The youth team have played the Bangkok leg of their pre-season tour, losing 1-0 to a local side.
The Leo All Stars are a young select side managed by Thai legend Surachai Jaturapattarapong, and they had more of the possession in the first half at the Leo Stadium in Pathum Thani. The winner was scored in the 22nd minute when centre-back Methanon Suttasen headed home from a right-wing corner.
However, Chelsea raised our game in the second half and had a host of chances to equalise, leaving coach Adi Viveash delighted with his team’s performance in front of a noisy crowd of 7,500 spectators.
‘I think everyone was surprised by this turnout. It was a very good game and we’ve had a wonderful time in Thailand. It was very special tonight,’ said Viveash.
‘Obviously the heat out here is a big factor for us and we were a bit sloppy for the goal, but we almost nicked one back in the second half. We’ve got a 15-year-old, Jeremie Boga, who was probably the best player on the pitch.
‘The Thai team had some good individuals and the crowd really enjoyed the game and this is the biggest part of it. I’m really proud of the boys and how they’ve interacted with the fans. The boys will remember this forever.’
Chelsea suffered their first scare in the eighth minute when a Ongoat Pamornprasert free-kick from the right flank curled across the face of goal.
Methanon opened the scoring in the 22nd minute and eight minutes later Chotiwun Sumpiwo’s dipping shot sailed over the bar.
In the 37th minute, Chelsea’s French striker Jeremie Boga had a run on goal but the 15-year-old was denied by brave goalkeeping from Sarayuth Pulsap. Four minutes later, Walter Figueira shot wide from outside the box with one of Chelsea’s rare opportunities.
Chelsea started the second half brightly and Boga created space for a shot following some trickery down the left flank before being again denied by the keeper.
Chelsea had a golden opportunity in the 65th minute when a deflected cross by right winger Ambrose Gnahore bounced over the defence to the far post, but Ismail Seremba was unable to convert from close range.
In the 73rd minute, centre-back Isak Ssewankambo volleyed past the far post from close range and in the 81st minute Gnahore shot wide from the edge of the box as Chelsea pushed hard for an equaliser.
With five minutes to go, Chelsea came even closer from a right-wing corner, but a far-post volley by holding midfielder Ali Gordon sailed across the goalline and narrowly past the post.
After the match, Leo captain Pravinnawat Boonyong lifted the Singha Cup while the Chelsea players won a host of new fans in Bangkok by actively engaging with the lively crowd following the presentation.
Surachai, head coach of Bangkok Glass who play their home games at Leo Stadium, conceded that his team were outplayed in the second half, but agreed that the match provided great entertainment for the fans.
‘It was a good game, but they were better than us, both physically and with the system they play,’ said the former Thailand captain. ‘Their problem was when we scored and it changed the game a little bit in the first half, but we knew they would come back in the second half. It was a good game for the fans.’
The match capped a successful first leg of the Chelsea youth squad’s pre-season tour of Asia before they fly on Sunday to Kuala Lumpur, where they will play the Malaysia U-19 team on Tuesday.
On Friday, the Chelsea youngsters helped launch the Chelsea FC Soccer School Bangkok at the Super Kick facility in the Wangthonglang district of Bangkok and were a big hit as they conducted clinics for 100 local youngsters.