Zico Promises Hell For Angels: Port FC vs. Bangkok Utd, 25 June 2017

 

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.

 

Bangkok United

Key Players

 

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.

 

Form

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!

 

Port FC

Starting XI

 

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

 

 

Key Battle

 

 

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.

 

Tchau Tchau Maranhao

 

Amidst all the excitement over the arrival of new Port coach Zico yesterday, one bit of bad news crept out almost unnoticed. For several weeks now many of us at the Sandpit have been calling for the return of Brazilian forward Rodrigo Maranhao to liven up Port’s somewhat moribund attack, and last Saturday at Suphanburi we got our wish. Maranhao started the game like a greyhound let out of the traps and was a constant menace to Suphan’s defenders, creating plenty of chances for his fellow Brazilian Josimar, and generally giving Port’s frontline a big boost of energy and skill.

So, this being Port, it seems only logical that yesterday he was moved on to T1 strugglers Sukhothai FC on what we believe is a permanent rather than a loan deal, thus bringing his 18-month spell at Port – during which he finished as the club’s top scorer in 2016 – to a somewhat abrupt and shabby end.

Following on from the ridiculous Niran Hansson situation, it’s further evidence that Port – or at least the pre-Zico regime at Port – don’t seem to place much value on young players (Maranhao is only 24), and also don’t seem to have any kind of recruitment strategy for foreigners. Meanwhile, as Tom Earls pointed out yesterday, we have a bloated 40-man squad stuffed with ageing players who will almost certainly never pay for the club again, and a distinct lack of attacking talent. So why on earth has a player like Maranhao been allowed to leave?

We can only hope that, in the remaining week of the transfer window, Zico manages to bring in some more attacking quality because Josi is looking pretty lonely up there, and as we saw last week, he’s the kind of player who thrives on through balls rather than the hopeful crosses he’s been presented with all season.

Anyway, all of us at The Sandpit would like to wish Rodrigo all the best in his new career at Sukhothai. We hope he gets the regular football he deserves and bangs in plenty of goals (apart from on 10 September of course!) Boa sorte amigo!

Damn it’s hard being a Port fan sometimes…

 

Kiatisacked! Jadet Makes Way for Zico

 

When the Sandpit speculated a couple of weeks ago on the possible arrival of former Thailand coach Kiatisak “Zico” Senamuang as Port’s new coach, it was merely idle banter based on a picture of him hangin’ out with Madame Pang, and published mainly for cheap clicks.

3 weeks later, the club have formally announced that Zico has indeed replaced Jadet as Port’s head coach with immediate effect, and will we presume be taking charge of the team for Sunday’s game against Bangkok Utd.

Given the club’s shambolic handling of the June transfer window, it’s clear some changes had to be made, and at last night’s press conference, Jadet admitted he had no clue which players were going & which were staying. It’s a little harsh on Jadet – since he took over he’s guided Port to a League Cup semi, promotion from the second division, and a top half place in T1. A pretty good achievement given the club’s resources. And let’s face it, lasting almost a year as coach under Mme Pang is an achievement in itself.

But as we’ve said before, it’s been clear all season that if the club really want to aim higher, Jadet probably isn’t the man, which explains today’s move. Kiatisak brings a very high profile, having recently guided Thailand to the second round of AFC World Cup qualifying, and an excellent managerial record with a win rate of 49.45% over 11 years and 273 games. His career as Thailand manager suggests he’s one to favour younger players over old lags, which is exactly what Port need right now, and his status should help attract talented younger Thai players to the club. It’s just a shame the move wasn’t made at the start of the transfer window…but at least we got there before Muangthong or Buriram.

So firstly, The Sandpit would like to say a big thank you to Jadet for all he’s done as coach, and wish him well in his new role as Technical Director. And secondly, we’d like to give Zico a warm welcome to Port, and wish him every success in his new role!

Port FC eh? Never a dull moment…

 

 

If Mourinho Was Port Manager…

 

In my last Transfer Talk, I quoted top managers who subscribe to the ‘less is more’ theory on squad size. Managers like Mourinho, Scolari and Hughes have all suggested that between 23-25 was the ideal number, citing reasons such as improved morale within the squad and more effective training sessions.

With this in mind, I thought it might be interesting (for me, anyway) to try and pick a 25 man Port squad, and see just how much fat could theoretically be trimmed form the current crop of players. Is this in any way likely to happen? No. Am I wasting my time? Yes, in the sense that it’s completely hypothetical, but hopefully not in the sense that it will introduce our readers to some of our less well-known squad members, albeit that it is in the context of me calling for them to be cut. So, without further ado, here goes

 

Goalkeepers

  • Rattanai (17)
  • Worawut (36)
  • Watchara (66)

No-brainer here. After the departure of Weera and the return of Watchara, we now have three good, young-ish goalkeepers, all of whom I think are perfectly decent options. First choice Rattanai is likely a future national team ‘keeper, with Worawut and Watchara excellent second and third choice options.

Defenders

  • Rochela (22)
  • Dolah (4)
  • Pravinwat (55)
  • Todsapol (6)
  • Nitipong (34)
  • Meechok (20)
  • Panpanpong (19)
  • Yossawat (23)

I’ve gone for eight defenders. Four centre backs, two right backs and two left backs. Rochela and Dolah are first choice in central defence, with Bangkok Glass loanee Pravinwat third choice and currently crocked Todsapol fourth. I know its water under the bridge, but how nice would it be to have the departed Niran Hansson in there? Whilst Pravinwat looks to be a good player, Hansson was young and full of potential – a fact that Police Tero have underlined by putting him straight in their first XI – whereas Pravinwat will be back at Bangkok Glass in 6 months.

At right back, Nitipong and Meechok are both excellent young players, and at left back there is the contrast of Panpanpong’s experience and Yossawat’s youthful potential. With smaller squads versatility is crucial, so with midfielder Adisorn capable of filling in at full back, Port would still have options in the case of injuries.

On the Chopping Block

Anisong (15) has played once this season, giving away a penalty in the 2-1 loss at Chonburi. He isn’t terrible, but it really isn’t necessary having him around.

Pakasit (2) is quite some way over the hill. Port’s third choice right back has recently opened a football coaching school with former national team captain Datsakorn, so should probably just focus on that, rather than pretending to still be a professional footballer.

Suchon (11) is a long way from being able to cut it at T1 level, as was brutally exposed when he made his only appearance of the season against Bangkok United. As fifth choice left back, I can’t think of a single decent reason why he’s still here.

Piyachart (23) obviously doesn’t have Jadet’s trust, so why keep him around? He’s now fourth choice at left back, so it would make more sense for everyone if he moved on.

Jetjinn (51) is a new signing at left back, so this is very harsh. He seems pretty good from what I have seen so far, too. Unfortunately, if you are going to have a squad of 25, there isn’t space for 3 left-backs, especially when other versatile players can fill in. Nothing against the player, just daft transfer policy at fault here. There’s probably a good argument for keeping Jetjinn and letting Panpanpong go, but I haven’t seen enough of him to make that call.

Central Midfielders

  • Siwakorn (16)
  • Adisorn (13)
  • Tatchanon (39)
  • Piyachat (88)
  • Ittipol (7)
  • Techin (25)

I’ve gone for a mix of youth and experience with my six central midfielders, providing plenty of cover for injuries and suspensions. Siwakorn and Adisorn are first choice, with Piyachat being cover for Siwakorn, and young but already excellent Tatchanon cover for Adisorn. Ittipol is a solid, reliable player who can do a job in midfield or defence, and has a decent set-piece delivery on him too. Techin is young and looks half-decent, so he gets a place in the squad, although he will likely not see any game time.

On the Chopping Block

Siwapong (97) played 45 minutes against Honda in which he looked so inept he was withdrawn, and hasn’t played since. A waste of space if ever there was one.

Pummared (41) is another new arrival from BBCU, so this one is pretty harsh. He’s looked pretty decent in the friendlies he has played, too. Unfortunately for him, a 25 man squad has no place for journeyman sixth choice midfielders, and it makes more sense to me to pick a younger player like Techin, even if he isn’t as much use right now.

Patrick Bentley (?) hasn’t been with the first team this season; he has been training with the youth team instead. At just 18, that makes perfect sense. No reason for him to go, but also need for him to be in the first team squad.

Wingers

  • Genki (18)
  • Pakorn (9)
  • Ekkapoom (8)
  • Pinyo (21)

There may seem to be a shortage of wingers here, but in emergencies Jadet can look to the forwards and even the full backs for pretty good reinforcements. Genki and Pakorn have been first choice for most of the season, but with injuries to Ekkapoom and Pinyo, Tana has been filling in for Ekkapoom and Pinyo as an impact substitute. With Ekkapoom now back, and Pinyo making his first start in nearly a season and a half in the cup on Wednesday (although he predictably ended up in a heap and was subbed off at half time) hopefully Port will be more fortunate with injuries and have more options available to them in the second half of the season.

On the Chopping Block

Narakorn (29) was another superfluous transfer window arrival. The winger who has arrived from BBCU doesn’t seem to be particularly quick or skillful, and is unlikely to be picked over any of the above mentioned players when they’re fit.

Forwards

  • Josimar (30)
  • Maranhao (92)
  • Asdrubal (27)
  • Tana (99)

Josimar is first choice striker, but who plays with him is still an open question. Maranhao, Asdrubal, Suarez, Jadue? I’m not saying I have the answer, but this would be my preferred option. I would have Maranhao in the hole, with Asdrubal as an option either in the same position or either wing when he is fully fit. Tana hangs on by the skin of his teeth by virtue of the fact that the only other option is Wuttichai.

On the Chopping Block

Kaludjerovic (10) had his chance early in the season and failed to impress. With Josimar stepping up and leading the line to much greater effect, there is no space in the squad for Kalu.

Suarez (5) showed great promise in pre-season, but has only shown his undoubted ability in a few competitive games this season. It hasn’t helped his cause that he’s been played behind the striker, although he’s more of a central midfielder. With Maranhao and Asdrubal better options in that position, I can’t find a place for Suarez in my squad, although with Asdrubal’s contract status a mystery to everyone, Suarez could still find his way in.

Jadue (32) is a bizarre signing if ever I’ve seen one. With seven foreigners already on the books, why on earth would we want to sign another attacking midfielder, especially one who had just been dropped from a mid-table Malaysian side? Answers on a postcard, and sent to PO Box WTF.

Wuttichai (14). ‘Nuff Said.

 

The Special One Concludes…

 

This is my 25 main squad. I challenge anyone to tell me how this is any worse than what we have already, and if we would have missed any of the players I suggest cutting in the first half of the season. Of the thirteen I have axed, only Suarez and Kaludjerovic contributed any goals or assists, but I fancy Asdrubal and Maranhao to supply many more than that in the second half of the season if they are picked.

So, we could cut 13 players from the wage bill, lose nothing except options not worth considering, and ultimately have a tighter group of players all of whom will understand their role in the squad. Of course it’s never going to happen, but I had fun pretending!

 

A Date Which will Live in Infamy: Port FC 5-0 Royal Thai Fleet FC (FA Cup R1)

 

Facing a rather foreigner-thin Port squad, the Royal Thai Fleet Battleships were not able to get loose from their moorings. The last time a group of battleships experienced this kind of carnage in port was December 7th, 1941.

Port’s starting eleven of Dolah, Pakorn, Siwakorn, Rattanai, Pinkong, Meechok, Pinyo, Josimar, Attipol (a last minute replacement for Jadue who injured himself in warmups), Praweenwat, and Piyachart S, were more than a match for the T4 semi-professional Royal Thai Fleet team who donned a mottled black and white kit that would make even a Chainat supporter twinge.

Heavy rains that threatened to turn the pitch into a lake marred the beginning of the game. Memories of a cup match against Glass that had to be abandoned were running through my head. But right on time we began and the rains slowed a bit 15 minutes in. From the initial whistle Port were the better side and just 3 minutes in Josimar (30) scored on a giveaway from Fleet.

Although allowing Fleet some possession early on they never looked threatening and at the 16 minute mark Piyachart (88) drilled home a rebound off Josi. Play was started by a beautiful cross from Pakorn (9) that dropped like a bomb from a VAL dive bomber right on Josi.

Just three short minutes later Pakorn placed a corner in the net and Port were up 3-0. The rest of the first half saw more Port dominance and less and less Fleet possession.

Ekkapoom (8) replaced Pinyo (21) at the start of the second half and Fleet had no answer to his speed. For the entire half plays up the left resulted in chance after chance. On 52 minutes a rare pinpoint cross from Ek found Josi in the box and it was 4-0. The rout was on at this point.

Wuttichai (14) replaced Josi, but nonetheless chances continued. By the middle of the second half Fleet were resigned to their fate and did not mount much of a challenge. The final change was Pakasit (2) for Meechok (20).

At 90 +3 a fine Pakorn free kick led to a Dolah (4) goal. Final score 5-0 and Port are into the next round.

 

Thoughts on the Match

Even though we played quite well we were content to allow Fleet quite a bit of possession in the first 15 minutes. A better team will create chances.

Pravinwat was impressive. Not only a physical force, he makes smart plays, and seems to be a leader on the pitch. Guess we will see what he is really made of against Bangkok Utd on Sunday.

Dolah is becoming a real physical presence. He has learned to use his body to his advantage and is quite the intimidating defender.

Aside from Pakorn, our crossing still lacks.

It was good to see Pinyo get a game. I hope he did not re-injure himself at the end of the first half.

Even though Pakorn can be maddening (he did go down and require treatment again) he is one of the most vital parts of the team at the present time.

With 8 foreigners on the squad how is it that there are only two in the game day squad? And one did not make it past the warmup!

 

Man of the Match – Pakorn

Let’s hope he plays this well Sunday. He’ll need to.

 

These Are the Breaks: Thai Football’s Dumber Summer

 

Today’s Bangkok Post features an excellent article on the stop-start nature of the 2017 T1 season. Following a 3-week break in June so the Thai national team could play a pointless friendly in Uzbekistan, followed by a World Cup dead rubber against UAE, the season resumed last Saturday…for 3 weeks. During which time Port will play 7 games. Then – are you following this? – there’s another 3-week break whilst Muangthong – oops I meant the Thai national team – take on the might of Belarus, North Korea & Burkina Faso in the King’s Cup tournament (rumours that next year’s tournament will feature Saudi Arabia, the Death Star and the Planet Mongo have yet to be confirmed). The season then resumes again on 30 July for 2 games, followed by an absurd 5-week break for two more World Cup dead rubbers. Effectively this means Port will have 1 home league game – vs Chiang Rai on 30 July – in 10 weeks, during what should be the middle of the season. Somehow, some way, the FA also have to squeeze in FA and League Cup games during the brief periods of footballing activity.

We’re told that the reason for all these breaks is to benefit the national team, as if helping the national team is the sole purpose of the Thai League. So to help a Thailand team composed of players drawn mainly from 3-4 clubs, the rest of the league have to sit around twiddling their thumbs for weeks on end, whilst players lose match fitness, teams lose momentum, and, most importantly, fans lose interest. The crowd at Suphanburi last Saturday for the first game of the 2nd leg of the season was surprisingly sparse, as was the crowd at high-flying Chonburi a few weeks ago, but with such a badly organised schedule, is it really any wonder?

As for the theory that these breaks benefit the national team, Thailand’s position in their World Cup qualifying group doesn’t exactly bear this out, and successful teams like Germany and Spain have done alright in recent years without asking their entire league to shut down for several weeks to give them more prep time for internationals. Not that I give a toss about the national team anyway, given that the racist ticketing policy means that, as a farang, I’m not allowed to buy tickets. But I do care – hard though it often is – about watching Port.

Additionally, think of the clubs’ cashflow. Is it reasonable to expect clubs to go 3 weeks, followed by another 5 weeks, without any gate receipts, during which time they still have to pay their players’ wages in full whilst those same players don’t play a single second of football? Fine for the richer clubs, but a big deal to the smaller ones.

In the next couple of years, the problem is likely to get worse rather than better, with the top division being reduced to 16 teams by the 2019 season, to enable the national team to have even more preparation time. That means even fewer games for fans, and less revenue for the clubs. Factor in the tighter foreign player limit in 2018, and you have a product even less attractive than it is now.

So as we fans find other ways to spend our weekends whilst the league takes a break so that Burkina Faso can take on Belarus, the Thai FA shouldn’t be too surprised if some of us decide not to bother coming back. Seriously, Thai fans – especially the passionately loyal ones at Port – deserve a lot, lot better.

 

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk: You Cannot Be Serious

 

“It is impossible to have a squad of 35 players.” Jose Mourinho

“Ideally, you would want 23 or 24 and then have academy players of a ­sufficient quality to back them up.” Mark Hughes

“It has become all about resources. Clubs can now buy so many players that 10 or 20 guys who could be top players ­elsewhere cannot play.” Johan Cruyff

 

Above are the opinions of some great managers, and Mark Hughes, on squad size.

Jose Mourinho is known to insist on a squad of no more than 24 players, Luiz Felipe Scolari aims to have between 23 and 25, while Hughes suggests that 23 or 24 is the ideal number. Why is this?

In 2009, Hughes said “If you have more than 25, it is difficult to have a meaningful training session.” Last year, Mourinho added his two centavos, saying “I believe in smaller squads because you need perspective, otherwise the motivation is a doubt. I have always preferred small squads. I think I have the smallest squad in the Premier League.”

So why am I dredging up quotes from the previous decade on squad size? Well, according to my squad list there are currently thirty eight players at the club. Take that, Jose! This is Thailand, and anything is possible. So it’s difficult to have a meaningful training session? Stop being a Negative Nancy, Hughes, and just play 19-a-side! So what if we have five left backs? You can use one as a doorstep, one as a paper weight and you’ve still got 3 left over!

 

Transfer Rumours

 

So, with that off my chest, it’s time to announce our latest rumoured transfer. Once again, the Port Lions are tearing the leftover meat from the rotting corpse of the Pink Panther, and the latest pound of flesh is Chad Chaiyabutr.

Chaiyabutr has a Thai father – former Thai national team player Cherdsak Chaiyabutr – and an American mother. He spent his youth career at the Portland Timbers in The States, before joining Chonburi at the age of 20. He spent a year at Chonburi without making an appearance, then moved on to TOT where he also failed to get on to the pitch.  After a few years in the semi-professional wilderness (stints in the lower leagues at Kalasin, Chaiyaphum and Trang), Chaiyabutr moved to BBCU in T2 where he has played 9 games, scoring a solitary goal.

 

 

This is not a confirmed transfer yet, but Chaiyabutr has been pictured training with Port, so it could well happen. Will he get anywhere near the starting XI? I’ll reserve judgment until I’ve seen him play. Surely he can’t be any worse than Wuttichai…

 

You Cannot Be Serious

 

This is getting ridiculous…

The latest rumour – and let me stress that this is just a rumour – is that Kaludjerovic (10) could well be back in the frame for a place in the squad, with Maranhao’s (92) inclusion once again a doubt. It sounds so ridiculous that I can’t bring myself to take it seriously, but I’ve been shocked before.

The Sandpit’s scouts at Wednesday’s friendly were again impressed with Asdrubal (27), but didn’t think too much of new signing Jadue (32). Suarez (5) sat in the stands, despite not having played on Saturday, while Kaludjerovic exchanged heated words and game of charades with Mme Pang. The conclusion seems to be that once again the pendulum is swinging towards Asrdrubal, who could join Maranhao (assuming sanity prevails), Rochela (22), Josimar (30) and Genki (18) as Port’s 5 foreigners in the T1 squad, with Jadue playing only in the cup competitions. Can the madness please just be over?!

 

BATTLESHIPS! FA Cup R1: Port FC vs Royal Thai Fleet Match Preview

 

Number 75, Royal Thai Fleet FC, will play number 8, Port FC.

…is sort of how it might have gone. I was asked on Sunday when the next Thai Port home game was, and I confidently replied “next Sunday against Bangkok United”. Then having a quick check of the official website, I had totally forgot about the cup game against Royal Thai Fleet FC.

“So that’d be Navy then, yeah?”

Knot so quick! These lot only run aground with Navy. And have a pretty much identical function as Navy. But just don’t mention being sunk off Koh Chang inside 15 minutes by the might of the Vichy French Navy in 1941. But both teams are distinct entities and not to be cod-fused with one another”.

And they also are firmly docked in the Thailand League 4 Eastern Division. Which shore enough makes them virtually impossible to research and fathom out. Apparently they play in a very fetching and fashionable red & white striped shirt, with black shorts and socks. Top scorer? No idea. Agile keeper? Unlikely. Massive African defender? Possibly. Hell, I can’t even find an up-to-skate league table for T4E (as I have christened it).

What have I found out? Seemingly they were founded in 2011, haven’t really done much since, other than make the second round of the League Cup in 2015, and their best plaice-d finish has been 7th in whichever regional league they have been placed in (three different ones to date). They do though hold the record for the biggest T4E home win – a 5-1 thrapping of Chonburi B, in April this year.

Do the match preview, they said.

I now know why a few were baulking at the idea.

So what can we hope for from Port? Well this should be plain sailing, along the lines of the Kabinburi game in the League Cup a couple of seasons ago; Fleet are in the same division. Give those short of match time a run around. Give the cabin boys from below deck a jog out (we do have youth yeah?). Stick Maranhao in so that he can grab a hatful as he has been doing in friendlies. Give him a bit of anchorage-ment for the rest of the season, having been kept on and put in the matchday squid.

Let’s be honest; this season’s goal is to not get relegated, we can keep the cups back til next season or the one after that, and to run the risk of injury to first steamers would be bonkers. Given the Suphanburi result, the second leg of the season could be a battle (but please conch-fish-skate Tana’s boots so he can’t play), and we need everyone on form and fit for as long as possible. Sorry to be so dour, but we really do not need to be artificially buoyed by a sea-nic run in the cups. Of course, we should give this opposition crew a good keel-hauling, regardless of the team we put out to sail on the night. I imagine Fleet will aqua-esce, and shoals of goals will be forthcoming.

Schooner oar later it would be nice to see these smaller teams play games at home in the cup, particularly in this instance, given that they ground shore with a T2 team.

The romance of the cup, join in on Wednesday, probably 100B a ticket, I’m unlikely to be there.

Which is even more reason to go.

 

Carry On Kamphaeng: Port FC 3-2 Kamphaeng Phet FC (Friendly)

 

In a hastily arranged friendly, Port took on T3 side Kamphaeng Phet in a friendly this evening, presumably to have a look at a few fringe players, resolve the final foreigner spots, and put some of the dead wood – and boy do we have a lot dead wood – in the shop window. The Phet shop window perhaps?

With the first XI rested, many of them watching from the stand, Port started the game with a B team featuring, most notably, Rattanai, who looked fit & ready for action; Pakorn, glowing with spirituality after his spell as a monk but looking somewhat out of shape; talented young Thai players Yossawat and Tatchanon; and, up front, an attacking duo of new Chilean/Palestinian signing Matias Jadue, and Asdrubal.

 

The Kamphaeng Phet team bus. Life’s hard in T3

 

As you would expect, Port bossed the first half and took the lead through a neat penalty area turn & shot from Asdrubal who, in my opinion, did enough to nab that 5th foreigner spot (assuming that Suarez is on his way, which looks likely given his absence from the squad yesterday). Jadue has a fierce shot on him but otherwise did little to suggest he is any better than what we already have. Kamphaeng equalised just before half time after a lovely run & pass from one of their midfielders was converted from just inside the area.

Of the other first half boys, new loanee centre back Pravinwat looked solid, Pummared impressed once again with his long passing and tough tackling, and Pakorn seemed glad to have swapped the temple of Buddhism for the temple of football.

It was all change in the second half with Jadet sending out very much a C team. The Diamond Walls (nope, me neither) went 2-1 up early in the half after Watchara and Suchon got tangled up with each other, but their lead didn’t last long as Kalu tapped in from 2 yards for the equaliser, before Port wrapped up the win as Pinyo scored from close range after some good work down the left from new boy Jetjinn.

 

So what did we learn from tonight’s game?

  • Asdrubal looks a better bet for the matchday squad than Jadue
  • Port have a lot of old lags who need to be put out to pasture. No team needs a 40-strong playing squad, especially when a good third of it is never going to get any first team action
  • Promising youngsters like Pinyo and Tatchanon need real game time, and if Jadet isn’t going to pick them then they should get some loan action
  • Kaludjerovic is definitely on his way. After the final whistle he ran up to the directors’ box where he had a clearly very animated discussion with La Pang & co, before storming down the steps slapping his head and making a “crazy” gesture. One could argue that he wasn’t given much chance to make an impression, but he hasn’t exactly worked his knackers off in friendlies and still looks way off the pace of Thai football

 

Port have one more “easy” game – at home to Thai Fleet in the FA Cup this Wednesday – before T1 action returns on Sunday with the somewhat trickier visit of Bangkok Utd, so we expect the management to give some tonight’s players another chance to impress before the window closes at the end of the month. Of course, The Sandpit will be first with all the Port transfer news so keep following us!

 

 

Shine On You Crazy Diamond Walls: Port Play Kamphaeng Phet in Friendly TODAY

 

Following yesterday’s defeat at Suphanburi, Port have, somewhat at the last minute, announced a friendly against T3 side Kampheng Phet FC, known to their friends as the Diamond Walls. No idea what a Diamond Wall is, but Mme Pang probably has one in her apartment.

We assume the match has been arranged to give the powers that be one final look at the respective merits of messrs Jadue, Asdrubal and possibly Suarez before Port finalise their farang roster for the second leg of the season, so expect lots of smouldering Latin stares and shouts of “puta” as the Chilean and the two Spaniards face off for a place in the T1 squad.

As for the Diamond Walls, we know little about them other than that they were promoted from T3 North last season, and they have an amusingly-named striker called Phupha. Will Phupha scoop up a few goals, or will the Diamonds be a girl’s best friend and go easy on La Pang’s boys?

Find out for yourselves at the PAT at 17:00 this evening. Admission is free, beer amnesty applies etc etc.