Thursday, 31 March 2011

Ticket updates

It's only Wednesday and already I've had several queries about tickets for Saturday. The situation as I understand it is this: the Ultras (South) stand is almost sold out and tickets may be all gone by now. My home in the n-zone (North Stand) is about 70% sold. The East and West stands usually sell a tad slower as the price is higher and the atmosphere quieter but of course the view is better. I don't know how many tickets they have left for those stands.

Occasionally the club reserve a quota of tickets to sell on match day but I suggest not taking the risk. Tickets should be available from the usual outlets.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

MTU Vs Buriam PEA - preview part 2



Ahead of Saturday's big game, I caught up with Tar, the owner of the Buriram Blog  and had a chat with him - not for the first time - about footie. That's one of the magic things about football, it can cross divides of age, culture and to some degree language, and unites people.

1) What is your nickname and how old are you?
Tar
My nickname isTar, I'm 16 years old.

2) How long have you supported PEA?
From the moment they changed from PEA [Ayuthhaya] to Buriram PEA.

3) What do you like about PEA? 
The players. I liked Dudu but he went out [he left] so now I like Frank Ohndza and  Acheampong.


4) What do you know about Muangthong United?
What you told me [in your blog].

5) What do you think will be the score in this game?
I think our team has more courage [confidence] than Muangthong United because PEA are not allergic [defeated by] to any team in this Season and I think the MTU has issues [problems] with the coach

"We can win the MTU is not difficult" hahaha!

6) Which team will win the TPL? 
I think it will be Chonburi or PEA.

7) Will you be going to the match?
I might but I'm not sure.

8) Do you also cheer Buriram FC?
No.

9) Did you buy the new Buriram PEA shirt?
Yes, both!

*********************
Thanks to Tar for his time.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

MTU Vs Buriam PEA - preview part 1


It's a fixture that most would've have tipped as a potential title decider before the season kicked off, but with the very shaky start to the season made by the Quilins, Saturday's fixture is more a case of a chance to catch up for the home side.

The fixture was originally scheduled to be played in Buriram but the two clubs made a mutually beneficial agreement to switch. MTU feel they have a better chance playing the fixture at home at this stage and PEA want their home game to be played at their new stadium which is not ready yet.

Newin Chidchob has made few changes to the PEA squad for this season. Dudu has departed, Cameroonian Frank Ohandza has joined the ranks and made a good first impression. The only points dropped by PEA so far have been at home to Police United in a one-all draw.

But whenever Buriram PEA or Buriram FC are involved, it seems inevitable that more than just the football will catch the eye. Owner Newin Chidchob is still making political headlines, various concerns have been raised about potential conflicts of interest should Buriram FC reach the TPL and more than once fans have gasped in amazement at some officiating decisions in PEA/FC Games. There was the experience of MTU last season, and a disallowed goal by Khoen Kean against them last week that had the commentators very confused. Chiang Mai FC also had a goal disallowed and a strong penalty claim denied at the iMobile Stadium last weekend. In fairness, the goal may not have been legal. It's a big worry, but it doesn't change the fact that PEA have been the best team so far this season. Jakarta Casual thinks it's all over already.

The PEA fans are a noisy and numerous bunch and while nobody denies that some - though by no means all, maybe not even most - of their fans are paid to attend games, there can be no denying the noise they generate and the happiness they feel in following their team, or the gratitude they feel to Newin for bringing quality football to the masses. They have been perfectly behaved in every game.

Going into a home match not as clear favourites will be a new experience for Quilins fans. The champs are protecting an undefeated home league streak dating back to Division One. (The loss was against Sriracha.)

PEA have no English websites that I know of.

Last season was 0-0. Report here.

I predict MTU will field the same starting team as last week. There is no team news as of Tuesday. I will tweet any updates.

A fan interview and a tactical perspective coming soon.

Missing

Have you seen either of these ....errr.....things? Last season making children happy around the Thunderdome in the 2010 season, they have not been seen since. If spotted, please notify any Muangthong United fans under the age of ten.
Reward: seeing kids smile.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Calisto's comments

Normally I don't support the criticising of refs in press conferences but in these extreme circumstances I support it.

From the OS:
We suffered heavy lose from Osotsapa in previous match so everyone played this game with the hope to win for team and supporter. With determination and spirit from everyone we can get three points but one thing I want to say is the poor referee, we have to say this for them to improved themself.  

Muangthong United 2 TOT CAT FC 0 - report

****ed if I know what happened, Watson!
It was strange right from the start. Impact Centre's most popular event, the Thailand Motor Show, created evil tailbacks that saw many fans arriving after half time. My taxi driver wisely refused to go too near Muang Thong and told me that: "Mai mee TOT loi", though I couldn't understand the reason he gave. He was right though, I counted a grand total of three (count 'em) TOT shirts in the away end at kick off. I kid you not.

The line up
The team was Kawin (GK), Kayem (LB), Arthit (I think, RB), Wongsa (CB), Nattaporn (Capt, CB), Datsakorn (MD), Siaka (AM), Pitchipong (MD), Issoufau (LW), Christian (RW), Teerasil (ST). No Zesh, no Ahnon.

With half the crowd still stuck in traffic, the kickoff was subdued. TOT looked every bit the side short on confidence and pre-season team building they were. MTU had a free kick within the first five minutes for which every single TOT player dropped back to defend, all but two of them inside their own box. Seconds later, Pitchipong was mauled down by a challenge in which a TOT player had either leg wrapped around Pitchipong on opposite sides. Pitchipong gave a genuine yell of pain as he went down and like most fans I screamed for a red but the ref who was perfectly positioned gave....a free kick and no more. I put it down to a reluctance to effectively lose the match for TOT so early on, but the lack of even a yellow was strange.

MTU went ahead not long after when an excellent dummy, turn and through ball by Dagno found Christian who was one-on-one with time to spare. Gordon Strachan once said only great strikers can keep calm enough to finish off a chance which they have enough time to think about. I guess the flame-haired legend must rate Christian then, as he finished perfectly. One-nil.

It was not long after the goal things got strange. MTU scored at least four goals in this match that to me, looked perfectly legal. We also had two players put through on goal that could have scored but had to stop for the whistle. The first goal disallowed was Christian’s. The second event was a very well timed run by Issofuao that put him clean through. The first goal was disallowed for reasons I don't know by the ref, the second was flagged offside.

Teerasil was tripped, nothing happened.
The ref continued a series of bizarre decisions. On more than one occasion it seemed to be random whistle blowing whenever MTU had the ball. Several tugs, raised elbows and shirt pulls by TOT players went totally unnoticed whereas MTU players were not only penalised every time someone threw themselves down, but also received lectures. Curiouser still, the linesman to the right side of the n-zone called the game perfectly in my opinion, it was the ref and the other linesman performing the surrealism. The last ten minutes of this half were some of the strangest I've seen since Buriram away last season, as any possession in the midfield was stopped by the ref's whistle.

Things threatened to boil over but half time rescued us from the tension. Yet the second half started in a similar way. Christian beat his marker who - while on the ground after missing his challenge - clearly raised both feet and caught Chris with his studs. Chris was hurt but pressed on until the ref blew his whistle.....and gave a free kick to TOT. By now Rob and Calisto couldn't keep quiet and tensions raised again. Things calmed for about ten minutes until another incident at the other end that sparked a scuffle that even the TOT keeper ran up to get involved in, though to his credit he seemed to be telling his players to back off. Credit to Kawin who stayed calm as a cucumber in his own area and looked like he was thinking about how many packs of stickers to buy.

Things were starting to look like they could really boil over and perhaps that managed to stop whatever was causing the bizarre decisions in the game because things calmed down. Still protecting a one-nil lead, MTU passed the ball around and though - as Pattaya fan Glenn tipped me off - TOT had "lots of huff and puff", they had little more. As they were forced to push forward, they created one or two moments of danger but squandered both chances. One striker did attempt a feeble dive that the ref ignored.

No he wasn't booked
Now we were allowed out of our own half, we created a few chances ourselves and finally got rewarded when a two-footed challenge on Teerasil without winning the ball gave the ref little choice but to award a late penalty.In his one notable contribution to the match, Kone Muhammed picked up and kicked the ball into the stands in anger. The linesman saw it and did nothing. Dagno did the honours. Two-nil.

The ref gave us one last memento as a TOT player lost possession near our box and he (the ref) blew and pointed to another player nowhere near the action who was laid on the ground, awarding TOT a free kick, to no avail.

In such David Lynch-like circumstances, it's hard to assess our performance here, but I feel we are still a long way from what we were last season. There's one bright point - as I've been critical of Issoufou Boubacar recently I must say he looked better today. Rather than trying to be too clever, he concentrated on what a simple winger should do and got behind his man and crossed the ball - which he did well more than once. He also tries to win the ball back when he loses it.

But as a whole we looked a little rocked from changes on and off the pitch and lack the intensity of attacking and decision making we had last year. At our core though, we are still almost exactly the same players that came so close to four trophies last year and although it's going to be mightily tough, a win against Buriram PEA next week could change the mindset of both camps quite quickly. If not, then it's probably going to be a season of rebuilding for the future.

Man of the match must again go to Nattaporn Pannarit who - admittedly up against a team that has yet to score - lead by example by giving one hundred percent and never shying away from responsibility.

Photo credits - yep, you guessed it, Jirawat Srikong. If there's a better photographer in Thailand, I'd like to meet him or her.

Friday, 25 March 2011

MTU vs CAT TOT FC - preview



There isn't much new to say about CAT TOT. I lamented my feelings about them last season and also expressed my admiration - albeit with some surprise - about their small but loyal fan base.

TOT were one of the clubs that suffered political struggles in the close-season that almost saw them go out of business according to some reports. As a result of the panic, many players left the club in pre-season and although some replacements have been found (including a familiar face) the team have struggled and are currently bottom of the TPL.

TOT still play at the Thunderdome - applying wear and tear to our new surface - despite their pledge to use their own stadium which is literally just down the road, has been used to host several unofficial games already and was ostensibly the reason they deserted fans in Kanchanburi. TLO schedules their final game at the TD on April 10th, returning to the Cheang Watthana Stadium the following week. Don't hold your breath.
Miroslov Toth

Two players are set to play on opposite sides from last season's matching fixture. Kone Muhammed is now playing for the "Hello Team" after a move to Belgium broke down at the eleventh hour. The giant lookalike of Dagno Siaka has yet to score for his new club. On the other side, Miraslov Toth joined the champs during the exodus from TOT in close season. He has featured as a sub and has yet to find the net, but has looked confident when used.

There's no new team news at present. It will be interesting to see who plays LB and RB in the wake of last week's debacle.

Last season was 4-0 to MTU , report here and media here.

KO 1800 this Saturday 26th @ Thunderdome. Tickets still available.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Muangthong the Champions - The MTU anthem

Like most working people, I have a mental list of "Do soon..." tasks at all times. You know, all those things you say: "Maybe tomorrow", but you know you won't. Stuff like cleaning out the fridge, buying new tyres, learning to type, etc.

Translator Tony, with two familar faces.
Top of my "Do soon" list for MTU has been to get a translation of our anthem: "Muangthong the Champions". Several people have asked me about the song roared at the beginning and after the end of every match we play, yet I have never got around to it, until now.

So with help from two friends, Tony "Jet Set" Sawangvitt and n-zone comrade Tung, I proudly present here a translation of the TPL's most widely sung anthem.

Now who wants to help clean out my fridge?


Muangthong the Champions

จงลุกขึ้นดูผู้กล้าของเรา
Jong-Look-Khuen-Doo-Poo-Kla-Khong-rao
Standing Up!!! And watching at our brave soldiers

เปล่งเสียงร้องกำลังใจให้กับเขา
Pleng-Seang-Rong-Kum-Lung-Jai-Hai-Gub-Khao
Keep chanting in encourage/support of them (Our players)

รวมพลังฟันฝ่าชัยสู่จุดหมาย
Ruam-Pa-Lung-Fun-Fa-Chai-Soo-Jud-Mhai
Overcoming those of barriers and reaching our aim/goal together!!!

เราคือแชมป์บอลไทยพรีเมียร์ลีก
Rao-Khue-Champ-Ball-Thai-Pre-Mier-League
We are the champion of Thai Premier League

เมืองทอง เมืองทอง เมืองทอง
Muangthong Muangthong Muangthong

เมืองทอง เมืองทอง ยูไนเต็ด
Muangthong Muangthong United

เมืองทอง เมืองทอง เมืองทอง
Muangthong Muangthong Muangthong

เราคือแชมป์ บอลไทย พรีเมียร์ลีก
Rao-Khue-Champ-ball-Thai-Pre-Mier-League
We are the champion of Thai Premier League

(Repeat)

เราคือแชมป์ บอลไทย พรีเมียร์ลีก
Rao-Khue-Champ-ball-Thai-Pre-Mier-League
We are the champion of Thai Premier League

เราคือแชมป์ บอลไทย..........(ลากเสียงยาว) พรีเมียร์ลีก
Rao-Khue-Champ-ball-Thaiiiiiiii……Pre-Mier-League!!
We are the champion of Thaiiiiiii………Premier…League!!!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Article at Asian Football Feast

Asian Football Feast runs a nice little feature called "Why I follow..." where fans explain, naturally enough, why they support their team.
Owner Paul asked me to write an article for the section a little while back so I did, and it was published yesterday, making MTU the first non-Japanese team to get covered. The other articles are well worth reading, BTW.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

MTU V PEA - fixture swap

From the OS, it is unclear why PEA agreed to the switch (unless they planned it for the new stadium) or why we need to do it if we are confident of taking six points.


Thailand Premier League Champions Muangthong United have accepted the fixture swapping request from TPL’s committees who would like to change a first-leg schedule between Buriram PEA and Kilins at I-mobile Stadium on Saturday March, 2nd [edit: they mean April 2nd] to play at the Yamaha Stadium instead.

Muangthong’s general manager Ronnarit Suewaja reveals about the issue, “I would like the supporters to try to understand our decision to host the first match because our league fellow’s venue still not ready to use and It does not breaking any TPL’s rules. I think we play the first match in our venue would be advantaged for us because we need to close the gap with leading group in the table.

I can say that we will strengthen our squad before the end of transfer window to make sure that we’re capable to defending our title, so I confident that we’re good enough to get all six points from Buriram PEA. Finally, I would like to apologize our fans for unconveniency from this changing. Ronnarit added.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Osot 5 MTU 1 - Report

Luckily Tor doesn't harp on too much as his own team got thumped as well.

I've asked before and in the wake of this we need to ask again  - why did we loan out one of our fittest and most reliable defenders (Piyachart) to another team for a whole year with only an untested (in Thailand) European and a youth team player as cover?

One report also mentioned Pakasit had a nightmare. He was dropped in favour of Kaewprom last season so the team is evidently weaker with Pakasit back. To be fair though, I've never seen him have a bad game before.

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/sports/227735/buriram-pea-top-muang-thong-crash

Defending champions Muang Thong United were torn apart in the second half by the lively Osostspa team.

Pipat Tonkanya had put the home side in front in the 18th minute but Datsakorn Thonglao of Muang Thong made it 1-1 in the 33rd minute.

In the second half Osotspa went on a scoring spree with Marcio da Silva (50), Apipoo Sunthornpanavej (58), Lazaras Kaimbi (89) and Wannapol Bussapakom (90) all on target.

The result saw Osotspa move into third place while Munag Thong are struggling in 12th, with just one win from four matches.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Osotspa Vs MTU - preview

A lazy preview, since there's not much to say about Osotspa, except their mascot is a drunken Thai-Samurai, who is a lot of fun.

 ************************************************************
 http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/sports/227464/chonburi-in-confident-mood

Osotspa coach Phairoj Bovornwattanadilok said his men were not afraid of any side in the league.

"We have a strong team. We are in good form particularly our strikers Pipat Tonkanya and Cleinton Silva," he said.

"We beat them two years ago and I am confident that we will beat them again."

Muang Thong United will be seeking their first away win of the season in all competitions and their general manager Ronnarit Suewaja said it was important for his men to win away from home.

"We aim to win at Osotspa to boost our confidence," he said.

Proceeds from the match will go to help people who are affected by earthquakes and tsunami in Japan.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Tampines Rovers 1 MTU 1 - Video clip

Yes it was Pitchipong and not Datsakorn that scored for us. It was a shame to let a 40 year-old get behind our back line like that but Calisto will make very sure we learn from that, no doubt.

Photos and report

These photos courtesy of and owned by Po Hui Ko, whose report is here.


More pictures can be seen by following the link at the bottom of Po's match report.

Broken noodle bowls?

http://www.the-afc.com/en/tournaments/clubs/afc-cup/33871-tampines-rovers-v-muang-thong-united-reaction

Singapore: Muang Thong United coach Henrique Calisto cut an angry figure after seeing his side hang on for a 1-1 draw against Tampines Rovers on Wednesday.

Aleksandar Duric opened the scoring for Tampines in the 23rd minute before Phichitphong Choeichiu equalised just after the half-hour mark.
“I’m not satisfied. With these players, we should have done much better,” said Calisto.

“We needed to be more disciplined especially in our tactics. My team never followed what I told them.”

The former Vietnam national team coach bemoaned how his backline gave Duric the freedom of Jalan Besar to notch the opening goal of the game.

“The first goal was a crazy mistake. I was telling them before not to give him space and yet they lacked discipline,” he added.

Calisto then promised that failure to toe the line will not be tolerated on his watch and vowed to ring the changes as they look forward to the double header against Maldivian side Victory SC.

“With me here no more!” the Portuguese tactician said in reference to his players failure to follow instructions.

“I would like to change things but now we must take it one game at a time

“That said, tonight was probably a fair result in the end. We were better in the first-half but we got really tired in the second. Both teams had chances to score so it was probably fair.”

His opposite number Steven Tan could not help but rue the missed opportunities that could have seen Tampines grab an advantage in the group.

“When we play at home, we really needed to finish off the chances we had,” the 40-year-old said.

“The three chances that Duric had, he should have scored at least one. If one of them had gone in, things would have been very different.”

Former Singapore international Tan pointed to the introduction of diminutive winger Aliff Shafaein in the second-half as one of the factors that turned the tide for the home side.

“With Aliff, we had someone making the runs off the ball and that’s probably what helped us dominate the second-half,” he added.

“It was a game of two halves really and in the first, we were hanging on a bit I must admit. We were chasing shadows at times.

“My team worked really hard and everybody tried their best. That was what I told them at half-time which was to continue working hard and the chances will come.

“The group is now wide open and there’s everything to play for. The next two games against Hanoi will probably determine whether we go through before we go to Thailand to play Muang Thong again in the last game of the group.”

http://www.the-afc.com/en/tournaments/clubs/afc-cup/33870-tampines-rovers-v-muang-thong-united 

Singapore: Tampines Rovers and Muang Thong United played out an entertaining 1-1 draw in their AFC Cup Group G tie at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore.

Both sides had opened their campaigns with comfortable wins and the fans were treated to a high-quality match, with Aleksandar Duric opening the scoring for Tampines before Phichitphong Choeichiu equalised just after the half-hour mark.

The visitors settled quickly into their passing game on the artificial surface and Thai international Teerasil Dangda almost fired them into a deserved lead when his low effort hit Hassan Sunny’s right post with the goalkeeper well beaten.

Hassan then played a big role in the home side taking the lead midway through the first-half.

His long punt upfield caught the Thais flat-footed and found evergreen striker Duric racing clear on goal.

The prolific 40-year-old made no mistake as he drove his shot into the far corner for his seventh goal of the season and second in as many AFC Cup games.

Muang Thong should have been level immediately when Ivorian Siaka Dagno beat the offside trap but shot straight at the Tampines keeper.

The Thais were not to be denied after 31 minutes, though, as they equalised with one of the contenders for goal of the season.

Thailand international Phichitphong smashed a stunning drive into the top corner from 30 yards, leaving Hassan grasping at thin air.

Tampines’ Korean defender Park Yo-seb almost restored their advantage with a point-blank header moments later but it was just too high.

The dangerous Phichitphong then let fly with another long-range effort that Hassan did well to smother.

The second-half was played out in pretty much the same vein, with both teams committed to throwing men forward in search of the winner.

Ivorian Christian Kouakou’s solo effort on the hour mark drew a smart save from Hassan while substitute Anon Sangsanoi also went close for Muang Thong with a stoppage-time header.

However, it was the normally reliable Duric who was guilty of squandering the best chances to seal all three points for the home side.

He first side-footed wide with his weaker right foot when found unmarked in the box 14 minutes from time and a minute later, he chose to shoot straight at Kawin Thamsatchanan in the Muang Thong goal with two team-mates in space and screaming for the ball.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Press conference and warm-up

Thanks again to the excellent Jirawat Srikong, here are some pictures of the two events of today:


Again, thanks to Jirawat Srikong, owner and taker of these pictures.

AFC Preview and lack thereof

I'm upcountry for a few days so will not be blogging until the end of the week.
http://www.bolasepako.com/ should have a small interview with me and preview of tomorrow's game in Singapore soon.

Edit: The preview is here:
http://networkedblogs.com/fq9Bh

Monday, 14 March 2011

Muangthong United 2 Thai Port 0 - Report

Security were taking no chances
A big home game in every way imaginable. With a new coach, a nasty result lingering in the memory and of course the first home league match of the season, we all had to hope that Munze 'Santa' Ulrich would drop a very early Christmas present into the big stocking hung up in the goalmouth.

New coaches inevitably tinker with the first team line up and I expected that today, what I didn't expect was for Issoufou to be allowed within fifty yards of any football pitch after his performance against Chonburi in pre-season, but there it was:

Kawin (GK), Pakasit (RB), Panupong (CB), Nattaporn (CB, capt), Santi (LB), Datsakorn (MD), Pitchipong (MD), Issoufou (LW), Jakkaphan (RW) Ahnon (ST), Teerasil (ST).

Yes, Christian and Dagno - two of our top scorers last year - were on the bench, no Zesh, the two youngsters were removed (one was suspended anyway) and Issoufao returned to the starting line up. In fairness, he may well have great potential, I was just surprised to see him given another run so early but Calisto knows what he is doing.

The first half was scrappy. Thai Port looked remarkably lightweight in attack and we had a lot more of the ball without threatening much. Our overlapping looked slow and unsure. Our best chance may have been a free kick from Datsakorn but Munze collected comfortably.

Port looked to be aiming for a draw and had several players rolling round early on. After MTU played on during one of these injuries, they stopped doing it. Why don't teams deal with time-wasting this way more often?

The second half saw us looking a bit sharper and quicker, especially after Christian replaced Ahnon. Port suffered a sudden spate of injuries again and the game looked like a goalless draw was in store, but with about twenty minutes left, a strange clash in the middle of the park somehow saw a Port player get a red card. It wasn't clear who was carded at the time, because the official had - throughout the game - addressed players from a distance. To his credit though, he didn't blow for every tiny incident as some officials do, there was a lot of "play on" from this guy. Good job, ref.

About ten minutes later, Teerasil did some twisting and turning in the box before crossing to Dagno - on from the bench - who buried an aerial shot to make it 1-0.

The two African subs really turned the game around when they appeared. Christian in particular was turning defenders into knots. With little choice, Thai Port threw players forward and after MTU successfully defended a corner, Teerasil drove the ball downfield and turned one defender, took it around Munze and buried it before the goalie could recover. 2-0, and so it stayed.

A lot to be happy for today, then. The result was paramount and we got it. The first team choice was surprising but Chris looked so hungry when he came on that it really did impact the game. Credit must also be given to Munze who took the North Stand's baiting of him very well and was friendly and professional to the end. Credit also to the away fans who - for the first time - actually chanted for MTU and shook hands with the players after the final whistle.

Further credit also to our security team who got the balance just right today. There was no heavy handed security around the away fans, riot squads were present but kept out of sight, and TP fans were made to feel very welcome. As with most English grounds, the away fans were escorted in and out and allowed to leave before home fans. Nobody complained, everyone seemed happy.

There is still a lot of work that needs to be done for our new look side. We need to find regular faces for left and right back positions, and those players must understand our way of playing and the importance of overlapping at the right time to maximise our width and options. Jakkapahn needs to find his rhythm, Datsakorn could do with a goal just to set him off again and I personally don't think Issofao is ready for first team action yet. But today we did the job we needed to do and took a big step forward. I'm confident we can build on it.

Man of the Match:
Captain Nattaporn Pannarit put the Thai Port striker in his pocket inside the first five minutes and didn't let him out again.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Muangthong’s New Coach Cashes In and a busy TPL Weekend in Bangkok

Source: http://bk.asia-city.com/health/blog/thai-premier-league/muangthong’s-new-coach-cashes-and-busy-tpl-weekend-bangkok
 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.

This Weekend
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.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

The season ticket package

So last weekend I get an SMS for a mister "Sres"  to come and pick up his n-zone season ticket from the club. I don't know who "Sres" is, but I had ordered a ticket too, so today I went to collect it and got a pleasant surprise.

The package was literally so, with a smart club crest engraved on the box...


Inside is a limited edition club scarf. Of course there's always a fine line between "limited edition" products and: "something not that good that we made up",  but in this case the scarf looks good and is made from high-quality fabric....


...and even the membership card looks trendy, though they gave me Mister "Sres"' card...


Finally, we have the ticket itself with dates for every game - even the second leg - and a 20% discount voucher for use in the club shop. The membership card itself grants a 10% discount for every club shop purchase.


All in all, a really excellent value package. MTU are often accused of being too commercial and fake, but the club could easily have charged double or triple prices for season tickets without any extras and made more money. Instead, they have offered a package that will almost certainly work out even better value than last year. It shows they care about the fans and want to give them the best deal possible. Bravo, MTU!

A comparison:

Last year's ST package for n-zone was:
1,200 baht for all home league games, a club shop birthday voucher (I think it was 300 baht), and a 10% discount on all club shop purchases

This year:
1,500 baht for all home league games (two more than last year) and all TLC and FA Cup games (I confirmed this with staff today), a good quality scarf, a 20% discount voucher for club shop (for any product except the new shirts), a discount on all club shop purchases and the club swimming pool, VIP box for two people on ST holder's birthday (though this has not yet been re-confirmed) and a free PDF download of all league and domestic cup match programmes.

So allowing for the two extra games - at 80 baht each - the 300bt price increase becomes just 140bt. So all we need is at least two home games in either domestic cup for the ticket to work out cheaper per game. That's not to mention all the other benefits given this year.

Muangthong United Vs Thai Port - preview


(NB This is today's second blog, please see the post about Rene and CMFC below.)  

Thai Port FC have become increasingly associated with hooliganism over the last two seasons. Just this week the club have been hit with a two match fan ban after an incident at Pattaya United.

It's a serious problem and one which the club staff and fans themselves need to weed out. But there's much more to the club than a minority of idiots. Thai Port are from Klong Toey - an area with a lot of character - and have the fans to match. Ever the underdog, they have no love for Muangthong fans, whom they see (wrongly, in my opinion) as being snobbish, high-so opposites to the grizzled and roughneck natives of Klong Toey. Their passion is strong. Man for man, Port were the noisiest supporters at the Thunderdome last season.

Problems have also hit the club on the pitch and in the directors' offices in recent months. A political struggle ended up with Port Authority being handed back control of the club and since then "Super Rich" have announced a large cash injection into the side. You have to wonder how the proud natives of Klong Toey will feel about having "Super Rich" written across their chests.

On the pitch, Port's goalie Munzo has made more than one howler already this season, forcing the coach to publicly back him.

Both sides come into this game under some pressure then, with the aforementioned goalkeeping crisis for the visitors and 'Thong looking to impress their new coach and erase the memory of last week's crash at Army United.

Datsakorn Thonlao should be back for this game. There are no new injuries I'm aware of, but perhaps Carlisto will be trying out some new personnel.

Last season was 1-0. Report is here.

Port have an excellent fan blog here and their OS here.

KO this Sunday @ 1800. Tickets are still available from the club or Total Reservation booths.

Want updates on Rene?

Right then lads, who's hard enough?
The above photo is from Paul at his site http://www.chiangmaifc.org/ where he'll be posting updates on CMFC and Rene in a similar way that I do except a) he's official and b) his jokes aren't lame. Take a look.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Datsakorn wins award

According to the OS, Datsakorn Thonglao has won an award from Siam Sport for best footballer of Thailand.

Meanwhile, after Rene making me think of his old UK TV namesake, and after seeing today's training pictures I've now finally figured out where I've seen Calisto before....

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Left back? Where?

Like most fans I was pleased when Kallio arrived, and I still think he can do a good job for us. Yet, it struck me as very risky to loan out our consistent and fit left back Piyachart to BEC Tero for a whole season in favour of someone who had never played in Thailand.

So when Kallio struggled, we had to bring in youth team player Arthit. He started at the same time as Kayem - though Kayem got a few games last season in the TLC - which also struck me as a little risky.

Arthit has done well but got red-carded last week against Army. The Army goals came afterwards. I assume that makes him unavailable for Sunday's game against Port Authority.

So what happens against Port? Either Kallio will have to start or someone will have to play out of position. I favour Kallio as he is a giant and Port are a very physical side.

But you have to wonder why? Why loan out a left back who played so many games and never once let us down? Why did we allow this problem to happen?

I don't know if we have a recall clause on Piyachart but when he left, Ronnachart said he was: "very much still in our plans". So what are we planning for Sunday, Khun Ronnachart?

Monday, 7 March 2011

Henrique Calisto

.....was unveiled officially today. He won the V-League title twice with Đồng Tâm Long An and took Vietnam to their first ASEAN title.
Welcome Henrique and three points this weekend please!

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Army 3 MTU 0 - Report

By all accounts, the game was even until Arthit saw red. We have to dust ourselves off and at least we know that with Robert around, the faults will be recognised and worked on. Also worth noting is that a) Army have improved massively from last season and b) from our two fixtures so far - BG away and Army away - we have the same number of points and goals conceded as we did last season.

Bring on Thai Port at home and get this out of our system.

nb: Tor does well here - he even manages to avoid describing us as 'relegation battlers' - except Miroslov Tose is actually Miroslov Toth. 


http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/sports/225043/army-embarrass-muang-thong-3-0

Army United shocked two-time defending champions Muang Thong United 3-0 in the Thai Premier League yesterday.
www.bangkokpost.com
Muang Thong were hammered in the second half after they were reduced to 10 men.

Goals from Wanchana Rattana after 50 minutes, Tatree Sreeha (52) and Leandro dos Santos (65) finished off the Kirins, who are still seeking their first win of the season.

The impressive triumph sent Army to top with two wins in as many games.

At Army stadium, Muang Thong, who thrashed Hanoi T&T in the AFC Cup in midweek, dominated for long periods in the first half but could not break Army's gritty defence.

Teerasil Dangda and Miroslav Tose squandered two good chances for Muang Thong as the first half ended in a scoreless draw.

The turning point came in the 49th minute when Arthit Daosawang was sent off after receiving his second yellow card.
Army then piled pressure on the Kirins and went in front in the 50th minute through Wanchana.

Tatree scored the home side's second goal two minutes later and dos Santos put the match beyond any doubt in the 65th minute.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Next up - Army United



MTU travel the short journey to Army United - previously known as Royal Thai Army FC - tomorrow to avenge last season's scores.

The Quilins were held 2-2 away and 3-3 at home by the boys in green in 2010. That wasn't enough to keep the troops up though, and Army survived only after Worawi decided to hold some unscheduled relegation play offs to keep everyone having fun.

In close season the soldiers signed three Brazilian players who have impressed in early performances. Their last match was a 3-1 win against Sriracha. (See it here.)

MTU have been allocated 3,700 tickets for the match but in reality even more fans could be accommodated. Army play in a very large stadium and their own support is very small.

There's no new team news for this game.

Their site is here.

Last season's match report is here.

KO  1800 at Army United Stadium.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Thai manager confirms to hire Calisto at high pay

(The headline above and article below are both verbatim.)

This article is from http://tuoitrenews.vn (direct link)

Amid speculation that Calisto left the Vietnamese national team for higher pay elsewhere, football club Muang Thong United manager Ronnarit Suewaja has confirmed Calisto would work for him for a generous salary.

Ronnarit Suewaja told Tuoi Tre late Wednesday that he invited Henrique Calisto – former coach of the Vietnam’s national football team – to lead the Thai club.

“He’s a talented coach and so we offered him the invitation to work for our club. Now, the position is empty after the resignation of coach Roberto Carlos de Carvalho last month,” he said.

It is estimated that Muang Thong United and Calisto will sign their contract by the end of this week, according to Siam Sports' former journalist Boonkong Akkabut.

What other reasons that urge you to have him?
Coach Calisto prefers eye-catching football that is much attractive to the audience. We do like that kind of spectacular ball performance, but it should be connected with goal scoring.

What is the duration of the contract that Muang Thong United and Calisto will sign?
All is under discussion as we have to respect his contract with Vietnam. We will negotiate details after his deal is terminated.
I’d want to add that Muang Thong United has several choices now but Calisto stands atop the list.

It has been reported that Muang Thong United will pay Calisto US$40,000 a month?
We are willing to pay him a high salary if our targets are to be completed. Apart from competition at Thailand’s national league, Muang Thong United needs reputation in the Asian arena.
Eleven years with the Vietnamese football, Calisto has won many titles and I know he is setting his eyes at new challenges with our club.
Muang Thong United has 10 international players. Is that fact an advantage or difficulty for Calisto to manage the squad?
Good coach and good footballers will make up a good team. It is my philosophy. I think Calisto can work well with our players who know him well from matches Vietnam and Thailand met in the past years.

MTU on wikipedia

Wikipedia is a fantastic website. So fantastic that I made a donation to it once and would encourage anyone else to do the same. Thanks to Druryfire and others, there's a wealth of information on Thai football all over it, too However, when it comes to MTU, I'd advise readers to double and triple check any information read on the MTU Wiki page.

Information on the page is frequently wrong, incorrectly cited and sometimes just plain made-up. A couple of days ago, wiki stated Winnie Schaefer (irony of that link intended) was our coach. We even acquired (according to the wiki) Diego Maradonna as our coach for thirteen minutes today! In reality, that was someone sharing a joke, but that joke also serves as a reminder.

There's a couple of reasons for the poor reliability of the MTU page. The language barrier is one of them. With so many fans of the team, it's natural that many well-intentioned Thais will want to share information, but on many occasions cited articles are misunderstood or, more often, mistranslated. Another issue is that Thai football fans often employ a playful or imaginative approach to the game and state things as they would like to see them rather than how they are. An example of all of these issues is the 'affiliated clubs' section on the wiki page. These lists are often updated to include all kinds of clubs without apparent reason. It's often a misunderstanding of the word 'affiliated' or a playful take on the idea of football clubs acting as professional wrestling style cliques.

Finally of course, information on Thai footie can be scarce or obfuscated. Nowhere near as scarce as it used to be, so Dale tells us, but still not ideal. Sometimes wiki updates may come from over-keen fans who couldn't wait to check.

In short then, information on wikipedia's MTU page can be useful providing it's verified. If you want to check something, feel free to ask your blogger. I get things wrong too of course, but when it matters, I can try to check with the club.

Muangthong United 4 Hanoi T&T 0 - Report


Dead
Not dead


Remember this? It was our first home game last season, an AFC group game following our ACL exit. The ground was undergoing extensive work, we had a new coach, new shirts were flying off the shelves in the club shop, we were aware of our poor pre-season form and how hard our rivals were working to take away our TPL title.

That story had a happy ending and the similarities with this year should be obvious, but this season is only going to be harder. Managerial turmoil - Henrique Calisto stated yesterday he will manage Muangthong after resigning as Vietnam coach - has not helped and Chonburi, BG and PEA are only more determined and experienced this year. In short, we really needed to prove a point today.

The line up had a few new faces: Kawin (GK), Kayem (LB), Athit (RB), Zesh (CB), Nattaporn (CB, capt), Datsakorn (MD), Jakkaphan (MD), Siaka (AM), Christian (Wing), Teerasil (Fw), Ahnon (St)

A few pointers for this first game. The Thais pronounce Sangsanoi's first name: "Ah-non" so I will spell it that way to avoid calling him: "Anon". Kayem and Athit are products of the youth team. Kawin sports a longer, fuzzier haircut but remains a favourite with female fans. There is no sign of Coulibly Abdoul, has he gone the way of Ibrahim; a mysterious, quick and quiet transfer?

Those thoughts fade quickly because within minutes of kick off we're all feeling good. It's obvious that Robert has been true to his word and his positive influence is clear to see. The team are back to their best - playing the ball down the flanks, moving for each other and looking fresh.

Long term readers may notice that whenever I'm talking about positive or poor performances, I'll always discuss our wide play or lack thereof. Of course that's not the be-all and end-all but it seems to be a symptom of the team's mind state. When they are playing with confidence and thinking clearly, Christian and co. will move down the wings and take people on, when they're tired or pressured, they use less width and take a direct approach.

For a while the game is even but Hanoi clearly lack attacking prowess and Kawin has little to do in the first half. But MTU - attacking our goal in the North Stand - are causing trouble with Jakkaphan looking especially menacing. Before long, Chris whips in a cross that falls to Jak, he fakes a shot then beats his man and shoots. The Hanoi goalie saves but there's a double rebound before Teerasil puts it home. 1-0.It's really starting to look like the side of old but the rest of the first half fizzles out.

The second half is a different story though. Some excellent footwork from Christian with a great finish makes it 2-0 early on. Chris had a great game today and could have notched a hat trick. I do wish he wouldn't go down so easily sometimes as a player of his ability is better off staying on his feet as much as he can.

Not long after Chris' gem, Ahnon opens his MTU account with his first goal from short range. 3-0.  By now it's all over and although Hanoi still made an effort, they really look like they couldn't score in a ten hour game and Kawin only had two tough saves to make against the Vietnamese champs all game.

Three subs made an appearance - Pitchipong, Santi and Paitoon. Pitchipong was especially pleasing as no less than three times he looked up and sprayed an excellent pass from the centre to the wing. It really epitomised what Robert, the fans and the team needed. It was the final proof that we were back.

Before the end, Teerasil added one more to make the final score 4-0. If the guys had more match practice under their belts, it could have been twice as many.

Let's be clear - the best thing about today was not a solid win against a distinctly average looking side, it was the way we did it. I'd say we are about ten or twenty percent away from being the team we were early last season when a lot of sides got demolished at the Thunderdome. Christian, Kawin, Nattaporn and Pitchipong all looked at the top of their game. Jakkaphan and Ahnon look like good acquisitions - better than the players they replaced - though I thought Jak looked better when he moved to the wing. Teerasil is not yet 100% but still scored twice and Dagno looks like he's still getting his sharpness back. Zesh looked good, too. The two kids at left and right back both looked very impressive and will only get better.

After a similar performance last season I stated correctly that no team in Thailand would better us. I can't say that this year but I can say that if we can keep up this tempo - and we have more rest time between games this season -then anyone wanting to win our title is going to have a heck of job doing it. Rumours of our demise have been greatly exaggerated.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Muang Thong Thani: the district

Muangthong United's stadium and surrounding area is unique. The stadium itself is one of the few in Thailand not to be surrounded by a rarely-used running track. Such tracks are required by provincial governments for most stadiums which are often designed to be multi-purpose. Since most clubs rent their stadia, they have to make do with this. The Thunderdome is owned by the club and hence we have no such hassle.

The district of Muang Thong Thani is even more unusual. This satellite town of Bangkok was - like so many big money schemes in Thailand - conceived by a Chinese immigrant family who founded Bangkok Land. The company implemented the design of the Muang Thong Thani area (which loosely translates to "New Town' in English) at an estimated cost of 1 billion USD.

The plan was to develop a sophisticated shopping and residential satellite suburb of Bangkok that would appeal to the rapidly developing upper-middle class bracket of Bangkokians. To that end a very spacious area was reserved for tower blocks, markets, shopping buildings and an exhibition centre, all accessible by highways. It was probably the intention to build a skytrain link to the area too, since another member of the founding family is a CEO of the BTS.

All this planning and early building started in the nineties, and we know what happened next. When PM Banharn Silipa-Archa (now owner of Suphanburi FC) confessed foreign exchange reserves were lower than the government had stated, speculative attacks on South East Asian currencies - especially the baht - became vicious and the crash kicked in. The result was a domino effect of bankrupt business and unfinished building projects.
http://www.mttbkk.com

The after-effects can still be seen around Bangkok in skeleton, half-built, deserted high-rise buildings scattered around the city that may never be finished or demolished, just left to rot or house squatters, stray dogs and rats. The effect is more pronounced in Muang Thong Thani. Parts of the area are like a modern day ghost town, with trendy office and shopping areas that are often less than half full.

http://www.mttbkk.com
To add to the unsettling feeling is the fact that these buildings are very atypically Thai. They have been designed to have a western look. This includes the residential tower blocks. Once described as 'beautiful', they now resemble the high-rise flats of lower income areas in English cities, albeit without the grafitti and gangs selling drugs outside. These flats now rent out at a very reasonable rate of 2,000 baht per month in an effort to attract residents and the gamble looks to have been successful. They are now treated as a local version of Chung King Mansions in Hong Kong, with everything from restaurants to barber shops within the complex. It's possible that residents would never actually need to leave the building if they didn't wish to.

The unique district has another feature: a lot of MTU fans. I've never walked past the complex on any occasion without seeing one - usually a lot more - Quilins shirt coming in or leaving. So yes, MTU do have a lot of local support.

It's even possible that those MTU locals could kick-start the revival of the area. The resurgence of residency combined with the boom of the exhibition centres and perhaps the success of the club has renewed interest in the area. A major hotel chain is currently finishing off a new structure right next to the Thunderdome and the apartment areas are seeing a slow increase in visitors to the local markets and shops.

Just like Thai football as a whole, the future of Muang Thong Thani is unknown and unclear, but my guess would be that rather than the entire 'high-so' district the founding family envisioned, we are more likely to see a divide between the big business exhibition centres and a smaller, lower income, but unique looking district of tower blocks and market shops behind it. At least they'll be able to say they have a good football team on their doorstep.

Much of the information for this article came from this excellent site.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Stadium updates

Ahead of tomorrow's game, here's an update on the stadium. A little bit about the district of Muang Thong Thani will appear tomorrow.

The Thunderdome is looking great. The pitch looks like a dream surface and the plastic seats - that are only installed on the side stands - look smart too.

The North/East stand club shop was closed today and completely unstocked.

A western style refreshment stall has been built next to the South Stand/East Stand corner.

The front area of the stadium is now fenced off. The road entrances are blocked by a full-length traffic gate.

Building work still has not been completed. Rubble, cables, wires and building tools are around everywhere. Some areas have an unsteady surface.

The building looks great, though it still has the lovable 'Legoland' feel to it.

Club shop queues - on a non-match day.     




Photo credits: ป๋า(ถม) ณ เมืองทอง at mtufc.net

Next up - Hanoi T&T (AFC group stage)

Nguyễn Minh Khang gives us his analysis of our next opponents:

2006: Club created. They are promoted to division 2.

2007: The club finish runners-up in Division2 and are promoted to Division 1.

2008: The team finish second in D1 and are promoted to the V-League (Vietnamese Premier League).

2009: Fourth place.

2010: Champions!

Key players:

Duong Hong Son - this goalkeeper was voted Man of the Match in the AFF Suzuki Cup 2008.

Le Cong Vinh
- striker who spent some time in Portugal.

Record this season so far - P4 W2 D0 L2.

The club's ambition is to retain the domestic title.

KO 1930 at the Thunderdome. Tickets 100bt or 200bt. 50bt kids.