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.”
“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?
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.
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.
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.
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.