Azkals striker Mark Hartmann in awe of Thai League standards after first goal for Ubon UMT
The former Geylang International and Sarawak FA forward struck in the 17th minute but could not prevent his club from their second loss of the season.
Ubon UMT opened their campaign with a 1-0 away loss to Navy FC before securing a 3-1 home victory against Prachuap FC. Hartmann’s first goal gave his side the lead in their third game of the season but goals from Paulo Rangel, Tufy and Attapong Nooprom saw the Swat Cats seal a stunning comeback win.
Having plied his trade in four of Southeast Asia’s top leagues – Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand – Hartmann reckons the Thai League is miles ahead of the rest.
“Three games in and I can see the difference,” Hartmann told FOX Sports Asia. “The tempo of the game is a lot higher over here.
“The players are also a lot more technically solid. The way the teams are set up and the training facilities are right up there.
“Like I said before, you just have to look at how well Thai teams like Buriram United and Muangthong United have done in the AFC Champions League and it is obvious.
“Personally for me right now, it’s a fantastic league to be playing in.”
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While his team have had a slow start to the campaign, Hartmann reckons it is only a matter of time before Mixu Paatalainen’s charges start clicking as a unit.
He added: “We’ve played well in all three games but the result just didn’t go our way. We are a good team with a lot of team spirit.
“As long as this continues and we take our chances in front of goal, things will definitely go our way. Long season ahead still.”
As for himself, the former Swindon Town and Portsmouth trainee is relieved to have scored his first goal, making him the first Filipino to find the back of the net in four ASEAN leagues.
“Training has been great but I’ve had to wait patiently to get a real chance and start a game for Ubon to show what I’m capable of.
“Hopefully I can build on this and score a few more for the team but it’s definitely nice to get the first one out of the way.
“As a striker, you thrive on confidence and that next strike will be a lot easier now that you’ve got on the score sheet.”
Ubon next face Air Force Central FC at home on March 3 before going up against league leaders Port FC a week later.