|Jirawat mooinblack 66818053470|
Muangthong United look set for a stronger season in 2012. Despite the close season being all too short, the management have manoeuvred very wisely in the transfer market and at the time of writing, only the promise of a new international defender was left to be fulfilled. Now then, I present a run down of the key players in Muangthong United's 2012 campaign, the year we take back that we lost.
In Thailand players can be known by "official" nickname (informal), first name (easier sometimes) or surname (professional football style). Often, I use my own affectionate nicknames for ease. The name in quotations is how I expect to refer to the player in reports.
Note: official squad numbers will be added ASAP.
|"Just to reconfirm, if the contract ends early......"|
Slaviša Jokanović - Head Coach, "Solvva"
The Serbian comes with a pedigree and experience that promises much. It almost goes without saying that all he needs is to be left alone to get on with his work.
Most likely to: Get a sore throat from cheering his team's goals, and a sore tongue from biting it.
Key player: Kawin Thamasatchanan - GK "Kawin"
|"The exit's that way Mister De Gea"|
Injury held him back in 2011 and although he returned to full fitness well before mid-season, his form was hindered by the boardroom wrangles and then the rule of Robbie that the whole team suffered from.
Perhaps his confidence took a hit but if anyone had forgotten about his potential, they certainly remembered after his colossal display in the cup final.
In my opinion this all sets Kawin back at square one - a young goalie with huge potential that needs to be managed carefully by Muangthong. Rene suggested he take a move to a bigger Asian league such as Japan for his next step but even if the big move to England does happen, he might just cope OK. Not only is he highly professional in his training but he's also humble and sensible. This is a guy who still turns up in flip flops to watch Rajpracha FC with his mum, smiling shyly when fans ask him for a photo.
In summary, a performance akin to the 2010 season is distinctly possible this season, fate allowing. How this remarkably precocious 'keeper deals with the inevitable approaches that come his way will be life changing. Yes, he's that good, he could be the elusive one.
Most likely to: Make the guys cheer, the girls swoon and have everyone chanting his name after another fingertip save.
With Weera on loan at TOT and Witsanusak Kaewruang still out somewhere, our two reserve goalies are totally unknown quantities right now. I believe their names are Weerayut Makmoon and Suttichoke Chaikan. More information to come when available.
Most likely to: Have this blogger and ATF asking each other: "Which one is this guy again? "
Weerawut Kayem - Left back "Kayem"
Teenage left back with pace and professionalism who showed his face in 2010 and then came on in leaps and bounds last season. This year he should look for consistency. A chance to really establish his name as a long term MTU player beckons.
Most likely to: Make older fans feel tired simply by seeing how much he can run
Ri Kwang Chon - Centre back "Ri Kwang"
Panupong Wongsa - Centre back "Panupong"
Like so many Muangthong players, 2011 can be summed up as "Good, but just not as good as 2010" for southern-born Panupong. A return to stability along with some quality cover should see a restitution of form this time around. More battles with the hungry young attacking players at Buriram United await.
Most likely to: Pick up some more MOTM awards on the blog.
|Captain Nattaporn and his daughter|
Aged thirty, a veteran by Thai standards, Captain Nattaporn was my defender of choice last season for his bravery, positioning and commitment to the cause. Under Fowler however, his form dropped considerably, something he noticed himself when it started to come back. A return to full form is vital for this season as another drop might spell the end of his career at top level. I've got no doubt he'll come good again though, he's got heart.
Most likely to: Get that bruising last second goal-line clearance.
Arthit Daosawang - Right back, "Arthit"
Almost a character clone of Kayem, but at right back. Arthit will be looking to build consistency on top of the foundations of potential he showed last season. We still need cover down both flanks for these teenage players, though.
Most likely to: Play a great game of football, then go home and play a great game of 'Call of Duty' online.
Todsapol Lated - Centre back, "Todd"
Snapped up from cash-strapped Thai Port last season, probably for a fire sale fee. Thai Port fans rate him highly but inside whispers have suggested consistency might be an issue.
|Super Mario squashes another one|
Key player: Mario Djurovski - Midfield, "Super Mario"
Another incoming foreigner from close-season that comes highly rated. Early impressions are of a player that likes to play steady, weighted passes on the floor. If he can adjust quickly enough to the Thai game and the pitch conditions that come with it, a player of this type might make all the difference in our final league position.
Most likely to: Be a big hit with home fans.
Datsakorn Thonglao - Centre midfield, "Datsakorn, Dat Le Tiss"
The "Le Tissier" of 2010 found wonder goals and consistency (that word again) far harder to come by last time around. But it's not just flashy stuff that counts with the former Tero man, he can get stuck in, too. The quality is still there and perhaps the arrival of a player that, a first glance, looks so similar in style (Barakat) will push him to raise his game.
Most likely to: Get muddy shorts in the rainy season, thanks to all those slide-tackles.
|Now that blogger's got no excuse!|
Dagno Siaka - Attacking midfield/deep midfield "Dagno, Danny-o, Kone"
Long term member of the squad and one of those players you always want on your side. Dagno is versatile, quick and strong and could walk in to almost any first team in Thailand.
Most likely to: Take penalties, and keep the new hairstyle to stop me confusing him with Kone again. (I hope!).
Nattarid Thammarossopon - Centre midfield, "Natt"
Young player signed from BEC Tero, shows massive promise.
Most likely to: Win a MOTM award then get taken out to Swensens by his mum as reward.
Adnan Barakat - Centre midfield, "Adnan"
Signed from FC Baku, Barakat comes highly rated and his youtube highlights suggest he might be a set-piece demon. Could prove a real challenge to Datsakorn.
Most likely to: Score a great free kick then wai the fans.
Jakkaphan Pornsai - Wing, attacking midfield, "Pornsai"
Hotly anticipated player signed from Police before 2011 that only showed flashes of his promise last time around Will need to work hard this season. My gut feeling says he won't be with us for more than half a season.
Most likely to: Run down the line, cut inside and lay the low cross.
Ekapoom Potharungroj - Winger, "Ekapoom"
As with Todsapol, well-rated by Port fans but needs to earn his place.
|You talkin' to me? I don't see nobody else....|
Pitchipong Choechieu - Midfield, "Pitchipong"
We're looking a little top-heavy on midfielders aren't we? We could guess Pitchipong is the man to make way, but then every time I write him off, he comes back more dedicated and better than ever.
Most likely to: Pop up when you need him.
Piyapol Buntao - Attacking midfielder, "Buntao"
A squad player for the last couple of seasons that has started to look more and more deserving of a place in the first team. Seems to raise his game for the bigger matches. Definitely good to have on the bench, at least.
Most likely to: Have everyone forget about him, come off the bench and score a cracker.
|Christian be praised!|
Key player: Christian Kaokao - Winger, forward, "Chris, Christian"
The real bonus of the 2012, given how much interest has been shown in him lately and how resigned many staff were to losing him. His remarkable ability was subdued by the sheer physical pressure of so much travel and playing time over the last two seasons and for that reason, that single extra week of rest we've been given before opening day might just make a big difference. Still a highly talented dribbler and finisher that is held back by his mental approach to the game.
Most likely to: Just like last season - beat three guys, go for a penalty, realise he won't get it, get up, beat them all again and score a great goal.
Kone Muhammed - Forward, "Kone, Dagno"
The prodigal son of 2012? As if being re-signed from TOT - where he went due to his failed fitness test in Belgium - wasn't respite enough, Kone received full support from MTU staff during some confusion with the police over a drugs test in pre-season. Now's his chance to pay back the club by providing solid back up to Chris and Teerasil. The latter should especially appreciate the extra muscle up front, as he was so often isolated and hustled off the ball in 2011. He's not just about the brawn though, a fully fit Kone sure as heck knows how to find the net himself, too.
Most likely to: Scare opposition defenders.
Choe Kum-Chol - Striker "Choe Kum"
Teerasil Dangda - Striker, "Teerasil"
Nothing has changed. This guy is still pure class.
Most likely to: Show the great technique he has.
Other players that might play a role:
Piyachart - full back, loaned to BEC Tero all last season.
Mongkol Namnuad - midfielder signed from Thai Port.
Diarra Ali - defender out on loan to Suphanburi because of the new foreign players rule. Can be recalled any time.
Bobouacar Issofou - winger, my "will he or won't he?" player of 2011, now loaned out and in a similar conundrum to Ali.
Santhi Chaiyaphruk - utility player, signed from Pattaya and loaned out midway through last season.
Photo credits: Jirawat mooinblack 66818053470 except Kawin (affsuzukicup.com) and Nattaporn (shutterstock.com)