PHUKET: First-place Ratchaburi FC is in “fine form” and preparing to play attacking football in tonight’s highly-anticipated match against Phuket FC, the team’s coach told a pre-match press conference yesterday.
Speaking in the Phuket FC office opposite Surakul Stadium, Ratchaburi Coach Somchai Maiwelai said, “Even though there is a considerable gap between our teams [26 points], we’re not going to underestimate Phuket. They have fantastic teamwork and can be a deadly team.”
Ratchaburi beat Phuket 3-0 in their first encounter in May, but only after Phuket keeper Alonso Goleiro was sent off after a disastrous call that was later reviewed by the league and ruled incorrect. The ruling had no impact on the final outcome, however, as all on-the-field calls are irreversible under Thai Premier League rules.
Coach Somchai said his team would come out in attack mode, employing a 4-4-2 formation.
Ratchaburi captain Prayad Boonya said, “Our team is in full form. The only key player who is not available to play in tomorrow’s match is striker Pornchai Artjinda, who is injured.”
Coach Somchai also confirmed that the team’s leading scorer, Brazilian Douglas Gordoza, would be one of the Dragon’s starters tonight.
Gordoza is tied with two Bangkok United players, Romin Gasmi and Sompong Soleb, for second in the league for golden boot, each with 12 goals, while Suphanburi’s Pipat Tonkanya is the current leader with 14 goals.
Phuket, in contrast, have two key players who will not be on the field. Recent signings Jongnok Wattana and Wanmai Setthana both will both be watching from the sidelines with foot injuries.
Also watching the opening kick-off from the sideline will be both of Phuket’s Brazilian stars. Midfielder Marcio Santos has to serve a match ban for accumulating too many yellow cards, while keeper Alonso will sit out so that Phuket-born Kampol “Ice” Pathom-attakul can play the position, thus freeing up one of the three non-Asian quota positions on the pitch.
For the last month, Alonso has been given the special role of being Ice’s personal goalkeeping coach.
Coach Noi confirmed that his strategy will be defensive, with a 4-2-3-1 formation.
“We are the clear underdogs tomorrow, so we’ll play defensively and try to capitalize on counter-attack opportunities,” he said.
Team President Pamuke Atchirayachai was also present at the press conference.
“Ratchaburi is a really good team. We believe they will get promoted to the Thai Premier League at the end of this season, and hopefully we will meet you there next season,” he told Coach Somchai.
“Our primary goal is to avoid relegation and finish in the top 10 this season. Tomorrow will be an exciting match and I want everybody to respect the rules and outcome, no matter what happens. We our professionals and so we should put our ‘all’ into showing it,” he said.
Mr Pamuke, who understands the value of incentives through financial reward, has been awarding his team 100,000 baht for each victory, with an additional 10,000 baht per goal.
Phuket Captain Watcharapong Jun-ngam concluded: “Anything can happen tomorrow. All I know is we will try hard to gain three points for Phuket.”
Fans heading to the stadium for the match are advised to get there early if they want a guarantee of staying dry in the covered seating section: the 24-hour forecast issued by the Thai Meteorological Department calls for “cloudy conditions with fairly widespread thundershower over 70% of the province and isolated heavy rain”.
Fans are also advised that there is a complete ban on the retail sale of alcohol across the island due to today’s election for Phuket Provincial Administration Organization council seats. Those who have planned ahead will be allowed to bring beer into the stadium, but only if it is stored in plastic bags.
Results of yesterday’s Yamaha Division One matches:
J.W. Rangsit 0 – 2 Khonkaen
Songkhla 0 – 1 Suphanburi
Krabi 2 – 0 Gulf Saraburi
Navy 1 – 0 Pattalung
Chanthaburi 0 – 2 Air Force Utd
— Steven Layne & Stephen Fein
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