The legend of Babo

Chiang Mai FC 0 Trat FC 1
Thai M150 Championship
Sunday 3 April 2022

700th Anniversary Stadium

Starting XI


Trat scraped a narrow win thanks to an opportunist goal from Marc Landry Babo, their Ivory Coast winger who has  almost ten years in Thailand with nine different clubs; some of them twice.

If Trat are promoted they will look back at this game as the one that turned their form around. With just three points from their previous last five matches, and after three successive defeats, Trat badly needed a result to keep in touch with Lamphun and Sukhothai.

After last weeks drubbing, at home to Lampang, Chiang Mai made eight changes to the starting line-up. The returns of Veljko, Poomphat and Kiadtiphon were all very welcome. Chiang Mai also moved to a back four with Chaiyapruek and Poomphat (Meedech) playing wide of Veljko and Narupon. This was presumably to limit the threat of the Babo, Conrado and Valdo front line.

And for the most part the new line-up was effective; Chiang Mai opened the game looking lively.

Seiya drove a shot wide after ten minutes following a move that he started down the right side linking up with Amornthep.

Five minutes later Veljko’s long ball forward from his own half was pulled down in style by Amornthep dragging the ball inside Isariya before drilling his left foot shot from twenty yards straight at Tossaporn in goal.

Just before the half hour Poomphat’s pass sliced open the Trat back line but Tossaporn did enough to force Danilo wide and his cross fell harmlessly.

For the opening quarter Trat looked a shambles. CMFC were winning possession with ease. Trat’s passing flew more often out of play than to a fellow red-shirt; Conrado looked sulky and listless. This was a team lacking in drive and leadership.

Their first goal attempt came on the half hour. Somyot’s foul conceded a free kick twenty yards from goal. Conrado’s right foot effort was well saved by Kiadtiphon at his near post.

Tossaporn’s poor clearance then allowed Chiang Mai to break down the exposed left wing at pace. Chaiyapruek’s low cross from wide left eluded Danilo but Amornthep adjusted well to volley from eight yards, beating the goalkeeper but not the crossbar.

From a throw in at the other end Conrado released Babo on the right of the penalty area – his low cross narrowly eluded Siharnat.

The last action of a competitive first half saw Babo, again, find space on the right wing; his cross to the edge of the penalty area was moved on by Valdo and Siharnat to set up Tachanon for a rasping twenty five yard effort that needed a fine diving save to his right from Kiadtiphon.

0-0 at half time. And time for a word about Chiang Mai’s young goalkeeper. He spend last week in Dubai with the Thailand Under-23 team. He seems to have returned louder (a very good thing for goalkeepers,) even taller, and certainly more confident. This was an assured performance.

Nine minutes into the second half and Conrado beat Narupon in the Chiang Mai penalty area and from a tight angle hit the outside of the near post.   

Three minutes later Trat were ahead. Really out of nothing. Conrado, wide left, chipped a hopeful ball towards the penalty spot. Babo jumped tall between the non-existent challenges of Narupon and Chaiyapruek; cushioning the ball from his chest into space where he swept it home with his left foot from six yards.

Chiang Mai’s response was almost immediate. Trat fell asleep at a short corner and Tawan headed an inviting cross no more than a coat of paint wide of the far post.

Kiatiphon’s best save came after 72 minutes; Trat broke forward with Valdo’s pass inviting Conrado to run into the left of the penalty area and shoot; the Chiang Mai goalkeeper doing very well to turn the shot over the crossbar.

Gustavsson, on as a substitute for Amornthep, chased down a ball that neither Tossaporn or Katano seemed to want to deal with. As Katano fell Gustavsson got a shot away from the tightest of angles; the ball burst through the goalkeeper before rolling agonizingly across the goal line, hitting the far post and bouncing back in to the hands of the scrambling goalkeeper.

Trat were rattled. Another poor clearance from Tossaporn found Nattawut well inside the Trat half; he released Tawan on the right; his shot was struck with power but too close to Tossaporn who was able to beat it away.

One last chance – a corner in injury time; Tossaporn flapped at the ball and somehow it fell to the ground at his feet.

Game over and Trat, thanks to one moment of quality and some good fortune, are still very much in the race for automatic promotion.

Chiang Mai battled well with a spirit that has been recently lacking; but just one goal in the last four games is a good indication of their biggest concern.

Chiang Mai play next Saturday, again at the 700th, against already relegated Navy; who surprised everyone in beating Khon Kaen 3-0 on Saturday night. Three points should see Chiang Mai to League 2 safety and we can then all look forward to the 2023 Chiang Mai derbies after Chiang Mai United were relegated from League 1 on Saturday.