Previous
Manchester United
Internazionale
1
0
FT
Game Details
Benfica
Guadalajara
ESPN3 1:00 PM UTC
Game Details
Arsenal
Fiorentina
3:00 PM UTC
Game Details
Bayern Munich
Real Madrid
ESPN3 5:00 PM UTC
Game Details
Next
IndiaIndia
TajikistanTajikistan
2
4
FT
Game Details
JapanJapan
QatarQatar
1
3
FT
Game Details
QatarQatar
United Arab EmiratesUnited Arab Emirates
4
0
FT
Game Details
IranIran
JapanJapan
0
3
FT
Game Details
 By Paul Murphy

Thailand teenager Supachok sparks Buriram as coach Ghotbi exits

Narubadin Weerawatnodom hailed Buriram United's fighting spirit as a 2-1 victory at Army United took them a step closer to clinching third spot in the Premier League of Thailand (PLT).

However, the reigning champions will need a new head coach to take them over the line after the sensational announcement of Afshin Ghotbi's departure following his side's win.

Elsewhere, Bangkok United dropped what could be a crucial two points as they drew 1-1 at Nakhon Ratchasima, while league leaders Muang Thong United thrashed Pattaya United 4-1 at home.

Here are five things we saw on PLT Matchday 28:

1. Buriram win but Ghotbi goes

Buriram United have long given up on hopes of retaining the title they won three years in a row. A poor start to the season cost head coach Alexandre Gama his job and former Iran boss Afshin Ghotbi arrived at the end of May.

Ghotbi has apparently failed to meet the expectations of club owner Newin Chitchob and was ruthlessly dismissed on Saturday, despite guiding his side to an important win at struggling Army United. With Bangkok Glass drawing 1-1 at home to Chonburi, the Thunder Castle leapfrogged the Glass Rabbits into the third spot that would given them a qualifying berth in the AFC Champions League (ACL).

However, just after the game, it was announced that Ghotbi would not be leading the side for the remainder of the season as he had failed to meet the targets he had been set.

After a shaky start, Ghotbi led Buriram to four straight wins in July, briefly raising the possibility of an unlikely, late charge for the title. But defeat at Muang Thong extinguished any remaining hopes and the same opponents soon put them out of the FA Cup. The last four PLT games have seen two wins and two draws against the bottom four teams, testing Newin's patience.

Buriram still have a likely League Cup final against Muang Thong to look forward to but Ghotbi will not be able to lift silverware for a team that have become accustomed to a full trophy cabinet.

2. Narubadin targets ACL play-off

It wasn't apparent at the time, but 18-year-old Supachok Sarachat's superb winning strike at Army United proved to be the final goal of Ghotbi's brief Buriram reign.

Portuguese striker Bruno Moreira opened the scoring for the visitors in the first half before Josimar Rodrigues levelled it up with a penalty at the beginning of the second period. In an increasingly open game, it took a moment of brilliance to settle the match and Supachok curled home from the edge of the box to seal three points with just under 10 minutes left.

Defender Narubadin, who was named in the Thailand squad for next month's World Cup qualifiers, told ESPN FC, "We had drawn the last two games so it was very important to pick up three points. This game could have gone either way but we dug in, worked hard and got the goal and closed out the game. We're in third place now and we want to stay there for the rest of the season."

Buriram defender Narubadin Weerawatnodom
Buriram defender Narubadin was named in Thailand's squad for upcoming 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

Goalscorer Supachok -- he will surely join Narubadin in the national squad in the future -- was also delighted to taste victory again.

"I'm very happy with the win," said the 18-year-old. "We know that we can't win the league again but this was an important three points in our goal to finish third and get a place in the ACL playoffs."

Supachok, along with fellow 18-year-old Anon Amornlerdsak, has been one of the bright spots in a disappointing season for the Thunder Castle, leaving Ghotbi's successor with two of Thailand's most precocious talents.

3. Bangkok United blink first in title race

After the top two fought to a thrilling 3-3 draw in July, Bangkok United won six PLT matches in a row to stay in touch with league leaders Muang Thong United. But on Saturday, they stumbled as in-form Nakhon Ratchasima held them to a 1-1 draw, while the Kirins dismissed Pattaya United with a 4-1 victory.

The Swatcats had won their last two games to pull away from relegation trouble and Chakrit Rawanprakone put them in front after 56 minutes. Bahrain international Jaycee John scored yet again for the Bangkok Angels with just four minutes remaining but there were to be no added-time heroics from Mano Polking's men as the hosts stood firm for another vital point.

Thailand striker Teerasil Dangda
Teerasil Dangda was among the scorers as Muang Thong secured a comfortable victory over Pattaya United.

There were no such problems for Muang Thong as they breezed past Pattaya, taking a 3-0 first-half lead through former Newcastle United striker Xisco, Cleiton Silva and Theerathon Bunmathan. Fran Gonzalez pulled one back for the visitors but Teerasil Dangda struck the fourth as Muang Thong took a tighter grip of top spot.

4. Penalty specialist Sinama Pongolle strikes again

After the disappointment of a 2-1 defeat at BBCU FC last week, Chainat recovered with a 3-2 win at home to Sukhothai. Incredibly, former Liverpool striker Florent Sinama Pongolle won and converted two more penalties, taking his goal tally to 10 since he joined the Hornbills last month, and his penalty tally to six in just eight games.

The Firebats opened the scoring after just two minutes when Lursan Tiemraj drove home after a powerful run. But the hosts levelled just a minute later when Sinama Pongolle slotted home a spot-kick after he went down when challenging for a header. The award looked soft but the Frenchman took advantage and his side took the lead just 10 minutes later through Chatchai Koompraya.

Chainat's second penalty award looked more clearcut as Sinama Pongolle was clipped as he tried to make space for a shot and the striker put the Hornbills 3-1 up in the 36th minute. Sukhothai pulled one back but Chainat held on and moved level on points with free falling Army United, who must now be favourites for the drop.

Chainat striker Florent Sinama Pongolle
Florent Sinama Pongolle has scored 10 goals since moving to Thailand last month, with six coming from penalties.

5. Ton-up Teerasak takes a point

While Buriram were getting rid of a coach after a matter of months, Chiang Rai United demonstrated their loyalty as 38-year-old Teerasak Po-on took charge for his 100th PLT game. Lazarus Kaimbi's early goal at Ratchaburi had him on track for a double celebration, but hosts Ratchaburi hit back and Yai Nilwong ran clear to level the score in the first minute of the second half.

Teerasak told ESPN FC, "I'm proud and honoured to have reached this milestone. I am still learning and hope to be a better coach in the future. Last night's result was important and keeps us in with a chance of a top-five finish ahead of the break for the international matches. There are six more games to go and we are just four points behind Ratchaburi."

Regarding his chances of continuing to lead the side next year, the 38-year-old was cautious.

"I'm aware that things change quickly in football and coaches and players move on," said Teerasak. "I just have to focus on on the present and doing my best for the club."

The PLT now breaks for three weeks ahead of Thailand's upcoming AFC World Cup qualifiers against Saudi Arabia and Japan.

Bangkok-based Paul Murphy has lived in Asia for a decade, writing for ESPN FC since 2014. He is a former Daily Express sub-editor. @PaulMurphyBKK

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.