PHUKET TOWN: FC Phuket will kick off the new football season against Phattalung at Surakul Stadium on Sunday.
The team endured a disappointing first campaign, failing to win a single home game and finishing second to last in the Football Association of Thailand’s second division, southern section.
The team, which has changed its name from Phuket FC to FC Phuket, looks set to be far stronger and better organized this year.
No longer the ‘Sea Dragons’, the club is now nicknamed the ‘Southern Sea Kirin’, after a mythical fire-breathing beast sometimes known as the ‘Chinese Unicorn’.
Training sessions have been taking place daily at the Fifa pitch at Cape Panwa since October and the current squad of 26 has been carefully selected.
New coach Arjhan Songgamsub comes from Thai Premier League Champions Muang Thong United, bringing a wealth of experience from both Thailand and around Southeast Asia. He has a reputation as one of the best coaches in Thailand.
Coach Arjhan has been supervising rigorous training sessions to ensure the team is ready for the 2010 season. He warns fans with high expectations to be patient as the team will need time to develop its chemistry.
“We will not know how good this team is until we have played nine or ten games because there are a lot of new players who have never played together before,” he said.
FC Phuket’s pre-season form has been encouraging, particularly the 2-1 win over Division One side Narathiwat last week. Narathiwat were promoted to Division One after winning the second division, southern section last year.
Fans will be hoping the Kirin can record their first-ever home win against Phattalung this Sunday.
There is also expected to be a large contingent of Phattalung supporters at the game, as Phuket is home to several thousand natives of that province.
FC Phuket Supporters Club co-president and Phuket 91.5FM radio host Dan Ogunshakin said, “They’ve got a new set up and it’s a lot more professional. They have signed some sort of agreement with Muang Tong United, bringing in a lot of players, and they have been working hard every day. So they are looking in a lot better shape and look much more organized,” he said.
Sunday’s match kicks off at 5pm. Tickets are 50 baht and children are admitted free. For more information and updates visit: www.phuketfc.blogspot.com/
— James Goyder
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