SCG Muangthong United battled well and showed the warrior spirit with a late rally, but were to lose 3-1 to Japan's Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the Toyota Premier Cup. The match featured one of Japan's all time strongest teams against last year's Thai champions, SCG Muangthong United.
The Kirin were almost on the scoreboard within 5 minutes when a blunder by the Sanfrecce keeper opened up a chance. The initial 20 minutes were clearly the property of SCG Muangthong United as they held possession well, displaying the same precision passing and movement that the club is known for.
Sanfrecce gradually seemed to adapt to the situation, and had their first good chance at goal by the 22nd minute. A well placed shot went off a Kirin defender, and Kawin had to be sharp to tip the ball past the bar for a corner kick. A few minutes later another opportunity came about on a cross, but Anderson de Sousa couldn't quite get to the ball in time.
SCG Muangthong United also had their chances, with shots on target from Chantahip and Tristan Do. At the 38th minute Chanathip was set up nicely from the edge of the box, and his shot was carefully taken but too high.
The second half began with more energy and pace, and within 7 minutes SCG Muangthong United were to have the best chance at goal yet when Teerasil's header back towards the top of the box led to a good shot opportunity. Within the opening minutes Sanfrecce also drew two yellow cards for late tackles.
Yet a rush down the left side led to the Sanfrecce goal at the 56th minute, when De Silva had an easy shot from close in. It was the only shot Sanfrecce had since the second half began but it was finished well. Unfortunately for the Kirin Sanfrecce followed up this goal with a second just a few minutes later when Masato Kudo had room to hit one in. Kudo, who recently joined Sanfrecce after playing with the Vancouver Whitecaps in the MLS.
By the 65th minute Sanfrecce had effectively put the game out of reach for the Kirin when Theeraton's late foul in the box was whistled down for a penalty, and the three arrows were ahead 3-0.
The remainder of the match saw Sanfrecce shot down much of the play and SCG Muangthong United were not able to establish enough rhythm to build the style of game they prefer. There were more through ball attempts, and with Xisco subbed off at the 60th minute the Kirin were missing the height inside the box.
By the 75th minute coach Totchtawan Sripan subbed in national team player Adisak Kraisorn in the forward role, with Chanathip coming off. As well, national team player Mongkol Thosakrai entered the match for Tristan Do, and Sarach Yooyen dropped to play the left back position.
The Kirin were to show the warrior spirit however in keeping up the pressure, and the hard work paid off with Teerasil getting one back at the 85th minute. The remaining minutes of the match were filled with excitement for fans as SCG Muangthong United came close on several occasions to evening up the score.
The Kirin now have one week to go before the season opening match, when they travel to play Bangkok Glass F.C. on Saturday February 11th. No doubt, the valuable experience gained from playing one of Japan's strongest teams will come in handy in the 2017 season, especially in the AFC Champions League fixtures set for later this year.