It'll be tough for Buriram

It'll be tough for Buriram

Many teams snapping at champions' heels

Buriram United celebrate winning the Thai League 1 title last season.
Buriram United celebrate winning the Thai League 1 title last season.

The new Thai League 1 season starts today with defending champions Buriram United favourites to retain the crown.

However, it may be much tougher for the Thunder Castle to win a record-extending eighth T1 title with several teams looking to dethrone them.

Buriram finished last season two points ahead of BG Pathum United with Bangkok United coming in third and Muang Thong United fourth.

Buriram, who also won the FA Cup and League Cup last term, got off to an inauspicious start losing 3-2 to Pathum in the curtain-raising Thailand Champions Cup match last week.

The Thunder Castle seem unfazed by the loss as coach Masatada Ishii looks confident of retaining the titles.

"We will go for the titles -- it's my job," said the Japanese.

The Thunder Castle have brought in four new players in the current transfer window -- midfielder Goran Causic of Serbia, forwards Frank Castaneda of Colombia and Lonsana Doumbouya from Guinea, and defender Diego Bardanca of the Philippines.

Suphanat Mueanta, Supachai Chaided and Rattanakorn Maikami, meanwhile, have returned from a training stint at English Premier League club Leicester City.

Pathum, last season's runners-up, have signed seven new players including Thailand midfielder Phitiwat Sukjitthammakul from Chiang Rai United.

The Rabbits also have Thailand internationals Teerasil Dangda, Sarach Yooyen and Chatchai Bootprom.

Former Buriram players, striker Diogo Luis Santo and defender Andres Tunez, remain with BG.

Pathum coach Makoto Teguramori believes his men are good enough to reclaim the title they won in the 2020-21 season.

"The new and old players gel with one another. I believe this squad is good enough to take us to our goal [win the T1 title]," said Teguramori, another Japanese coach.

"Our players are in perfect condition. They work hard and are motivated."

BG will begin their T1 campaign in the 2022-23 season at Chonburi on Aug 31 because they have to play in the AFC Champions League.

Bangkok United, backed by True Corporation, have never won a major title, having finished second in the league twice in 2016 and 2018 and in the FA Cup in 2017.

They have seven new players including Brazilian forward Willen Mota from Prachuap who will partner compatriot Heberty Fernandes up front.

They will be supported by countryman Vander Luiz in midfield and the defence marshalled by Everton, another Brazilian.

The Angels also boast several Thailand internationals including Thitiphan Puangchan, Manuel Tom Bihr and Peerapat Notchaiya.

They host Khon Kaen United in today's season opener.

Once the most successful club in Thailand, Muang Thong United have become also-rans over the past few years due to the economic downturn which has severely affected their owners, Siam Sport Syndicate.

Muang Thong have recruited some interesting players particularly midfielder Ekanit Panya, who plays for Thailand's senior and U23 sides, and their former goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan.

It will be Mario Gjurovksi's third season as coach of Muang Thong and their bosses are confident that their men are ready to challenge for the title under the theme the "Awaken Kirins."

"We have prepared well," said club chairman Wiluck Lohtong.

"It will be a challenge to lead Muang Thong United to success again."

Port, who finished eighth last season, are aiming to end their title drought.

The Lions have hired a new coach in Englishman Scott Cooper.

Since Nualphan Lamsam became club chairwoman in 2015, Port have used more than 10 coaches.

For the 2022-23 season, Port have seven new players, notably Brazil's Hamilton Soares, one of the top strikers in T1, and Thailand U23 player Ben Davis, who is on a season-long loan deal from English League One club Oxford United.

Under the theme the "Lions Roar," Nualphan believes the Kong Toey-based club are title contenders in all major competitions.

Nualphan is also manager of the Thai senior and U23 teams and some Port supporters have called on her to quit the job and solely focus on the club.

The promoted teams are Lamphun Warriors, Sukhothai and Lampang.

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