Ratt-sody in Blue

 

Kawin, Sinthaweechai, Chanin and Rattanai

 

Sport MThai have reported that Thai National Team Coach Zico’s appearance at PAT Stadium on Saturday was not just to get a closer look at new Port signing Elias Dolah, but also our exciting young goalkeeper Rattanai Songsangchan.

As The Sandpit wrote about in early January, Dolah has been on Zico’s radar ever since he made the switch to Khlong Toei. His height makes him a potentially great asset to the diminutive Thai National Team, and the change to playing 3 centre backs would seem to create space in the squad for the big Thai-Swede.

Rattanai, however, has not been tipped to make the step up to full international level until now. Indeed, until Port’s starting XI to face Ratchaburi was announced on Saturday, many thought that Rattanai wouldn’t even be Port’s first choice ‘keeper this season. They should have known better! The 21 year old stopper was given his debut last July in the 2-1 League Cup victory against BEC Tero, and impressed so much in the Cup competitions that by September he was already being selected for crunch games against Muangthong Utd in the League Cup semi-final and promotion rivals Ubon UMT in the league.

It’s his lightning reactions that are the most obvious sign that he is a seriously talented ‘keeper, but Rattanai has also looked comfortable collecting crosses; often preferring to catch the ball rather than punch, which is unusual and refreshing in the modern game.

Arguably, the only weakness in Rattanai’s game last season was his distribution. He looked nervous with the ball at his feet, and often seemed to avoid kicking it long wherever possible. In the off-season, though, he trained with the National Team Under 23’s and appears to have worked particularly hard on that aspect of his game. Against Ratchaburi on Saturday, Rattanai picked out a few nice long passes with his left foot, and kept Port on level terms early in the second half with a crucial point blank save from Alharbi El Jadeyaoui. There was one slightly worrying moment when he waited for what seemed an age for the ball to roll in to the area before smothering the danger, but he had judged that he had enough time, and was proved right.

It’s not just Rattanai’s performances which have endeared him to the PAT faithful though, but his personality too. He is a down-to-earth youngster who can often be found eating Isaan food at a local Khlong Toei restaurant with his family and girlfriend after the game. Before his ascent to the first team, Rattanai would come and go with quiet anonymity, but after some of his heroic performances he was entering to the sound of applause, and having to deal with all sorts of star-struck lunatics and their photo requests!

 

 

On the pitch, too, Rattanai has increasingly found his voice and began to express himself more. He seems to be communicating well with his defenders, and isn’t afraid to tell them when he isn’t happy. As the photo below beautifully illustrates, he celebrated as passionately as the fans on the terraces when Port scored their injury-time equalizer on Saturday. That’s what we like to see!

 

 

So what are Rattanai’s chances of making the step up to international level? The 3 goalkeepers named by Zico in the last several squads have been Kawin Thamsatchanan, Sinthaweechai Hathairattanakool and Chanin Sae-ear. 27 year old Kawin – not just the best goalkeeper in Thailand but quite possibly in Asia – is not going to be dislodged in the foreseeable future. His understudy Sinthaweechai, however, will be celebrating his 35th birthday when Thailand face Saudi Arabia on March 23rd. After making 83 appearances in the last 14 years for Thailand, the Suphanburi stopper’s international career can’t go on forever, and when it does come to an end Rattanai should surely be one of the names in the frame to replace him in the squad. With Kawin expected to continue as Thailand’s number 1 for many years to come, it makes sense for Zico to look to the future and pick players who could one day be Kawin’s successor.

Expect to see Chonburi’s 24 year old Chanin, 21 year old Rattanai, and a host of other young ‘keepers vying for places in the squad in the coming years. If he continues to develop the way he has done in his first year at Port, we’re backing Rattanai to earn his chance at international level. He may have to wait a while, but time is on his side.

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk – The Manucharyan Mystery

 

Armenian forward Edgar Manucharyan was a Ratchaburi player until just couple of days before the season opening clash with Port FC, when he was spotted at PAT Stadium training with the Khlong Toei Army. Rumours about what on earth happened – and what could still happen – have been numerous and confusing. Bear with us, here.

ESPN asked Ratchaburi’s head coach, Pacheta, what was going on.

“You have to speak with Fluke [team manager Tanawat Nitikarnchana]. It’s a decision of the club. I don’t buy and sell the players.”

Ratchaburi’s Director of Football Robert Procureur shed a bit more light on the situation.

“Edgar is a good player, but there is a problem with his behaviour. He has been fighting with the club president, and he has created some other problems already, so it is more of a discipline problem than a quality problem. He has had problems with many people already, so it was difficult to keep him.”

So, we can be pretty sure that Manucharyan has left Ratchaburi.

Then comes the Port situation. The same day that Manucharyan was spotted training with Port, Brazilian forward Josimar completed his medical and confirmed to The Sandpit that he had signed. With Josimar’s arrival confirmed that meant that Port had 6 foreign players on the books, despite the fact that only 5 can be in the T1 squad at any given time. Last season, Port kept Wagner Carioca at the club in similar circumstances and only used him in Cup competitions, so there is precedent for Port choosing to go in to the season with an extra foreign player. Given this, we can just about understand Josimar’s transfer.

 

Josimar at training

 

Then the following day came apparent confirmation from Armenpress that Manucharyan too had signed.

“Forward of the national team Edgar Manucharyan has signed with a new club. Just a day after leaving Thailand’s Ratchaburi, Manucharyan was signed by the Port F.C. of Thailand.”

Manucharyan at training

What?! It’s worth pointing out at this stage that the Armenpress piece doesn’t include any quotes or details from the player or the teams involved, and we have no idea where they got their information from.

If they are right and Port are planning to go in to the season with 7 foreign players, then we will be truly flabbergasted. That would mean at least one of the new signings would have been signed just to be played in the cups or loaned out, as well as the underappreciated Maranhao. What sense would that make? Could there still be doubts about Kaludjerovic’s ability to adapt to T1 football? If that is the case, can Port replace a player who has already played in the league before the end of the transfer window, and if they can would that player be eligible to play in the first leg of the season?

Unfortunately we have more questions than answers, and are so utterly dazed and confused by all of this tomfoolery that all we can be sure about is the Cartesian fact that we know we exist. All else is an illusion.

 

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Spit in the Sandpit: Opening Day Notes

 

Warning…I am about to tell you about many of my observations of the season opener last Saturday night and I don’t mention or sing Genki’s name even once. So all you Genki fan boys move on, nothing to see here.

Close to a sell out, which warmed my heart, and as I looked out upon the sea of Port support I noticed hey, where are the black shirts in Zone D known as the Ultras? Have they been banned because of last season’s shenanigans? I miss having them there. Sort of a security blanket…like The Hell’s Angels providing security for a Rolling Stones concert, though that didn’t turn out all that great.

The new 50th Anniversary home kit is meh. I prefer last season’s white sleeves to the black and where’s the badge commemorating 50 years? The black away kit is sharp looking.

Wow. The pace in TPL (or do they call it Thai League 1 now?) is so much quicker. The ball is moving around a lot faster and I think our players had trouble adjusting for the first half hour. It’s so nice to see fast paced football return to PAT and of course the obligatory poor officiating. Ha ha ha.

Hey, I like our new foreign players. I thought after a slow start Spaniard Sergio Suarez #5 and Serbian striker #10 Andrija Kaluderovic provided Port with a dangerous one/two punch up front. Swedish-Thai defender Elias Dolah #4 is pretty slow but solid in the back and he seems to make right decisions when opposition is threatening. I give the new players a B+ grade.

I am disappointed with our new electronic scoreboard. It’s boring. It cost a lot of baht to install it and I’ve seen it display things other than score & time. I know league rules prevents it from showing replays but how about crowd shots or scores from other matches when there’s a break in the action? You can accuse of me of being a typical North American sports fan needing lots of bells and whistles on the scoreboard to keep me entertained but come on, can we have a little bit more than score and time?

My final observation of the night – Madame Pang is a rock star. The supporters just wanted to touch her as she came up to greet them in Zone C. I think she is a great asset to Port FC. I really do. I’m sorry all you negative Nellie’s. But just one bit of advice for the Madame, it’s weird watching the owner of the team lead the cheer in the players’ pre-match huddle.

 

Arigato Genki-San! Port FC 1-1 Ratchaburi FC

 

Football came home yesterday as Port opened their season at the PAT against Ratchaburi in front of what looked like a full house. An evening of great football, controversy, excitement and heavy drinking. Ah, we’ve missed you.

What’s that? Heavy drinking? Wasn’t it a dry day due to the Makha Bucha holiday? In theory, yes. But it’s a brave man who tells Port fans they can’t get leathered, particularly after 5 months without football. I was just about to pack some cold Leos into my backpack before heading to the stadium when my wife, who had gone down to the PAT earlier, broke the joyous news that the beer stalls were serving as per normal. It’s a Makha Bucha miracle!

Patrick Bentley models the 2017 Port shirt

The new season’s shirts were also revealed, modelled by friend of the Sandpit Patrick Bentley, to mixed reviews. The home shirt looks better on the pitch than it does close up, though the Leo logo proved popular and the black away shirt is very tasty.

We had no firm idea of what the lineup would be, with further confusion sowed the previous evening when Brazilian striker Josimar confirmed that he’d passed his medical and signed for Port, and then Ratchaburi’s Armenian striker Edgar Manucharyan was pictured wearing Port kit, with Ratchaburi confirming on Twitter the morning of the game that he had indeed signed for Port. That makes seven foreigners, so quite what is going on is a mystery.

Eyebrows were raised when the lineup was revealed, with Jadet paying virtually no attention to player performances in pre-season friendlies and picking Piyachart at LB, Piyachat as DM and Nitipong at RB. Heads were scratched when Piyachat went off injured in the first half and was replaced not by Wanchalerm or Tatchanon, but the long-forgotten Adisorn.

 

 

And in the first half Port’s play was as disjointed as Jadet’s thinking, as Ratchaburi, looking stronger, fitter and better organised, and blessed with the obligatory Scary Foreign Strikers that Port continually refuse to sign, threatened to run away with the game in the first 15 minutes, with only some heroic defending from Rochela keeping the score at 0-0. After weathering the storm, Port started to get more into the game and during a good spell of pressure Suarez shaved the crossbar with a diagonal shot from the right. But as the half-time whistle blew, there was general relief that we were still on level terms.

The second half began in a much more lively fashion, the excellent Rattanai making a superb stop from point blank range before Essombe fired over the bar. Then Port took hold of the game for the next 10 minutes, launching wave after wave of attacks with the otherwise unimpressive Kaludjerovic almost scoring from a header.

But it was the visitors who took the lead in the 77th minute, when a corner was headed back into the area where the excellent Santos, man of the match for me, headed in at the post. A bit harsh on Port who had had the best of the half but, and I can’t believe we’re still saying this, completely lacked any kind of goal threat.

 

Ten minutes later chaos reigned, when we were reminded of just how bad top flight refereeing is in Thailand. A Tana ball into the box was blocked by a defender, with a hand claimed Port, and the ref initially appeared to give a penalty which, after consultation with both his assistants and a lot of handbaggery from both sets of players, was amended to a free kick, despite the offence clearly taking place inside the area. Repeat viewing suggests it hit the defender’s leg rather than his hand, but if the referee thought there had been an offence, it should’ve been a penalty.

In front of an aggrieved Zone B, Pakorn curled the resulting free kick towards the far corner but was denied by an excellent save. But Port didn’t have to wait long to get their deserved equaliser. In the 5th minute of injury time a free kick was awarded on the edge of the Ratchaburi box. Pakorn pinged it into the box and right onto the head of Genki, who rose majestically from the melee like the snow-capped peak of Mount Fuji to nod it past the keeper and into the net, sparking ecstatic scenes on the terraces as five months of frustration, and several hours of heavy drinking, caused an explosion of joy. Grown men hugged, women wept, and two weirdos started singing a Human League song.

So, a creditable first result against a very good side, but there is much work to do with Jadet clearly having no idea what his best side is, and some very good players sitting on the bench watching some very average ones. On the plus side, Suarez made a busy, combative debut, Siwakhorn and Genki’s workrate inspired their colleagues, Pakorn looked well up for it, and Rochela was majestic. On the minus, Kalu didn’t look like the SFS we’ve been waiting for, Dolah seems to lack pace, and until Pinkong came on, our full-backs were simply awful. A decent result from a poor performance, with much improvement needed if that top half place is going to be a reality.

 

PORT MAN OF THE MATCH – David Rochela

A typically classy, authoritative performance from the captain. Spent the first half having to cover for Piyachart at LB as well as doing his own job, yet still stopped Ratchaburi’s strikers from having a sniff. Apparently he had his pocket picked on the way home – the thieves got away with 2000BHT, his phone, and Marcel Essombe.

 

 

Josimarvellous! Port Get a Brazilian

 

Last minute transfer drama is unfolding just as Port prepare to get the T1 season underway on Saturday. After injury unfortunately ended Asdrubal Padron’s Port career before it had begun, many assumed that Rodrigo Maranhao – who has been waiting patiently for his chance – would be stepping in to take his place in the squad, but the litany of rumours since suggest otherwise.

Port have been linked with 3 Brazilian forwards in the last week, likely indicating that they are intent on going in to the season with 6 foreign players, even though only 5 can be named in the T1 squad. Maranhao must be wondering what he has done wrong!

Firstly, Port were linked with Brazilian former Chonburi striker (where have we heard that before?) Leandro Assumpcao, who scored 21 goals in 61 games for the Sharks between 2015 and 2016. Whilst many players have made the switch from Chonburi to Khlong Toei in recent seasons, the latest news suggests that Assumpcao will be joining Sisaket for the 2017 season.

 

Leandro Assumpcao scores for Chonburi

 

Next came the rumour that really made Port fans giddy with excitement. Heberty Fernandes, the former Ratchaburi star who fired in an outrageous 65 goals in 90 games for Port’s 2017 opening day opponents, was linked with a move to PAT Stadium. With Port fans briefly dreaming of a Top 6 finish, or maybe even a push for a spot in the AFC Champions League, reality soon hit home when it was reported that Port were not going to be able to afford his $800,000 per year wage demands. It was nice while it lasted!

 

Heberty Fernandes at Ratchaburi

 

Finally came talk that former Army striker Josimar Rodrigues was not only being linked with a move, but had been spotted at PAT Stadium. Pictures taken on Thursday afternoon confirm that Josimar was indeed in training on Thursday, so The Sandpit got in touch with the Brazilian who confirmed to us that he will be signing with Port pending a medical at 09:00 on Friday. Josimar scored 16 goals in 30 games in a poor Army Utd side last season, and will be expected to provide competition for Andrija Kaludjerovic to be Port’s first choice striker. Whilst his goal record at Army was undoubtedly impressive, he has struggled to find the net at a few of his former clubs. A solitary goal in 16 games at Tokyo Verdi, then another 1 in 12 games for Al-Fateh SC don’t exactly scream consistency. However good Josimar is, we have to question the wisdom of signing another Brazilian forward to replace Maranhao – who most fans think has earned his chance in T1. Would a left winger or a left back not make more sense?

 

Josimar Rodrigues at PAT Stadium

 

Still, with the signing as yet unconfirmed and more twists and turns still eminently possible, we aren’t counting our chickens just yet. Anyway, isn’t there a game coming up sometime soon to take our minds off all this transfer malarkey?

 

New Kids on the Block: The Sandpit Meets Niran Hansson & Patrick Bentley

 

As Port begin reestablishing themselves as a T1 club, one strategy seems to be to sign young, dual-passport players – those brought up and trained in footballing cultures more developed and disciplined than Thailand, but who crucially have Thai nationality.

Following the signing of Thai-Swedish Elias Dolah, Port signed two more dual-nationality players – fellow Thai-Swede Niran Hansson (who made an impressive debut in the friendly vs BBCU on Saturday), and the youthful 18-year old Thai-British Patrick Bentley, who grew up in Australia.

Both players are a total mystery to Port fans, so The Sandpit met up with them for a chat to find out more about two players who might be the future not just of Port FC, but also of the Thai national team…

 


You both have Thai nationality but grew up overseas. What is your experience of Thailand?

NH – I’ve been here on vacation many times with family. I was adopted when I was 18 months, so I’ve been back here with my Swedish parents to visit the orphanage. 

PB – I’ve been here every year since I was born to visit my mum’s side of the family.

And what’s been the hardest thing about adjusting to life here?

PB – Every foreign player has to get used to the weather. Playing in the humidity is hard. We’re used to the heat in Australia but not the humidity.

 

Tell us how you both got started in football and where you played before coming to Port.

PB – I grew up in Sydney, and I played in the Youth Premier League for a team called Manly Utd. Then I moved to a team called APIA Leichhardt where I played U18s and U20s in the NSW Premier League. I look at myself as a defensive midfielder, but I’ve also played centre back and right-back – I’ve been playing right back in training with Port. But I’ve been a defensive midfielder for the last 10 years. My dad is from Manchester and played football so I’ve been playing since I was 5. I didn’t have a choice. All my friends in Australia started playing rugby & cricket, but I stuck to football.

NH – I started playing with a local team in the suburbs of Stockholm, then got scouted by Brommapojkarna’s academy and joined the U15s, went through all the youth teams, and signed professional terms in 2015. I tried ice hockey for a couple of years but chose football when I was about 12 because I was better at it.

You were coached by Sweden legend Olof Mellberg. What was it like working with him?

NH – It was an experience. He has a long career behind him and I learnt a lot from him.

You’re a central defender but I believe you also like to play right back…

NH – I’ve been a central defender all my career but a couple of years back I started to play right back. In Sweden my height is nothing special, but in Thailand I’m tall, so in Thailand I’ll probably be more of a central defender.

 

 

 

How do you compare football in Thailand to the football you grew up with?

NH – In Thailand possession changes very often. They just get the ball and run. I still have the Swedish mentality of keeping shape and holding the line which doesn’t happen in Thailand. In Sweden we have 3 months of pre-season so we learn to hold our shape.

PB – Non-stop counter-attacking, that’s what I’ve noticed. 

NH – Communication on the pitch is also a problem. Thai players aren’t used to being vocal and maybe they get annoyed with me shouting at them! But somebody has to do it.

PB – In Australia we’re more patient. We spend a lot of time on tactics – I don’t know if it’s beneficial or not but some sessions we just work on positioning, off and on the ball. It was a bit of a shock as here it’s just non-stop backwards & forwards, it really tests your fitness. It’s a lot quicker and more direct than I’m used to.

Do you think if a team started using the more European possession style in Thailand they’d be successful?

PB: I don’t think so.

NH: Yes I think so. If your defence is organised, and you have a good offence, when the other team doesn’t play defence it’s easier for you.

PB – I guess so, but you win some & you lose some. Australia played Thailand recently and drew, were expected to win but should’ve lost. Thailand dominated the game and deserved to win. Yes they played counter-attack but they did it intelligently. It’s no less intelligent, it’s just a different style of football – it’s faster, quicker & more direct. Thailand took Australia by surprise.

 

Have you been brought to Port for the future or will you get lots of first team action this season?

NH – I don’t know yet. We haven’t talked about it.

PB – I guess it’s up to the coach – he expects everything from every single player, every player needs to be ready.

 

What was the process of joining Port?

NH – My agent had a couple of offers from Thailand – I can’t tell you who the others were! – and it all happened very quickly. We flew down, did a medical, and that was it.

PB – Port first approached me about a year ago via my mum’s friend who knows someone at the club. They invited me for a trial last year but I wanted to finish my last year of high school first, so I came here in January this year for a trial and got a contract.

And what were your first impressions of Port?

PB – Very welcoming, everyone greeted me and made me welcome. Noone made me feel left out. 

NH – I’d already spoken to Elias (Dolah) and he said it was a great club & a good place to be, and when I arrived everyone was very welcoming. The captain, Rochela,  he called me when I arrived and invited me to come down to training, and he was really welcoming.

PB – I was surprised by the big turnout for the friendlies. The fans are so passionate and friendly, they already knew my name, they come up & take pictures & ask for autographs. I’ve never had that before!

 

 

Niran, you scored in front of Zone B on your debut, in the friendly against BBCU. How did that feel?

NH – It felt great, starting my first game at home and just trying to get a feel of Thai football and playing with new players…I felt good, I played well I think. I hadn’t played a game in 2 months so my timing’s a bit out – I feel physically fit but the timing isn’t quite there yet. But it was great to get a goal!

 

Which other Port players have you been most impressed with?

NH & PB (simultaneously, without hesitating) – Suarez!

NH – There’s something special about him, he’s got great passing & vision. He’s on a different level.

PB – I also look up to Rochela a lot – his composure, his decision-making, everything about him on & off the pitch. He’s a role model, that’s why he’s our captain because he leads by example.

 

What are the club’s ambitions for this season? Top half, mid-table, or avoid relegation?

PB – Aim as high as possible, that’s what I’m hearing from the coach, Madame Pang, all the players. What kind of team would we be if we only aimed for mid-table?

What about your personal ambitions?

NH – For me, I signed a 3-year contract, so I think they have a plan for me to stay and as long as I’m comfortable I’m happy to stay. It’s good for my development to play with players like Rochela and Elias.

PB – I’ve also signed a 3-year contract. We’re both quite young, and they don’t want to just sign us then see us leave after a year. It’s a perfect club to develop with experienced guys like Rochela and national Thai players, so who knows where the next 3 years will take me?

NH – I’m here to play so I want to get into the first team as soon as possible and play as many games as I can.

PB – I’ve already achieved one of my dreams since moving to Thailand. 10 years ago my dad took me to see Thailand play at Rajamangala, and after the game we got into the pitch and my dad said “Maybe one day you’ll be playing here” – then last week I was training there with Port! I hope I’ll get to play an actual game there one day.

 

What kind of social life do the players have? Do they go out partying together?

PB – I wouldn’t know, I’m 2 years underage!

NH – I hang out with Elias.

PB – We all eat together pre-and post-training. They’re a great bunch of lads, and we all have the same goal which is to do well for the team.

NH – For me it’s 100% football. I try to do rehab in the morning, stay in the pool, just take care of myself.

PB – We don’t have that much free time, just a day off each week. When I’m not training I just eat, rest & stretch.

 

As young footballers, which famous players do you most admire or look up to?

NH – Steven Gerrard. He was a leader on the pitch, scored a lot of goals. He’s a real role model.

PB – I’m a massive United fan (NH groans) – not by choice! From my dad. So I’d say Paul Scholes, Giggs, Carrick – Carrick is my favourite player of all time, I’ve looked up to him all my life and I model my play on him. He’s very underrated and you don’t notice him on the pitch but he makes a massive difference. And I also really like Ander Herrera.

 


It’s heartening to see Port signing up potential stars of the future on long contracts, and both Niran and Pat seem to be very level-headed, ambitious young players who will – hopefully – be a big success at Port. Certainly – if his performance against BBCU is any indication – Niran will be making his full debut sooner rather than later. The Sandpit wishes them both well for the future.

 

Many thanks to Niran and Pat for taking the time to meet with us. Thanks to Max and Joe at The Sportsman Bangkok for hosting us. Interview by Tim Russell & Dominick Cartwright. Photos by Tim Russell. 

 

Big Ratch Preview: Port FC v Ratchaburi FC, 11th Feb 2017

Saturday 11th February  5.45 p.m.

Live on True Sports 2

Yes, come on, it’s the return of the PAT, once again, the return of the PAT. I have e-mailed Mark Morrison to inquire about him doing a half time show, where he remixes “Return of the Mac” to “Return of the PAT”, my people and his people are currently in negotiations about exactly how much cocaine he’s allowed for his rider. Rest assured we in the Sandpit team are doing our best to bring him to the PAT on the 11th . It’s been so long. How long? Due to away trips and bans it’s been FIVE MONTHS! The last Port home game (that we were allowed to see) was against Air Force on September 11th last year. I’m sure we all remember Port beating Air Force two-zip. Siwakorn put us ahead, then Gengki knocked another one in at the death. The game also featured a twenty minute floodlight failure on the sixty minute mark to stretch out the game and the tension. This put us eight points clear of the nearest promotion contenders with four games left, great days. Just needed to beat Nakorn Pathom, which was going to be a formality surely?

Enough of all our yesterdays, on to Saturday. First game of the season is always a bit of a lottery, we’re not quite sure what the opposition has got, and we’re not sure who Jadet will start with. Three big questions have to be whether Siwakorn(16), Meechok(20) and Pinyo(21) are fit enough to play 90 minutes of football.

I think we’ll start with a 4-5-1

Worawut(36) (yes Tom, or possibly Rattanai(17) it is a close thing)

Meechok(20) (if fit, if not Nittipong(34)) Dolah(4), Rochela(22), Pinkong(19)

Pakorn(9), Tatchanon(39) defensive mid, Siwakorn(16), Suarez(5) attacking mid, Pinyo(21)

Kaluderovic(10)

Or possibly 4-4-2

Worawut(36)

Meechok(20) (or Nittipong(34)), Dolah(4), Rochela(22), Pinkong(19)

Pakorn(9), Siwakorn(16) , Suarez(5), Pinyo(21)

Kaluderovic(10), Tana(99)

 

I’d like to see a 4-4-2, but I think even if we play 4-5-1 Suarez will push up a lot. Ratchaburi home is the kind of game we need to take three points from if we are going to have a good 2017.

 

Ratchaburi haven’t gone wild in the transfer market. With this sort of squad, they look to be solidifying their mid-table status. They’ve bought a few good players into the club and one marquee signing. That signing and their new SFS (Scary Foreign Striker) is Marcel Essombé who joins them from Dinamo Bucharest. This quality forward is likely to provide a real test for the Port defence on their first day out in T1. Last two meetings have been close, but they’ve gone against us. One nil wins to Ratchaburi on both occasions. But those matches were way back in 2015 with very different starting elevens for both teams. The only two Port players who were on the pitch for those games were Rochela(22) and Genki(18). Only back then Genki(18) was playing in the orange and black of Ratchaburi. If Genki(18) plays today, he’s sure to get a good reception from both sets of supporters. Everyone loves to see an honest hard working player at their club.

Result? I hate making predictions but if pushed I’d say,

Port 2-1 Ratchaburi (completely unbiased prediction there).

The five months away from PAT have not been in vain, we at the Sandpit have been working hard to bring you some classic terrace songs. My two current favourites are this one, to the tune of “Don’t You Want Me Baby” By The Human League.

 

“You were working as a winger in Ratchaburi

When we met you

We picked you out, we signed you up,

We cheered you on

We turned you into something new

Genk

Gengki Naga

Genki Nagasato, Genki Nagasaaaaaaaaaaatoooh”

 

Now one year later on you can’t control your feet

Football has been so tough for you

Oh, Nagasato – you know I don’t believe you when you say you can play football

You’d better step it up or we will sign your sister,

Genki Nagasato, Genki Nagasaaaaaaaaaaaaatooooohhhh”

By Tim and Me

 

And this one, to the tune of “My old man’s a dustman”,

Siwakorn’s a genius, he has a magic boot

His passes are perfection, but god don’t let him shoot,

The ref will give him yellow

The ref will shout and ball

He didn’t mean to hack him, just loves the fucking ball

 

Siwakorn’s a genius, he has a magic boot

His passes are perfection, but god don’t let him shoot,

He is a football genius, he’s married to the ball

Please don’t sent him off ref, or our chances are fuck all.

 

Also in pre-production is a Kaluderovic song, but at the moment it’s just,

 

Ka-lu-de-ro-vic laa la la , la la

Ka-lu-de-ro-vic laa laa laaa , la la

Ka-lu-de-ro-vic laaa la la , la la

Ka-lu-de-ro-vic laa laa laaa , la la

And he’s just got another bloody goal, boom boom

To the tune of “Brown Girl in the Ring”.

 

Should be a close game Saturday, win, lose or draw there will be a party. First day of the season back in the T1, let’s have it large.

 

 

The Sandpit Donates to Khlong Thoey Fire Appeal

 

Following our announcement last week, we managed to raise 16,500BHT for victims of the Khlong Thoey fire. On Saturday we headed down to Khlong Thoey to hand over our donation, stopping en route at Second Chance Bangkok, a shop that takes in used clothing and other items to pass onto the residents of Khlong Thoey – the fire donation area has run out of space to store such items so if you have any old stuff to donate, please take it to Second Chance.

 

 

Upon arrival at the fire site, we were greeted warmly by the organisers and handed over 10,000BHT towards rebuilding the houses that were destroyed. They also invited us to wander around the site which was a scene of absolute devastation – it’s a miracle that noone was killed. Despite the mess, as is usual in Khlong Thoey nearly everyone was smiling and saying hello to us and happy for us to photograph them. You can see my gallery of photos here.

 

 

We then moved onto PAT Stadium to take part in the club’s donation activities, where we handed over the remaining 6,500BHT and were roped in for the usual photo opportunity, before taking our seats to see Port beat BBCU.

 

 

Donations are still being collected in Khlong Thoey to fund the reconstruction of the 38 houses destroyed and to feed and water the victims and those working to clear the site, so please get in touch with us if you wish to donate. Money is most important but they also need things like medical supplies, facemasks/gloves for the clearance workers, and fresh food for the site kitchen. Also I suspect they would appreciate people physically going there and helping work on the site clearance, so if you have time, please head on down there.

Big thanks to everyone who donated – we really appreciate it, as do the beneficiaries.

 

 

Dom’s Thai Port Thai: Thai Port Songs 1 – Rao Kue Singh

 

Of all the Thai Port Songs “Rao Kue Singh”, is the one sung most often.
This is the one we sing during the game and always at the end of every game to the players. There are lots of songs where we are just adding our name into the song, but this one is 100% Port – you don’t hear it anywhere else.

Rao kue sing yùu yàang sing mâi koei glua krai
เราคือสิงห์ อยู่อย่างสิงห์ไม่เคยกลัวใคร

Pûek rao mee dam naan sàet náam ngun mâi koei yawm krai
พวกเรามีตำนาน แสดน้ำเงินไม่เคยยอมใคร …

Which translates to:

We are the Lions, the Lions fear no one.
We are the legendary orange and blue, never give in to anyone…

There’s normally one round of singing this,

Rao kue sing yùu yàang sing mâi koei glua krai

Pûek rao mee dam naan sàet náam ngun mâi koei yawm krai

 

Then just singing la la la laa la to the same tune

Then just singing oh oh oh to the same tune

Then

Rao kue sing yùu yàang sing mâi koei glua krai

Pûek rao mee dam naan sàet náam ngun mâi koei yawm krai

Then clapping finished with TAA RUA. Followed by heavy drinking.

And you can watch a video of this song with karaoke Thai below:

 

 

 

Patchy Port Pip Plucky Pink Panthers: Port FC 3-2 BBCU FC

 

Port rounded off their preparations for the 2017 T1 season yesterday with a win against an impressive BBCU side – their 5th consecutive friendly win, making optimism high for the new season.

Before the game, The Sandpit team whored ourselves around the dressing room waited on the touchline to hand over our donations to the club’s Khlong Thoey fire appeal, where we were able to have a chat to Maranhao, sporting some rather worrying ankle strapping, and the affable A, aka Mr Pang, who confirmed that Asdrubal’s knee gave way in training on Friday and that he’s heading back to Spain as a result. He added that the club may try and bring in another foreigner before the weekend, and asked us if we wanted a trial. I think he was joking, but Tom was stripped down ready for action within seconds (hopefully the last time I will have to write those words this season).

After the obligatory charity photoshoot (more on our fire appeal tomorrow by the way), it was time to procure further supplies of Leo and take our seats in Zone B for the game. BBCU may have been relegated by the mid-season break last year but they look fit and hungry for immediate promotion this time, bolstered by the signing of French forward Romain Gasmi, whom some if you will remember from our games with Chiang Mai last season.

Gasmi is a Thiago-level irritant, the difference being he’s also a talented and hardworking footballer, and he showed both sides of his character in the first half. After starting a fight with Dolah, who made it clear that this was a most unwise course of action, he followed it up with a stunning 35th-minute free kick which beat Weera at his near post. Weera, who once again spent 45 minutes showing just why he’s third-choice keeper, should probably have saved it, but it was a wonderful – or-Gasmi-c even – strike.

A mostly 2nd/3rd-string Port were already a goal up by that point, Ekkapoom bombing down the wing, leaving defenders for dead and delivering a pinpoint cross to the back stick for Wuttichai to convert on 15 minutes. As we would see again in the last minute, Port finally have players who can cross a ball, and players who can convert said crosses into goals. Wonders never cease.

The Inspector Clouseaus probably had the best of the first half, but were continually denied by a steely Commissioner Dreyfus of a defence, marshalled by the increasingly impressive Dolah and his fellow Thai-Swede, Niran Hansson. Little is known about Hansson and he was expected to be one for the future, but the ease with which he slotted into Port’s defence yesterday suggests we’ll see him in the first team sooner rather than later. Built like a brick sauna, comfortable on the ball and not afraid to get stuck in, Hansson can also play at RB and may have just leapfrogged the competition to win a place on the bench for Saturday. Look out for our interview with him coming next week.

He further helped his cause 15 minutes into the second half when he bundled the ball into the net after a goalmouth scramble to put Port 2-1 up. The lead didn’t last long when Port gave away a penalty – please don’t expect me to give you details of things that happen in front of Zone D when I’m standing in Zone B – which our friend Gasmi converted to make it 2-2.

Port were looking rather aimless at this point, rarely threatening BBCU’s goal and new striker Danudech Trimongkolchok, aka Jar Jar Binks, failing once again to impress – I certainly don’t think he left the door ajar-jar for regular first team action.

With around 10 minutes to go, Jadet decided to put the hammer down and send on the big cheeses, with the likes of Rochela, Kaludjerovic, Pakorn and Sivakorn sweeping majestically onto the pitch, and in the 89th minute it paid off when a wonderful cross from Pakorn was sent the back of the net by a bullet header from Kalu, who looks like the proper striker we’ve been crying out for for so long.

It was just a shame that we didn’t get to see Port’s starting XI play together longer, as they look very impressive. Solid at the back, with the excellent Wanchalerm, clearly an expert in football’s dark arts, sitting in front of the back four; dynamic on the wings, especially when Pinyo took his place on the left; and lively up front, with Suarez orchestrating attacks from the midfield. I hope I’m not putting the usual Russell curse on things by saying that I think we will have an enjoyable and hopefully successful 2017. Bring on Ratchaburi!