Collection for Victims of the Khlong Thoey Fire

 

As you may have read in the news, the dockside district of Khlong Thoey, home both to Port FC and to many of Bangkok’s poorest residents, was the scene of a fire on Saturday night. Thought to be sparked by lunar new year firecrackers, the fire destroyed over 30 houses leaving many families homeless. You can read more about the fire here.

The victims are now being housed in tents and a local charity is collecting essentials. As Khlong Thoey is an area close to all our hearts, The Sandpit will be making a donation run on Saturday morning (4 Feb). As well as personal donations we’ll be donating the sponsorship money from The Sportsman – Dom, Linny and I will go to Tesco On Nut on Saturday morning to buy goods such as rice, oil, toiletries etc, and will then head down to Khlong Thoey to hand it over. They’re also collecting secondhand clothes so if you want to have a clearout of your wardrobe then all donations will be gratefully received.

If you wish to donate, please email me on tim@portfcsandpit.com so I can give you my bank details. Rest assured that all money we receive will be donated and accounted for. Also, if you want to join us on Saturday morning, or you have a vehicle & are able to help us deliver the goods to Khlong Thoey, again please email to let me know.

Thanks all for your support.

 

 

2017 Port FC Squad Preview Pt1: The Case for the Defence

 

With two weeks to go till Port kick off against Ratchaburi in the opening game of the T1 season here’s an in depth look at the squad we have. The transfer window closes on February 22nd, so there is still a chance there might be one or two new names to talk about. However this the squad as it stands now.

 

Keepers

Worawut (36) looks like our first choice keeper. After a shaky start to his time at Port Worawut (36) settled down and gained in confidence. I wasn’t a big fan of his first off, after a couple of howling errors. However last season showed he’s a reliable keeper. He’s been a great shot stopper and now he’s more confident coming out on corners. I think he also benefited from Meechok (20) coming in half way through last season and giving the back four a bit more quality and stability. Rattanai (17) impressed in the cup performances, but being a bit young and with less experience I think Worawut (36) will get the nod, for my money he’s the right choice. Rattanai (17) deserves a run out in cup games. If Worawut (36) picks up an injury it could give Rattanai(17) a chance to shine. He could come in and keep Worawut on the bench given half a chance. Weera (1, oddly number 1 but our third choice keeper), is still around, apart from one outstanding game against TOT, where he saved and scored in a marathon penalty shoot-out he didn’t impressed much. He started the PTT Rayong friendly and didn’t look bad, and it’s difficult to find anyone half decent to fill the role of third choice keeper. Watchara is out on loan to BBCU again this year after spending a full season there in 2016. I think if we had injuries to Worawut(36) and Rattanai(17)  a match fit Watchara would be recalled as soon as possible.

 

Defence

Our captain and rock at the back David Rochela(22) is joined in the centre of defence by Elias Dolah (40). Having a Thai/Swedish player looks a great choice. With his size it’s like having another foreign player on the pitch. He played well for Songklaa last season and is looking to step his game to make a challenge for the Thai national team. Todsapol (6) is still with us ready to step into the centre and offer a decent level of cover if needed. “Nirun” (second name not known) is another Thai/Swedish player we have. He was bought last week and he played the last twenty minutes of the PTT game at centre back. He is a massive player tall and well built. He looks like more cover for centre back, we’ll see if he gets on the subs bench. Meechok (20) at right back came into the squad as an 18 year old and has grown in confidence every time I’ve seen him. Looks to be a bit stronger this year and looks like another definite starter for Port.  Nitipong (34) seems to be the immediate cover for right back. I’m not sure that’s the right way to go. I like Nitipong (34) as cover in midfield, but I’m not sure he can cover the right back role. Our main problem is at left back Panpanpong (19). He is tough enough, but has looked far from the complete player in friendlies. Looks nervous to go forward and not convincing when he does. He has been favoured over Piyachat (23), he’s also a half decent choice but neither completely impress. I really thought we’d be buying in someone else to fill the left back role. With a bit of luck we still might.

 

Big Questions

Has Panpanpong (19) got enough to keep nifty T1 wingers in check? If he does we could be looking at a solid back four to deal with the S.F.S (Scary Foreign Strikers) that tend to batter defences week in week out in the T1.

Worawut (36) will be tested more in T1, but he will have an improved back four in front of him. The outlook is good, early meetings with Bangkok United, Suphanburi and Buriram will really test them. We have these three teams in the first five T1 games. I just hope panic doesn’t take hold in the boardroom. If we don’t get anything against these clubs hiring five managers will not solve problems at the back. Buying a better left back might help.

 

Ratch of the Day: Port Kick Off 2017 Season vs the Dragons

 

Like a burlesque dancer slowly removing garment after garment, in front of an audience baying to see the full monty, the Thai FA revealed the first 3 weeks of T1 games yesterday. Oh, you saucy old teases you.

As you can see on our Fixtures page, which we intend to be THE most up-to-date and informative Port FC fixture list on the web (in a not particularly competitive field), Port kick off the T1 season at the bizarre but acceptable time of 5.45pm on Saturday 11 Feb at the PAT. The game was originally scheduled to be played at the Sugardome, aka the Mitr Phol Stadium in Ratchaburi, but the club have been unable to complete their erection on time, so the game has been switched to the hallowed turf of Khlong Thoey. It’s also the very first game of the T1 season so if we win, we’ll go straight to the top of the league.

Port then have another home game on Sunday 19 Feb at 7pm against Suphanburi, before making the epic journey to Rangsit on 25 Feb to take on Bangkok Utd.

In a similar vein, Port released a teaser video of the 2017 shirt yesterday. From what little we can see, the shirt appears to have a grandad collar (which will suit various Sandpit readers), simple orange & blue stripes, and a sexy black trim & sleeves. Check out the header image to get a taste of what Khlong Thoey’s fashionistas will be wearing this April, when the shirt will no doubt finally be available in the club shop.

 

 

It’s a Shame About Rayong: PTT 1-3 Port FC (Friendly)

 

Port won their fourth friendly in a row against PTT Rayong. The first half was played at a competitive pace with reasonable strength sides. The second saw a string of substitutions from both sides and was effectively a training exercise.

For the first time this pre-season Port started with a 4-4-2. Jadet maybe looking for a way to include Tana and Kaluderovic in the starting team. Maybe it’s a plan for a more attacking set up he wants to use in home games or when we need a result.

Starting line up was:

Weera (surprise start for the third choice keeper)

Nitipong Rochela Dolah Panpanpong

Pakorn, Suarez, Piyachaat Ekkapoom

Tana, Kaluderovic (I think I’ll call him Kalu from now on, that’s what the players were shouting today.)

Port dominated the 1st half, lots of chances. Port looked good as they should do against T2 opposition. Convincing as they were Port did miss Siwakorn in midfield and Meechok at right back both out injured. Tana starting is a good sign last game he only got five minutes at the end of the match.

The first half saw Pakorn getting forward and causing trouble for PTT. In the 4-4-2 Suarez held back a bit more than in previous games, but was still making runs into the box. Tana shot wide twice early on with Port looking to get first blood. Then Ekkapoom got a bit of space and played a decent ball across for Pakorn to knock in Port’s first goal.

For the second Pakorn made a good run wrestling past two defenders to get the ball to Ekkapoom who then tipped the ball across for Kalu to score.

PTT applied some pressure and got a debatable penalty there was contact, not a nailed on pen but a fair call.  A fairly soft spot kick was tucked away on the left, Weera went to his right.  2-1 to Port  a fair reflection of the first half. Tana and Kalu were OK up front for a first outing. Ekkpoom was involved in most of the attacking play, but he is still making too many unforced errors.

The second half saw a ton of substitutions from both sides. It was difficult to keep up with who was where. I kept asking Tom “who’s that bloke again?” Half the players had different numbers it was a mess. Most notably Worawut was back in goal for Port, he looked at home.

The revolving door substitutions broke up play for most of the second half. At the beginning of the second PTT had a bit more of the game forcing two corners in quick succession. They were unable to capitalise on the pressure they created their best chance hitting the woodwork.

On the 60 minute mark a mass of substitutes came on for PTT, 10 minutes later Port did the same thing. I’d say Port had the run of the game but only just. On 79 minutes the PTT keeper was unable to hold on to a decent shot and Gengki was on hand to turn in the ball from five yards out. The game finished 3-1

Notable points for Port in the second half.

Pinyo came on and played about 25 minutes. He looked good on the left wing, setting up a good shot for Asdrubal which he skyed, then minutes later skyed a shot of his own. If his is capable on the left wing and is back to 80% fitness I think we should try him there.

Marahao is still around he was his usual full pace self dancing round defenders. Being around this close to the beginning of the season suggests maybe he is there in case someone else pulls out of the squad because of injury. Possibly Asdrubal, but his injury is meant to be just a minor one. I think he’s around in case someone has a serious problem.

Speaking of Asdrubal he played his first game. He was ok for a player making his first pre-season appearance. Worryingly he did occasionally hold on to his leg and didn’t look 100%. People are saying it’s a small problem, but it’s not good for one of our foreign players injured before the season even starts.

The only two players that stayed around for most of the game were Pakorn and Piyachaat Srimarueang (38). It’s no surprise to see Pakorn on for 80% of the game but Piyachat is a bit more surprising. It looks like Piyachat might be edging out other midfield players for a starting place. Tatchanon also had another good game in central midfield.

This week’s new signing “Mr. Nirun”, the other half Thai half Swedish Port player came on and he played central defence. So at least we know where he plays now even if we don’t know his second name.

Another win for Port is always good to see. There are still some questions around this squad. If Siwakorn and Meechok are back on the first day of the season we should be in good shape to get a result against Ratchaburi at PAT Stadium.

 

The Sandpit Predicts… 2017 Starting XI

 

We’ve seen all sorts of experimentation so far in pre-season, but with just two weeks to go until the 2017 season gets underway, we think we have a pretty good idea of who will be taking the field to face Rachaburi on February 11th.
We’re going to show you predicted starting XIs from Sandpitters Dom and Tom, as well as goal.com. All three take the 4-2-3-1 formation that has been used throughout pre-season as their template.

 

 

Dom has gone for Worawut (36) in goal, backing the ‘keeper who has played the majority of games over the last two seasons to hold on to his place in the side. He likes Rattanai (17) as a quality back-up option but says he will be cowering behind the Zone B drums if Weera gets anywhere near the pitch.

In defence, Rochela (22), Dolah (40) and Meechok (20) are almost certainties, whilst Dom thinks that Panpanpong (19) will edge out Piyachart (23) for the left back spot due to his more solid defending.

In central midfield, Siwakorn (16) partners Wanchalerm Yingyong, who Dom thinks could be preferred to youngster Tatchanon (27). An attacking trio of Genki (18), Suarez (4) and Pakorn (9) will provide ammunition for Kaluderovic (10), who Dom backs to edge out Asdrubal (24) as first choice striker.

 

 

Tom thinks that Rattanai (17) has done enough to earn himself a starting spot in 2017. The ‘keeper who played in the crucial cup games against Muangthong last season as well as the key league game against Ubon UMT has looked more comfortable with his feet this pre-season, which Tom thinks makes him slightly preferable to Worawut (36). He also thinks that Weera will be back-up to the back-up.

Rochela (22), Dolah (40), and Meechok (20) are again the obvious choices in defence, although Tom fancies that the more attacking left back – Piyachart (23) – will be preferred to Panpanpong (19) as he thinks Port have looked short of attacking ideas when Panpanpong and Genki (18) have played together on the left.

In midfield Siwakorn (16) is partnered by young newcomer Tatchanon (27), who Tom thinks has played his way in to Jadet’s plans since his arrival from Army. He has looked disciplined and consistent, even earning the praise of David Rochela in The Sandpit’s recent interview with the Port skipper.

Genki (18) will be selected ahead of Ekkapoom (8) on the left wing, although Tom thinks that against weaker opposition the more attacking Ekkapoom could well be favoured. Suarez (4) and Pakorn (9) will complete the attacking midfield, while Kaluderovic (10) will be tasked with scoring the goals to fire Port up the table.

 

 

goal.com have made the surprising choice of Weera in goal. Whilst he has played plenty of pre-season minutes, we would be surprised if he was on the bench, let alone on the pitch in two weeks time. Maybe the guys at goal.com know something we don’t!

In defence, it’s once again Rochela (22), Dolah (40), Meechok (20), with Panpanpong (19) getting the nod at left back.

Siwakorn (16) partners Tatchanon (27), with the usual trio of Genki (18), Suarez (4) and Pakorn (9) ahead of them. Up front, Kaluderovic (10) is expected to be Jadet’s favoured option.

The Certainties

Putting the possibility of injuries to one side, there are 7 pretty-much nailed on starters in 2017. Rochela and Dolah will start in central defence, and Meechok will retain his place at right back. Siwakorn will fill one of the two central midfield roles, while Suarez will be used either as an attacking midfielder or a more withdrawn role. Wherever he plays, he will be starting. Pakorn will be right-winger, and we’re pretty sure that Genki will hold off Ekkapoom to start on the left wing, although perhaps this should be in its’ own ‘not-quite certainty’ category.

The Question Marks

It’s a three way battle in goal, as illustrated by our choices. Either Worawut, Rattanai or Weera could be selected, although The Sandpit thinks that Worawut and Rattanai are far more likely options.

Panpanpong is probably a slight favourite to Piyachart at left back. He has been picked for most of the friendlies, although his performances have been less than inspiring. Piyachart, on the other hand, has been playing with the second string, but putting himself in to contention with some excellent displays.

In central midfield, there are many options for Jadet to choose from. We think that Tatchanon might be a slight favourite to start, but Piyachat (28), Wanchalerm and Siwapong are all realistic alternatives.

Up front, all three XIs chose Kaluderovic, but it could well still be Astrubal who is preferred. The Spaniard looked lively and technically very good on his brief debut appearance, but the reason we give Kaluderovic a slight edge is the ease with which he scored his two debut goals. He looked like a natural goal-poacher, and that is likely to be what Jadet is after from his lone forward.

Let us know if you agree or disagree with our selections in the comments section below!

 

El Capitán! The Sandpit Meets David Rochela

 

For a player renowned for his elegant, unruffled defending, Port FC captain David Rochela looks unusually battered & bruised as he arrives for our interview, the livid red imprint of a football boot clearly visible on his forehead after he got in the way of a Dominic Adiyiah overhead kick during the previous evening’s friendly against Nakhon Ratchasima. After seeing him lying unconscious on the turf we were pretty sure today’s meeting would have to be postponed, but David not only shows up bang on time, he happily poses for photographs, having been reassured that fans love to see a player bearing battle scars for their team.

Not that his loyalty to Port has ever been in any doubt. This, after all, is a man about to enter his third season with the club, and who stuck around following 2015’s relegation to lead the club back to the top flight. Port fans love Rochela (as our 2016 Player of the Year vote clearly showed), and, as we will learn during the hour we spend chatting to him, that love is most definitely not unrequited.

 

 

Rochela was once one of the hottest youth properties in Spanish football, winning the 2007 European U17 championship alongside the likes of David de Gea and Bojan Krcic, and going on to play in La Liga for his local club Deportivo La Coruna. Following a spell with Israeli side Hapoel Tel Aviv, he joined Thai giants Buriram Utd in 2014, making 36 appearances as the Isaan side won the Thai Premier League. New signings in 2015 however meant his appearances were limited, and he joined Port, initially on loan, in the mid-season transfer window. Too late to prevent the club being relegated, but long enough to fall for the rough & ready Khlong Thoey club and make his mind up to stay on a permanent basis and help lead the Lions back to the top division at the first attempt.

As calm and relaxed off the pitch as he is on it, David spent an hour telling us about his formative experiences in Spain, crazy fans in Tel Aviv, the surprising Thai attitude to relegation, the team spirit at Port, his plans for the future, and much much more…

 


Tell us how you ended up playing in Thailand…

I was playing in Spain, then Israel with Hapoel Tel Aviv. Then I got the offer to go to Thailand to play with Buriram. I check everything, also I had some friends playing there, and at that moment it was the best team in Thailand and playing in the AFC CL. I needed a change in my life, so I said why not? So I came to Thailand, and I’m really happy here.

What was the hardest thing about adapting to Thailand?

The toughest thing for foreign players is the Thai weather. I think you need at least one month to start to breathe! When you run you say wow, I cannot play here. The grass, the ball, everything is different. Some players think oh, I go there just for a holiday, play some football, but no, you cannot think like that. It’s hard.

And what about the quality of the football? How does it compare?

In every country football is different. In Spain, teams try to keep their shape, always. You can lose the ball, but always stay in formation. But in Israel, after 70 minutes, teams always open up, so when you have one team that stays compact, you can win many games in the last 20 minutes. Maccabi Tel Aviv they brought one coach over from Spain, and they won everything – of course with good players, but also by keeping their shape on the field, so after 65-70 minutes the other teams all attack like crazy and forget to keep balance, destroy their own game.

In Thailand it is sometimes stressful as it can be difficult to control the game. In Spain it’s a little bit different, most teams try to keep the ball and stay compact, but if you see Thai games, it’s counterattack after counterattack, 5 players attacking 5 defenders or maybe 3, so for me as a defender it’s not really fine. I think in Thailand the fans want attack attack attack, they see one option which is to run and shoot, and in Spain it is different, fans are more patient and OK to see 15 passes.

With the players, there can be a lack of professionalism. At Buriram I played with guys who came from Thai boxing, they didn’t start playing football at 6 like I did, and they don’t understand that as a professional you have to control everything – sleep, food, rest. It’s not only the time you spend in training. It’s improving, Thai players are learning more, but I’ve seen players before important games eating things like popcorn or KFC. It’s normal for them. I know what I need to do to feel good to play but they are learning.

But for me Thai football is improving a lot, with a lot of young players – it’s not for now, but in 5, 6, 7 years, you can see things will improve.

With different nationalities on the pitch, how do you communicate? Thai players can be very quiet…

Communication is very important, you have to talk on the pitch and try to help each other. It’s funny, sometimes I shout in Spanish, sometimes Portuguese, sometimes English, so I mix a lot. When I first came, my defensive partner Narongrit, he couldn’t speak very good English, he taught me the Thai for left, right, forward, back, which was very important for defenders. If you’re a striker, not really, but as a central defender you have to listen to the goalkeeper, control the team, so you need to know some Thai to do that.

And how about Thai fans?

I like the fans in Thailand. After the game you go to the other team’s bench and the away crowd and thank them. If you did that in Spain, maybe they would throw things at you! For me that’s football. We go to enjoy the game, not to fight.

For me the most amazing was when we played Buriram in the last game of the season 2 years ago, we lost, we got relegated, and at the end of the game I had a sad face, and people were asking me for a photo. “Smile please, smile please!” I said “I cannot smile now”. They said “Don’t worry, next year we come back again!” I remember at La Coruna when we got relegated, it was a disaster. I tried to leave the stadium, and a bottle flew past my head, whoosh, and I had to run! I got out but the rest of the players were stuck inside the stadium for 2 hours. And in Israel, I played for Hapoel, we play in red. And our rivals, Maccabi, they play in yellow. One day in training one of my teammates was wearing shoes with laces- they weren’t even yellow, kind of yellow-green. And one of the fans saw them and he ran onto the pitch and started yelling “You can’t wear those! Take them off! Fuck Maccabi! Fuck yellow!” Crazy right?

So I like the mentality in Thailand – the fans go to enjoy, of course sometimes there are problems, but not often, not like in Europe.

You won the European U17 Championship with Spain in 2007, and were runners up in the U17 World Cup the same year. The following year, Spain won the Euros and began a 4-year domination of world football. How did that golden generation come about?

In Spain, all the kids want to be footballers. All the national team age groups play the same way so they all have the same idea. That’s why at U15, U17, U19, Spain have a lot of success. But at that age it is tough against African teams. In the U17 World Cup we played Ghana, and they all looked about 25! Then in the final against Nigeria, we lost on penalties, I remember I kicked their striker and I thought I’d broken my leg.

But sometimes, it’s just the moment. Spain always had really good players. In Korea in 2002 we lost because of the referee – if we had won that game, who knows? Maybe we win the tournament. So it’s just the moment. Sometimes you just have the right group of players, like Spain did, or like Leicester in England last season. We had our moment in 2008-2012, now we are trying to come back.

What’s your philosophy as a defender, and which other defenders would you say are your role models?

In England, people like to see tackling. But when I was young, I learned that when you go to ground, and you don’t take the ball, you’re out of the game. So I always try to stay up. I only go in if I’m sure I will get the ball. Going to ground is a risk.

Now I like Pique, he’s very smart and has good technique, but I don’t have one role model.

 


Let’s talk about Port FC. You joined us on loan from Buriram in 2015, yet despite relegation, you’re still here! Why have you stayed with the club?

I felt really good when I came to Port. I had a difficult time at Buriram, nothing but training for 6 months, no games, but at Port everything was amazing. Buriram have everything. If Newin wants it, they get it. They have great training facilities, 2-3 pitches – sometimes at Port we ruin our own pitch by training on it. But I like this club. When we got relegated I thought, I won’t find a better club than this, so I decided to stay and get back to TPL with Port.

I think we have the best atmosphere in Thailand. Some of the new players said to me last night (friendly v Nakhon Ratchasima) wow, if  we have crowds like this for a friendly, what will we have during the season? Against Muangthong last season, we lost, but the atmosphere, wow. But the fans don’t care who we’re playing, whether it’s Muangthong or Nakhon Pathom, they come and they shout and they stay. For me it’s the best place. We have no running track, it’s a small stadium, not big empty areas like at Buriram.

We thought that 2016 would be an easy season for us and we would comfortably get promoted. It turned out to be a bit harder than that. Why did we struggle the way we did?

All the players in the second leg, we had some difficult moments. We started well but it wasn’t easy. Watching the games afterwards, I thought sometimes we played too individually, not as a team. We had a lot of players with good skills, and if they have success it’s fine, but when you lose the ball you have to run, work hard, get the ball back, and I think at times we lost that team spirit. If you have good skill, you have to wait for the right moment, not try to beat 5 players every time.

(Editor’s note: Dominick keeps saying the word “Cunha” at this point. David refuses to take the bait)

You’re famous at Port for your pre-match goalkeeper-hugging routine. Is that a Thai thing, a Spanish thing, or just a David Rochela thing?

With goalkeepers, I always have a good connection. We’re the last players in the team, I give everything for him and he gives everything for me, so it’s like, let’s go, let’s keep a clean sheet today. It’s a bonding thing.

Talking of goalkeepers, we have really good competition at Port with several good keepers. Who’s the best?

It’s a very difficult question. I can’t choose, it’s impossible. We have five goalkeepers, and any of them would get into most TPL teams. Last season we loaned keepers to TPL teams. We stay in D1 and we loan goalkeepers to TPL! We have five top goalkeepers.

Tell us which new players you’re excited about playing with this season…

Our midfielder, Tachanon, he is amazing. Yesterday he gave the ball away a couple of times but he’s always in the right position, he keeps the team balanced, he’s very strong – he’s only 20, but he’s confident and if he plays regularly he can make the national team. 

Dolah can be a great defender. It’s hard to find Thai people with his physique. He’s very professional and focused and he listens a lot so he will improve. He can also make the national team.

I played against Sergio many times and he’s amazing, he’s very fit, and will be very important for the team. He can control games. Also many of our players have played with him before at Police which will help us.

I also played with Kalu (Andrija Kaludjerovic) at Racing Santander, and he is a great goalscorer. He does not look like a footballer but you give him the ball in the area, and he will score every time. Asdrubal, another very good player. He’s already match fit from Spain so I hope he can have a great season with us.

 

 

Who is the best player in the current squad in your opinion?

I think now, for our team, I cannot say he’s the best but the most important, it’s Sivakhorn. Last season whenever he missed a game, it was very difficult for us. He looks small, 40-50kg, but he gives us a lot. He runs a lot, always fighting, sometimes too much, too many yellow cards. But sometimes a midfielder needs to stop the game and take a yellow card for the team and he’s good at that. It’s normal, part of football. Sometimes I tell him to relax, but he’s very passionate and a very important player for the team. He’s also the biggest joker in the team! We have a very good team spirit – sometimes it’s too much, during training people tell me to smile and I say no, I’m training. After training we can do what we want. But the team spirit is very good.

Who’s the best player you’ve played against in Thailand?

Messi J. He’s different. Very smart, can shoot with both feet, fast and reads the game well. That’s why he’s gone to Japan. I can’t wait to see how good he can be there. Playing abroad is not easy – for Teerasil at Almeria in Spain it was difficult. Maybe it’s easier to go to Japan. I hope he can do well and I hope all the world will see that Thai players can play overseas.

What about the future? Do you still have ambition to go back and play in Europe?

No, I’m happy in Thailand and I hope I can stay at Port for more years. I’m happy, I think the club is happy with me, so I hope I can stay. I don’t have family or kids so it’s easy for me to stay. If you have family or kids you have to think more carefully about where you play, and you can’t move around.

When I finish playing, maybe I will forget football. I started studying physiotherapy in Spain so maybe I’ll go back there and open a clinic.

And finally, what are your thoughts on Port’s chances in the 2017 T1?

I hope we can enjoy the new season, no relegation fight. I think the owners’ plan is to keep the core of the team together and only bring in players if they will improve the team. I don’t want to say we will finish top 3, top 5, but I think we can finish top half and do well in the cups. 

 


 

Big thanks to David for giving up 2 hours on his day off to answer our questions! Interview by Tim Russell and Dominick Cartwright. Photos by Tim Russell. Thanks to Joe & Max at The Sportsman Bangkok for hosting us. 

 

MATCH REPORT: Port FC 2-0 Nakhon Ratchasima

Port overcame Nakhon Ratchasima 2-0 on Sunday to extend their pre-season winning streak to three games. Port endured a tough first half, suffering numerous injury scares, but came back strongly in the second half to win the game with two goals from a red-hot Maranhao.

Port lined up with Rattanai (17) in goal and a back four of Rochela (22), Dolah (40), Meechok (20) and Suchon (11). Piyachat (28) was given a start alongside Siwakorn (16) in central midfield, with Suarez (4) once again playing a more advanced role just behind striker Kaluderovic (10). Pakorn (9) and Genki (18) took their usual places on the wings.

Korat started brightly, with Ghanaian international forward Dominic Adiyiah (10) causing Port all sorts of problems with his pace and skill. Port’s defence held firm, but the midfield was caught out a few times trying to do too much with the ball and losing possession in dangerous areas.

Siwakorn Is Carried Off

Korat couldn’t find a way through, with Rochela and Dolah martialling a strong back line, but after 9 minutes of sustained pressure Port suffered a blow potentially much more serious than conceding a goal. Midfield maestro Siwakorn picked up a nasty-looking injury to his right leg and was piggy-backed off the pitch, unable to even limp. Young midfielder Tatchanon (27) came on in his place. Port will be hoping the injury isn’t as serious as it looked, as Siwakorn is set to play a key role in Port’s starting XI this season.

Just 10 minutes later, disaster seemed to have struck again. Rochela went for a brave header just as Adiyiah was attempting a bicycle kick, but beating Adiyiah to the ball came at the price of taking a brutal boot full to the face. Rochela seemed to be out cold for a few moments, but with the help of both the Port and Korat physios, he regained consciousness and walked gingerly off the pitch, being replaced by Todsapol (6). Port’s captain should be back to full fitness for the opening game of the season, but he will be carrying a battle scar with him when he meets The Sandpit on Monday for our very first exclusive interview!

Rochel-Ouch!

Port still weren’t done with injuries yet, though. Both Meechok and Kaluderovic were replaced before half time, although neither looked to be particularly serious. Nitipong (34) came on for Meechok at right back, while Maranhao (29) replaced Kaluderovic up front.

The one bright spot in an otherwise disappointing first half was goalkeeper Rattanai. The youngster made some good saves, claimed a couple of tricky crosses and looked more comfortable with the ball at his feet than he did last season.

Port held out to go in 0-0 at half time, but they probably deserved to be a goal or two down against an impressive-looking Korat.

The second half brought with it another round of substitutions, and the tide began to turn in Port’s favour. Pakorn was inches away from the top corner with a sweetly-struck free kick, and Ekkapoom (8), who has had a bright pre-season, once again looked lively after replacing Genki. Maranhao was to be the one who really made the difference, though

His first goal came in the 66th minute after a long spell of possession. Port worked the ball out to the right hand side, where Pakorn laid the ball back to Nitipong, who fizzed in a dangerous cross. Maranhao got ahead of his marker and glanced his header past the Korat ‘keeper in to the far corner. He received a booking for his hilarious celebration – taking his shirt off and showing Zone B some choice dance moves – but Maranhao didn’t care.

Minutes later he added a second goal, this time of his own making. Maranhao ran at the Korat left-back, who tried to stop him with a desperate lunge. The referee pointed to the spot, and the confident Brazilian took the penalty himself, calmly sending the ‘keeper the wrong way.

Maranhao – not for the first time this pre-season – looked like Port’s best player when was brought on, prompting questions as to why he hasn’t yet found another club. Surely a player of his ability should be in high demand if not in T1 then at least in T2. Is there another reason he’s still here? With new striker Asdrubal on the bench but not featuring at all for the last two games, some fans have been speculating that the door could could still be open for Maranhao to make a shock return, but at this stage with the foreign player quota filled, that is just speculation.

Port continued to look dangerous throughout the final 20 minutes, but Maranhao could not complete his hattrick with a tricky half-chance from the edge of the area.

Port can be happy with the 2 – 0 win and their first clean sheet of the year, although the first half performance and the injuries were both causes for concern. They will continue their preparation with an away game on Saturday 28th January at PTT Rayong, where Port will hope to extend their winning streak to four games and avoid further injuries.

MATCH REPORT: Port FC 3-1 Pattaya United

 

Port secured a comfortable 3 – 1 win against Pattaya United, thanks to a clinical first half performance. New signing Kaluderovic looked the business, notching his first two goals on his debut. Pattaya struck back, before Genki added a third goal late in the first half to seal Port’s second consecutive friendly victory against T1 opponents.

Port started with Worawut (36) in goal, and the same back four that has started the last few friendlies: Rochela (22), Dolah (4), Meechok (20) and Panpanpong (19). Suarez (15) played in an advanced role just behind striker Kaluderovic (10), with Siwakorn (16) and Tatchanon (27) anchoring the midfield. Pakorn (9) played on the right wing, and Genki (18) on the left.

Pattaya looked lively in the early going, but had no real bite to their attack. Rochela and Dolah were fairly busy, but did what was asked of them with relative ease.

20 year old new signing Tatchanon had his best game to date at the base of the midfield, keeping the ball moving without ever looking like losing possession, and spreading the play with a couple of excellent long balls out to the flanks.

The even younger Meechok was also a revelation down the right. At times in the first half, the right back seemed to be playing a more advanced role than right winger Pakorn, so it was no surprise when his good work led to the opening goal. Meechok’s run down the right was expertly picked out by a lofted Siwakorn pass, and the right back played the ball across the six yard box where Kaluderovic swept home with ease from close range.

Spot the scoreboard #fail

Just a few minutes later, the same three combined to score a second. Meechok, pressing high up the pitch, intercepted a pass in midfield and the ball broke to Siwakorn who played a well-weighted through-ball for Kaluderovic to run on to. The Serbian made no mistake with a classy outside-of-the-boot finish to make it 2 debut goals and 2-0 to Port. Whilst neither goal was particularly special, the way they were taken seemed effortless. We don’t want to jinx it, but this might be the first time since the legendary Leandro that Port have had a foreign striker who makes scoring goals look easy!

Pattaya soon got themselves back in to the game, though. After a fortuitous richochet on the edge of the area, a Pattaya forward reacted quicker than the Port defence and managed to force the ball past an onrushing Worawut to bring Pattaya back within a goal.

Port were still playing the better football of the two sides, though, so it was probably a fair reflection of the first half that they went in 3-1 up. Kaluderovic was once again involved, this time turning well under pressure in the middle of the park before releasing Suarez down the left with a pinpoint pass. Suarez could easily have gone for goal himself, but unselfishly squared the ball to Genki who got ahead of his marker to score the tap-in.

It was an important goal for the Japanese player, who few have been expecting to stay with Port in 2017. Nevertheless, with less than a month to go he finds himself starting with Jadet’s first choice side, whilst no rumours of an AFC replacement are anywhere to be seen. It’s looking increasingly likely that Genki could retain his place in the squad, although there is of course still time for that to change.

The liveliest player of an otherwise pretty dour second half was Port’s other left winger, Ekkapoom (8). Port, once again, brought out an almost entirely different XI. Rattanai (17) came on in goal, and Nitipong (34), Anisong (31) and Piyachart (23) joined Dolah – the only player to stay out – in defence. Wanchalerm (35) and Piyachat (28) played in central midfield, with Ekkapoom wide left and Maranhao (29) wide right. Wuttichai (14) partnered (5) Tana, playing his first game after a lengthy spell out injured, in a conventional front two.

Whilst the two strikers both looked a little off the pace, the wingers looked busy and dangerous. Ekkapoom and Maranhao both hit the post after creating excellent chances for themselves, but neither could add to Port’s lead.

Midway trough the second period, left back Piyachart picked up a knock and was replaced by Suchon (11), but the substitution that got everyone talking was the introduction of Pinyo (21) late on in the half. Pinyo was injured for almost the whole of last season, but now finally seems to be getting an opportunity to prove his fitness. He came on for Ekkapoom in the 80th minute, and looked enthusiastic, although understandably short of match-sharpness.

Little else of interest happened in the second half, meaning Port claimed another confidence boosting victory against top-tier opposition. If they can secure another victory against Nakhon Ratchasima on Sunday, Port will be heading in to their opening game of the season against Rachaburi full of belief that they can cause an upset.

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk – 17 Jan 2017

 

It’s Transfer Talk round-up time! The start of the season is nearly upon us, meaning all of the transfer tomfoolery is nearly at an end. As always, there have been lots of coming and goings, so we’re going to do our best to summarize them for you here.

Out

 

Thiago Cunha (10)
Last year’s big-name signing was expected to make a splash in D1, but ended up being a huge flop. His antics got less and less bearable as the season went on, although he did scoop The Sandpit’s Goal of the Season award!

Rodrigo Maranhao (29)
Maranhao looked like a worldbeater at the start of 2016, but his performances tailed off in the second half of the season. Nevertheless, most Port fans would have preferred to keep hold of the likeable Brazilian. Only time will tell whether letting him go was the right decision or not.

Renan Oliveira (25)
Oliveira was the forgotten man at Port last year. He played a couple of games, didn’t look great, then got dropped from the squad altogether. It’s no surprise he has not been retained for 2017.

Wagner Carioca (35)
Wagner followed the opposite trajectory to Maranhao, really coming in to his own in the second half of last season. Another player who many fans would have been happy to keep hold of, although his replacement in centre midfield does look bloody good.

Artit Daosawang (19)
On loan from Muang Thong last season, Artit played a few games in centre midfield. He will return to Muang thong as planned in 2017.

Sathaporn Daengsi (15)
Sathaporn arrived on loan from Buriram for the second half of 2016, becoming first choice left back and performing consistently if unspectacularly. He will return to Buriram in 2017.

Narong Wisetsri (39)
Narong was third choice goalkeeper last season, never managing to challenge his two younger competitors for a place in the first XI.

Naronrit Samonpan (4)
Naronrit was a bit-part player for the last few seasons, supplying cover in defence and occasionally midfield in the case of injuries and suspensions. He is considered surplus to requirements after the arrival of Dolah.

Artit Promkun (24)
We don’t recall the other Artit getting any game-time at all last season, so far was he down the left back pecking order. It’s no surprise that he has moved on.

Watchara Buathong (1)
Watchara returns to BBCU on loan for a second consecutive season. He’s a good ‘keeper with lots of potential, but can’t find his was past Worawut or Rattanai.

 

The New Signings

In

 

Sergio Suarez (4)
Suarez has impressed in pre-season since joining from Songkhla. His touch and passing have looked top-notch, and he seems to have slotted effortlessly in to the team. We expect big things from him in 2017.

Asdrubal Padron (24)
Asdrubal brings a big reputation with him to Port, having played in La Liga for Las Palmas. It’s too early to tell how well he will adapt to his new surroundings and a different style of football, but we have high hopes nevertheless!

Andrija Kaluderovic (10)
Kaluderovic scores goals for fun, and he does it all over the world. If he can reproduce anything like the 20 in 19 strike-rate he managed in Lithuania last season, he will be a star. It will be interesting to see whether Asdrubal or Kaluderovic are preferred up front, or whether they are played as a pair with either Suarez or Rochela dropping to the bench. Only time will tell.

Elias Dolah (40)
Dolah has lived up to the hype in his brief pre-season appearances. The Thai-Swede who signed from Songkhla has been winning almost everything in the air, and tackling powerfully. He could end up being the signing of the season for Port in 2017.

Patrick Bentley (30)
We know very little about 20 year old Bentley. We know that he’s Thai-Australian, and we don’t think he’s played professionally before. To be filed under ‘one for the future’.

Siwapong Jarernsin (35)
Journeyman Siwapong joins from Sisaket to add strength in depth to the midfield. He can take a lovely free-kick, as he did against Navy in pre-season.

Wanchalerm Yingyong (26)
Wanchalerm has joined on loan from Chiang Rai, giving Jadet another midfielder to choose from.

Tatchanon Nakarawong (27)
Tatchanon at just 20 seems to be a good signing in the long term. Whilst he joins the ever-lengthening queue for midfield game-time, he has time on his side, and has been playing regularly in pre-season.

Panpanpong Pinkong (19)
Panpanpong joins from Bangkok Utd, where he provided cover at full back. He seems to be being considered for a starting role this season at Port, but we’re backing Piyachart to be preferred come the start of the season.

Weera (1)
Weera was first signed by Port in 2015. He has since left and now come back. We think. We’ve definitely seen him training and playing in friendlies, although nothing has been announced by the club.

Unfinished Business

 

Whilst it has been strongly rumoured that Genki (18) was not going to be kept in 2017, his departure has not been announced, and no replacement has been signed. Genki continues to train with the club, and was given a start in the most recent friendly against Sukhothai. We still think it’s likely that another AFC foreign player will be brought in to replace him on the left wing, but time is running out with the season fast-approaching.

 

Thiagoal! 2016 Goal of the Season Winner Revealed

 

His time at Port may have been brief and disappointing, and he may now have moved onto a career in India’s MMA scene, but there is one thing – apart from his unprovoked assault on the dressing room door – that we’ll always remember from Thiago Cunha: his 2016 Sandpit Goal of the Season!

The East Timorese netbuster’s lob against Muangthong in last season’s League Cup semi won the poll with 22% of the vote, beating efforts from Maranhao and Tana. Final positions are below:

 

 

Football hipsters that we are, the Sandpit team voted for less obvious choices: I voted for Nitipong’s curler, Tom went for Thiago’s overhead kick, and Dom is such a craft beer-swigging vegan hipster bastard that his favourite goal wasn’t even on the list. You probably haven’t heard of it.

But I can understand why Thiago’s goal won. Every goal against Muangthong is special, but the little push on the defender, the lob over the keeper (the best keeper in Thailand it has to be stressed) and the manic celebrations in the PAT that followed made it the greatest single moment of the 2016 season. The minutes the followed the goal, with Port flying into their opponents and a sold-out PAT in a state of deafening hysteria, were some of the most exciting and exhilarating I’ve ever experienced in a football stadium.

By the time the second leg came around Thiago had already picked up his handbag and flounced off to Mumbai, and Port, despite a creditable 1-1 draw in the Theatre of Corrugated Iron, went out. But for a few brief minutes, we were beating Thailand’s best team and had a foot in the final. For that at least, Thiago will be fondly remembered. Congratulations Senhor, and you can collect your prize – a large bottle of Leo – on your next visit to the PAT!

 

Relive that goal and the other 9 goals below: