Playing for their futures?

Match report
Thai League 2
Saturday 9 March 2024

Suphanburi FC 1 Chiang Mai FC 2


Saharat Posri

Before kick-off in Suphanburi the Chiang Mai teamsheet raised a few eyebrows. The only foreign player in the squad was Stenio who was on the bench; the marquee names had all stayed in Chiang Mai.

This meant no place for Chappuis, Chitchanok and Jakkapan. Yoo and Im Changkyoon were presumably still carrying injuries.

Alef did travel but was suspended. Sarawut returning at centre half.

Itthipon retained his place in goal. Suchanon and Akarawin were on the substitutes’ bench.

The all Thai starting eleven had two players up front making just their second appearance of the season and their first start.

Pre-season my podcasting colleague had sung the praises of Kiadtisak and Suphachai after watching them In a pre-season game. This was their first start. They were a revelation – and they scored the two Chiang Mai goals.

Also in the front line were the underused Amornthep and Tawan. Both playing a major role in the opening goal.

It was a brave, and as it turned out exciting, team selection. A number of players in key roles all with a point to prove in the Suphanburi heat. The question is who do the coaching team pick now for the Saturday game against Kanchanaburi?

This team played with skill and commitment. With a playoff spot a near certainty these players deserve another chance in front of the home fans.

Suphachai was involved from the start – shooting narrowly over the bar in the first minute and ten minutes later turning Obama (not that one!) to set up an eighteen yard shot straight at Khumpian in the Suphanburi goal.

Third time lucky? Amornthep’s curling shot from 22 yards was clawed away high onto the left upright by Khumpian. Tawan, super-alert, was first to the rebound. His shot was well saved by Khumpian who was quickly on his feet to make the block; another rebound, this time only as far as Suphachai who from twelve yards thrashed it past the beleaguered goalkeeper.  

The Suphanburi defense were static. Rooted like the rocks of Stonehenge.

Sitting deep Chiang Mai defended with purpose. Suphanburi’s five first half corners (CMFC had zero) all came to nothing.

A Bamba shot was straight at Itthipon. A Gustavo run into the six yard box was halted by Piyachanok; as excellent as always.

Bamba’s curling cross from the left side evaded both Gustavo and Itthiphon and was turned over the crossbar by Nattawut from around eight yards.

Akarawin replaced Suphachai for the second half. For Suphanburi Passakorn replaced Obama and Thiago Henrique replaced Peeranat and moved to the left wing allowing Bamba to return to a more familiar midfield role.

The second half opened with Khumpian making a routine save from Kiadtisak.

As Suphanburi started to press forward Itthiphon made a fabulous grab low to his left to keep out Nirut’s header from a cross by Jetjinn.

Suphanburi were not to be denied for long. From his own half Gustavo cleared down the left channel for Thiago to run onto. He dragged the ball around Piyachanok in the penalty area and thumped the ball home with his left foot inside the near post – there was simply too much power for Itthipon to be able to react.

Ten minutes later Chiang Mai attacked down the right side. Nattayot’s pass to Kiadtisak was turned first time for Stenio in space wide right. Holding the ball up as he ran into the penalty area he looked for options. Kiadtisak had continued his run to the edge of the penalty area and ran onto Stenio’s carefully weighted pass to curl the ball passed Khumpian into the top right corner. The third quality goal of the game.

Kiadtisak went down with cramp and was replaced by Panyawat.

Gustavo in space in front of goal headed wide from a Rachanon cross.

Itthipon, with a posse of orange shirts converging on him, hung on well to a low drive from Nirut.

And that was game over. The very different emotions from the two groups of payers at the end of the game showed just how much the win meant – and how much the loss hurt. The other results at top of the table reinforced the importance of this win. The current top six teams all winning their matches. Ayutthaya moved into 6th place with a better head to head record against Pattaya (both teams have 42 points).

Chiang Mai are at home to Kanchanaburi on Saturday 16th – a 6pm kickoff.