However, fans are increasingly unhappy with coach Paniphol ‘Tuu’ Kerdyaem’s performance on the sidelines.
He has been given the nickname ‘Tuu Taem Diaw’ (Tuu One Point), which has gone from being tongue-in-cheek to a direct insult as he has achieved more draws than wins from 18 games this season.
Some fans demanded his resignation after Arj-harn Song-ngamsab, Nakhon Ratchasima FC’s head coach, resigned after the Swat Cat’s two consecutive losses, the last straw being a loss to lowly TTM FC.
One fan said, “The coach must be held responsible, it’s that simple. Arj-harn is a true gentleman. He failed, he took responsibility and resigned.
“Look at us – we have good football players, a top boss backing the team, and we can only get 1 point from each game. I’d rather the team win one game and lose one, get 3 points, than to draw 2 games with 2 points.”
There were discussions among fans that the game against TTM tomorrow will be the ultimate challenge for coach and team.
Paniphol’s career is hanging by a thread. He has to win big, with a beautiful football game. Fans strongly believe that if Phuket FC lose this game, or even draw, the coach should be ousted.
“This is the best team we have ever had,” said the fan. “We can’t let one coach ruin our shot at the Thai Premier League because he doesn’t know how to use the footballers to their full potential.
“If he loses this game, he must go – and measures will be taken to make that happen.”
The 1-1 draw at Bangkok FC last time out was also a big factor.
With 7 minutes left, a field microphone picked up coach Tuu’s order to Thongchai, who was setting up a free kick: “Champ [Thongchai’s nickname], slow down! There are only 7 minutes left.”
Fans were infuriated. They thought the coach was content with a draw, getting 1 point from Bangkok FC, instead of pressing for a winning goal.
For me personally, I think that order was meant for that play, that one particular free kick. Instead of rushing a free kick and failing, he wanted his footballers to set it up well.
Coach Tuu himself, although under tremendous pressure, still seems oblivious to fans’ plan of action to oust him.
With a break last weekend as the national team played Liverpool, coach believes that good rest is a must. As such, his training will keep footballers strong and ready for tomorrow’s TTM game.
“Coach Tuu” Panipol Kerdyam is confident because he will have all his key footballers back from injuries, including goalie Adisak Doungsri who’s been off for nearly two months; and Yusuke Sato, who is fit again after suffering an injury during the Thai Com FA Cup match against SCG Muang Thong Utd.
Coach Tuu will have Doumeng and Eak-artit in midfield, with more strikers than ever before to choose from. Ludovick Takam and Sukree E-tae played very well together in the last game, while Cristian Alex and Dudu will bring Samba flavour to Surakul stadium.
Coach Tuu has said that despite TTM being in 15th place, they can’t be underestimated. TTM is a side without many stars – the few exceptions are their experienced and highly skilled African players – with most of their players from the youth team.
Coach Tuu’s game plan will be to play safe. He’ll attack and press for goals, but will tell his players not to get too carried away by the tempo of the game and leave themselves exposed to TTM’s fierce counter play, as Krabi FC and Nakhon Ratchasima FC did earlier this season.
TTM’s African duo, Cameroonian top scorer Didier Sohna (11) and Nigerian striker Alfred, number 25, will cause trouble in front of the Phuket goal. And if not careful, their long distance shots can be deadly.
Phuket FC won 1-0 away from home on their first encounter, but TTM have come a long way since then. Their last three games were a draw with PTT Rayong and wins over Krabi FC and Nakhon Ratchasima FC.
Phuket face yet another big test today – and a must-win game for Coach Tuu.
He plans to play safe with TTM so Phuket won’t lose. That could be translated into “they won’t win” too.
But in my opinion, Phuket FC are cornered. With their backs against the wall, the only way out is to play every game from here on out like they are playing a championship game.
Losing is no longer possible. Drawing is no longer an option.