Domestic Leagues

East Asia & ASEAN Wrap: Defending champions BG Pathum held as Thai League 1 season kicks off

Hong Kong: The 2021-22 Thai League 1 campaign got underway at the weekend with defending champions BG Pathum United held to an opening-day stalemate by Chonburi. 

A thrilling contest in Korea Republic saw Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors edge FC Seoul to keep the pressure on league leaders Ulsan Hyundai, while all 18 teams have now played their first round of fixtures in Indonesia's Liga 1.

Elsewhere, there was action in Japan, Malaysia and Cambodia, so join as we review the latest fixtures from across East Asia and ASEAN.

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Thailand: League kicks off as reigning champions draw

BG Pathum United stormed to the Thai League 1 championship last season but their title rivals will look to put up a better challenge this time round, and Chonburi ensured they did not have it all their own way in the opening match for both teams.

Diogo gave the defending champions the lead as they travelled south to Chonburi on Sunday but a Dennis Murillo penalty midway through the second half secured a 1-1 draw for the hosts against last season's dominant side.

After a disappointing campaign last time out Bangkok United began well as a brace from Heberty saw them come from behind to beat newly promoted Chiangmai United as they hope to mount a serious title bid this season.

Two other sides with title aspirations dropped points, though, with Chiangrai United drawing 2-2 with Samut Prakan City and Buriram United ending goalless against Suphanburi.

Having risen through the regional leagues before being crowned Thai League 2 champions last season, there was an excellent top-flight debut for Nong Bua Pitchaya, whose 2-0 win over Nakhon Ratchasima puts them joint top of the early standings.

The newcomers share that position with Ratchaburi FC, who beat Khon Kaen United 2-0, while the other results of the weekend saw Prachuap draw 2-2 against Muangthong United and Port FC share an entertaining 3-3 draw with Police Tero.

Indonesia: First round of action complete

Some 18 months since COVID-19 saw domestic action in Indonesia put on hold, fans in the football-mad Southeast Asian country can look forward to the 2021-22 campaign after the successful completion of the opening round of fixtures.

The 2019 champions Bali United had opened their season with a 1-0 win over Persik Kaderi at the end of August, and the latest set of fixtures at the weekend means every team has now kicked off their respective seasons.

Now coached by former Juventus player Angelo Alessio, Jakarta giants Persija opened with a 1-1 draw against PSS Slemen, while their bitter rivals Persib Bandung defeated Barito Putera 1-0.

Mario Gomez's Borneo moved to the top of the early standings after beating Persebaya Surabaya 3-1, ahead of former champions Bayangkara, who overcame Persiraja Banda Aceh in their first game last weekend.

One of Gomez's former sides, Arema FC, drew 1-1 against PSM Makassar, while Tira Persikabo and Madura United ended in the same scoreline.

Finally, PSIS Semarang edged Persela 1-0 to get their campaign off to a winning start.

Korea Republic: Late goal sees Jeonbuk claim vital win

Having suffered from inconsistent form of late, defending champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors went into Sunday's match with bottom side FC Seoul seven points adrift of leaders Ulsan Hyundai.

And when Hong Jeong-ho's own goal put them 3-2 down against the capital city side with 20 minutes to play, things did not look good for the Jeonju side.

However, Lee Seung-gi equalised soon after before Hong went from villain to hero by netting the winner deep into stoppage time to seal all three points and close the gap on Ulsan.

With the Asian Qualifiers taking centre stage in recent days, there was just one more game in K League 1 over the weekend as Pohang Steelers beat Seongnam 1-0 to rise to third.

Japan: Vissel secure point in Hiroshima

There was just one game in Japan over the weekend with Sanfrece Hiroshima and Vissel Kobe playing out a 1-1 draw after Vissel's Daiju Sasaki cancelled out Shunki Higashi's opener.

The result sees Vissel rise to third but remain some distance behind the top two of Kawasaki Frontale and Yokohama F. Marinos, while Sanfrecce sit mid-table in 10th.

Malaysia: Race for second heats up

After Johor Darul Ta'zim wrapped up their eighth successive title last week, the race is on for second place and it is Penang who lead the way after the latest round of fixtures.

A goal down to Pahang, Endrick and Danial Ashraf were both on the scoresheet to seal a 2-1 victory to rise above Kedah, who suffered a 2-1 loss to Kuala Lumpur City.

Terengganu also could have ended the weekend in second position but went down 1-0 against JDT after Australian Shane Lowry netted the only goal of the game.

Elsewhere, Selangor recorded a huge 6-0 win over Sabah to remain fifth, Melaka United beat Perak 2-1 and Petaling Jaya City edged bottom side UiTM 1-0.

Cambodia: Visakha stay top

Visakha remain three points clear in Cambodia's C-League after posting a 3-1 victory over Kirivong Sok Sen Chey on Saturday although Phnom Penh Crown's 5-0 win against Asia Euro United means they are hot on their heels in second.

Behind Crown on goal difference alone, Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng are also in the title race after edging National Defense 3-2 on Sunday, although Angkor Tiger's scoreless stalemate with Siem Reap rivals Soltilo Angkor means they have fallen four points off the top


Photo: BG Pathum United

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