Muangthong United will not be in the AFC Champions League in 2018 after suffering a 3-0 loss to Japan's Kashiwa Reysol.
With the temperature at kickoff hovering around the freezing mark, the Kirin were facing a major challenge as they entered a packed and noisy Hitachi Kashiwa Stadium. Adding to the drama, for Teerasil Dangda and Theerathon Bunmathan it was the last match of 2018 for Muangthong United, and they were determined to help the Kirin through to the next round.
Coach Totchtawan introduced a new back four, with both Adison Pomrak and Nookolkit Krutyai playing along side Celio Santos and Tristan Do. This was complicated in the 20th minute when Celio Santos was stretchered off and Wattana Playnum, usually a midfielder, enter the match in a centre back role.
Kashiwa dominated most of the first half, and the Kirin's new keeper Kampol Pathom-attakul was pressed in to making a couple of saves before the whistle.
The Kirin had a couple of good opportunities in the half. Early on Theerathon's cross was in perfect volley position for Heberty Fernandes, however his left footed attempt was miles over the bar. Later, shortly before the half, Lee Ho found himself one-on-one with the keeper after an unlucky rebound, but not enough room to be able to make a play of it.
There were no changes to the line up and Muangthong United started out strong in the second half, dominating from the whistle. Yet a counter attack soon showed up the weakness in the backline as Cristiano da Silva was wide open in the box to slide in the shot from close range.
Following the goal the Kirin were unable to regain control of the match and Kashiwa were allowed to dominate. Despite bringing on Jaja Coehlo with the hope of getting one back, the result was the addition of two other goals for Kashiwa before the final whistle.
SCG Muangthong United will open their 2018 Thai League 1 season on February 10th away to True Bangkok United, and then at home on February 17th against Port FC. Next week a special pre-season friendly match at the SCG Stadium with Sanfrecce Hiroshima celebrates Teerasil's transfer to the J.League.
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