Flogging Dead Horses : The King’s Cup

by Absolute Thai Football

Muang Thong United and Thailand defender Mai’s torn hip muscle kept him out of the FA Cup final. He looked more weary than frustrated. After a draining and protracted club season and last year’s fixture fiasco, he is probably glad of the break. Struggling to make the World Cup qualifier against Oman on February 29th is tough, but at least he won’t risk injury in a pointless tournament. In its forty three year history, The King’s Cup has already been cancelled three times. Last August was the time, with FA Cup beginning to unravel and fixtures piling up, to cancel it for a fourth time.
Suicidally for Thailand’s top players, after a 49 week season, eleven Buriram players in the preliminary squad were scheduled to leave a grueling extra time FA Cup final win for The King’s Cup. A week after that sleep walks to its conclusion they finally finish the league season against Chiang Rai. then the League Cup final against Thai Port one week later. Three weeks after (a break two months shorter than that enjoyed by their Champions League opponents Kashiwa Reysol) is the UAE friendly. Then it’s the big one against Oman a week later and Kashiwa a week after that. They could rest their international players for the Chiang Rai game; but why should they? Players want to play for the club in the last game of the season and fans want to pay their respects. The fixture myopia was not the league champions’ fault. For Chonburi in some ways, with less resources or resting time than Buriram, the effect will be worse. Travelling to South Korea on February 18th comes only six days before the UAE friendly.

The number of players in the preliminary squad who will play South Korea on Sunday is dropping like a Greek pension, achieving the worst of both worlds. Some semi injured players feel duty bound to represent their country, while others will pick up conveniently timed niggles. Players injured next week and out against Oman may resent those who skip this for the serious stuff.

But Let’s try to be positive. Playing at Rajamangala isn’t a good start. The Ramkhamhaeng Skytrain stop seemed to be the answer; until you tried it on match day. So no big crowds. A chance to test our brave boys against some strong nations? No again. Like Streetfighter IV, beware teams carrying Roman numerals. Denmark and Norway “XIs” and a much weakened South Korean Under 23 team will hardly whet the appetite of a public gorged on a one year season.
In many ways the FA Cup final was a metaphor for Thai football. As Thailand, Muang Thong looked unfit and unfocused. A gale of progress, Buriram were sharp, hungry and powerful thanks to an intense physical conditioning regime and a pressing, high lined approach to the game. The King’s Cup will only serve to perpetuate dinosaur thinking and stifle progress. When will lessons ever be learnt?