Phuket FC prevails: 4-0 win over JW Rangsit ensures division survival
PHUKET: The Islanders ended their season in great form, sealing their Thai Division 1 status with a 4-0 win over JW Rangsit FC on Saturday night.
Going into the final match of the season, 13th-placed Phuket were under pressure to win in order to avoid relegation.
Meanwhile, their 16th-placed opponents — third from bottom of the 18-team table — had no chance of escaping relegation, and thus were only playing for pride.
The match was played at Phuket’s Surakul Stadium, with thousands of fans packed into the ground’s covered stand, not only for a good view, but also to avoid the late day sun accompanying the early 4pm kickoff.
The home side took charge from the start, scoring in the opening minutes, with team captain Nonthapan Jiensathawong converting one of his deadly free kicks — his fourth goal for the team this season.
Though possession was balanced through the rest of the first half with chances on goal enjoyed by both sides, the Islanders went on to double their lead in the final minute of the half.
Cashing in on his side’s brilliant passing game and after a period of sustained pressure, Ivorian import, Makalou Ibrahim (commonly referred to as Kanoute) scored his fourth goal of the season on 44 minutes.
With Phuket up 2-0 at the half, the pressure eased for them in the rest of the game, and to the pleasure of the crowd, they kept up their form to double their lead with two more goals — first by Thawin Butsombat on 63 minutes, and nine minutes later when Kanoute scored his second of the match and fifth for the season.
The score might have been 5-0 had a late goal by Nenebi Slyvester not been disallowed by an offside flag.
After the final whistle blew, Kanoute was awarded ‘man of the match’ for his strong attacking pressure and two goals.
The result ensured that Phuket finished in 13th place, one spot above this season’s five team relegation pot, giving them another shot next season to fight for promotion to the prestigious Thai Premier League.
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Next season is scheduled to commence by February, 2013.
Five teams to be relegated from Division 1 this season are: Songkhla (14th place), Pattalung (15th), JW Rangsit (16th), Rajpracha (17th) and Chanthaburi (18th).
Three teams to be promoted from Division 1 to the elite Thai Premier League are: Ratchaburi (1st place), Suphanburi (2nd) and Bangkok United (3rd).
These teams will be replaced by the three teams who were relegated from the TPL: Thai Port (16th), BBCU (17tth) and Thai Tobacco Monopoly Chiang Mai (18th).
As for the five teams to fill in the Division 1 vacancies, four are currently being decided in the Champions League Division 2 playoffs, currently going into its fifth of 10 scheduled weeks.
It is being contested by 12 teams: Ayutthaya FC, Pak Nam Po, Roi Et United, Pattani FC, Rayong United, Pitsanulok, Trat FC, Rayong FC, Si Saket FC, Chiang Mai FC, Thai Honda FC and Trang FC.
The other promotion spot will be filled by Nakhon Pathom FC, who retains its Division 1 standing following the completion of a two year ban on competition.
Nakhon Pathom was penalized at the end of the 2010 season when a riot broke out on its home pitch following a heated playoff match with Si Saket Thailand FC (currently Isaan United).
With the end of the Thai football season, the Gazette will now shift coverage focus to futsal, starting with the sport’s most prestigious event, the FIFA Futsal World Cup 2012 to kickoff in Bangkok this Thursday.
— Steven Layne
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