Charyl Chappuis says Chanathip can't be replaced at Muang Thong United
Muang Thong United midfielder Charyl Chappuis admits that his side are counting on Buriram United to slip up after a 2-1 victory at Navy FC kept the pressure on the Thai League (T1) leaders.
The Kirins edged out stubborn opponents, with Heberty Fernandes' brace following up his hat trick in the midweek win over Bangkok United.
But Muang Thong remain six points off top spot after Buriram United defeated Ratchaburi 2-0.
Here are five things we saw on T1 Matchday 29:
1. Heberty shines in Muang Thong triumph
Heberty was on target for the sixth T1 game in succession and the fifth time in four days as the champions defeated Navy FC 2-1.
Chappuis had come close with a couple of long-range efforts before a combination between Heberty and fellow Brazilian Leandro Assumpcao ended with the former netting the opener.
Suttipong Laoporn equalised before another well-worked goal saw Heberty slip through the home defence to strike the winner.
Muang Thong are unbeaten in 13 league games since a mid-season meltdown saw them lose three in a row. That slump may ultimately cost them the title, but they are clinging to the hope of Buriram dropping points in the final five games.
"We have a great spirit in the team," Chappuis told ESPN FC. "Of course, we can only hope that Buriram will make a mistake but, in the end, we are only looking at ourselves and we want to win all remaining games."
Like Chappuis, Heberty and Leandro began their Kirins' careers after the mid-season point and the two Brazilians have been key figures following the departure of Chanathip "Messi J" Songkrasin to Consadole Sapporo in the J-League.
"They are very important for us," Chappuis said. "Both are great footballers and great personalities.
"But I don't think you can replace Jay [Chanathip] because he was also very important for Muang Thong in a different way. But Heberty and Leandro are doing a great job and helping us to win games."
Heberty took time to find his feet after spending six months out of the game, following contractual difficulties at former club Al-Shabab in Saudi Arabia. He signed for Muang Thong after the registration deadline for the first half of the season and had to wait for his chance.
But he is now finding the form that saw him named Thai League Player of the Year when with Ratchaburi in 2014.
"I feel very happy because I helped my team and my teammates with a good performance, but I know I can still improve a lot," Heberty told ESPN FC.
"It was very difficult to stay for six months without playing and just training. I think that all the players who spend a long time without playing, have difficulties at the beginning, and also with it being a new team for me."
2. Buriram clear another big hurdle
A trip to Ratchaburi is always a tough fixture, with the Dragons having been beaten just once at the Mitr Phol Stadium this season.
But Buriram United had revenge on their minds as Sunday's opponents were the last team to beat them in T1. Ratchaburi beat the Thunder Castle 4-3 in a thrilling encounter in May, but the league leaders have put together an incredible run of form ever since, winning 14 and drawing twice.
Diogo Luis Santo's free kick put the visitors ahead on Sunday and Jakkaphan Kaewprom added the second to move Bozidar Bandovic's side a step close to their fourth title in five years.
3. Port FC bounce back after Zico departure
Kiatisuk "Zico" Senamuang spent his weekend in Bali as he picked up the AFF Coach of the Year 2016 award, and apparently met officials from the Vietnam Football Federation to discuss the head coach vacancy with their national side.
But his former club wasted no time in showing that they were not missing him as Zico's predecessor Jadet Meelarp took charge again.
Kiatisuk quit the Bangkok club last week after one win in 10 T1 games, but the Port Lions were 2-0 up at Pattaya United after just six minutes. Josimar Rodrigues headed the opener before Tossapol Lated -- a player who barely got a look-in under Kiatisuk -- added the second.
Lee Won-Young pulled one back with a soft penalty before Port were gifted a third -- Tossapol's second -- after an horrendous goalkeeping error.
Pattaya's Mongkol Tossakrai was then red-carded before another penalty saw Aleksandar Jevtic reduce the arrears for the 10 men. But Josimar struck again and Sergio Suarez netted in the last minute to make it 5-2, sealing the three points for Port and making Kiatisuk's departure look like a blessing.
Very Proud and Honored to have played 100 games for Bangkok United 🙏🏻 happy to do it with a win and a goal aswell 😊Hoping for many more!!! pic.twitter.com/J2GmWkP0Z1— Mika chunuonsee (@Chunuonsee16) September 24, 2017
4. Mika marks century in style
The visit of relegated Super Power Samut Prakan was the perfect opportunity for Bangkok United to pick themselves up after a 4-0 humbling at Muang Thong United in midweek.
And Mano Polking's side gave the league's whipping boys another whipping as they won 4-0 on a rain-soaked pitch.
The fourth goal held special significance for the scorer as Welsh-born Thai international Mika Chunuonsee marked his 100th game for the club with a goal.
The defender finished with the aplomb of a striker as he volleyed in a cross from 10 yards out. Mika told his Twitter followers that he was "Hoping for many more!!" after bringing up the century.
5. Washouts at Tero and Thai Honda
As the rainy season nears its end, some T1 games have been played in shocking conditions in recent weeks. The concept of weather-related postponements haven't really caught on in Thailand.
However, this weekend saw not one, but two games postponed as a result of waterlogged pitches. It did take a long time to make the decision to call off BEC Tero Sasana's match at home to Chiang Rai United, with kick off initially delayed, despite half of the pitch being under water.
A downpour at Thai Honda then saw their clash with Nakhon Ratchasima postponed. It is an encouraging development as far too many games have been played in farcical conditions.
Bangkok-based Paul Murphy has lived in Asia for a decade, writing for ESPN FC since 2014. He is a former Daily Express sub-editor. @PaulMurphyBKK