Sunday, 18 April 2010

Muangthong United 5 Bangkok United 1 - Report

OK guys....... who wants to mark Yaya next week?

OK, so on paper we were the favourites anyway. But this, my friends, is Thailand, the magical world where a fully equipped and organised military force can go up against a few yokels with wooden sticks and stones and not only get their backsides kicked, but actually lose three tanks and a rocket launcher in the process. Nothing is certain out here.

Nothing much to report in the build up. I've mentioned the perils of standing directly behind and above the North Stand goal during warm up before but let me amplify: if anyone else can recall the old video game 'Missile Command' , it's a bit like being in a reality TV version of that. The striker takes a shot, then about ten seconds later you hear a whistling sound from above and a few seconds after that there's a crash as it hits the roof, the VIP box or a fan on top of the head. Some BKU players actually took out a few pigeons this way.

The team line up was slightly unusual - Phanphipat (GK) , Pakasit (RB), Anupong (CB), Nattaporn (CB) , Piyachrt (LB, LM), Sylla (DM), Datsakorn (MD), Siaka (AM), Yaya (RW), Christian (FW), Teerasil (ST)

Although Piyachart likes to get forward, the team still looked a little lopsided with Yaya on one side but no Leesaw on the other. Kawin obviously was not ready for this one after his knock last week but Phanphipat had given us no cause to worry when he came on as cover against Thai Port. 'Captain Jet' (Jetsada) was on the bench again....interesting.

Muangthong come out of the traps like a greyhound on crack and go close two or three times on the opening five minutes. Two things quickly become apparent, the team that seemed lop sided on paper actually look stronger as Sylla acts as a sort of inverted sweeeper in front of the back four, Christian moves around on the front line and Yaya, as usual, moves around the pitch exploiting weaknesses wherever he finds them. Leesaw is a talented player but we're not missing him yet. In fact, we actually look tighter and even more threatening without him.

Siaka scores goal number one on nine minutes, following some foolery in the Bangkok penalty box. Bangkok, to their credit, do not close up ranks or whine like a bunch of girls but actively seek to stay in the game. Their back line plays hard but fair, with some rough but legal shoulder charges and body checks to let our Africans strikers know they are in a game. In response, Muangthong play the ball around, take players on and try their luck from inside and outside the box and the ref does his best to let the game flow. It's all dangerously close to an open and attacking game of football.

Teerasil scores our second on thirty two minutes. He looks far closer to fitness today than he did last week, his first touch is excellent and he is one of those strikers that is a threat even with his back to goal. Shortly after he scores, the ball falls to Teerasil again in the six yard box but this time the lanky forward is shocked to see that he's actually onside (because, in fact, he wasn't). It all seems to happen in slow motion; Teersail looks at the linesman, who looks back at him, Teersail looks at the two defenders rushing him.....then back at the linesman again....then he looks down and sees the ball is at his feet......then stops to think about what flavour noodles he will eat after the game...... then decides to tee up and shoot. The goalie just manages to block it.

Siaka hits another just before half time to effectively kill the game off as the players go in for their orange and water. But the second half starts at the same pace, though it quickly slows down a couple of beats but no more than that. Muangthong are now attacking the goal in the opposite South Stand so it's harder for me to see most of the action. Datsakorn 'sideways' Thonglaow scores yet another long range effort on the sixty second minute yet again after I spend the first half mentally slagging him off. Next Sunday I'm going to start ripping into him at 0600 when I pour my cornflakes, so expect a hat-trick from this midfield dynamo.

BKU pull one back with about fifteen minutes left and it was well deserved. A low square ball to a BKU forward is side-footed in from close range by their striker. Of course you never want your team to concede, but at least the away fans have something to cheer, they deserved it.

But fans who left early miss the final goal in the dying minutes from Christian. Mark my words - this youngster has a lot going for him. He can play wide or central, he has pace, he links up with the other forwards well and can finish his chances.

Full time arrives and I'm delighted. It might sound strange, but this resounding victory actually owes itself in part to the attitude of the BKU squad. Whereas Navy Rayong and Persiwa came to close up shop and - in the case of Rayong - cheat their way to full time, BKU came to play football. Even in injury time when they were four goals behind, they still took every set piece as quickly as possible to try and create another chance for themselves. Today was a good game of football and although there was more than one occasion when the stretcher came on unnecessarily, it was, overall, played in decent spirit.

Bangkok United look like they would need a few more key signings to finish in the top half of the table, but their team spirit should see them stay just about clear of the bottom three.

For us, it was another excellent, excellent performance today. However, with respect to the four Thai teams we have played, none of them - with the possible exception of Thai Port who have the three home game ban to compensate for - are teams I expect to finish in the top half. In coming weeks we have to face Bangkok Glass, Buriram and Chonburi, the three teams I predicted to finish in the top four with us. We desperately need to carry on this good form.

Man of the match:

He didn't get on the score sheet but until he was substituted (to rest) in the second half, Yaya was involved in every attack. It's not just that this guy is quick, he can change pace, change direction and even change the length of his stride at will. He will happily run at two or three defenders at once in the full confidence that he can beat them. Often, he does. Defenders in Thailand must have nightmares about this player.

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