongbua Pitchaya, Lampang, Ratchaburi, BGPU

T2- Ayutthaya Utd, Nakhon Pathom, Chiang Mai

T3- Pathumwan Kanchanaburi, Phitsanulok, Samut Songkhram

The draw for the Round of 16 will be held on December 8. The match date is not known due to the possible change of the football calendar for the 2nd leg of league matches.

Finally a quick shout out to our new friends from Singapore; you and any visitors to Chiang Mai are always very welcome. Thank you for your enthusiastic support.

Unstoppable

Picture: Official CMFC
Thai League 2
2022-2023

Sunday 13 November 2022
Chiang Mai FC 2 Trat FC 1

Chiang Mai FC:

Fahas
Suwannapat
Filipovic
Suwit
Stewart
Chatchai
Ronnayod
Srithai
Pongrawit
Im ChangKyoon
Kim BoYong

Unstoppable. 89 minutes gone. The scores tied. Veljko Filipovic was a man on a mission.

His header from Im ChangKyoon’s corner was met with a terrific save from Suppawat, in the Trat goal. The ball was cleared but only back to Im on the left side. His curling cross back into the area was met with a second towering header from Filipovic this time beating Suppawat.

Celebration time. Off came the Filipovic shirt as he ran to the home bench. A mixture of relief and unadulterated joy.

There were still four minutes of nervy injury time but after a second half performance of constant pressure and attacking football Chiang Mai were not going to give up the hard-earned three points.

An hour earlier, 0-1 down at half time, the atmosphere had felt very different.

Gustavsson was on the bench with the fit again Kim BoYong preferred up front. Suwit returned as a defensive left back. Pongrawit and Im ChangKyoon returned from injury

The first half was dire. Trat were allowed room to play – and did so without ever really threatening despite the efforts of Dos Santos down the left side.

Until, that is, the 41st minute when a left side corner from Soukaphone was floated towards the six yard line. Fahas somehow, and there are no excuses this week, managed to drop a simple catch behind him where the Trat centre half Panuwat, was able to tap in and give the visitors the lead.

M150 were at the stadium handing out energy drinks before the game. Maybe CMFC saved theirs for half time. They emerged for the second half like a team transformed.

Sarawut came on for Chatchai and went to left back. This allowed Suwit to move to an attacking left side of midfield. Within two minutes of the restart Suwit’s 20 yard drive arrowed at the far post before Suppawat made the first of a series of fine saves.

Suppawat then leaped like a salmon to his left to catch Pongrawit’s 30 yard free kick.

All of the pressure came from the home side. Three successive CMFC corners. Trat were on the rack. Suppawat came for the third and got a good right hook to the ball. But it flew to Pongrawit outside the penalty area; his header forward found Ronnayod 22 yards out from goal. A turn and a powerful right foot shot inside the far post. One of the best goals that we will see at the Municipal Stadium this season.

Trat briefly came to life – a far post header was blocked by Fahas and a Dos Santos shot clipped Filipovic and deflected for a corner.

The 89th minute – cometh the hour cometh the big Serbian forward – his first header was a standing jump. The second was after a run from the edge of the penalty area to power in the header from seven yards. No one could have stopped him, or the header.

There is a REVO cup tie against Sukhothai FC on Wednesday – both teams to field under strength teams. On Saturday CMFC play at Rajpracha in the League. This win should put the season back on track and be a base for a strong finish to the first half of the season.

Who would be a goalkeeper?

Thai League 2
2022-2023
Saturday 5 November 2022

Picture : Official CMFC

Chiang Mai United 2 Chiang Mai FC 1

Chiang Mai FC:

Fahas
Suwannapat
Filipovic
Sarawut
Stewart
Chatchai
Ronnayod
Srithai
Thammayut
Suchanon
Gustavsson

When Patrik Gustavsson wakes in the middle of the night in a cold sweat the face that he will see in his nightmare is that of Pirot Eakmak.

The ex-CMFC stopper made a number of fine saves but none better than the two than denied Gustavsson his first league goal of the season. In the 64th minute he arched backwards and to his right to turn Gustavsson’s looping header over the cross bar and then did even better low to his left to turn away a low shot after a top class slalom run.

Just two highlights in a very entertaining and feisty second half.

Chiang Mai FC entered the game looking lightweight up front. Stenio will be out until the new year. Kim BoYong missed the game with an ankle injury. Pongrawit was also out. This left Gustavsson as a sole striker in front of a packed midfield.

Bill was left to warm the Chiang Mai United bench; it appears that he and the club management are not seeing eye-to-eye.

That may be good for Chiang Mai United as they looked a more cohesive outfit without their disruptive Brazilian striker. Nathawut, on loan from Port, had a strong first half alongside the Dutch striker Melvin de Leeuw.

De Leeuw had a difficult first half of last season with Chiang Mai United before moving to Sukhothai and aiding their return to T1. He is the sort of T2 striker that every team should have; strong; makes and scores goals and scraps for everything.

It was Chiang Mai United (CMU) who started brightly; Yuto’s Ono’s shot was narrowly past Fahas’ right upright.

A Stewart giveaway in his own half let Sansern run into the left side of the penalty area; his low shot took a deflection off Filipovic and Fahas in goal did very well to adjust his body; stick out a leg and deflect the ball for a corner.

But who would be a goalkeeper? Outstanding one minute and caught out the next. Surawich took a CMU free kick wide right curling it into the six yard box. It looked like an easy catch for Fahas; but the ball slithered from his hands, dropping behind him for Nanthawut to tap in on the goal line.

I have looked at this again. As Fahas is about to gather the ball Sarawut jumps straight across him and in his eyeline. An unhelpful distraction.

At the other end Pirot struggled to shovel away a Ronnayod free kick that was curled into the penalty area and bounced awkwardly in front of the keeper. He then dived low to his right to gather another effort from Ronnayod.

Half time and CMU led 1-0. They had looked the stronger team. Veljko left the field injured and would not return for the second half. Providing Gustavsson with more support for the second half Im ChangKyooon replaced Suchanon and Tawan replaced Thammayut.

The trouble with half time talks is that they cannot take account of your opponent scoring immediately after the restart.

A CMU free kick wide left was curled into the six yard box; De Leeuw kept the ball alive and Evson was able to hook his trailing leg around the ball and guide it (just) over the line.

That could have been game over. But with CMU sitting deeper this more attacking CMFC line-up started to press. Ronnayod’s long range shot was clawed away by Pirot diving to his left.

CMU sent on Kantapong for Nathawat as they sat back on their lead.

Im ChangKyoon’s shot was deflected for a corner. The corner came to nothing but CMFC recycled possession and the ball was chipped towards the edge of the penalty area where Gustavsson’s smart header was acrobatically turned over for a corner.

But really; who would be a goalkeeper? Pirot tried to right hook the in-swinging corner. He missed; leaving Sawawat at the far post to head home.

Chiang Mai FC fans started to believe. Gustavsson picked up (not literally) the ball 40 yards from goal. His slalom like run left Evson flat on his back before his left foot shot failed to beat Pirot who saved very well low to his left.

It was a corner. The whole stadium knew that. Pirot even celebrated the save.

The referee somehow gave a goal-kick and appeared to book Fukuda-san for his protests. The large number of CMFC fans were unhappy.

Im’s inswinging corner then hit the corner of the goal frame.

While at the other end De Leeuw beat Ronnayod and found himself one on one with Fahas who made a good low save to his right.

CMU held out; with some relief. CMU are now unbeaten in their last six game; CMFC have lost three in a row. The clubs are heading in different directions.

A crowd of 2,916 was at the game; the biggest crowd in T2 this season.

What if….

Chang FA Cup Round of 64
2022-2023

Wednesday 2 November 2022
Chiang Mai FC 1 Bangkok United 3

Chiang Mai FC:


Kiadtiphon
Tanin
Piyachanok
Filipovic
Thammayut
Chatchai
Ronnayod
Phommin
Kiadtisak
Tawan
Gustavsson

In a galaxy far away, and in an alternate universe, Patrik Gustavsson tucks away an equalizing goal in the 69th minute and Chiang Mai go on to a famous win after extra time and penalties.

It was not to be. Football is always a game of fine margins and inevitable what ifs?

It was a glorious opportunity; running in behind the defense and one on one with Warut in the Bangkok United goal, Gustavsson had time to steady himself and pick his target. Instead the ball was scooped over the goalkeeper and the crossbar. His disappointment echoed though the crowd.

But; once again Patrick was in the right place at the right time; his run had created the opportunity. When he scores (the amateurs of Sisaket City do not really count) he could go on to score plenty. Today was not that day.

And in fairness, despite a good 15 minute CMFC spell midway in the second half the visitors dominated this game playing much of it in little more than second gear. They are a good side.

Both teams fielded near-to-reserve teams. It is a shame that the FA Cup (and this is not just a Thailand issue) is no longer taken very seriously. Recognising this a rather subdued crowd of just 849 was in attendance.

This should have been a big day – the visit of the second best club side (on current standings) in Thailand. An opportunity for a giant-killing rather than a useful training match.

Bangkok United play in a very fetching mauve away shirt; it looks rather like something they might have acquired in a bulk order from Pomelo.

Filipovic and Piyachanok were solid at centre back. Tawan started and was lively throughout; though he played on the left side of midfield. Starting as a 4-3-2-1 Gustavsson at times looked lonely up front.  

Bangkok United opened the scoring in the 5th minute. Rungrat released Nitipong on the right side; his cross ran through the six yard box for Chayathorn; his close range shot was well saved by Kiadtiphon but Willen Mota was on hand to tap in the loose ball in front of goal.

Playing with movement and pace Bangkok United were spraying crossfield passes towards Nitipong and Rungrat on the right side. Thammayut  was struggling at full back.

With ten minutes gone Phommin, once again with options around him, tried a 40 yard shot. It was ugly.

Another low cross from the right was met by Chayathorn who drew a low near post save from Kiadtiphon.

Tawan was then fouled by Nitipong on the left touchline. Lining up in the penalty area Tawan reacted first to Ronnayod’s inswinging free kick, ahead of his old teammate Tassanapong, and his glancing header helped the ball with pace inside the near post. A very well-worked free kick.

Chiang Mai’s joy was short lived. Two minutes later Tanin gave away a soft foul 20 yards out in front of goal. Rungrat and Ratchanat lined up to take it. Left or right? It was Ratchanat with his right foot who thumped the ball into the top left corner of Kiadtiphon’s goal. The goalkeeper did not move.

Ratchanat then cleared the bar with another good opportunity while at the other end Kiadtisak’s left foot shot was straight at Warut.

 It had been the visitors’ half – the quality of their football always giving them a little bit more time to be creative.

But it was Chiang Mai who almost opened the second half in style; Kiadtiphon’s smart distribution releasing Tawan down the left wing and his low early cross was met by Gustavsson under pressure and he was unable to convert a difficult chance.

Willen Mota and the substitute Chayawat both cleared the crossbar with shots.

And then came the Gustavsson miss.

The game was over when Ratchanat unmarked at the far post headed home Wanchai’s cross. That was harsh on Chiang Mai as Tanin had left the field after treatment for an injury and the pfficials were slow to let him back on the field; Wanchai taking advantage of the now undefended space.

Heberty made an appearance replacing Mota. There is an authority about his football. As there was about Bangkok United as they calmly played out time.

As a competitive cup tie the game never really got going; as a good workout it was worthwhile. Tawan proved again that he is quick, aware and scores goals; perhaps back to his form of the first half of last season.

Piyachanok once again looked more than capable. He is also a vocal organiser.

*******************

In other local FA Cup results Chiang Mai United beat Kasetsart with an Evson goal in injury time in front of a crowd of just 211 in the 700th anniversary stadium. Embarrassing.

Ghost Gate playing in Doi Saket lost to Prime Bangkok 0-5

********************

On Saturday 5 November we visit Chiang Mai United. The game is at the 700th anniversary stadium; kick off at 7.00pm. Fireworks are likely.

Smash and grab

Picture : CMFC Official.

Match report
Thai League 2
2022-2023
Saturday 29 October 2022
Chiang Mai FC 2 Suphanburi FC 3
Smash and Grab
Chiang Mai FC:
Fahas
Sarawut
Stewart
Piyachanok
Suwannapat
Saharat Phosri
Srithai
Pongrawit
Ronnayod
Suchanon
Bo Yong Kim

A classic game of two halves saw two excellent second half goals from Suphanburi which enabled the visitors to take all three points and leave CMFC with just one win from five games at the Municipal Stadium this season.

A change in formation this week saw Chiang Mai revert to a back four with Piyachanok replacing Filipovic, maybe in anticipation of two big games later this week.

Stewart returned at right back. Saharat Phosri making a rare start with Ronnayod, Srithai and Pongrawit in midfield. Suchanon playing behind Kim BoYong up front.

Last week’s goalscorer, Im ChangKyoon was absent with an injury picked up at Ayutthaya.

It was Suphanburi who took an early lead. An attack that started down the left saw the ball fall for Souza on the right side of the penalty area. The Brazilian left Sarawut on the ground and hit a low drive across the six yard area; it evaded Saharat but hit Suwannapat who could only deflect the ball into his own goal.

Chiang Mai were quickly on the offensive and would dominate first half possession.

Suchanon blazed a 25 yard free kick narrowly over the crossbar and then dragged a solo effort wide of Phiyawat’s right upright.

Midway through the half Chiang Mai equalized. On the edge of the penalty area Kim BoYong and Saharat exchanged passes allowing Kim into the penalty area where his left foot shot passed under Phiyawat’s dive. The goalkeeper will think he should have done better.

Minutes later Pongrawit’s backheel set Kim on another run into the penalty area; this time from a difficult angle his shot was high and wide. A pass inside for Ronnayod in front of goal was a better option.

Six minutes before half-time and CMFC cleared a Suphanburi corner and attacked with speed and numbers led by the galloping Suchanon. His pass found Pongrawit wide left who was able to hold up the ball before finding Suchanon with enough space to hit a low 20-yard drive into the bottom right corner.

At this stage there was almost a swagger about Chiang Mai’s football. Unfortunately it was not to last.
Suphanburi attacks were rare; Suwannapat sliced his clearance of Jetjinn’s low left wing cross over the crossbar and in first-half injury time Prasit headed Kojima’s free kick narrowly wide.

Chiang Mai were good value for their half time lead. Moving Pongrawit to the left side (he has started on the right) had paid dividends. Which made it a little strange that he spent all of the second half on the right side of midfield.

After the attacking enterprise of the fist half CMFC were defending deeper with the back line and midfield creating a 9 man great wall and Kim BoYong looking lonely up front.

Suphanburi were dictating the game. Souza miscued his shot from 12 yards. Kittipong’s effort from the right side of the penalty area resulted in another Suphanburi corner.

Chiang Mai were relying on quick balls out of defense towards Kim; it nearly paid off when he ran onto Srithai’s fine pass; but a bobbling ball and the time taken to get it under control gave Lee JongCheon and Kittin time to recover. Kim’s eventual shot was straight at Phiyawat.

On the hour Suphanburi were awarded a questionable free kick 25 yards from goal. Souza’s simple sideways pass set up Norraseth and his 25 yard shot flew into Fahas’ top right corner. It was a fabulous strike; though the CMFC defense looked unprepared.

A Ronnayod corner hit the near post upright before another Chiang Mai break from defense. Pongrawit released Stewart and his low cross was just too hard for Kim whose instinctive left foot reaction ballooned the ball over the crossbar.

At this stage Suphanburi were making it all too clear that a point was sufficient as players started to spend more time on their backs than their feet.

But they saw an opportunity. Souza ran into a big space between Sarawut and PIyachanok on the edge of the penalty area. Panuphong chipped the ball forward from halfway; Souza needed one touch to pull the ball out of the air; a second touch to take the ball away from Fahas and a third touch to roll it into an empty net.

There was time for a couple of half chances for Amornthep but Suphanburi hung on for their third away win of the season without too much discomfort.

A game that Chiang Mai had looked in control of at half-time had slipped away. Disappointing. But credit Suphanburi, who are resilient and who work hard for eachother.

The games come quickly over the next two weeks; a FA Cup tie with Bangkok United on Wednesday 2nd and a League 2 game against Chiang Mai United at the 700th Anniversary stadium next Saturday

Seeing red

The Patrik fan club gathered at Ayutthaya.

Thai League 2
2022-2023
Sunday 23 October 2022
Ayutthaya United 2 Chiang Mai FC 1

Chiang Mai FC:
Fahas
Sarawut
Sarawin
Veljko
Suwannaphat
Im Changkyoon
Srithai
Pongrawit
Suwit
Suchanon
Bo Yong Kim

There are few things that annoy me more on a football pitch than watching a group of grown up men haranguing the referee to try and get him to send off one of the opposition team.

This game did not turn on Suwit’s 65th minute sending off but it did ensure that Chiang Mai could not make up the one goal deficit and effectively ended the game as a meaningful contest.

Suwit had already been booked in the first half – so tugging back Ratthakron on the half way line was unwise. The referee was instantly surrounded by a swarm of red-shirted Ayutthaya players. And the referee fell victim to the pressure.

A stern telling off – a do not do that again or you are off – would have been sufficient. Until that moment it had been a very watchable game without any malice on either side.

An absorbing first half was very easy on the eye – but was surprisingly short of goal scoring opportunities.
Chiang Mai opened the scoring in the tenth minute when Filipovic’s long ball down the side-line found Bo Yong Kim on the right wing. His pass inside was met by Im Chang Kyoon, stretching to get his shot away. His low drive took a huge deflection off the top of the Brazilian defender Thiago’s foot and looped over Prin into the net.

Chiang Mai’s lead was short lived. Ratthakron on the right side seeing Gustavinho inside the penalty area and creating some space between him and his marker, Sarawut. With the ball sent smartly into his feet the Brazilian winger had time to take a couple of touches, turn and send his left footed drive into Fahas’ bottom right corner.

The rest of the half saw both sides moving the ball around but unable to break down well-organised defenses. Pongrawit’s contribution at this stage was eye-catching. Calm and assured as the playmaker. He was to fade in the second half.

Nilson did not emerge for the second half. Can’t live if living is without you wondered the crowd.

Kim Bo Yong shot over from a very narrow angle. Keanun at the other end chipped over the bar.

Four minutes into the second half and the home side thought that they had the lead as Thiago nodded home Jakkapan’s free kick. Offside flagged the linesman. He was right. Thiago had made his run too early.
Presumably all the Ayutthaya players who surrounded the linesman to strongly protest his decision will now be writing long letters to express their contrition.

Phakapon then fed Gustavinho on the right side. He cut inside and drilled the ball at the far post – where Fahas was able to sprawl across goal and make a difficult low save.

Moments later Gustavinho did the same thing cutting inside Sarwaut who finished sprawled on his back. This time his shot deflected off Suwannapat’s chest and looped past the wrong-footed Fahas in goal.
Suwit’s second booking and sending off then ended what has been an even contest.

Thiago headed a corner inches wide of the far post and as the game ran into injury time Chiang Mai threw everyone forward for two successive corners. Ronnayod’s shot over the crossbar being the last action of the game.

Chiang Mai had played some attractive football but Im’s goal was their only on target goal attempt. Amornthep played the second half in place of Suchanon; Gustavsson replaced Kim BoYong with 20 minutes remaining. Neither could change the outcome.

Ayutthaya were good value for their win; and in their trio of Brazilians they have found players that make a genuine offensive and defensive impact. They are top of the table for a reason.

Stalemate

Picture: CMFC Official

Thai League 2
2022-2023

Sunday 16 October 2022
Chiang Mai FC 0 Customs United 0

Stalemate


Chiang Mai FC:

Fahas
Sarawut
Stewart
Veljko
Suwannaphat
Im Changkyoon
Srithai
Pongrawit
Suwit
Gustavsson
Bo Yong Kim

In front of a home crowd of 1,713, two capable defenses dominated this match; and we could probably still be playing on Monday morning without a goal being scored.

Chiang Mai once again started with a back three with Sarawut returning from suspension to replace Piyachanok.

Im Changkyoon made his first start coming in for Ronnayod, injured last week at Kasetsart.

The weather was kind; a cool (ish) and still evening. But the pitch, recovering from the deluge of recent weeks, was fast and bumpy; control was never easy.

Customs opened the game in a hurry; a terrific cross hit with pace by Kittiwut narrowly evaded the head of Customs’ young star striker, Phodchara.

Adisorn’s right side corner was met by Orahovac at the near post but his deflection also took the ball past the far post.

And that really was all that Customs offered in the first half. Not that there was much excitement at the other end. Sumethee made a good catch from a Stewart cross before, after 38 minutes, Chiang Mai produced the best football of the half.

Sarawut’s clearance down the left flank was flicked on my Im into the path of Suwit; not breaking stride he advanced into the area; as the angle narrowed his low shot was well saved by Sumethee.

Two minutes later, Suwit in an almost identical position chose to drag the ball across goal but was unable to find Gustavsson at the far post.

And that was the first half. After the first couple of minutes Chiang Mai had dominated possession in a game mainly played in the Customs half; but had only created the one genuine chance.

It says a lot about the game when the first entertainment of the second half came from the diminutive Kittiwut daring to flatten the mountainous Veljko.

At least Adisorn did get a shot on target for Customs; the ball dipping and bouncing in front of Fahas but it was also straight at the Chiang Mai keeper who had a very quiet night.

At the other end Sumethee made a flying catch in front of Gustavsson from Srithai’s cross. But it was a rare break forward with Chiang Mai largely pinned inside their own half and no one taking control when the ball broke to midfield.

Adisorn’s ball across goal from the left side evaded first Veljko and then, fortunately, both the substitute Di Stefano and Siwakorn.

By this time Kim Bo Yong was looking lonely and weary up front. Suchanon had replaced Gustavsson but played in a deeper position behind rather than alongside the Korean forward.

Into three minutes of injury time and the nearest either side came to scoring. Veljko Filipovic stretched to reach David Cuerva’s chip into the penalty area. The ball looping off the defender, beating Fahas and bouncing off the crossbar.

A sigh of relief.

A point.

Chiang Mai have now played four games at home this season; a single win, two scoreless draws and just two goals.

There are two games this week. Away in the Revo Cup on Wednesday at Uttaradit Saksiam F.C from League 3 North.

And next Sunday a big game away at Ayutthaya United who won 2-1 at Ranong on Friday and are currently the league leaders.

Fifteen minutes that could make a season

Thai League 2
2022-2023

Saturday 8 October 2022
Kasetsart FC 2 Chiang Mai FC 3

Chiang Mai FC:

Fahas
Piyachanok
Stewart
Veljko
Suwannaphat
Ronnayod
Srithai
Pongrawit
Suwit
Gustavsson
Bo Yong Kim

A goal down at half-time Chiang Mai FC were struggling to find inspiration. The second half started much as the first had ended. Until, that is, the last fifteen minutes of joyful mayhem built upon two inspired substitutions.

For the first time this season Chiang Mai started in a 3-5-2 formation. With Veljo, Suwannaphat and Piyachanok as a back three.

The novelty value was exposed very quickly when Fahas had to make a first minute save as Kritsana headed Rak-Aok’s left wing cross towards the far post.

That early warning simply foretold the home side’s seventh minute goal as Chiang Mai failed to clear Hong Kim’s cross, the ball being shinned by Piyachanok for Piamplai to stab past Fahas from ten yards.

The goal came as Ronnayod was being treated after a nasty fall beyond the goal line; unable to carry on he was seen being taken away in an ambulance. Hopefully it was  just precautionary. Suchanon replaced him.

Natapong’s cross, this time from the right side, was met by Pitbull, his header bounced and was well watched and turned over the crossbar by Fahas. Rak-Aok would shoot wide from the resulting corner.

Chiang Mai’s first real threats on goal came at the end of the first half, Gustavsson turning well but firing into a defender and Kim heading a Suwit cross over the bar.

In injury time at the end of the half Gustavsson’s instinctive volley from eighteen yards was inches over the cross bar.

To be honest the first half was a worry; Chiang Mai looked static up front; and across the pitch there were too many mistakes. It all looked a little lethargic.

The second half started with little change; although it was good to see Pitbull in the dog house when he was booked by the referee.

While the game was largely being played in the Kasetsart half it was far from clear how the visitors would find an equalizer.

With fifteen minutes to go coach Fukuda sent on Im Changkyoon for Pongrawit and Tawan for Patrick Gustavsson.

The game changed. Im’s first two touches almost created chances for the visitors. He was not to be stopped.

The equalizer came a minute later; Ryhan Stewart, after a difficult first half, fired his firm right wing cross into the six yard area where Kritsana could only help the ball towards the back post where Suchanon was in space to react quickly and nod the ball home.

Four minutes later Im Chang Kyoon’s left side free kick was curled into the area; first to the ball was the Kasetsart defender Thanandorn who could only deflect the ball past his own goalkeeper.

Looking unstoppable, Im’s corner kick was met by a massive leap from Tawan to head the ball home for Chiang Mai’s third and Tawan’s first of the season. It will do him so much good. And I have missed his acrobatic celebrations.

Kasetsart pulled a goal back in injury time when Toto’s shot was deflected off Suwannaphat; Fahas was unable to gather the bouncing ball and Tanpisit slid home the rebound for 2-3. It was a consolation.

Sadly a crowd of just 342 witnessed the second half thrills.

Next up for CMFC – Sunday 16th October at the Municipal Stadium in Chiang Mai at home to Customs United. Kick off  is at 17.30pm.