Chiang Mai FC 2023-2024 preview
It was the last day of the transfer window.
For the previous six weeks CMFC’s head coach, Jun Fukuda, and his team had worked with the players and developed a spirit and purpose throughout the squad.
But in Thailand, and of course Thailand is not alone, the owner calls the shots. It is his, or her, money after all.
News leaked from Bangkok of the marquee loan signing of Charyl Chappuis from Port FC. The intent was to announce his signing at the season opening party; instead the news came out a day early; and in defense of those of us who did publish the story, it probably brought many additional fans to Monday night’s season opening gathering.
Charyl was the last player announced to the fans on Monday night – all the other players standing on stage waiting.
Everything I hear about Charyl suggests he will say that it is not about him – it is about the team. But it was Charyl that everyone was waiting for. And it is Charyl that fans will wat to see at Saturday’s opening game.
His mother is from Chiang Mai – so this is something of a homecoming despite growing up with his father and mother in Kloten, Switzerland.
A Swiss youth international he moved to Buriram FC in 2013.
His 20 full caps for Thailand came in 2013/2014 when he was part of the senior squad that won the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup.
A serious knee injury kept him out of football in 2015-2016.
His appearances with Muangthong and Port have been limited over the last few seasons. I would be surprised if he is match-fit for a full 90 minutes.
Coach Fukuda will have to quickly bed Charyl into his process; he has always molded a team that takes a collective responsibility – that will not change.
In the meantime the arrival of Charyl Chappuis has given CMFC fans a great boost of hope and positivity.
Chiang Mai FC’s new owner is Yosmaetha Jantaraviroj, (Khun Sam) the nephew of former chairman Udonpan Jantaraviroj. He took over the club from Boon Rawd at the end of last season.
Among his ambitions was a top 6 finish this season and T1 in three years. An academy and a new stadium are also in the plans.
I suspect that the financial problems (lack of Thai FA funding, limited tv rights and sponsorship money) together with the talk of the top clubs forming a self-managed Thai Premier League mean that this is the year to seek promotion from T2. Can T2 even survive in its current format; would it once again become a regional league?
A Thai Premier League will have a queue of sponsors; TV monies and a line-up of agents bringing players to the League. The rest will be feeding of scraps from the top table.
So against this background CMFC have been doing everything right – building an experienced squad; retaining some key players from last season; finding new sponsors; retaining Fukuda-san as coach for his second season; and talking and meeting with fans. Listening to ideas; asking for input; playing serious friendlies against serious opposition; Bangkok United, Chonburi and Port FC.
It is a new world. No more looking over our shoulders to see what damage our parent club can do.
CMFC is clearly one of the T2 clubs expected to contend for promotion. Many people will have them as favourites – or at least up there with the Swatcats.
Goals will come from a front line that includes Stenio Junior (returning to CMFC from BGPU, Byung-soo Yoo (from Chonburi), Chitchanok Xaysensourinthone (also BGPU) and Akarawin Sawsdee (Chiang Rai United). Supachai and Amornthep will give youth and pace when needed.
An attacking midfield includes Suchanon Malison, Tawan Khotrsupho, Im ChangKyoon supported by a holding and central midfield that includes David Cuerva, rescued from Customs United, Charyl Chappuis Seksit Srisai (from Ayutthaya) and Panyawat Nisangram (from Bangkok FC).
The coach has always been flexible with his starting formation and whether he plays a back three or four
Our last three games of last season were won playing a 3-4-1-2. 4-2-3-1 or 3-5-2 were also used for a number of games. The man-mountain known as Veljko Filipovic has moved on to Chiang Rai United; but Suwannaphat, Piyachanok and Sarawut remain and were a regular back three; Sarawin Saengra moves into right back in a back four.
Nukoolkit is a further option at centre back; he was previously with PT Prachuap.
I have no idea what the starting XI will be on Saturday. But I think the point I am trying to make is that to survive 34 games in this league requires a squad that has strength in depth; where there is cover across every position.
Behind the back line are two bright young goalkeepers; Fahas Bilangrod is the more experienced and Anipong Kijkam, from Bangkok FC, is an impressive challenger.
Jaturong Samakarn returns to Chiang Mai to complete our goalkeeping complement.
The season starts with games at home to Kasetsart and away at Samut Prakan City. Six points would be hitting the ground running.
We then test ourselves with games against two relegated teams; Lampang at home and then to remotest Nongbua Pitchaya.
A big test comes at Nakhon Ratchasima on 22nd October.
Everyone’s favourite game, the Chiang Mai derby, is on Friday 1 December. A full house at the Municipal Stadium is likely.
The first half of the season does always feel a little like a prelude; clubs that are in contention at the half way point have a decision to make – invest for promotion, or at worst the playoffs, or trust the current squad.
Trat moved from 11th to 2nd in the second half of last season; Uthai Thani from 10th to 3rd; Customs from 8th to 4th while NakhonSi United plummeted from 1st place to 8th.
TV coverage of home games looks like it will be provided on the club’s own youtube page. TV from away matches will likely depend on whether the host club is broadcasting the games. It is not ideal.
Do please follow us on facebook.com/cmfcenglish and on the club’s social media pages.
We have also launched a cmfcenglish podcast – known by the rather predictable name of Chiang Mai is Blue – it will be on Spotify, Google and Apple Podcaste and anywhere else that will have us.
Enjoy the season.