My weekend in pictures.....
Friday - Algeria 0 England 0
Saturday - Rajpracha 1 Chula United 6
Sunday - RTA 2 Muangthong 2
You know, for a club representing the icon of national security, Army FC sure aren't so big on security of their own.
The bag search consisted of a quick glance followed by a big beaming smile from a soldier who smiled at me just a little too long, and alcohol flowed freely inside and outside the stadium.
Two thousand or so Muangthong fans were shepherded into a cosy section of the ground. Obviously by 'cosy', I mean 'freaking dangerous'. It was sealed off on both sides and the only entrance was via one single gate. Luckily one fence had a gap big enough for fans to enter the rest of the ground, which was largely unoccupied.
Army's fans consisted of about twenty people and a bizarre dog that had been kitted up with flashing coloured lights that made Fido look like a cross between K-9 and a Teletubby. We outnumbered them about fifty to one. I took up my position full of hope that my miserable footballing weekend would come to a happy end. After Rajpracha's debacle and the news that those selfish buggers at Chonburi had gone and demolished yet another team, I was in desperate need of a pick up. But the line up had me slightly concerned:
Kawin (GK) , Kone (RB) , Jetsada (CB) , Nattaporn (CB) , Piyachart (LB) , Sylla (DM) , (Datsakorn (CM) , Siaka (MD) , Yaya (LW) , Teerasil (ST) , Christian (FW). No Pakasit, no Anupong, no Leesaw (can anyone hear a clock ticking down?) and Kone filling in at right back. Would this work?
For the first fifteen minutes or so the answer was 'no'. Army played the ball around nicely and looked high on energy if limited on technique and skill. When they scored from a goalmouth scramble sometime around twenty minutes, I was none too happy.
The goal appeared to be the kick up the backside we need and on two occasions it looked like Christian - who spent most of his time on the right wing - would outpace his marker and cut inside, but in fact the goal came pretty much out of the blue. Kone (Edit: sorry it was Kone, not Dagno Siaka!) received the ball outside the Army box and there appeared to be no danger as he span around and hit a first time shot that screamed into the goal.
Half time 1 - 1
Sylla was taken off and replaced by number nine Ronnachi Rungsiyo for the second half. I was pleased to see him given a chance and he was damn pleased to take it. Chipping a goalkeeper is never easy, but to do it from the angle and with the quickness that this guy did it about ten minutes into the second half was truly excellent. 1 - 2 to Muangthong and we deserved it.
At this time a section of the massive away crowd broke off and began a series of fun-filled celebratory dances behind Kawin's goal. It was real party atmosphere. But the danger with a party over a one goal lead is of course that it's easy for the neighbours to bang on the walls. Muangthong appeared to become complacent, performing the old tricks of substituting players at the far end of the pitch (Pitchipong and Kaewprom both came on, I can't recall whom they each replaced) and the odd prolonged injury or free kick. But Army didn't give up and they scored in the dying moments of the game. Thai fans seem to take it so well when their team concedes that they hardly miss a beat in their cheering. By contrast, yours truly needs a few seconds to curse, grumble, complain and and imagine kicking a small animal.
The fun wasn't over though, an incident on the far side of the pitch resulted in a red card for Pitchipong - who had barely been on the pitch for ten minutes - and some heated exchanges between players and officials as the final whistle went. A miserable end to a miserable footballing weekend.
Positives - we didn't lose, we looked very good in parts, Rungsiyo proved his worth and the shock of the late goal should eliminate any complacency in future. Next game is Samut Songkhram at home. Let's hope it's not another cheating-fest from the visitors and that Chonburi do the decent thing and drop some points for once.
Man of the match:
You would never know that Kone Muhammed was playing out of position. He cleared up all danger down the right side, distributed every ball sensibly and was never caught out of position. Competition for Pakasit?