Diary of a Thai football season

2023/24 Kasetsart FC v Samut Prakan

It's time to get on the Bangkok skytrain for a local derby!

(The only time the clubs have met at the Kasetsart University Stadium was in October 2022. The match ended up a drab goalless draw)

Firstly, the big club news

It would appear from media reports that head coach Wanderley has left the club, which would explain why 'Coach Din' appeared to take charge of last weekend's game at home to Chantaburi. This means that Wanderley guided the team to just two wins during his 13-match tenure and it turned out to be a somewhat disastrous appointment.

With just 7 games to play and T2 safety more or less guaranteed, I wouldn't be in a hurry to find a new coach. Perhaps let Coach Din take charge for what matches remain and take stock at the end of the season.

(Wanderley has left the building)

On to today's opponents and Kasetsart have had a 'mare' of a season

They have. Currently 17th in the T2 table, they've won just five of their 27 matches so far and have a goal difference of minus 43. In recent weeks, they've had an unbelieveable 10-1 tanking at Nongbua, and 3-0 reverses against Chainat and Suphanburi. Confidence must be at rock bottom. There's also rumours of player salaries not being paid (which is not uncommon for T2 clubs) 

Some Kasetsart FC club background

Kasetsart FC (nickname: The Emerald Nagas) were founded in 1988 and spent many years in the Bangkok regional leagues until winning promotion to the second division in 2016, where they've been ever since. Somehow they've always managed to survive, usually finishing between 12th and 14th every time. But it looks like their 8-year stay is coming to an end.  

Notable milestones in their history include the 2010 League Cup when the players downed tools and walked off the pitch during a game against Nonthaburi FC and were then booted out of the competition. However, I believe players walking off mid-match when there was a decision they were unhappy with was quite a common sight in years gone by. 

For the following season (2011) considerable money was pumped into the club and expectations were high...until Kasetsart's home stadium fell victim to some of Bangkok's worst ever flooding. The pitch was so badly damaged the club had to eventually relocate an hour away to Nakhon Pathom. The upheaval cost them dearly as they were pipped at the post for a play-off spot.

Score prediction?

Even an out-of-form Samut Prakan should have enough to beat Kasetsart FC in their current predicament. I'll go for us to nick it 1-0 but would prefer a 5-4 end-to-end humdinger.

You don't like this particular away trip?

I've been to the Kasetsart Stadium several times as both an away fan and a neutral, and while it's relatively easy to get to, the ground serves up a spectacularly dull match day experience. Kasetsart probably have the quietest home fans in T2 anyway, but with poor results on the pitch, they're now getting crowds of barely 200. I know Samut Prakan aren't getting many more than that through the turnstiles but at least our fans have some passion!

It's certainly time that Kasetsart's place in the second tier was given to maybe Bangkok FC or a well-supported club from the south.

To the match itself

Before the match, we bumped into captain Ronnachai outside the stadium and begged him to steer the team to a win tonight, something to send the considerable away support back to Samut Prakan with smiles on their faces. He said he would do his best. Fast forward to around five minutes before the interval and I am screaming at the top of my lungs at the players. Prakan fans around me look scared. I have for want of a better expression, completely lost it for the first time ever at a Samut Prakan game. It's not just because we are a goal down to Pontrakon's well-taken 9th minute opener. It's not because we are making a bottom three side that got trounced 10-1 a couple of weeks ago, look like Real Madrid, it's the fact that so many of our players just don't seem to have basic footballing ability. Watching the same player mis-control the ball for the umpteenth time pushes me over the edge. I'm seriously not sure how many of these guys would get a place in a third division side. What has gone wrong with this team? Was that possibly the worst 45 minutes of football I've seen a Samut Prakan side play? We've run it mighty close.

Half-time: Kasetsart FC 1 Samut Prakan 0

When Prasit sidefoots the ball home on 55 minutes to give Kasetsart a well-deserved two-goal lead, that's pretty much game over. I'm all out of emotion. I'm wondering how many Kasetsart might score now their tails are really up and our lot are already on the team bus home. The final 20 minutes is Samut Prakan's best spell of the game as several chances go begging, but it's all too late. We've still got time for one more Kasetsart goal and Nattahpon's swivel and shot from the edge of the box is an absolute corker. Deep into injury time, Fernando Viana finally bags his tenth goal of the season, a target that seems to have eluded him since forever. For the travelling Samut Prakan fans, it doesn't even qualify as scant consolation.

Full-time: Kasetsart FC 3 Samut Prakan 1     

Watch the match highlights

Overall thoughts

I've never in five seasons felt this low as a Samut Prakan supporter. I heard that after the match, Khun Din the interim coach was in tears. I was pretty close to them myself. The performance out there on the pitch coupled with an unbearably hot and humid stadium, made it another evening to forget. 

We're also keeping an eye on the T3 play-offs

The T3 play-offs got underway this weekend with the six northern section teams playing on Saturday and the six southern section teams on Sunday.  

The 'easier' northern section includes the two favourites - Mahasarakham SBT and Sisaket United, along with Maejo United, Saimit Kabin, Bankhai United and Phitsanaloke Unity. 

The 'more competitive and more difficult' southern section has three strong teams; Bangkok FC, Songkhla FC and Phattalung, plus a potential dark horse in Ang Thong FC, Two university sides; North Bangkok University and Pathum Thani University make up the numbers.

A more detailed look at the 12 T3 play-off teams.

Who's up next?

We are at home to T2 league leaders Nongbua Pichaya on Sunday 17th March.

Samut Prakan fixtures 2023/2024


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