SCG Muangthong United lost their second match of the season 1-0 away at Bangkok United Saturday March 2nd at the True Stadium in Rangsit. The game was an intense encounter between two teams expected to rival for silverware. Worrying for the Kirin is the injury to key defender Oh Ban Suk who had to be removed before halftime.
Coach Pairoj made one significant change to the line up, with Myanmar striker Aung Thu rested as a substitution, and instead Wattana Playnum was given a start in the midfield. It was the same 4-3-3 formation, but the midfielders were Wattana, Heberty Fernandes, Sarach, and Lee Ho. The defense lined up with Oh Ban Suk and Adison the centre backs, and Weerawut out left, and Suphanan the right wing-back. Up top were Teerasil and Adisak.
Both teams offered up unique scenarios with their goal keeper preferences. SCG Muangthong United's Vietnamese-Russian star Dang Van Lam played his second match. For Lam, this is his first season playing in Thailand, and he's well loved in Vietnam as the core to their national team. True Bangkok United, meanwhile, featured Danish-Fillipino star Michael Falkesgaard, who like his counterpart, also anchored the national team in the Philippines.
Within the first 5 minutes it was clear the match was going to be a battle. Bangkok United won the toss and pressed into the box, playing the ball across but not able to get a foot on it. Likewise, Adisak's deft flick out to Sarah Yooyen on the left led to a rush at goal and a forced clearance from the Bangkok United defense.
A 17' a corner kick was lifted in by Heberty and Oh Ban Suk launch into the air to use his 1.89 meters of height to head the ball towards goal, but off target. A few moments later Sarach Yooyen let go a blistering shot from distance requiring a careful save from Falkesgaard.
Perhaps it was a change in game plan, but a few minutes later the Kirin attempted another shot at goal, with Lee Ho hitting one narrowly over the bar from outside the box.
Bangkok United continued to press down the flanks when they gained possession. At 33' Wattana was dispossessed near halfway, and the ball played out to the left for Pokklaw, but his cross as he charged into the box was too high and there wasn't a Bangkok United player close enough to get on to it. A few minutes later Salvadoran Nelson Bonilla was at the six yard box, but his shot blocked by Oh Ban Suk.
As halftime neared Bangkok United were applying the pressure. A corner kick was headed at the net by Everton Goncalves but Dang Van Lam made a strong save. In the process Oh Ban Suk took a bad knock. He rejoined a moment later, but had to go down on the pitch and the stretcher was required. Once again SCG Muangthong United will await the news on an injury to a key centre back.
Coach Pairoj brought in Charyl Chappuis to start the second half, with Lee Ho dropping to play in the centre back position in place of countryman Oh Ban Suk.
The Kirin had several chances within the first five minutes of the half. A free kick led to Adison's shot on target but easily handled by the keeper. A few moments later a Bangkok United free kick was blocked, leading to a rush towards goal and a sequence of chances. Heberty laid off a pass to Adisak, but he was unable to finish. Sarach Yooyen jumped on the rebound and had his shot blocked, followed by Heberty's shot then being blocked, and then finally Suphanan ran onto the loose ball and hammered one way wide.
Moments later Wattana was upended by a dangerous slide tackle, resulting in the fourth yellow card of the game. Heberty's free kick attempt once again easily handled by Falkesgaard.
The Kirin continued to press, but a shot by Charyl was blocked, leading to a rush towards the Kirin goal. Lee Ho made an initial tackle, but Bangkok United were able to recover the ball, with Nelson Bonilla tapping in from close range at the 61st minute.
Having taken the lead, Bangkok United seemed to move into "defend only" mode and SCG Muangthong United continued to search for their first goal of the season.
It looked as if the Kirin had the equalizer when Adisak found the back of the net from Heberty's pass, however the referee called the play back on a foul, and the goal was denied.
Shortly after, at 77', Coach Pairoj introduced Aung Thu to the match, bringing him in for Wattana who had started the match in his place.
Then Heberty was brought down at the edge of the box. The referee introduced tremendous confusion by pointing at the penalty spot, but then changed his mind and the ball had to be brought outside the box for a free kick. It remains to be determined if VAR was instrumental in that decision.
With time running out, Dang Van Lam had to be sharp, making a strong save once again in a one-on-one situation. In the closing minutes, and with Bangkok United Head Coach Mano Pölking shouting at the referees to end the game, the Kirin continued to pressure, but the first goal of the season was not to be realized.
"We executed our plan perfectly," said Pölking, "We needed to close down Teerasil, Adisak, and Heberty, and our defensive line made no mistakes."
Coach Pairoj expressed his disappointment that the team has lost the first two matches of the season. Both games were close and could easily have gone the other way, "We'll have to regroup, study and develop our tactics better."
SCG Muangthong United next's home match is Saturday March 9th at the SCG Stadium against league newcomers Chiang Mai FC, 6PM kickoff. Fans will be eagerly awaiting the Kirin's first win of the season, and no doubt the team will go all out to make this happen. Advance tickets available at https://www.ticketme.co/events/109