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Zico + Chappuis?!! Mid-Season Rumour Mill Gets Off to Spectacular Start

 

Now that T1 is taking a break until 17 June, and with the transfer window reopening tomorrow, the Thai football rumour mill is turning again and, as far as Port fans are concerned, it’s got off to a pretty wild start.

 

Firstly, former Thai national coach Kiatisuk ‘Zico’ Senamuang was pictured hangin’ out with Mme Pang yesterday in what looked like either her apartment or office, with the Thai media claiming that he was there to discuss taking over as Port coach. Whilst this may be a case of putting 2+2 together and making 5, and whilst I suspect that if Pang & Zico were having talks about him taking over as coach they would probably be a little more discreet about it, if Port are to make the leap from mid-table and start competing at the top of T1 (which they can do – just not consistently enough) then it’s fairly obvious that Jadet probably isn’t the man to do it, and with Zico currently resting between jobs, now is the time to make a move before he falls into the evil clutches of Muangthong who, with 6 defeats in a row, must be thinking about changing coaches fairly soon.

 

Secondly, Thai football poster boy Charyl Chappuis is being strongly linked with a move to either Port or Bangkok Glass in the window. The Swiss-Thai midfielder’s contract at Suphanburi will soon be up, and with the War Elephants languishing in the bottom half of T1, it seems he may be casting ‘come & get me’ looks at top half clubs. Whether Port can afford his wages is another matter, but again it’s a move that would make sense given that Port are crying out for a calm head in midfield.

 

Two very exciting rumours then, that would certainly make a splash in Thai football if they come off and sell a lot more tickets on matchdays at the PAT, but I remain sceptical that Port have the resources to make even one, let alone both, happen. Watch this space for further developments!

 

The Sandpit’s Port FC Player of the Month for May – Voting Closed

 

Voting opens today!

Every month, The Sandpit is going to choose the Port players we think have played the best, and let our readers decide who should be named Player of the Month.

In May, Port had their busiest month of the season, playing six games of which two were won, drawn and lost. The month started with a decent away performance against Chonburi ending in a heart-breaking last minute defeat for Port, who lost 1-2. Port then put in an abject performance at home against Pattaya, deservedly losing 0-2. After the 0-0 bore-draw away at Korat it seemed that May was not going to be Port’s month, and then Muangthong away happened. Port smashed in 3 goals in 4 minutes then hung on for dear life, securing a stunning 3-2 win against their fierce rivals. A pretty poor performance but a 5-3 win at home to one-pointers Super Power was next, before Port finished the month as they started it, conceding a late goal to snatch a 2-2 draw from the jaws of victory away at Sisaket.

Here are the nominees in order of squad number…

 

Elias Dolah (4)

 

Siwakorn Jakkuprasart (16)

 

 

Josimar Rodrigues (30)

 

Worawut Srisupha (36)

 

ร่วมโหวตที่นี่

 

[yop_poll id=”4″]

 

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You Know the Rules, & So Do I: Sisaket FC 2-2 Port FC

 

As is so often the case, a cracking away trip was rather let down by a football game taking place in the middle of it – not a bad game as such, one of the better ones we’ve seen this season in fact; but one where, once again, rather than coming away celebrating a win, we’re left talking about poor quality refereeing and Port’s inability to see out games against inferior opponents. A pattern is beginning to emerge.

At some point, back in the mists of time (yesterday morning in fact, but it seems so long ago as to almost belong to another era), our select away gathering convenes at the Don Muang branch of McDonalds for that cornerstone of any nutritious breakfast, a round of Sausage & Egg McMuffins. Duly muffined, we board our Nok Air flight to Ubon Ratchatani, where we are greeted by our advance party (Hockers), who is waxing lyrical about the delights of the local taxi services, and introducing us to our driver for the day, Mr Somchai. After waiting for Kenny to receive his luggage (“Liquids” he mutters gnomically) we’re soon aboard the Somchai-mobile and heading off to our first stop, the rather worryingly named Rapeepan Ville Hotel in Ubon – heartily recommended at around 800BHT per night including breakfast, and boasting not one but two ponds should any Port fans fancy a post-match dip.

 

Port take over the Ubon Irish Pub

 

For lunch we head to the Ubon Irish Pub, an excellent choice for many reasons, one of them being that it is somewhat steeped in local footballing culture – not only is the barmaid the girlfriend of Ubon UMT’s physio, but it seems the place is owned by Ubon and former Buriram coach Scott Cooper. It’s a marvellous little spot with a well-maintained draught Guinness that puts many Bangkok bars to shame, and the barmaid does a wonderful job of preparing lunch for all 8 of us – and the fish & chips were well worth waiting for.

 

Like a Thai Honda midfielder, we left the Port team in our wake

 

Then we head off on the 65km drive to Sisaket, stopping en route to load up on the obligatory beers (both Tom and I can confirm that Singha’s new premium brand U Beer is very nice indeed) and passing the Port bus on our way. Alcohol of course often leads to ill-advised choices and for some reason, after singing Singh Chao Ta and the Genki Nagasato song, someone – possibly James – suggests listening to Rick Astley, so we eventually pull up at Sisaket’s charmingly ramshackle, rural stadium with Never Gonna Give You Up blasting out of the van.

After procuring beers from a beer stall for some reason situated on an ants’ nest, and being duly bitten, we meet up with other Port fans and head into the away end, which quickly fills up with several dozen locals who turn out to be Wuttichai’s family, which explains why the no14 was making a rare start and wearing the captain’s armband (note to Jadet: this isn’t a school team and you can’t pick a player just because his mum & dad are in the crowd). Wuttichai’s dad is a top fella and kindly shares his beer with me after the stall outside runs out. Siwakorn’s dad is also in attendance and there’s a touching scene when Hockers prostrates himself at the feet of his hero’s father.

 

Yours truly with Wuttichai Senior

 

After Sisaket’s extravagantly-horned Kouprey mascot comes over for a wave – to be greeted with drunken chants of “You’re extinct, and you know you are” and a less than note-perfect rendering of late 90s handbag house classic Horny by Mousse T ft Hot & Juicy – the game kicks off and – whisper it – but it rapidly looks as if Port are going to boss this one, with the Koupreys looking less than Dangerous and restricted to the occasional counter-attack. But as usual Port are having difficulty turning their possession into scoring chances with Wuttichai (14) non-existent and Pakorn (9) having another one of “those” games where he looks like a man nervously confronting a football for the first time.

Nevertheless, it’s Pakorn – sort of – who puts Port ahead on 42 minutes when a vicious inswinging corner is comically palmed into the net by Sisaket’s keeper. Where would be we without shite Thai goalkeepers eh? In the bottom half, for sure. Wuttichai nearly makes it 2 on the stroke of half time when Nitipong (34) puts in arguably his best cross of the season, only for the ageing striker to head it over the bar from just 6 yards out.

But we don’t have long to wait for a second, as 4 minutes into the second half a Pakorn free-kick bounces into the Sisaket area and onto the foot of Siwakorn (16), and the Thin White Duke buries it into the back of the net. But hold on, what’s this? The referee, who has had little to do at that point other than allow Sisaket to kick Josimar (30) every time he has the ball, rules it out, then consults with his assistant, and then allows it again, sparking lengthy protests from Sisaket which result in a red card for their coach and 7 minutes of injury time, which will – sadly – end up punishing Port.

So, 2-0 up and Sisaket struggling and it looks as if Port have this one in the bag. But as we know of old, Port are not the best at managing these situations and on 70 minutes the game changes, as a fairly tame Sisaket cross from the left is watched by an alarmingly static Dolah (4) and Rochela (22), allowing former Reading striker Leroy Lita to head it into Worawut (36)’s bottom left corner. 2-1, and the Koupreys have most definitely got The Horn and at that point you just know Port are going to let this slip.

The moment is a long time coming, but in the 95th minute Sisaket throw a free-kick into the mixer, Meechok (20) grapples with soon-to-be Muangscum striker Leandro Assumpcao who, no doubt fully aware of the referee’s desire to even things up after Port’s second goal, throws himself down in the box, and the man in green points at the spot. Yet another penalty given away and, as Leandro thumps it past Worawut, yet another lead thrown away. Just as the ball hits the net, the heavens open and we take this as our cue to vacate the premises and head back to Sisaket. During the journey it rapidly becomes apparent that, what with the levels of drunkenness on the bus, our plan to find a bar and watch the FA Cup Final isn’t going to happen. So after enjoying Keith having a goodnight Skype call with his dogs (captured by Linny for posterity should anyone want to hear it, though you’ll have to outbid Keith), we return to the Rapeepan and either watch the game in our rooms or pass out.

 

A rumble with the enemy at Ubon Airport

 

Sunday offers little to report other than almost universal hangovers, a cracking Isaan lunch at the airport and a photo session in the departure lounge with a random Muangthong fan. The late penalty really has taken the gloss off the weekend.

Still, this result completes a run of 8 points out of 4 games, including two tricky away trips to Isaan and a visit to the SCG, and with Port sitting in 7th on 28 points at the halfway point of the season, things are panning out better than most of us would’ve expected. It’s just a shame that, due to defensive lapses, a lack of attacking invention and the usual dodgy refereeing, it could be so much better. But we’ll be reviewing the first leg of the season in more detail shortly so I’ll stop here.

 

Man of the Match: Siwakorn

With Port playing a 4-4-2 for a change, the skinny genius had more scope to get forward and he revelled in the role, bossing the midfield and spraying passes out to the wings with efficient regularity, and of course notching another goal. His was the standout performance on a night when Port were solid but unspectacular and were crying out for some spark up front, which – hopefully – Maranhao and/or Asdrubal will provide after the restart.

 

 

Livin’ on a Kouprayer! Sisaket FC vs. Port FC, 27 May 2017

 

Whooaah, we’re half way there!

Nearly, anyway. On Saturday, Port will round off the first half of the season with a tricky away trip to the home of the Dangerous Koupreys.

“A kouprey is a little-known, forest-dwelling, wild bovine species from South East Asia. Kouprey form small herds led by a female, and graze on grasses.”

Sounds like a Port pre-game huddle.

“They are affected by degradation of their habitat and are hunted for their meat, horns and skull.”

By Lions?

“There are thought to be few, if any, kouprey left in existence. The last confirmed sighting was in 1988.”

So, you would be pretty hard pushed to find a dangerous one, then…

Sisaket, much like the kouprey, are struggling for survival in 2017. In what is likely to be a close game, players from both sides will be trying to seize the final opportunity to impress their managers and ensure their places in the squad for the second half of the season. Whilst Port are deservedly favourites, arguably Sisaket have more at stake. With Port sitting pretty in 7th and Sisaket languishing in 16th, it’s clear who needs the 3 points more. The question is, who will want them more on the day?

 

Sisaket

Key Player

 

Usually this segment is used to look at a few of the opponents more dangerous players. In the case of Sisaket, though, I thought it more appropriate to look at just one. There’s only really been one. Leandro Assumpção (37) was linked with Port in pre-season, but a move to Klong Toei never materialized. Instead, Assumpção has been banging in the goals up North. Ten of them, although bizarrely those 10 goals have come in just 4 games, three of which were hattricks. When he’s good, he’s really good!

So important is Assumpção to Sisaket that 11 of their 14 points have come in games where he has scored or assisted. The other 3 were from Super Power, and as they give 4 goal head-starts, they don’t really count.

Curiously, it’s been reported in recent days that Assumpção has agreed to join a team who have lost their last 5 games in a row, including 3 against promoted teams. Why on earth he wants to go from a team who has won 2 on the bounce to this mob of ne’er-do-wells I don’t quite understand. Nevertheless, this development could have important repercussions for Saturday. Although Sisaket manager Velizar Popov has said that Assumpção will be starting, having one foot out the door may mean he will not be as focused or motivated as usual.

 

Assumpção bags his third match ball of the season

 

Form

Sisaket have only won 2 of their last 6 games, but those 2 wins came last week, with a 3-2 win at relegation rivals Honda following an impressive 4-2 victory over Navy. Sisaket are pretty decent at home too, picking up 11 points at the Sri Nakhon Lamduan Stadium. With famously devoted fans who turn out in large numbers to support their team, the home side will probably think they’re in with a good chance of picking up a point or more again Port. You get the feeling that Port would probably take a point on the road, too.

 

Port

Starting XI

 

There are no suspensions for Port this week, but one injury to report. Serial substitute Tana (99) is out of action, having played a part in every game for which he has been available so far this season. In 5 starts and 10 substitute appearances, Tana has contributed 2 goals and 2 assists. With his form having fluctuated between meh, bad and worse throughout the season, Port fans probably won’t be shedding too many tears.

The starting lineup seems very unlikely to change, so expect to see the usual suspects in the usual formation.

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 

Key Battle

 

 

Josimar (30) is exactly halfway to what he told The Sandpit was his goal target for the season (equaling the 16 he scored at Army in 2016), with one game remaining before the mid-season break. The Brazilian fired in two absolute scorchers against Muangthong, then bundled one over the line against Super Power, so confidence should be high.

His main opponent is likely to be Brazilian defender Denis Silva (2). The tall centre half played in Brazil, Albania and Sweden before finding his way to Sisaket, but has been part of the second worst T1 defence in 2017. 42 goals conceded in 16 games. That’s ugly. I have a feeling Josi will fancy his chances in this one…

 

The match will be shown live on True Sport 2 at 20:00 on Saturday 27 May, 2017. For those who can’t make it out to Sisaket, feel free to pop over to The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13, where the match will be shown on a big screen with full sound. 

 

Nothing to Declare: Port FC 0-0 MOF Customs Utd

 

MOF Customs Utd rolled into Port this evening for a mid-season friendly, and whilst it was almost completely uneventful, it was the best game seen at the PAT since the 2-1 win over Police Tero in April.

Port lined up without any first team, or indeed second team, regulars in an ambitious, experimental 0-0-0 formation, whilst Customs started with a 0-0-0-0 shape clearly inspired by Muangthong’s performance against Kawasaki Frontale the previous evening.

In the first half little of note occurred, though the crowd were entertained on the 27-minute mark by the arrival of some dark-coloured birds, possibly crows, who spent several minutes foraging, with varying degrees of success, around the centre circle for food. 0-0 at half time was a fair reflection of the balance of play and Customs in particular would’ve been glad of the break.

The second half was little better, with neither team creating anything significant, or indeed insignificant, and the 90-minute mark was welcomed by both members of the crowd, or would’ve been, had they not already been on the BTS home.

 

The crowd celebrate Port’s best home performance since April

 

But this was an encouraging performance by Port, with all players coming through unscathed by injury and the team notching up their first home clean sheet since 3 April. Reasons for optimism as we approach the second half of the season.

 

Man of the Match: Tana

The moustachioed folk singer and occasional footballer was nowhere near the pitch tonight, and indeed it is highly probable that he had left the stadium long before the 5pm kickoff time; as such this was his finest performance of 2017 and we hope we will see him in this role more often as the season progresses.

 

 

Grand MOF Talkin’: Port Announce Friendly Tonight

 

With the mid-season break soon to cast us into three barren weeks of footballing celibacy, Port have announced another friendly, presumably so Jadet and co can run the rule over various fringe players before either adding them to the squad or packing their bags, and give a runout to new signings including Yosser Hughes (Yossawat Montha) and the lad from BBCU who looks like Deirdre Barlow (Narakorn Khana).

Tonight’s opponents are the bad Mofos of MOF Customs Utd. Formerly known variously as Customs Utd , Suvarnabhumi Customs FC and Samut Prakan Customs FC, the Mofos were in the TPL as recently as 2008, but are now languishing in T3 South, for which they didn’t even register this season. So the chances of them being match fit are slimmer than Siwakorn.

As per usual for these kickabouts, entrance to the PAT is free, KO is 17:00, and attendees can enjoy the rare and illicit sensation of drinking beer on the terraces.

 

 

Remaining T1 Fixtures Announced!

 

Yesterday the Thai FA finally got around to announcing the fixtures for the second half of the 2017 T1 season. Why they can’t announce them all in one go at the start of the year like EVERY OTHER LEAGUE IN THE WORLD  is beyond me, but ours is not to reason why, ours is just to try & get to Samut Prakan at 5.45pm on a bleedin’ Wednesday.

Following a 3-week break after the trip to Sisaket, Port’s season resumes with a tempting-looking trip to Suphanburi on 17 June. Other tasty-looking away trips include Navy on 28 June (though it’s a Wednesday), Glass on 5 August (thankfully a Saturday), Police Tero on 16 Sept, Pattaya on 24 Sept and, possibly the best of the lot, Ratchaburi away on the last day of the season (18 Nov, a Saturday). Dom and myself have been mulling over the possibility of doing this in fancy dress, though some would argue noone would notice the difference.

As per usual, the second half of the season is highly disjointed thanks to various international breaks – including 3 weeks in July and a ridiculous 5 weeks in Aug-Sept. Quite why the Thai national team need these long breaks when they’re already out of the World Cup, and when lesser teams like Germany, Spain, France etc seem to cope well enough without them, is beyond me, and judging from Thailand’s pitiful recent WC performances they’re not exactly helping.

Another bugbear is the number of 5.45pm kickoffs. These are fine – welcome even – at the weekend, but not in midweek when many fans simply can’t get away from work early enough. Our home game against Ubon earlier this season was half empty until half time due to this early start. It’s hard on the fans and it’s also hard on the clubs who miss out on valuable ticket revenue.

Anyway, enough moaning and on with the season! You can see the full fixture list, which is of course subject to no doubt considerable change, here.

 

Puzzling Penalties Help Piss-Poor Port Punish Plucky Power: Port FC 5-3 Super Power Samut Prakan FC

 

Sometimes the scoreline doesn’t reflect the story of a game. Port’s 0-0 with Buriram earlier this season for example, on the face of it a dull goalless draw, was one of the most exciting football games I’ve ever attended; whereas this 5-3 win over Super Power was one of the worst, exhibit A for the prosecution by those who think Thai football is an amateurish, corrupt joke. It isn’t of course, but if this was your first experience of T1, you could be forgiven for thinking it is.

On paper, it shouldn’t have been a contest. Port, riding high after Wednesday’s win away at Muangthong; Super Power, rooted to the bottom of T1 with a solitary point from 15 games and a goal difference of -36. However we know from experience that whilst Port’s players will happily turn it on against the likes of MTU, Buriram and Chiang Rai, there are several of them who simply can’t be bothered with games like this and so the minnows always have a chance against us.

Despite the gulf in quality, Jadet started with his tried & trusted 4-2-3-1 formation, understandable against MTU, incomprehensible playing at home against the T1 whipping boys. I was hoping that the 4-2-3-1 might at least morph on occasion into a 4-1-4-1 or even a 4-1-3-2, but no, Suarez kept playing far too deep and poor old Josi was, as usual, left up front on his own for long periods.

Nevertheless, with half an hour gone, thanks to some incompetent defending from Power and some equally incompetent refereeing, the game seemed done & dusted. On 13 minutes, Super Power coach Jason Withe’s concerns about dodgy reffing at the PAT were realised when Port were awarded a penalty for no apparent reason (and subsequent viewings still make me none the wiser). Cap’n Rochela (22) stepped up to score his first of the season and to open the floodgates for a 15-minute Port goalfest.

Three minutes later, Pakorn (9) was next to get his name on the scoresheet when his typically lame free-kick was fumbled into the net by former Port reserve keeper Narong, who had an absolute shocker of a game. Six minutes after that, a lovely ball from Josimar (30) fed Genki (18) down the left, and the Japanese winger’s shot was again helped on its way into the onion bag by a despairing Narong. Then it was Josi’s turn on 27 minutes, the big Brazilian bundling in his 8th of the season on the line after his initial chip was parried by Narong.

So, 4-0 after 27 minutes – game over surely. But this is Port, and several players took the big lead as an excuse to switch off. Pinkong frequently went missing and left huge amounts of space for Super Power to attack down the right, which they exploited on 32 minutes when Rodrigues (80), despite being surrounded by Port players, managed to find space to drive home a stunning shot from just inside the area; and then five minutes later, SP’s livewire forward Komeman (11) hit an absolute thriker from 30 yards into Worawut’s top right-hand corner. Goal of the season at the PAT so far, and Super Power were back in the game.

Over halftime beers the general consensus was that whilst we were winning, we really weren’t playing well and as usual struggling to dictate the play against weaker opposition, mainly because we’d set out with exactly the same players and formation who’d defended for most of the 90 minutes against Muangthong. Everything was going down the wings with nothing coming through the middle – you have to wonder how many goals Josi would get playing with a quick, skilful false 9 behind him (MARANHAO for example!!!), rather than Suarez who, as happens all too often, was having a very ineffectual game.

The second half continued in a similar vein, Port creating chances almost by accident with Josimar coming close with a header, Pakorn seemingly targeting one of the cars in the car park behind zone B with various shots, and Suarez being unselfishly put clear by Josimar and passing straight to the keeper. It was no surprise when the Spaniard was subbed and with Maranhao and Asdrubal waiting in the wings, he has more reason than most to feel nervous about the upcoming transfer window. Unfortunately his replacement was Tana, which effectively left Port with 10 men, though it wouldn’t be long before parity was restored.

On 65 minutes, the referee had another rush of blood to the head and awarded SP a penalty after one of their forwards tripped over a prone Rochela, the pen being converted by their no15. His joy didn’t last long though as just a few minutes later he was done up like a kipper by that master of the footballing Dark Arts Wuttichai (14), who artfully drew a foul and a second yellow, which meant SP were also now down to 10 men.

Port huffed and puffed to try and restore their 2-goal advantage, with Pakorn continuing to aim for the stars and Josi having a shot cleared off the line, before the referee once again came to their aid with another highly dodgy penalty. Nitipong was tackled (fairly) by an SP defender, and as he lay on the ground – OUTSIDE THE AREA – pointing with his finger into the area in a desperate claim for a penalty, the ref complied and pointed to the spot. Absolutely ridiculous. Up stepped Rochela to score his second of the game, but many of us didn’t bother celebrating as it was such blatantly bent refereeing.

And so it finished, 5-3 to Port, an 8-goal thriller on the face of it but in reality a desperately poor game between a team who didn’t know how to attack and a team who didn’t know how to defend, officiated by a man who didn’t know how to referee. It’s a win however, and it takes Port up to 7th (and a mere 7 points off top spot!) However, Port remain incapable of dictating the play against smaller teams and there is clearly work to do in the transfer window, with several players looking either not interested or simply not good enough for this level. The thought of a Josi-Maranhao partnership is one that really whets the appetite and will have opposition defenders shitting their shorts, so let’s hope common sense prevails and Jadet makes it happen, because we need a bit of guile, creativity and pace up front.

 

Man of the Match

Port were average throughout, so my MOTM award this week goes to the Super Power fans. To follow your team away from home when they’ve managed only 1 point all season, to sing and wave your flags for the whole 90 minutes, really takes serious commitment and loyalty, so hats off to them. Their team, whilst obviously lacking in quality, did them proud and never stopped battling, and deserved more than they got, and but for the worst refereeing performance I’ve seen all year they may well have doubled their tally for the season.

 

A Loki Affair: Port FC vs. Super Power FC, 21 May 2017

 

Having won the mid week “war of heroes” against the villainous Muangthong United, the Port super heroes will return to fortress PAT, on Sunday, with the distinct possibility of finding a Batmobile or two parked up outside, as they welcome Super Power Samut Prakan. Whilst the name may allude to powers above that of mere mortals, the start to the season for Super Power has been more of a Loki affair for the team previously working under the alias Osotspa, as they’ve collected just one point after 15 rounds.

So, a game that in preseason jumped out as potentially the first genuine relegation six pointer feels significantly less important, with Super Power appearing to be close to a reunion with former sponsors M150, who now sponsor the lower leagues. Port are closing in on enough points to stay up, two rounds short of mid-season and on the back of beating the reigning champions and league leaders. Surely a simple 3 points for the home team?  Yet it’s never certain which Port will emerge from the metaphorical phone booth come kick off. Supermen or meek Clark Kents? As our own Josimar pointed out in his interview with the Sandpit, against smaller teams often something hasn’t quite clicked like it does when facing a gang of oddballs in ugly costumes and vague animal links (beetles, lizards etc.), funded by megalomaniacs with designs on world domination (I like to think such characters run each and every Thai club). Our boys march into their evil den, give them a lead before firing off 3 goals and victory in the name of truth, justice and the Khlong Toei way.

 

Form

While Port won the Bangkok el khlas iik-o, Super Power were playing in the “surely this can’t still be Bangkok” derby in front of only slightly larger crowd, as 722 people saw them go down to Thai Honda by a single goal, scored by the Bane of Port that infamous night in Ladrabang: Rafinha. In a scrappy game on a cut up pitch, Super Power in fact were handed a chance to double their points tally and secure an injury time equalizer via a penalty for handball, but Komenan’s spot kick was nowhere near the corner and became a routine save with keeper Natchanon Jothavon guessing the right way.

The season as whole has been a slog for Super Power and holy defence statman the numbers don’t look good for them. Their sole point came in round two from a somewhat unexpected source as they held Bangkok Glass to a 0-0 draw. Since when things have Gotham bad to worse with 13 straight defeats.

So, there really aren’t a lot of high points to point out or variations on ‘turned up and lost,’ sadly. All season they’ve scored just 10 goals and conceded at an average of over 3 a game (46 in all). Away is slightly worse (having played 8), scoring an average of a goal every other game and conceding an average of 3.25 (26 in total). Only once have they scored more than 1 goal in a game, which occurred when they bagged 2 v Bangkok United, however they were already 5-0 down when they started their mini fight back.   The only teams they’ve managed to stop scoring twice were fellow basement dwellers Sisaket and Thai Honda who have recently moved out of the relegation zone thanks to back to back wins over Muanthong and the 1-0 win mentioned above. So, things look tough for the team from the SAT stadium, such that even manager Jason Withe told the Sandpit a result on Sunday would count as a surprise.

 

Players to Watch

Korean defender/midfielder Lee Keon Pil (33) had played every game until recently but a red card and suspension for massing 5 over yellows have seen him miss 2 matches. Expect to see him back in the team and charged with trying to stop Suárez.

At the back Withe has taken to pairing Thai Tanapol Udomlap (99) with Bulgarian Lyuben Nikolov (5) a product of Levski Sofia who came to Thailand 3 years ago via Belarus. He started his time in the Land of smiles with Sisaket, making it into the Thai league’s top 11 transfers of 2015 in his first season. The only time they’ve not started recently was when Nikolov was serving a suspension for a red card and can expect to have their work cut out handling Josimar.

Up front they have one of those enigmas you find in Thai football in the Namibian Sadney Urikhob (10), who arrived into Thai football with Saraburi scored 3 great goals almost immediately, one of which was in a 2-2 draw with Port (Ed – I remember that vividly, he was electric!) and another the only goal in a 1-0 win away to Suphanburi. Come the end of the season Port were relegated with 33 points while Saraburi stayed up on 35 only then to resign from the league and fold. How different it could have been for Port without Sadney’s goals. Last season he moved on to Super Power scoring 10 goals in 22 games. This season has been much more of an in and out affair (with more out recently) and his only goal came back in February, in the form of a last minute consolation away to Sukhothai with the score 5-0 to the home team but if decides to be the player of 2015 he could cause a few problems at the back.

However, the more regular start up front is Ivorian Anthony Moura Komenan (11), who has been with Super Power in their various guises and bases since 2012. A man who received a standing ovation whilst on trial at Huddersfield for his performance in a reserve game, however despite some glowing comments from then manager Lee Clark the move to Yorkshire never materialized and Komenan return to France for a few years before heading to Thailand. Not much of a big scary foreign striker, he’s a mixed bag of tricks and pace. Who hopefully isn’t inspired to inflict revenge for that penalty miss and can be handled by mister fantastic and rest of the fantastic four (the barrel is being scraped for a super hero pun).

Christmas Sompen (3) sadly wasn’t born on the 25th of December and has been limited to just 3 appearances this season but if nothing else he has a wonderful name.

 

Port Line up

It appears that unless any vocal cords went down strained or hands broken banging on the walls at the Lego Stadium post match, Professor Jadet Xavier has a full rota of Xmen to pick from. Wishful thinking has him going all out attack with a partner for Josimar but realistically he’ll probably go with his standard 4-5-1.

 

The match will be shown live on True Sport 2 at 19:00 on Sunday 20 May, 2017

 

Well Worth the Wait: Muangthong United 2-3 Port FC

 

As we gathered in The Sportsman on soi 13 yesterday afternoon I couldn’t help but reminisce about the feeling of hating a club so much. Fortunately for me mine overlapped; Glasgow Rangers died and I came to Thailand in the same year – 2012. Muangthong actually represent everything I despise socially and in football. Owned by capitalist billionaires with influence, they think the world owes them and have a sponsored stand named after the plebs that support them. The club is so fake!

Eight long years it had been since Thai Port had recorded a victory against this mob and given the start they had made to this campaign, even the most optimistic of Port fans would have passed on the 8/1 odds Paddy Power was offering. Well, the rest is history and a devastating four minute spell at the end of the first half has created what will live in our memories for several years to come.

Jadet gave us the team most of my Sandpit colleagues envisaged: basically a 4-5-1 formation with the usual suspects operating the positions in what were wet and blustery pre-match conditions. The first ten minutes both sides evened each other out and Muangthong settled into a slow passing rhythm, with Port having the odd venture forward, usually led by Pakorn (9) and his trademark sticking his arse into the opponent, dropping the shoulder and a quick acceleration. It nearly worked as early as the third minute, but nobody was on the end of a brisk centre.

A corner in the 11th minute nearly resulted in the opening goal, swung in by Tristan Do (19), Lee Ho (15) rose highest to thunder a header off the woodwork and central defender Celio (29) failed with the response only to be cleared by the ever reliable Captain Fantastic himself. Muangthong were now on top and with Teerasil (10, when the prick would stay on his feet) and Sorawit (14) were looking dangerous. Minutes later we traded chances. Firstly, Josi (30) hit over the bar and then Sorawit (14) returned the favour.

Port’s fist real chance came soon after when Rochela (22) set Suarez (5) on his way, but he was unlucky with the finish. Nevertheless, the statement was clear: we were going to have ago even though we would have to play the sponge tactic and break quickly. Shortly after shaky defending by Nitipong (34) let in Sanukran (16) who brought a great save out of Worawut (36) in goal. By now Muangthong had been looking dangerous and a bursting run and triple jump resulted in a penalty being incorrectly given by the ref. Teerasil (10), who was dangerous throughout, was fouled by a rash Dolah (4) challenge but the replay showed it was a yard outside the box, Theerathon (3) – Thailand’s talisman – made sure from the spot. Muangthong 1-0 Port

Then just before half time my orgasm started. Josimar had a shot on goal deflected, and from the resulting corner Dolah’s header was charged away by Theerathon. Then Pinkong (19) decided to have his own crossing practice exhibition, the Muangthong defence failed to clear and Josi smashed the ball low and hard into the corner of the net. Muangthong 1-1 Port

Then in the 43rd minute the Pink man was at it again. This time a salmon rose in the form of Sergio Suarez (5) and dispatched an exquisite header into the back of the Kirins net. Muangthong 1-2 Port

Then the Bangkok pool league was officially halted for the first time ever in its twenty year existence as fifteen lunatics preceded to run wild around there pool tables like buffalo en route to the first creek in seven miles. From the right wing Nitipong (34) advanced and delivered an inch-perfect ball into Josimar who volleyed an unstoppable shot into the gaping goal. The moment of ejaculation! Muangthong 1-3 Port

The second half began with a Muangthong tactical change reverting to a 3-5-2 formation and making a double substitution with Mongkol (22) introducing himself with his elbow on Rochela (22) in a terrible challenge. Muangthong were now on top and Port reverted to a hold tight approach which was not good for my finger nails or ticker. Defensively we had looked shaky throughout in fairness and on 55 minutes Dolah was caught under a cross, but thankfully Teerasil couldn’t capitalize. Then minutes later Chanathip (18) sent a thunderbolt destined for the top corner only for Worawut to pull off a world class stop. A minute later the ball was thumping off the Port woodwork, again from the head of Lee Ho (15).

We were now wobbling significantly, and two minutes later the inevitable happened. Centre half Celio (29) was doing his Jinky Johnstone impression on the left wing and centred for Teerasil to pull a goal back with a close range strike. Muangthong 2-3 Port

Then all of a sudden in the last 15 minutes Port started to express themselves again and looked more composed. They could have even sealed it with two late forays into enemy territory. Josimar was found by Pakorn (9) in acres and Tana (99) was one on one but neither could capitalize. Thankfully the game was soon over and the boys from Khlong Toei were triumphant! The boys in yellow had made a statement that on our day we can beat anyone, anywhere. The only disappointment is we could not experience this occasion with the team we loyally follow throughout the kingdom, but our day will come again for sure.

 

The Sandpit’s Man of the Match

 

Any man who hits a brace against them deserves it. Well done, Josimar Rodrigues!