However, the issue of whether Satun should have picked up the league title following Sunday’s game now has a large cloud over it as video footage from the game clearly shows that Phuket had a goal cross Satun’s goal line which the linesman decided should not be allowed.
This writer was stood in a far worse position than the linesman when the goal was scored and could clearly see that the entire ball had crossed the line.
In fact, having spoken to players and fans following the game, even people at the far end of the pitch confirmed they saw the ball cross the line.
So now one question hangs in the air; why did the match officials not see what everybody else saw?
And all this comes at a time when the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has said it is looking to send a team to Thailand to investigate irregularities in match results (see story here).
It was a make or break game for both teams yesterday, firstly because Satun could have, and did, become league champions. Secondly, because Phuket need as many points as possible as they attempt to keep their 2nd spot in the league table with the aim of reaching the Thai League 4 Champions League and vie for a promotion placed to Thai League 3.
And Phuket got off to a great start opening the scoring just 12 minutes into the game.
A shot from Phuket’s Thawatchai Suphanam (23) was fumbled by Satun keeper Safaree Nunsen (30), the ball fell to the feet of their defender Mohamed Mahdi Bamba (5) who tripped over the ball which was then smashed into the back of the net by Phuket’s Porncha Rodnakkaret (25).
A good 1-0 lead to the Andaman Dragon.
But it was also a fumble by Phuket’s keeper Jirasak Kunnapan (69) which presented Satun with their equaliser some 25 minutes later.
A low shot from Satun’s Job Njouonkou Mountap Elvis (9), who played for Phuket in the first half of this season, was fumbled by Jirasak leaving it to fall to Daiki Konomura (14) who made no mistake putting the ball home to bring the score to 1-1.
The score remained at 1-1 when the teams went in at half time.
The second got underway with Satun clearly seeming happy to walk away with a point being as it would be enough to seal them the league title, but Phuket certainly weren’t going to give up easily and were looking to get a second goal.
Satun also had their chances but certainly weren’t threatening.
But in the game’s remaining minutes is when the controversy concurred.
Phuket’s captain Jhanawat Arewansuk (24) took a free kick from just inside Satun’s half, he played a beautiful long ball into Satun’s penalty area which was headed back to Nattapoom Maya (7). His beautifully placed kick struck the bottom of Satun’s bar and rebounded to cross the line.
Pretty much the entire crowd, bar Satun’s fans of course, erupted with what to most was a clear goal. However, the linesman on the right flank didn’t award the goal for the Andaman Dragon despite much protest from the Phuket players.
Considering that the President of the Football Association of Thailand (FAT), former commissioner-general of the Royal Thai Police Somyot Poompanmoung, said during his presidency campaign: “My slogan is ‘fair’... meaning being fair in managing the association, fair in spending money and fair in refereeing”, nodding to “doubts” about the impartiality of officials in the Thai game, it will be interesting to see whether Phuket FC take the evidence they have to the main man himself, as there are clearly some Thai football officials who certainly seem to be officiating totally against Mr Somyot’s campaign pledges.
Sunday’s result still leaves Phuket FC in 2nd place in the league table now on 41 points and with just three games remaining.
The team return to action this coming Sunday (Aug 27) when they are set to take on Hat Yai FC at 6pm at Surakul Stadium.