The Sandpit’s Port FC Player of the Month for June – Vote now!

 

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 June, Port retuned to action after the mid-season break with 3 games in the league, and one in the FA Cup. Port’s form in the league was poor, losing 2-0 against Suphanburi and 3-0 against Bangkok Utd, but they enjoyed a comfortable win the FA Cup, beating Royal Thai Fleet 5-0. The final game of the month was a crucial trip to Navy, where Port led 2-0 before silly errors cost them dearly, and they ended up drawing a muatch they should have won. Not a vintage month, by any measure.

Nevertheless, this month’s nominees, in order of squad number are…

 

Pakorn Prempak (9)

Rattanai  Songsangchan (17)

Genki Nagasato (18)

Josimar Rodrigues (30)

Pravinwat Boonyong (55)

Rodrigo Maranhao (92)

 

ร่วมโหวตที่นี่

 

[yop_poll id=”5″]

 

Don’t Write Off The Honda: Port FC vs. Thai Honda, 2 July 2017

 

Port host Thai Honda on Sunday, looking for revenge for the 5-1 thrashing inflicted on them in March. It was Port’s worst performance of the season, and a particularly tough one to take for the fans who had traveled to Lad Krabang to watch the car crash unfold. It’s not just a revenge mission on Sunday though, but a key moment in Port’s season. Having suffered second half capitulations in their last 4 league games, Port’s belief that they can continue the form that accelerated them up the table must be taking a battering. Promising first half performances followed by abysmal second halves saw Port lose comfortably to both Suphanburi and Bangkok Utd, and in the other two games Port surrendered two goal leads by giving away late penalties away at both Sisaket and Navy. Port just can’t seem to get in to gear. With 4 tough games coming up – 3 away from home – Port need to bank some points now to avoid reversing down towards the danger zone.

 

Thai Honda

Players to Watch

 

I’ve always thought of Ricardo Jesus (9) as one of the better Scary Foreign Strikers around, but he is having a real stinker in 2017. Jesus’ two goals against Port in March and the winner he scored against Bangkok Glass in April are his only goals of the season, which for a foreign striker in T1 is inexcusable. Quite a drop from being signed for 2 million Euros by CSKA Moskow. His dip in form has led to Jesus playing just 58 minutes in Honda’s last 3 games, and it seems that when they drop him, they really don’t have any decent back-up. 20 year old Sittichok Kannoo who is on loan from Buriram will probably be a good striker one day, but 4 goals in 16 isn’t anything to write home about.

 

Jesus (9)

 

It was winger Rafinha (7) who really ripped Port to shreds in the last encounter, chalking up two assists and looking like the best player on the pitch by a mile, but funnily enough, he has also had a pretty poor season. One goal and five assists is a very unremarkable record for a winger. Do Honda have any decent players?

 

Rafinha (7) and Roninho (77)

 

Well, no, not really. Not that I can find, anyway. They had a couple of decent Thai attacking midfielders in the first half of the season, but they have been picked up by bigger clubs, and Honda really seem to have little else of note. New Brazilian Roninho (77) is probably the best of the rest, having scored an assisted from dead balls against Bangkok United, but that’s about it.

 

Form

 

It doesn’t get any better for Honda when you look at the form table, either. Since their stunning upset against Muangthong, Honda scraped past Super Power by virtue of a late penalty miss, and have suffered 5 league losses on the bounce. They had a bit of fun in the Cup, though, putting 10 goals past Muangkan United, who as far as I can tell don’t play in a league and have no players.

 

Port FC

Starting XI

 

With the switch to 3-5-2 resulting in a draw against Navy, it’s anyone’s guess whether Zico will stick with his new system on Sunday. Whilst it was refreshing to see Genki (18) and Pakorn (9) giving Josimar (30) some real support, the same old problems came back to haunt Port at the back.

Rattanai (17) messed up for the first goal on Wednesday. As far as I can remember it’s his second clanger of the season, after spilling a catch early on in the season against Suphanburi. Shit happens, but he’s still my number 1 ‘keeper.

In defense, Rochela (22) and Dolah (4) were joined by Pravinwat (55) as Zico trialed the back 3 that worked so well for Thailand under his tutelage. Perhaps the difference was that he had Heea Um at left wing back, and we have Panpanpong (19). Panpanpong has had his moments this season, but let’s be honest. He can defend – sometimes – but he’s an absolute disaster with the ball at his feet, and has less than no pace. Surely Jetjinn (51) or Yossawat (28) are better bets in that position. On the other side, however, Nitipong (34) has really found his dream position. More license to attack, less responsibility to defend, and less chance of him being near enough the penalty area to give away penalties. Still, Pravinwat (55) made sure Port still gave up their obligatory penalty. In fairness to him, it didn’t looks like a penalty at all. I think the referee was conned.

In midfield, Adisorn (13) and Siwakorn (16) took up their usual positions, but without the extra midfielder to drop back in to give them a hand they looked more exposed than usual. I’m starting to feel like I did at the beginning of the season again, when I was calling for Adisorn to be dropped and replaced with a more natural defensive midfielder. Unfortunately, Tatchanon (39) doesn’t seem to be getting any more love from Zico than he did from Jadet, so if Adisorn is going to be replaced, there’s probably going to have to be some transfer activity. Piyachat (88) came on for Adisorn in the second half against Navy, but although he may be better with the ball than Adisorn, he’s no defensive midfielder. Ittipol (7) is a more disciplined option, although at 33 that would hardly be a long-term fix.

Going forward, I was very happy to see Pakorn (9) and Genki (18) really given the freedom they need for this system to work. Genki’s goal was a textbook example of how far forward he needs to play to offer Josimar (30) the support he needs, and in the first half at least Port did have some cutting edge. With the Mongkol transfer hanging in the balance, and the proposed deal for Rungrath apparently dead in the water, Pakorn could yet hang on to his right wing berth.

In injury news, Josimar (30) has picked up a nasty knock in a motorcycle accident, and will be out of action for 2-3 weeks, meaning Zico has a real dilemma about who to replace him with. Could Kaludjerovic (10) finally be given another chance? Will available-again Suarez (5) play out of position up top? Will Wuttichai (14) or Tana (99) attempt to lead the line? Over to you, gaffer.

 

Predicted lineup

 

 

Key Battle

 

The Port defence against the referee. My unconventional choice of Key Battle here reflects Port’s unconventional choice of how to defend a lead. This season, the received wisdom seems to be that stopping your opponents by kicking them is the way to go. Unfortunately, the referee’s job is to give a penalty when this happens inside the box. Port’s tactics and the rules of the game are therefore largely incompatible. If they don’t grow up and learn some discipline, Port’s aim for a top half finish is not going to be realized. Sad, but true.

 

The match will be shown live on True Sports 2 at 19:00 on Sunday 2 July, 2017.

 

What a Navy Lark! Port’s Penalty Punishment Persists: Navy 2-2 Port FC

 

Port conceded their 11th penalty of the season to throw away what would have been a precious, though scarcely deserved, three points at the Navy Stadium last night. We would have settled for a draw before the game but, just as at Sisaket, a late rush of blood to the head earned the referee’s ire and another frustrating conclusion. It was difficult to see the incident from our distant vantage point but, deserved or not, we should not be even giving the referee the option of some supplying some Home comfort.  More discipline please, Gents!

Port lined up with what our trio of travelling, farang fans considered to be a back three of Dolah (4), Rochela (22) and Pravinwat (55), with newly installed wingbacks Nitipong (34) and Pinkong (19) providing both flanking defensive cover and attacking intent. Siwakorn (16) and Adisorn (13) were to hustle and jostle in midfield with Pakorn (9), Josimar (30) and Genki (18) our main goal threats.

 

 

Well, that was the plan anyway. This is a system that has proved highly successful for many teams of late, most notably, Chelsea, but players need time to understand and adapt to it and, for the first quarter of the game, we struggled. Pinkong, in particular, didn’t know whether to attack or defend, and in the end did neither, so there was a constant threat down our left flank, with Nitipong, on the other side, only slightly more comfortable. The central three, as one might expect, were solid and the system may eventually bear fruit. However, a stronger team than Navy may well have exploited this opening edginess. As it was, both Rodrigo (23) and Andre Luis (7) hit the post within the first 20 minutes and Port were living dangerously.

Then, out of the blue in the 28th minute, Josi, who ploughed a brave, lone furrow all night, weaved his way through several challenges on the edge of the box, drifting out to the left, to provide a delightful cross (intended or not) for Genki to glide home with the simplest of headers. The travelling Port fans, recently boosted by the arrival of the Drum Majors were ecstatic. Unbelievably, that lead was doubled thirteen minutes later with another Pakorn, ‘direct from a corner’, effort. I’m beginning to think that these are no longer a fluke! 2-0, surely we can’t stuff this one up?

‘We’re Port and of Course We Can’.

Port’s second half performance, IMHO, was dismal. We were pedantic and lacking in ideas and even when we got into promising positions, mostly down the flanks prompted by a slightly subdued Siwakorn’s still accurate distribution, passes and crosses were played into unoccupied spaces (never to be filled), the nearest defender, or out of touch. We were losing possession at the rate of the post-war British Empire.

I had foolishly declared in my match preview that we were a better team than Navy but there was nothing on view to support that. Navy played with patience and a greater authority, with the inter-changeable front trio of Rodrigo, Andre Luis and Durosinmi (40) putting our central three at full stretch. To their credit, they largely held their nerve and with a combination of lady luck and stout defending, Port held on to their lead until the 67th minute with a goal conceded from an unlikely source.

Rattanai’s handling has been one of his strengths this season, making him number one choice, but when he appeared to miss a simple corner (remember, we were a long distance away), Navy full back Chaothonglang was on hand to tap into an empty net.

It was at this point that seasoned Port away followers could sadly predict the final outcome, made even more likely when Tana (99) replaced Genki. Navy were now dominating, and when the ball skidded across the box and out for a throw-in, in yet another suspense-filled raid, the sense of relief was palpable. But then, hold your breath, there was that familiar, raised arm pointing to the spot, the yellow card brandished and that sick to my stomach, here we go again feeling, as Pravinwat apparently manhandled an opponent in the box. Rodrigo duly dispatched the resultant penalty with aplomb. There was just enough time for Suarez to replace Pakorn and for Port to probably have their first shot on goal in the entire half, only for Piyachat (88, on for Adisorn) to balloon it over the bar.

 

Seaman Stains and Roger the Cabin boy reflect on another late penalty in a Ban Chang bar

 

Final emotions again were a mixture of frustration and not a little anger – but we always had Ban Chang!

As for MOTM, none of us could really recall any player having an above average game, so my Man (Boys) of the Match award goes to the Navy Cadet choir, who, although probably in their massed ranks behind the goal under sufferance, kept up their jubilant chanting and singing throughout the game, including some generous homages to Port and their fans – well done boys, you did the Navy proud!

 

Minions: The Port FCqual

 

Contained within this quite mental piece is perhaps the most damning rumour I’ve heard about the management of Port. This rumour suggests incompetence on a grander scale than I dared to imagine possible at a professional football club. If it’s true, the person or people responsible should immediately be sacked and shipped out, and I don’t just mean they should lose their jobs. They should be put in a sack, and shipped out to a deserted island where they’re too far away from other sentient beings to do any further damage. One of those picturesque atolls in the South Pacific, perhaps, with a couple of palm trees and no source of fresh water. You could throw in a hammock, but you’d need to include an instruction manual. A recording of Dom saying “You have to take responsibility for what you’ve done!” on repeat would be my final touch, and quite possibly the final straw. Truly cruel and unusual punishment.

So, what is the grievous crime that has inspired my call for this arguably disproportionate course of action? Just how completely inadequate is it possible for members of a post stone-age society to be? Sit ye, sit, and listen to a tale of such ludicrous negligence that I can’t even bring myself to write it in its’ real-life context. To protect myself and the readers from the dangerous and possibly contagious absurdity of what is contained within, the following story has been set in an entirely fictional land, and events that occur in this mysterious hinterland, though they may well bear a considerable resemblance with those of Port FC, are in fact completely unconnected.

Our unstable fable begins in a far-away country called Thighland. In this mysterious land of smiles, corruption and greng jai, there is a football league called P1. In P1 there is a team called Bought FC, known to all for their vulgar but passionate fans and universally loved leader, Miss Giving. Miss Giving is respected throughout the land for her impeccable Instagram photos, her tearful public speaking, and most of all her choice of which family to be born in to. Out of the inestimable kindness of her heart, she employs an army of minions to run the day-to-day affairs of her football club.

It’s early June, and the P1 transfer window is just about to open. Miss Giving and her minions have a dilemma on their hands. They have 7 foreign players in their team, but only 5 are allowed to play. Whatever should they do? Some minions suggest keeping the best 5 – particularly the one who has been scoring lots of goals in practice – and letting the worst 2 go. Their opinions are duly noted, and they are reassigned to toilet-cleaning duty. Another group of minions suggests signing another foreign player, just in case 3 of them die in a freak accident. What a tremendous idea! They’re promoted!

Now there is another, bigger dilemma. Which foreign players should they choose to fill their 5 spots? There’s the Splendid Spaniard, who captains the team to near-universal acclaim, and the Burly Brazilian, who has scored by far the most goals. The Jumping Japanese is a hard worker who always does a good job for the team, and the Surly Spaniard has played well a few times, and not so well a few more times. The Blistering Brazilian has recently recovered from a foot injury, and looks great, but Sicknote Spaniard has been too poorly to play for the whole year. Finally there is the Sleepy Serb, who most people have forgotten is still there, and the Purported Palestinian, who no one has actually seen.

The bothersome P1 rules state that only 2 foreign players can be swapped in the month of June, which was a hindrance to Miss Giving and the minions. By their very nature, the minions are wont to swap things two and fro, hither and thither for no discernible reason. If they weren’t swapping things, they just didn’t feel fulfilled. Despite the fact that other clubs in P1 were taking a competitive approach to managing their clubs in pursuit of lofty, frivolous goals like winning, the minions were just happy that they could justify their existence by swapping things.

And so came the next game, an away match in Superburi. In came the Blistering Brazilian to replace the Sleepy Serb. Oh how the passionate Bought FC fans applauded his marauding runs up and down the pitch, and the minions squeaked in excitement when he shot towards goal. Although Bought FC lost, the Blistering Brazilian had played well, and the minions felt much better having swapped something. So, when it came to the next game – at PAT Studio against the formidable Strongkok United – nothing seemed more natural to the minions than to swap something else. Yes, it was their last swap according to the P1 rules, but why let that get in the way of a good switcheroo?

On the morning of the match, one of them noticed the Sleepy Serb at training. It was hard to miss him, as he sat on the bench snoring loudly while the rest of the players trained. He must have sat there out of habit and just nodded off. The minions looked at him, and so peaceful was his slumber that they decided – so as not to disturb him – to swap him back in to the squad so he could sit on the bench and enjoy the rest of his sleep. The minions sighed peacefully in unison as they saw him snoring away throughout the match, but in PAT Studio, there were agitated mutterings that Bought FC had forfeited the right to play the Blistering Brazilian for no good reason. “Why the f*ck would they use two sodding swaps to achieve the square sh*tting route of f*ck all?” asked one of the uncouth supporters. After Bought FC slumped to a 3-0 loss, another fan asked “Do these brainless minions even know what the f*ck the f*cking rules are?” The minions understood eachother, so why wouldn’t the supporters understand them. It’s part of minion culture to gratuitously change things. It’s how they justify their existence, and the only reason Miss Giving keeps them there. Why couldn’t they understand that?

 

 

After all the other fans have left PAT Studio, just one old-timer remains. He sits in the stand sullenly, watching as the last 2 minions turn off the lights. They argue over who gets to do it, before finally flipping the switch, tripping over eachother and crawling around aimlessly in the dark. The old-timer shakes his head, stubs out his cigarette and mutters to himself. “Useless C*nts.”

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk: Busy Busy Busy

 

There are more rumours than I can keep up with today, and it seems like a few of these may well become signings. The focus of my last gossip piece – Kroekrit Thaweekarn – hasn’t signed on the dotted line yet, but rumours persist that he will be released from Chonburi and join the man Thai national team fans jokingly refer to as his father – Zico – at Port.

 

Sarach Yooyen, 25

 

Another extremely juicy rumour that gained traction yesterday was about injured central midfielder Sarach Yooyen. Sarach is a defensive midfielder of supreme ability, who has captained the Golden Generation Thai under 23 team to SEA Games glory, and at the age of 25 already has 35 caps for the full team. This rumour is, to me, by far the most exciting of the season so far, as the prospect of replacing Adisorn with Sarach could completely transform the way Port play. Of course, it is also the most unlikely. Sarach has been a key part of the Muangthong starting XI for a few years now, although injury has kept him out of action for the last few months. I fully expect him to go back in to the team when fit, but some have speculated that the performances of Wattana Playnum in his absence – as well as the signing of Charyl Chappuis – could indicate that Sarach is no longer held in such high esteem at the SCG. I’d be extremely surprised but extremely happy if this one happened!

Additionally, there are reports that 25 year old Ratchaburi winger Rungrath Poomchantuek and 18 year old Buriram striker Supachai Jaided may be on the verge of joining the Zico revolution.

 

Rungrath Poomchantuek, 25

 

Rungrath – or ‘The Rugrat’ as I call him when he plays for Thailand – is another right winger, meaning he will be in competition with both Mongkol and Pakorn for a place in the starting XI, although presumably Zico has a plan for how to use his new signings on the pitch at the same time. As we mentioned in our piece on Mongkol, he does have experience playing as a second striker. The Rugrat, as the nickname suggests, is small but very mobile and tricky.

 

Supachai Jaided, 18

 

Supachai looks like a very talented youngster, having scored 9 goals in 16 games for the Thai under 19 team and making 5 substitute appearances for Buriram this season.  At 1.80m or 5″11 he is fairly tall, and if he joins Port will be joining a team desperate for more options up front, with the ageing duo of Wuttichai and Tana having shown nothing to suggest that they can make a meaningful contribution in the second half of the season.

According to Buaksib the signing of Supachai is already complete, whilst negotiations are well under way with Rungrath, too. This one can’t go in the confirmed column yet, but it looks to be close. Over to your Instagram, Madame!

 

Mong the Merciless: National Team Winger Joins Port

 

Mongkol Tossakrai has become the first big-name arrival of the mid-season transfer window. He joins on loan from Army, although it is not yet known how long the deal is for.

Known as one of Zico’s favourites from his time with the national team, Mongkol is a hard-working right winger who has a knack for turning up in the box at the right time to get on the end of crosses. He’s not the most flair player in the world but is a reliable contributor to the team, which puts him in stark contrast to the potentially brilliant but very inconsistent Pakorn.

Mongkol is expected to go straight in to the starting XI, but it is not immediately obvious whether Zico will use him on the right wing or in the hole behind Josimar. His more natural position is undoubtedly on the right, but with Port having struggled to find a player who can operate productively with Josi, it is also possible that he will be used as a deep-lying forward. In his brief time at Muangthong, he was more often than not used in that capacity.

Regardless of how the manager plans to use him, Mongkol is not only an excellent addition to the squad, but also a very positive indicator that the Zico revolution is in full swing at PAT Stadium. One of the potential benefits of hiring the former national team manager was his relationships with Thailand’s best players, and those relationships are already starting to bear fruit for Port. With rumours also swirling around about fellow national team stars Kroekrit Thaweekarn and more recently Sarach Yooyen, it could be a hectic week. Let’s hope it’s a fruitful one!

Welcome to Port, Mongkol. An apology to Rochela and a promise to turn those elbows on Muangthong would be a good way to introduce yourself!

 

Got, Need, Got: Confessions of a Thai Football Sticker Collector

 

I have followed Thai football on a regular basis since 2010, and I have always struggled with Thai names, making my ability to comment in football conversations on different players I have seen rather troublesome. This often results in me sounding like a first time attendee by describing a player with such uninformed-sounding, cumbersome descriptions as the lanky No 4 or the squat spiteful No 27. It’s like I hear the names, and then within seconds they are gone from my mind never to be recalled again, without maybe the extensive use of intrusive hypnotherapy, and no one wants to have fiddle with opening that bag of sick. So to try and solve my brain-fart attempts at remembering players; I have kept a record of all the games I have attended and noted down the players’ names, in an attempt to remember them, in the hope that by writing them they remain rooted in my psyche. So they can be effortlessly recalled in a conversation with a fellow fan about that centre forward Chiang Rai had in the 2013 season. Sadly it hasn’t worked quite as well as I hoped if I’m honest.

 

So, when in 2011 it was revealed that a company (ironically I can’t remember their name) was going to make every true train-spotter-esque football fan ecstatically happy by selling official Thai Premier League Football stickers (YESSSSSSS!) the dream had come true. I was sure it would be just like collecting stickers as a kid in the 1980s. (My first was the 84-5 season, seeing that cover to the album still almost makes me want to cry; could be Mark Falco and Kevin Moran on the front). So the possibility of collecting stickers for Thai football was exciting in the extreme.  To recapture that pure, unadulterated joy and anticipation of opening a pack of stickers to see what awaited inside. This has probably never been matched by any experience I have had in adulthood so far. To feel again the tingle down your spine as you gently ease the stickers from foiled prison to release their mesmerizing magic on the world. Waiting on tenterhooks to see if you could utter that long desired word of; “need” or if instead you would experience that punch to the gut feeling of having to painfully mouth the word; “got” to yourself. That’s the very definition of pleasure.

 

Back to 2011, the price was hardly prohibitive, clearly designed for the budget of Thai schoolkids.  9 Baht for a pack of 5 stickers, 45 Baht for the album and the staggeringly generous gift of three packs and a sheet of 6 stickers to get you started. It meant that I, being a grown man with a now relatively decent standard of income, could justify such an expense to anyone quizzing me as to why I felt that these stickers weren’t a waste of money. I could, if I felt really flash (and if I’m honest I did once or twice), buy a whole box of packs of stickers, at the princely sum of 900 baht. Has there ever been a purer way of blowing nearly a grand ever invented? I can’t think of one.

 

Thai Port FC 2011

 

This brings me back to the stickers themselves. During my time collecting them, I obviously really wanted to complete the Thai Port team first, of course, and I didn’t mind getting Port players as swaps as I could childishly stick them places to decorate drabs spaces of nothingness. But other swaps were more annoying. Most soul shreddingly annoying were two players in particular; Therdsak Chaiman and Narit Taweekul who I really, really grew to hate. I seemed to get a ridiculously disproportioned number of swaps of these two players. Therdsak was a Thai international and Chonburi midfield maestro but (not meaning to be unfair) had a rather rabbit-toothed baldie face, which seemed capable of provoking such anger within me it scared me a touch. Narit was a goalkeeper for Pattaya United (since moved to Glass) whose face unfortunately made me think of (and again not wanting to be disrespectful) a small time criminal specializing in stealing motorcycles. I sure he is a lovely man but the regularity with which I saw his little face peeping out the pack, only created negative connotations with him. There were many other players I saw more often than I really wanted to but these two poor men were the unreasonable target of my uncontrolled ire.

 

Narit, coming to steal your Honda

 

The other issue with swaps was being a 34 year old foreign man who collected (basically) Thai children’s stickers; it was hard to find people to swap my doubles, trebles, and quadruples with. There were the other Thai Port fans who were also as addicted as me like meth-heads to the stickers but it seemed a shallow pool in which to trade with. Finding students at the school I taught in was slim pickings as most of my students (being unnaturally spoilt) had little interest in Thai football and kind of looked mockingly at me when I mentioned it – this was 2011 and 2012, times have changed. Maybe. Also hanging around groups of kids offering stickers is not necessarily a wise move these days. There was talk amongst the meth-heads of websites and swapping communities on-line but it all seemed out of spirit with the innocent childish sticker collecting experience. I did complete both years’ albums (too much pride I’ll admit) but I did have to use that alluring (but to some impure) form at the back of every sticker album that allows you to send off for any missing stickers you may need when you get to within 25 or so missing stickers. I realize to chagrin of some that is cheating, but I have a beautifully competed “The Starry Night”-esque album and they have a slightly uncompleted “Girl with a Pearl Earring”-esque album, so with all that time, money and energy having been spent, at the end of the day who was the real winner?

Possibly, you are concluding: none of us!

 

Blistering Barnacles! Siam Navy vs. Port FC, 28 June 2017

Note to Readers: Although there are few nautical puns in this report (there aren’t many left), there are references, including some, long discredited, to a popular children’s cartoon show based on-board ship.

Port travel to Sattahip on Wednesday to what is universally recognized (well, by me and Keith anyway) as one of the worst grounds and worst views in T1. Conflicting statistics on Wikipedia list the Navy Stadium’s capacity as either 12,500 or 6000, depending, I suppose, on how many hapless Navy Cadets they can press-gang inside the ground. Visiting this long-suffered, architectural inconvenience is only tempered by the cultural delights on offer 20 minutes away in the small town of Ban Chang. More on those later.

Port won the reverse fixture early in the season, 1-0, with a cross-cum-shot from a raiding Nitipong (34) in the first half and always looked in control of the game.  However, we were in control of the game at Suphanburi for the first half, and for long stretches against Bangkok Utd, but, if you don’t take your chances when you are on top, you get punished. Coddling Codfish, football!

Port are, I believe, a better team than Navy, in spite of their recent decent results; we have more points, we have a new, hopefully, inspirational manager, but just for once, down here, we have to do it on the pitch. This will be my fourth visit to the Navy ground and I have never seen us scramble even a point. True, we were right royally shafted on one occasion when Matty Christen’s equalizer was flagged offside by a linesman, the Liechtenstein international receiving the ball with 3 defenders waiting behind him. The linesman was mysteriously shot three days later (he survived).  Shuddering Sharks! An appalling decision, but that was a tad drastic!

Navy have recently acquired a useful Brazilian striker, Andre Luis Leite (7), from Chonburi, who will team up with his fellow countryman, ten-goals to date, Rodrigo (23). A potentially lethal striking trio is completed by Nigerian, Adefolarin Divosinmi (40) – there are goals in all three of these, so containing them will be the key to our chances of a rare victory on the road. Tottering Turtles – I’m nervous already!

Navy manager, Somchai (Pugwash) Chuayboonchum, in the giddy excitement of his pre-match team selections, is likely to leave Seaman Stains on the bench, or, Roger the Cabin boy. Either way, the consequences could be messy. Master Bates is another viable option and perhaps less risky. Dithering Dogfish! The choices a manager has to make these days!

 

Players Of Whom We Are Afraid

Rodrigo Vergilio

Andre Luis Leite

Adefolarin Divosinmi

 

Port FC

 

As for Port, Sunday’s late collapse against a very fit, classy Bangkok Utd, after a promising start, should have helped manager Zico decide who is good enough for the type of football he is trying to introduce and who isn’t. Worawut (36) might keep his place but if Rattanai (17) is fully fit, he needs to start getting a regular game. Dolah (4) and Siwakorn (16) will be back, but centre back Pravinwat (55) looked impressive and may turn the Boss’s thoughts towards a back three, allowing the full backs licence to attack (not that they don’t anyway). We are trying to play modern football after all! Pick two from Pinkong (19), Nitipong (34) and Meechok (20). Siwakorn and Adisorn (13) will fill the middle with a possible front three of Genki (18), Josimar (30) and, most likely, Pakorn (9), although it is difficult to predict the manager’s thoughts at this early stage. Tommy’s MOM from Sunday, Ittipol (7), may have done enough to keep his place. With Jadet, you more or less knew who he would pick, unless a player’s parents were in the crowd or it was their birthday. Wuttichai (14) and Tana (99) should never pull on a Port shirt again, unless it is to stand in Zone D.

Meanwhile, back in Ban Chang all is waiting for the post match celebration or drowning of sorrows.

Suffering Seagulls! What match-memories will our intrepid bunch of travellers bring back with them to this short-sprint street of dreams, which boasts no fewer than 34 drinking holes, mostly on the same side of the road; Lolloping Landlubbers! These entertainment venues are a hit with the local ex-sailors and oil-riggers and, on any given night, the charming hostesses will expect to have their naval bases overflowing with discharged seamen.

So, Dear Friends*, will our Farang contingent be (Varee) Happy, blowing Kisses, with a Smile on their Face and looking forward to a Good Time, having seen a Surprise, yet Classic domineering away performance – like taking Candy from a baby? Plundering Porpoises! Even just One-nil, Featuring a Ram-Inn goal from our hero, Siwakorn, after watching him Beaver away in midfield, will be Love-Ly. No more memories of hitting The Bar or ballooning the ball into the Sunny, Blue Sky, or over the Rainbow for Nasa to track. This time there will be Noot to be sad about, no Rumours of defeat, just time to visit the ATM by the B an K and Start-Up the celebrations at places you would, quite frankly, never invite your ‘Mam’. Then it’s up and down the street like a Yo-Yo, with cries of ‘Bottoms-Up’, ‘Down the Hatch,’ ‘be a good Sport and taste that Moonshine’,  to Crown a great evening. Will the night end with unintelligible, grunted, monosyllabic enquiries like, “Where House?” Stuttering Starfish! Will we behave – of course we will; Ban Chang is heaven but we are all angels, keeping The Angels’ Secret.

*Names in Italics denote the BC strip’s 34 bars.

 

The match will be shown live on True Spark Jump (Ed – No, us neither) at 19:00 on Wednesday 28th June, 2017. 

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk: National Team Gossip

 

Rumours of Thai National Team arrivals have followed Zico to PAT Stadium, as we could have guessed that they would. The first two rumours making the rounds are about wingers Kroekrit and Mongkol.

The first and most persistent of those rumours centers on 26 year old Kroekrit Thaweekarn, and actually these rumours have been around since long before Zico became manager. The Chonburi left-winger was a National Team regular until Zico’s switch from 4-4-2 to 3-5-2 last year, which saw Kroekrit and right-winger Mongkol dropped in favour of wing-backs Theerathon and Do. Kroekrit has long been thought of as a favourite of Zico, as his club form had been thought by many not even to merit a place in the squad, although more often than not he has been put in the First XI.

He hasn’t done badly, mind you. Highlights of his included a stunning left-footed piledriver from outside the box in a World Cup qualifier against Vietnam in 2015, and a tournament-winning brace against Jordan in the final of the 2016 King’s Cup. Kroekrit had a stint at Port in 2013, where his obvious talent shone through at times, but he was not as consistent as perhaps he could have been.

Rumours about 30 year old right-winger Mongkol Tossakrai are more recent, and perhaps a result of Zico finally getting a good look at Pakorn. Mongkol is a hard-working player who far from endeared himself to Port fans earlier this season when he threw a sly elbow at Captain Rochela as Muangthong went on to suffer a historic 3-2 loss at the SCG. It’s an incident typical of Mongkol, who isn’t a particularly flair or talented player, but gives everything he has, including whatever he can squeeze past the referee, in an attempt to win. As mentioned previously, he was also a victim of Zico’s switch from 4-4-2 to 3-5-2, and has been on the fringes of the national team this year.

Just as I have been writing this, new reports have suggested that Mongkol may already have secured a switch to Chiang Rai, but no official confirmation has been made as of yet.

 

Confirmed Departure

 

 

Piyachart Tamaphan (23) has been loaned to Ubon UMT for 6 months in what should be the first of many transfers out of Port in the coming week. The experienced left-back was fourth in the pecking order, and was highly unlikely to see any action in 2017, so it makes sense for all involved that he has moved on. We expect that he will have to find a new permanent home when his 6 month loan deal is up.

 

Self Congratulatory Note

 

Klairung Treejaksung – one of Zico’s new assistant coaches – has been quoted saying something that sounds more than a little similar to an article I wrote last week

“We have 35 players and they all train together, but only 25 are in contention for places. We should separate out the two groups and maybe release the players we don’t need.”

You can send me a cheque for the consultation fee any time, mate. I’ll even tell you who to send packing if you ask nicely!

 

Bangkok United; Port Divided: Port FC 0-3 Bangkok United

 

A very large contingent of Port fans – officially about 6,500 (Ed – LOL) – welcomed Zico to PAT this Sunday as Bangkok United paid a visit.

 

 

Taking my usual perch at the top of Zone A to watch the teams warm up the first thing that struck me was how fit the United players look in comparison to our squad. I must admit a fondness for Bangkok United, partially because one of their players, Anthony, is from my hometown and because the club has been built with a plan from the day they entered the top flight. Each season has seen a better squad and for the most part better results.

United started with their most formidable offensive lineup of Mario (20), Boskovic (7) and Leesaw (14). Also starting was their new Iranian midfielder Pooladi (9). Interestingly enough their other foreign acquisition Ede (17) was not in the matchday squad.

With the exception of Ittipol (7) in the midfield, Worawut (36) in goal, and Nitipong (34) at fullback, the Port lineup was as Tom predicted

As soon as the first whistle blew to begin the match it was obvious that Port were going to play differently in the Zico era. Wider passing lanes were created, passes were quicker, and the opposition was being pressured in their half. Modern football arrives at PAT. Some good early pressure from Port led to a Josi header that missed, but showed promise. Tough play in the opening half led to a slew of “Pakcorners” one of which resulted in a cross that Josi failed to make contact with. Port’s pressure continued to result in possession, but no real quality chances. BU’s Persian, a nasty piece of work, obviously frustrated by Port’s pesky players finally received a yellow after several warnings. One thought for sure if his antics continued he would be sent off. The last minutes of the first half brought BU’s first real chances of the match. First off, a Boskovic free kick that just missed the target and the second when the woodwork was rattled and Port struggled to clear. Port were the better side in the first half, but just as in Suphan the week before, the failure to capitalize was to come back and haunt them.

The second half began with Port in a less aggressive posture. Two quick yellows, one from Pakorn (9) and one from Ittipol (7) seemed to prod the team on a bit. Perhaps our best chance of the night came soon after the yellows when Josi was hit with a pass that saw him in front of the defender. Sadly as we have seen so many times this season, he was unable to convert this into a credible shot. However, Port’s play picked back up and things were looking good until the first substitution, Wuttichai (14) for Ittipol. At this point the game changed dramatically and swung in BU’s favor. No longer were Port the aggressors as Port gifted United the ball several times with a slew of unforced errors. Realizing his big Iranian was riding a yellow, United manager Mano Polking brought in Pokklaw (39) and BU began pushing forward. Pakorn who still does not appear fit after his extended absence from the team was subbed off for Tana (99), who has far from excelled on the wing this year. Mika (16) was removed in favor of Ekkachai (2) and BU were rolling and pushing the ball up at will. Finally it paid off with Nitipong committing a reckless foul in the box and Boskovic converting from the spot. Realizing that Port needed some speed Ekkapoom (8) was brought in for Genki (18), but the speed on the left could not make up for the lack of it on the right and in the middle. Another giveaway led to a Mario goal and Port were done. Just a few minutes later Boskovic scored on the break after heading a pass down to his feet. Zico’s first match ends 0-3.

 

Thoughts on the Match

 

It was great to see Port playing high-tempo modern football. After boring Jadet-ball, if nothing else, Zico will bring some pizzazz to the PAT. It also seems the players like him and will listen to him. With the right squad he could lead us far.

We are not fit enough to play this style for 90 min. One look at our team in comparison to BU tells you quite a bit. The BU players are all lean, ripped, and very well conditioned. I am sure their training methods are state of the art. I would bet they even have a dietician on staff as well. If we are going to compete we need to up the fitness a few notches.

Our offensive players are not producing. The last two matches we have conceded five and scored none. Last week the chances were there; we should have been home and dry by the half, but instead lost 2-0. We just don’t have the quality up front that we need in T1.

The foreign contingent will be the same for the second leg as it was for the first. Honestly, we needed an upgrade and were allowed two moves to do it. Instead we moved Maranhao (29) into the squad for Kalu (10) and then Kalu back into the squad for Maranhao. (Ed – waiting for confirmation on this absolutely damning rumour) To the best of my knowledge this completes our transfer window foreign quota. Just astonishing. How did this happen? One wonders where the goals are going to come from.

Why not bring in Kalu? I certainly expected the first substitution to be Kalu for Josi, not Wuttichai for Ittipol. Perhaps he could have found the target. Why not use him?

One hopes are that Zico saw some of the same things we did tonight and makes adjustments accordingly. There are some personnel issues to be dealt with on the squad.

 

Port FC Man of the Match

 

 

Honorable mentions to Prawinwat (55) and Jetjin (51), but my MOTM goes to Ittipol (7), whose hard-nosed play and passes kept us the better side in the first half. After he was subbed off, it was all downhill.

In closing it was a mixed debut for Zico, A first half filled with promise and a second to forget. I like the style; I just hope we have the men to play it. Goals are going to be tough to come by this leg. That’s obvious. As long as we stay up, that’s all that matters.

It does not get much easier as we are off on Wednesday to play an in-form Navy team at a stadium we have never done well in. We need the three points.