SCG Muangthong United were defeated 1-0 by Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the J.League Asia Challenge at the SCG Stadium.
The important pre-season friendly for both clubs was a chance for coaches to sort out their lineups before the opening matches of the 2018 campaign. As well, the match solidified the relationship between these clubs, with a symbolic handover of Teerasil Dangda. The Kirin striker played the first 10 minutes for Muangthong before subbing off for a fresh new Hiroshima jersey.
Hiroshima established the pace early on by dominating the game, and within 5 minutes had three shots on target requiring saves from Kompon. Hiroshima looked to be in better match form, with tight passing and teamwork that kept the Kirin defenders scrambling.
SCG Muangthong United had another new look in the back four. While Naoaki Aoyama returned from injury, Celio Santos was now absent due to a recurring knock. Adisorn filled the other centre back role, while Tristan Do and Peerapat took in the outer back positions.
Adisorn showed he was recovering to full potential when, late in the half, he went into the air against the keeper. Adisorn got his head onto the free kick and his attempt was only just over the bar.
This was the first match to see Jaja Coelho in the staring lineup, playing up top while Heberty was lined up as the attacking midfielder, then Siroch was subbed as the other striker once Teerasil left the pitch. Jaja quickly showed his abilities, often winning the ball quickly and passing it off deftly for the give-and-go. His ability to challenge and win the ball, and then execute a quick pass or shot, was clearly evident several times in the half. Coelho has the Kirin's only shot on target in the first half.
Major changes were made by both teams for the second half, the highlight being the return of Teerasil, this time wearing the #31 jersey for Sanfrecce Hiroshima.
Though the Kirin were able to dominate most of the half, they were to concede the only goal at 73 minutes to none other than Teerasil, who ran onto the centering pass for the easy tap in.
The second yellow card of this friendly match appeared at the 80th minute when Adisak was knocked to the turf. Heberty tapped the free kick but Jaja's powerful strike was off target. Jaja was to have another good shot in the closing minute that the keeper was able to steer wide what looked like the equalizer.
SCG Muangthong United will now have just a few days to prepare for next Sunday's season opening match away at True Bangkok United, Thammasat Stadium, Rangsit. Then, the season opens at home on February 17th when the Kirin host Port F.C. at the SCG Stadium.