Show them the money

Match report
Thai League 2
Saturday 30 March 2024

Chiang Mai FC 0 Ayutthaya United 4


Saharat Posri

Show them the Money

Earlier in the season this performance and result would have been unthinkable; and at a minimum the coach would have been fired.

But now, knowing some of the background if not all the details, the players deserve a great deal of latitude. Less so the owner, who once again was absent from the stadium.

It was 38C at kick-off with an AQI of about 160. Players, and presumably staff, have reportedly not been paid for two or three months. A playoff spot has all but been secured. It is no wonder that a number of the players looked like they would have been happier elsewhere.

Ayutthaya on the other hand are looking to secure a playoff berth. They were strong, assured and quick and won with some ease.

The CMFC team selection is increasingly hard to understand. Their were just five players retained in the starting line-up from last week’s two-two draw with our noisy neighbours. Maybe the intent is to give as many players as are willing to play some playing time before the playoffs.

Chitchanok missed the game due to suspension but it was all change in the front three with Tawan getting a start as centre forward with Jakkapan and Amornthep as the wide players.

Nukoolkit returned to his occasional role in midfield. He looked out of sorts all game. Adisak and Sarawin were the starting fullbacks.

Ayutthaya welcomed back their top scorer, Andre Luiz, after a two game absence.

In reality CMFC did well to concede just once in the first half. Nantawat cleared the crossbar from 12 yards; Moussa Sanoh’s shot curled into the base of Fahas’ left post, Kitphom shot wide and the referee turned down a loud appeal for handball. With Fahas off his line Sanoh’s opportunistic, long-range lob cleared the crossbar. This was all in the first twenty minutes.

At last CMFC crossed into the Ayutthaya half. Chappuis’ free kick from right midfield was met by Nukoolkit and his header glanced off the top of the crossbar and out for a goal-kick.

Back to the other end. Chayathorn’s shot nearly deceived Fahas and the keeper had to reach back with his right arm to turn the ball up in the air.

Alef and Adisak both made solid blocks in the CMFC penalty area as Ayutthaya poured forward.

The first goal felt inevitable – but it was a quality finish. A little backheel just outside the penalty area for Andre Luiz, twenty yards from goal, to have enough space to thump the ball past Fahas’ dive.

Nantawat was booked for a foul on Chappuis. Jakkapan’s free kick was wide of the target.

Chayathorn, who had an impressive game, ran onto Sanoh’s pass inside the penalty area; his left foot shot cannoning off the bottom of the crossbar.

Fahas, presumably injured, was replaced by Itthipon for the second half. Akarawin and Suchanon replacing Amornthep and Sarawin, with Nukoolkit moving to full back.

Six minutes into the second half Nukoolkit lost the ball coming out of defense; his follow through on Nantawat was a poor challenge. The referee doing well to play advantage as Chayathorn advanced on the CMFC penalty area before laying off the ball to Sanoh to his right for a powerful finish. Nukoolkit was booked.

It was 0-3 in the 67th minute when Nattawut scored from close range after CMFC were unable to halt Andre Luiz’s run on the right or to cut out his low cross.

At last a CMFC shot on goal as Suchanon found some space inside the penalty area – his low shot was too close to Anusit in goal.

Into injury time and Sanoh scored his second, and Ayutthaya’s fourth, beating Itthipon to the ball as he slid to reach Natcha’s pass and lift it over the goalkeeper.

Ayutthaya will finish the weekend in 6th place – and on this form look to have the edge for the final play-off spot.

There is therefore every chance that Chiang Mai and Ayutthaya will meet in the playoff semi-final as the 3rd and 6th place teams.

Nongbua Pichaya ensured their return to T1 with a 5-2 win at Krabi. Nakhon Ratchasima’s celebrations were delayed by a 2-2 draw at home to Chiang Mai United – in front of 8,321 fans.

Third place Nakhon Si United play at Suphanburi this evening; a win would move the Southern Dragons four points ahead on CMFC.

CMFC are eight points ahead of Pattaya in 7th with three games remaining. It would be the most bizarre set of results over the last three games that would keep CMFC out of the T2 play-offs.

We play in Chanthaburi next weekend – a Sunday (7 April) kick off at 7pm. The teams last met in Chanthaburi in 2011.  It is a long trip for a squad that looks low on motivation. Some good news on the club’s finances would be very welcome.

Update: On Sunday evening Nakhon Si United could only draw 0-0 at Suphanburi confirming that Nakhon Ratchasima will be promoted to T1 alongside Nongbua Pitchaya. There is still the small issue of the Championship winner to be decided.

With the relegated sides already confirmed the remaining question over the final three league games is who will be in, and who will win, the playoffs.