By Paul Hewitt | published Mar 10, 2011
In the least surprising news of the week former Vietnam manager Henrique Calisto was officially announced as the new Muangthong United head coach on Monday. The 57 year-old is the third man to sit in the Twin Qilens’ hot seat this year. Reports suggest he will be paid a reported one million baht a month over two years to take the reins of the current champions, although Muangthong have vehemently denied that his salary will be that high.
Calisto was generally regarded as a success as Vietnam coach after guiding the national side to their first ever AFF Cup title in 2008 – defeating Thailand in the final. However, many observers in Vietnam felt that “Calisto’s Class of 08” failed to build on that triumph. He arrives at Muangthong as the champions’ early-season struggles continue. Their pre-season Champions League exit was followed by an insipid 0-0 draw at Bangkok Glass. And last weekend, Calisto must have had serious doubts as he watched Army United – the team which finished last in the 2010 TPL – destroy Muangthong with a 3-0 victory.
A crisis for the champions, then? Perhaps not. That draw at Bangkok Glass was actually a useful point away from home against a title rival. The defeat at Army was preceded by a classy 4-0 demolition of Vietnamese champions Hanoi T&T in the AFC Cup. And that loss at Army bears closer inspection. Muangthong dominated the first half and should have had the game wrapped up by halftime. With the score at 0-0 in the 49th minute, Muangthong defender Arthit Daosawang was sent off. Then the Army, aided by a far more potent attack than they had last year, took full advantage of their numerical superiority. They blitzed the champions with three goals in a fifteen minute spell, and it was all over. Muangthong host Thai Port on Sunday. A win in Calisto’s first game in charge would prove that their “crisis” never really existed.
Lots of action in the capital, and it’s all on Sunday. The big game is at the Yamaha Stadium, Nonthaburi where Muangthong host Thai Port. A fascinating encounter is on the cards at the Leo Stadium, Pathum Thani as Army United – conquerors of Muangthong – visit Bangkok Glass. Also in Pathum Thani, Police United host TTM Phichit at Thammasat Stadium. BEC Tero Sasana will be expecting a victory as they are at home to struggling Siam Navy at the Thephasadin Stadium.