Updated: Jan 23, 2020
SCG Muangthong United win their first official tournament match of 2020 with a 1-0 victory over Nongbuapitchaya FC in their first game of the Leo Pre-Season Cup. The lone goal came from centre back Lucas Rocha after it looked as if the game was heading towards penalties to decide the outcome.
The match was an opportunity for Coach Alexandre Gama to experiment with his lineup and juggle the many new faces this season. Australian-Filipino Jesse Curran continued his trial with the Kirin by starting at the wing back on the right, with the rest of the defense being Lucas Rocha and Adisorn at centre back, and Saringkan.
Japanese-Filipino international Sato played a wide midfield role on the left, along with Wattana, Sarach Yooyen, and Willian Popp. This left Derley as the up top forward and Saharat supporting.
Thai keeper Somporn was given the chance to show his strengths, with the Kirin #1, Dang Van Lam, on the bench for this match.
The first half ended goalless, with Muangthong United controlling the play. The only shot on target came from Derley, struck from the edge of the box, but at the keeper for an easy save.
It looked like a goal was due when Saharat tapped the ball into the open net after Sato's attempt, set up from Derley's efforts to get the cross in. Saharat, however, was called offside. The diminutive attacking midfielder was a force to be reckoned with and brought great punch to the Kirin lineup.
At 55' minutes Coach Gama looked to change up the field and substituted in Poramet for Saringkan, and Wattanakorn for Sato.
Within his first minute of play Poramet had a boot on the ball inside the box, showing his ability to quickly get into an attacking position.
A few moments later Sompon Peenagatapho entered for Jesse Curran. The 24 year old is a graduate of the MTUTD Academy system, and previously had been called to represent Thailand on the U23 squad. This was followed with Weerathep Pomphan entering for Saharat, who left the pitch with a round of appreciative applause from the Kirin fans.
The substitutions produced chances at goal, however no attackers were able to get a clean shot away. Nongbua very nearly went ahead at the 75th minute, but Sompon came off his line and made a fine foot save to keep the game goalless.
A free kick from just outside the box set up a chance for Sarach Yooyen to try out his right foot. An earlier opportunity by Popp from the same spot had sailed over the bar. Sarach's attempt hit the crossbar and came down just outside the line.
Shortly after Wattana was subbed out for youngster Sundy Wongderee, who last season played mainly with the MTUTD-B squad in the T4 league. The attacking midfielder or forward scored several times for MTUTD-B.
This was followed by striker Korrawit Tasa, who replaced Brazilian playmaker Willian Popp.
The addition of some of the younger Kirin added to the attack, and soon after the goal appeared. New signing centre back Lucas Rocha scored his first goal for the Kirin, heading in the corner kick from Wattanakorn.
Coach Gama kept the substitutions rolling, and at the 90th minute Atikhun entered the game for Derley.
A late corner attempt from Nongbua was defended at the near post, and after four minutes of stoppage time the final whistle blew and the Kirin had their first win of 2020.
Said Coach Gama, "The payers are not 100% yet. I am happy with the win, but the players are not at their best yet and we need more aggressive movement. I used many young players and they played well."