BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
The 2018 Thai League 1 ended on Sunday, with the two clubs with Malaysian players on their rosters surviving the cut.
Coincidentally, although Shahrel Fikri Fauzi's Nakhon Ratchasima FC and Curran Ferns' Sukhothai FC did not play each other on Sunday, Shahrel and his team were involved indirectly in helping Sukhothai avoiding relegation.
With the league reducing its number of teams from 18 to 16 beginning next season, it had been decided that five teams would be relegated from Thailand's top tier at the end of 2018.
Sukhothai had been unable to keep a safe distance between themselves and the relegation zone throughout the season, and headed into the final matchday only one point from and one spot above oblivion.
Bangkok Glass FC, two points ahead of them, meanwhile hosted Nakhon Ratchasima at the Leo Stadium, a match that ended in a 2-1 win to Shahrel's side, with the forward coming on as a 63rd minute substitution in the encounter. Coincidentally, the Rabbits had signed Malaysia international Kiko Insa earlier in the year, before parting ways with him halfway through the season.
The Fire Bats, playing at home against Air Force Central whose bottom-place finish had been confirmed earlier, huffed and puffed against the military side, but in the end did enough to eke out a 3-2 win, and leapfrog Bangkok Glass in the standings. Ferns came on as a late substitution in the clash, in the 86th minute.
Sukhothai vs Air Force Central match highlights
Nakhon Ratchasima ended the 2018 season in seventh place, their highest ever finish in the Thai football pyramid, while Sukhothai finished in 11th place.
Bangkok Glass meanwhile ended up in the relegation zone, in 14th place. They are level on 42 points with Chainat Hornbill in 13th, but lose out on head-to-head records, and will be relegated from the top tier for the first time in their history.
Tables in last week of Toyota Thai League !!! See you next season 👋🏻👋🏻👋🏻🔥⚡️⚽️ pic.twitter.com/39pj1QZIkX— ThaiLeague (@thaileague) October 7, 2018
It is perhaps too early to predict Shahrel and Ferns future at their respective clubs, but judging by how the former had excelled for Malaysia in their recent 3-1 friendly win over Cambodia, it is hoped that both of them get a contract extension in 2019, on top of paving the way for more Malaysian footballers to earn a move up north.
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