Welcome to Samut Prakan City!
Who are we welcoming to the SAT Stadium in Bang Plee and who is leaving for pastures new? (Photo credits: The official Samut Prakan Facebook page)
Masatada Ishii (head coach)
Let's start with the new gaffer, Masatada Ishii, who was appointed shortly before Christmas and will take over the managerial reins from fellow countryman, Tetsuya Muryama.
Masatada comes to the club with a decent pedigree, having played and managed at the top level of Japanese football. After ten years plus as part of the coaching staff at Kashima Antlers, he was promoted to the position of manager in 2015 and won the J-League title in his very first season. Unfortunately, the good times didn't last and he was dismissed mid-way through the following campaign as Kashima Antlers struggled to defend their silverware. Masatada then moved to relegation-threatened Omiya Ardija, but ultimately failed to save them from the drop.
This is a 'big name' appointment for Samut Prakan and certainly shows the level of ambition at the club. We wish him all the very best.
Pedro Junior (forward)
With a month to go until the start of the new season, Pedro Junior is our biggest name signing yet.
The 32-year-old much-travelled Brazilian striker made 15 appearances for Buriram last season and scored 6 goals. In the 2017-2018 season, he played for Kashima Antlers in the Japanese League, so this will be the chance for him to re-unite with his old boss, Masatada Ishii.
Ernesto Phumipha (left back)
29-year old Ernesto Phumipha, a Spanish/Thai defender joins us from Muangthong United. He made just 6 appearances for the Kirins in the 2019 season.
After several years playing in the Spanish lower leagues for Oviedo B and Sporting Gijon B, Ernesto moved to Thailand in 2013 and has enjoyed decent spells at both Bangkok United and Army United (where he scored all of his 6 career goals)
"Was considered a solid player but had a bad season at Port and Muangthong. Not sure if he adds much to the team other than backup, but of course I could be wrong" - Gian Chansrichawla, Thai football writer.
Nattapon Malapun (defender)
25-year-old Nattapon was our first signing of the close season. 'Eang' played a handful of games for both Police United and Buriram before going out on loan to Chonburi FC for a couple of seasons, where he made almost 50 appearances for The Sharks. In 2019, he found himself at PT Prachuap and became an integral part of their League Cup winning squad. He has also played three times for the Thailand national team.
"He's a class act. You've got yourself a very useful player there' - Dale Farrington, Chonburi FC super fan.
Matee Sarakum (forward)
20-year old Matee (nickname: Toomtam) was a product of the Buriram youth set-up, helping the youth team to win the Coke Cup in 2017. A call-up to the Thailand under-19 squad soon followed and with five goals to his credit, Matee was top goalscorer at the ASEAN championship in Myanmar.
It appears his career went off track a little in 2018/19 with loan spells at Krabi FC and Lampang in the second and third tiers of the Thai league. Could Samut Prakan City be the club to put him back in the spotlight?
Attapon Kannoo (forward)
28-year-old Attapon (nickname: Art) has certainly been around and his previous clubs include Buriram, Suphanburi, Krabi FC and the now defunct Army United. He also made appearances for the Thailand U-19 team but that's really all I know. There is very little general info about him on the internet.
Adisak Boonthawee (goalkeeper)
26-year old Adisak (nickname: Benz) is a highly experienced shot-stopper and can list BEC Tero, PTT Rayong, Suphanburi, Trat and Ayuthaya United on his resume. Benz became the fourth addition to the Samut Prakan City squad, with the start of the new season only two months away.
Suphanan Bureerat (right back)
I'm going to be a bit sneaky here because 26-year-old Suphanan is not a new signing per se but spent the whole of Samut Prakan's first season on loan at Muanthong United, in fact he made 26 appearances for them. Muangthong have decided not to make the signing permanent so the man from Chantaburi will be returning to Bang Plee. It feels like a new signing. Let's put it that way.
Yuto Ono (midfield)
Japanese midfielder, Yuto Ono, joins Samut Prakan after spending several seasons in the lower Mexican leagues. Hardly a signing to set the pulse racing but we trust the manager knows his strengths.
Tatsuya Sakai (defender)
The 29-year-old from Fukuoka joins Samut Prakan from Japanese second division side, Montedio Yamagata, for whom he made just 7 appearances in two seasons. In fact, according to Wiki, he has only played 51 first team games since 2012 (for five different clubs). Surprisingly perhaps, he does have one cap for the Japanese national team, which he earned back in 2014. Looks like a squad player to me.
Ibson Melo (forward)
Ibson in orange! It just doesn't look right.
Samut Prakan fans finally got the news they had been dreading in mid-December when it was officially announced that Ibson Melo had signed for Sukhothai FC.
Our Brazilian 16-goal, player of the season (well, he was my player of the season anyway) couldn't agree terms for another one-year contract and decided to move on. This happens a lot in Thai football apparently. Foreign players can swap clubs like I'd change deckchairs on a beach. I'll just have to get used to it I suppose but at this moment in time, I can't imagine Samut Prakan City with no Ibson in the line-up.
Interestingly, going to Sukhothai will re-unite him with ex-Samut Prakan Manager, Surapong Kongthep. I wonder if that influenced his decision in any way?
When I sent Ibson a message on social media to wish him all the best, he responded immediately to say thank you for all the support. He always had time for the fans and he will be sorely missed. Thanks for all the magic moments and the great memories!
Boworn Tapla (midfield)
We've said goodbye to Boworn Tapla, who moves up north to join championship club, Chiang Mai United.
The highlight of last season for Boworn was undoubtedly his four goals in the first round of the FA Cup, albeit against weaker opposition. In his 15 or so league appearances for the Sea Fang, he always gave 100% but too often went missing in bigger games.
Chiang Mai United have got themselves a very useful player there but at 31 years of age, the second tier is probably Boworn's level now.