KRABI, THAILAND: Thai football league, Division Two (AIS league) Southern regional league champions, Krabi FC have sealed promotion to the TPL Division One for the 2012 season, following a 1 – 1 home draw with contenders, Rayong FC.
Krabi are the third of four teams to be promoted, with the final promotion seat to be decided on the evening of Sunday, December 18. (See comments below for update.)
In 2nd place of Group A (six teams include Nakhon Ratchasima FC, Krabi FC, Rayong FC, Roi Et United, Lamphun Warriors, and North Krungthep FC, while Group B includes Ratchaburi FC, Pattalung FC, Pitsanulok FC, Loei City, Pichit FC and Kasetsart FC) for the 2011 Division Two Champions League promotion playoffs, the Krabi Andaman Eagles needed either a win or draw in their 10th and final match of the playoffs to secure promotion.
The deciding match for the second and final Group A promotion ticket, played at Krabi provincial stadium outside of Krabi city on Saturday evening, saw lots of attacking from both sides — both knowing that a minimal goal would be needed to secure a victory and thus their destiny in Division One next season.
And despite action packed attacking and defending from both worthy contenders, the bulk of the game passed by without a score and looked as if it were to repeat the result of the two sides’ initial meet back in October in Rayong.
And as the clocked ticked towards the end of regulation time, it was looking as if Krabi would seize promotion by gaining the advantageous point with the existing stale mate result.
Time and promotion hopes fading away for the visitors, for what would be the second year in a row, Rayong’s Tinnapop Srisatit finally drew blood with what was initially described as miracle strike in the 89th minute; perfectly spun and weighted kick delivered from Tinnapop’s left foot along Krabi’s goal line. The final minute score instantly silenced the home crowd, packed in and outside of the 6,000 capacity stadium with but little standing room only space available throughout the confines.
Ensued were early celebrations from the visiting bench and stands, comparable to a Super Bowl or soccer championship back in the US. The visiting stands were packed with light blue-clad Rayong FC supporters, who with the well coordinated cheers and beat and bang of their drums, celebrated wildly as if they had just been crowned champions of the world.
Now that promotion was rapidly looking dim, the Andaman Eagles’ last moment of hope saw them harness an attacking game to entirely new heights. Just as the Rayong stands assumed victory, several Krabi fans had assumed defeat and began pouring out of the stands prematurely — despite the fact that a handful of injury time minutes remained.
And all of the moments were controlled completely by a desperate yet determined home side, keeping fans fine tuned into the action. Sustained and expedited offense was ultimately rewarded to the home side and fans following a handful of several near scores prompted by free kicks from each of Rayong’s corners. Krabi’s perseverance would pay off with the equalizer roughly 4 minutes into added time, sealing Krabi’s promotion ticket. Though the goal was credited to Ghanian import, Bernard Linford, some would even go as far to credit the score to the slippery gloves of Rayong’s goal keeper if not the weight and spin of the kick itself.
Nonetheless, celebrations followed the final whistle and included fireworks, lots of smoke, camera flashes, and the issuing of money rewards galore. The Ghanaian, Nigerien and Cameroon import players of Krabi drew fans’ attention with their celebratory song and dance, African style.
With the draw and thus promotion, Krabi joined the promoted ranks with Group A champions Nakhon Ratchasima FC “Swat Cats” and the Group B champions, Ratchaburi “Dragons”.
The final promotion ticket to Division One will be determined in Group B finale matches on Sunday evening. The place is contested among Pattalung FC, Pitsanulok FC and Loei City.
One of these teams will meet Krabi in the third place match in Bangkok on Christmas Eve. The other two will try again in the regional leagues next year.
A Ratchaburi – Korat championship will also be played on Christmas Eve in Bangkok.