Nakhon Ratchasima Mazda FC
History of Nakhon Ratchasima Mazda FC
Nakhon Ratchasima Mazda FC was founded in 1999 and spent their history mostly in provincial leagues and the lower divisions of the Thai Football League. In 2011 they were promoted to the Thai Premier League.
In 2007, despite finishing fourth from bottom in a twelve-team division (in Division 1), ‘Korat’ were relegated to the newly formed third tier of the Thai football pyramid because of restructuring of the league.
In 2008, Korat finished fourth in the now defunct Division 2 Group A. Korat started the season slowly but embarked on a five-game winning streak in the middle of the season which gave them a chance of promotion. However, a disappointing run-in meant that Korat eventually finished fourth.
In 2009, Nakhon Ratchasima Mazda FC finished second in the inaugural Division 2 Northeast. Despite leading the division for most of the season, they slipped to second on the final day as they drew 1-1 at home with Nakhon Phanom FC whilst title rivals Loei City beat Chaiyaphum United 1-0 meaning that Loei took the title and the sole promotion play-offs spot on the final day of the season. Korat also reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup (the only Regional League side to make it to that stage) but lost to TPL side Thai Port FC.
In 2010, Nakhon Ratchasima Mazda FC finished fourth in the expanded 16-team Northeast Division. Another high finish but they were far behind the top two of Loei and Buriram. Head coach Mann Jantanarm resigned after the 4-0 away defeat to Buriram F.C. and was replaced by a member of the backroom staff, Vichan Cha-on Sri. Despite a successful FA Cup run in 2009, the club fell at the first hurdle in the 2010 competition as they lost 2-1 away to F.C. Phuket. They were slightly more successful in the relaunched League Cup. Loei City were beaten 3-1 at the 80th Birthday Stadium in the preliminary round. This set up a first round proper clash with TPL side Samut Songkhram F.C. to be played over two legs. A good first leg performance saw Korat go down just 1-0 to opponents ranked two divisions higher. In the second leg, however, Korat lost 7-0 as the class of the opposition finally told.
The 2011 season saw the club more than make up for the disappointment of 2009. Under the guidance of a new president, Phollapee Suwanchawee and a new coach, Tewet Kamolsin, the team achieved promotion.
Midway through the season, the club was docked nine points for fielding an ineligible player (goalkeeper Kiattisak Lertwilai). Despite the deduction and thanks to the resigning of Prompong Kransumrong the club recovered from the penalty and clinched a place in the end-of-season play-offs (the ‘Champions League’) by defeating Mahasarakham 1-0 on the final day of the season.
Nakhon Ratchasima were placed in Group B of the Champions League along with fellow Isaan side Roiet, Rayong, Krabi, Lamphun and North Bangkok. This time, Korat were the beneficiaries of a points deduction. After losing 2-1 to Roiet in their first Champions League match, Korat were awarded all three points as Roiet fielded six foreign players – one more than allowed.
Korat went on to win seven, draw one and lose two of their Champions League matches, and finished top of the group with 22 points. As such, promotion to 2012 TPL Division 1 was secured along with runners-up Krabi, Ratchaburi and Pattalung from Group A.
Korat’s first season back in the second tier ended with an eighth-place finish in 2012. Head coach Tewet Kamolsin was sacked in May 2012 and replaced by Brazilian Reuther Moreira. He too was released by the club after the season finished and was replaced by Arjhan Srong-ngamsub.