Thaileague 1, 2020, preview. Team 9-12

As many teams have invested heavily to climb higher up the table, some must fail. The lower middle region of the table is where dreams will fizzle out and die. I give you, places 9-12:

9. Samut Prakan City

Was long the big positive surprise in their first season in existence after taking over Pattaya United’s license to join T1. However, a managerial change and heavy injuries halfway through 2019 saw them produce results more in line with what was expected beforehand. Jaroensak Wonggorn will be guarded much more closely now that the defenders definitely knows about him but he will not have to shoulder all of the creative responsibility, as Ibson Melo’s surprise move to Sukhothai has been properly addressed with the signing of Pedro Júnior, whose performances at Buriram may have been inconsistent but at times of the highest quality.

Player to watch: Pedro Júnior

 

10. BG Pathum United

As expected, BG had no trouble comfortably bouncing back up after the shocking relegation to T2 in 2018. The defensive signings, especially picking up free agent Victor Cardozo, should make them a very tough nut to crack for any side in T1, but there is considerable uncertainty about the attacking prowess, with the supposed top scorer Barros Tardeli lacking T1 experience. Also, the midfield will rely much on the performances of Thitipan Puangchan and, even though he is the very best Thai player in his position, he was denied the opportunity to stay in the J.League against his expressed wishes, and players who are forced to stay when they want to leave rarely put in their best performances. There is a very high possibility that the expectations will not at all be met in the first year back in the top flite.

Player to watch: Thitipan Puangchan

 

11. Sukhothai FC

  1. Sukhothai FC

Following a season defined by draws, Sukhothai need find a way to decide games without sacrificing their defensive balance. Easier said than done, but the recruitment has seen a couple of very promising attacking additions to the squad. Not only a potential domestic breakthrough player of the season in attacking midfielder Pongpat Liaorungruengkit but Ibson Mel, coming from a superb season at Samut Prakan, and Evandro Paulista, with solid experience from East Asian football, will be joining forces with one of T1s truly outstanding performers in recent years, John Baggio, in the front line. This could break either way as the offense has been all about Baggio, and while the skipper will have no problem with sharing the spotlight for the good of the team, Ibson Melo is also a player who wants to see a lot of the ball and combining two players like often results in neither playing to their full potential. It’s unlikely that Sukhothai will be safe from relegation until late in the year this time around as well.

Player to watch: Pongpat Liaorungruengkit

 

12. Nakhon Ratchasima FC

The disappointing 2019 ended with a managerial change, seeing Teerasak Po-on take charge following his impressive work at now disbanded PTT Rayong. The new boss has already had the full extent of the off-season to implement his ideas and will likely be given ample time to see them bear fruit, but the players available has remained pretty much the same, with Bernard Henry making room for Dennis Murillo as the most eye-catching altering of the squad, and they can produce an upset against any team in T1, especially in front of their passionate home fans, but the kind of solidity needed to stay comfortably clear of the relegation zone will be hard to create quickly enough in the tough competition they face.

Player to watch: Amadou Ouattara