New Port manager Zico will take charge of his first game on Sunday as Bangkok United travel to PAT Stadium, and he has promised to make Port’s home patch hell for the visiting Angels. The side who put six past Port in the first half of the season are formidable opponents, but Port have made a habit of saving some of their best performances for the toughest opponents this season. With the fabled new manager effect also in play, what we have on Sunday is a highly unpredictable encounter between two sides who have shown both brilliant and dire performances in up-and-down seasons.
In the first half of the season I highlighted Mario Gjurovski (20), Dragan Boskovic (7), Jaycee John (22) and Sanrawat (29) as my key players, but in a shock move by manager Mano Polking Mario, Boskovic and John were dropped, and it was Thai National Team striker Teeratep (14) who took centre stage, netting four goals, and Brazilian trickster Gilberto Macena (10) who provided most of the ammunition.
Of the key protagonists in the tragedy at Thammasat Stadium, Mario and Boskovic have gone on to net a truly outrageous combined tally of 29 goals, whereas John and Macena have not made the cut for the second half of the season. Replacing them are German winger Chinedu Ede (17) and Iranian midfielder Mehrdad Pooladi (9).
Ede (17) is a former German Under 21 player who has spent his career to date in Europe, most recently scoring 6 goals in 48 games for Dutch club FC Twente. He has not yet played for The Angels, with his signing only being confirmed last week, but it seems likely that the German will make his debut on Sunday, whether he starts or comes off the bench.
Pooladi (9) is an Iranian centre midfielder who has been capped 28 times by his country. He started in The Angels last two games, but with Ede now in contention for a place, it would seem that Pooladi is most likely of the foreigners to drop out of the starting XI.
Teeratep Winothai (14) was Bangkok United’s star as he put four goals past Port in the 6-2 thrashing, although he has only managed one other league goal in the rest of the season. Fresh off putting another hattrick past Chiang Rai city in the FA Cup on Wednesday, many fans are calling for Teeratep to regain his starting spot against Port, although I think it’s more likely that he will start on the bench.
For my views on Mario – including a rather raunchy picture – Boskovic and Sanrawat check out my preview from the first half of the season.
The Angels are on fire at the moment, winning 5 of their last 6 games and scoring a pretty scary total of 22 goals. They had an outrageous 9 goal thriller against Honda last week where despite leading 5-2 they almost managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, conceding 2 late goals and just about hanging on for a 5-4 win. Their only loss in the last 6 games came away at Buriram, where they succumbed to a 2-1 defeat. Impressive home wins against and Suphanburi and Sisaket, and a hard-fought 2-1 away win at Ratchaburi are the rest of The Angels’ recent results. All things considered, if there’s one thing we can say with relative certainty, it’s that there are likely to be goals in this one!
Zico has a tricky first game on his hands, with suspensions ruling out Dolah (4) and Siwakorn (16), whilst Panpanpong (19) is unavailable due to the terms of his loan agreement with United. It seems that Pravinwat (55) is a straightforward replacement for Dolah at the back. With Zico having picked him in numerous national team squads, we know that he rates Port’s new centre half. In centre midfield, Piyachat (88) seems to be first in line to replace Siwakorn, although Zico could also go with Ittipol (7) or Tatchanon (39) if he decides to take a more defensive approach. At left back, Yossawat (28) may be unavailable after a family tragedy, so fellow new left back Jetjinn (51) could make his debut filling in for Panpanpong.
The truth is, though, that we have no idea what Zico plans to do with this team. Players who unexpectedly found themselves in the starting XI this season like Adisorn (13) and Nitipong (34) could well find less favour from Port’s new manager, with younger players like Tatchanon (39) and Meechok (20) possible replacements. With Zico only having had a couple of days training with his new players, it really is mystery what he will do.
In terms of Port’s foreigners, it really has been a messy affair. Just as Port announced the arrival of their new much-heralded manager, news of Maranhao’s departure was quietly making the rounds. The Brazilian forward, who had finally fought his way back in to the reckoning with an excellent performance in Port’s 0-2 defeat at Suphanburi, has been allowed to go to Sukhothai in a bizarre move which could see Suarez (5) and Kaludjerovic (10) hang on to their places in the squad, whilst new arrival Jadue (32) will likely only be available for cup action. The status of Spanish winger Asdrubal (27) is also unknown, both in terms of his fitness and his contract. We can only hope that Zico acts decisively, ending the period of uncertainty which can’t be much good for the players and looks very much like a farce to the fans. One way or another, a decision has to be made.
Predicted Starting XI
It’s 18 goals and 4 assists in 17 games so far for Boskovic (7). Bloody hell. Rochela (22) is sure going to have his hands full with the Montenegrin forward, and can only hope that the rest of the defence isn’t too busy being bamboozled by Mario (20), Teeratep (14), Ede (17), Jakkapan (77) et al. and have time to give him a hand.
The match will be shown live on True Sports 2 HD at 19:00 on Sunday 25 June, 2017.