Beetles travel to fortress Samut Prakan
published : 14 Feb 2020 at 04:01
newspaper section: Sports
Chiang Rai United have a tough encounter on the opening day of the 2020 season on Friday as they kick off the defence of their Thai League 1 crown.
The Beetles, who dethroned northeastern giants Buriram United in a dramatic fashion on the final day of last season, travel to Samut Prakan for the only match of the day.
Relegated neighbours Chiangmai did the Beetles a great favour by holding six-time champions Buriram United to an unexpected 1-1 draw in the last game of the 2019 season.
Both Chiang Rai and Buriram ended the league with identical 58 points from 30 matches. However, the Beetles were declared the winners of the league on the basis of a better head-to-head record.
The 2020 Thai League 1 opener will pit two Japanese coaches
Chiang Rai are now under new coach Masami Taki after their league-winning Brazilian manager Ailton Silva quit during off-season.
Samut Prakan, on the other hand, are coached by Masatada Ishii, who has added several new faces to the team's line-up for the new season.
Taki will be keen to get the Beetles' off to a winning start after losing his first match in charge of the team at Melbourne Victory where his men were beaten 1-0 in their first 2020 AFC Champions League match on Tuesday.
"We did lose to Melbourne Victory but it should not have any effect on the team's morale for the game against Samut Prakan City," said Taki, who has previously coached Thai Honda in the top domestic league.
"We are ready for the Thai League 1 opener and we are in as good a shape as a team could be," he added.
Ishii is also confident of an impressive start, saying, "The core of our top Thai players is still with us and we have some new players in the squad as well. We are ready for the new season."
The match, which will kick off at 8pm, will be beamed live by True Sports 2 (286) and True Sports HD 2 (667).
Four matches are scheduled for Saturday when True Bangkok United take on PT Prachuap, Sukhothai travel to Suphanburi, promoted BG Pathum United host former champions SCG Muang Thong United and Port face Nakhon Ratchasima.
Buriram start their campaign with game at promoted Police Tero on Sunday when Ratchaburi host Trat and Chonburi meet Rayong in an eastern derby.