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Don’t Mention the War Elephant! Suphanburi FC 2-0 Port FC

 

Football is back! And for the first game of the second half of the season, Port made the short trip north to take on the War Elephant, AKA Suphanburi FC. Before the game I nailed my colours to the mast(odon), and predicted that an away win would be a mammoth task. Sadly I was to be proved correct…

As is usual on Port away trips, the van was abuzz with intelligent and erudite discussion of the latest burning issues. Monster Munch – are they crisps or snacks? Jaffa Cakes – cakes or biscuits? Ultimately no consensus was reached on either issue but when James Powell announced emphatically that “If it says ‘McVities’ on the packet, you can be pretty fucking sure it’s a biscuit”, dissenting voices were few.

Otherwise the journey passed fairly unremarkably, apart from messrs Hockley & Spittal having an argument over who originally recorded I’m Henry VIII I Am, Hockers angrily retorting “Don’t ask a question if you don’t know the bloody answer” – a statement that would come back to haunt him on the return journey.

 

Al fresco fine dining at Suphanburi Stadium

 

We arrived at Suphanburi’s very well-appointed stadium with plenty of time to spare, so tickets duly purchased, we sought refreshments and victuals, which – gawd bless ‘im – the War Elephant provided in abundance. I was delighted to find a stall selling that veritable Ambrosia of the Gods, Hainan chicken rice, and worked my way through two plates of the stuff. The only black mark on the F&B front was that only the Devil’s Piss, aka Chang, was available, but needs must and when loaded up with ice it was just about drinkable, and by half time the usual Khlong Thoey entrepreneurs had set up a stall in the carpark to provide thirsty Port fans with the amber elixir itself, Leo.

As kickoff time approached, we discovered that Suphanburi is possibly the last sporting organisation on the planet that still plays kiddie-fiddling glam rocker Gary Glitter’s classic Rock & Roll Pt 1 before games (some reprobates later suggested that I entitle this report ‘Port Taken Up the Gary Glitter‘, but that would be totally inappropriate for a family website such as The Sandpit).

 

Nice ground, no fans

 

Inside the stadium we found a decent away following in what is, despite the running track, a very smart stadium with a good pitch, decent views, and the biggest scoreboard in Thailand. A shame so few home fans had bothered to turn out, but I guess the Chappuis fanclub have shifted their loyalties elsewhere. Anyway, KO time.

 

The Team

First, the good news – Maranhao is back! The star of 2016 sat out the first half of the season but has been named in the matchday squad for the second half, which is great news. Mazza took up his usual place on the right, with Suarez nowhere to be seen, which suggests we’ve seen the last of the consistently underwhelming Spaniard at Port.

The bad news – Wuttichai started, and as captain. Quite how he is still anywhere near the first team is beyond me. And Pakorn is still apparently on monk leave. Now, I know this is Thailand and one has to make allowances, but letting one of your best players skip games so he can play at being a monk is utterly ridiculous. The no9 may, like a surprising number of Thai males, have his knockers, but his stats show he’s our most productive player and we struggled without his dead-ball excellence.

Otherwise, it was normal service: Worawut; Pinkong, Dolah, Rochela, Nitipong; Genki, Adisorn, Siwakorn, Maranhao; Josimar, Wuttichai.

 

The Match

This was the classic game of two halves with Port tearing the Elephant a new arsehole (imagine that – an elephant with two arseholes. I pity the zookeeper charged with looking after that particular beast) for much of the first 45 minutes. Continuing the theme of hideously deformed animals, Maranhao (92) came out onto the pitch like a dog with two dicks and, despite being kicked by Suphanburi defenders every time he got the ball, caused all manner of problems, with Josimar (30) finally getting the service he’s been craving.

The bombardment began in the 4th minute when Josi narrowly headed a Nitipong (34) free kick over the bar. On 11 minutes, Maranhao skinned the Suphan left-back and crossed for Josi who, despite the attention of several defenders, managed to get a shot away but found the keeper rather than the net. Seconds later Josi returned the favour, feeding his fellow Brazilian on the edge of the box, but the latter’s curled shot was easily saved by the keeper. Two minutes later a peach of a cross from Nitipong found Josi on the far post, only for his first-time shot to be brilliantly parried by the keeper, and then minutes after that Maranhao fed a delicious through ball to Genki (18), whose shot ricocheted off the post. And on the stroke of halftime, a truly sumptuous chip from Rochela (22) found Josi in the area, but again his shot crashed back off the crossbar.

We sipped our halftime beers wondering how on earth Port had failed to score, and worrying that our wasteful finishing would come back to bite us on our collective arse. Our worries were confirmed as the War Elephant laid siege to the Port defence right from the restart. Maranhao had for some reason moved onto the left, encouraging Nitipong, who frequently forgets he’s supposed to be a defender, to get forward, leaving acres of space down Port’s right-hand side.

 

Port fans watch as the game slips away

 

Had Suphan been 3-0 up within the first 10 minutes of the half, noone could’ve complained, with Worawut, the post and Rochela (22) all keeping the ball out on various occasions. Seeing the game slipping away, Jadet rang the changes by taking off Wuttichai (14) who, despite having done absolutely nothing during the game but point at various people, had the temerity to remonstrate with the bench when his number came up – rather like when my dog takes a shit in the kitchen and has the nerve to growl at me when I kick her out into the garden. He was replaced by Tana (99), which is rather like taking a Nickelback CD out of the player only to replace it with a Limp Bizkit one, but after Wuttichai’s utterly pathetic performance I was actually quite pleased to see the Moustachioed Assassin and he did briefly liven up Port’s increasingly moribund attack.

But the game was now clearly Suphanburi’s to win and on 78 minutes they took the lead. The otherwise excellent Adisorn (13) was muscled off the ball in midfield and the ball found its way out to Port’s right (where Nitipong wasn’t) and to our old friend Dellatorre, who rifled an angled shot past Worawut into the Port net. Five minutes later it was game over when a chipped through ball found Velez, and the Port defence got in an awful mess trying – and failing – to stop the Argentinian striker who blasted past Worawut for 2-0.

And that, basically, was that. A game Port should’ve wrapped up by half-time but which they lost due to a combination of a lack of finishing and some utterly dreadful second-half defending. However, Port will almost certainly play worse than this and win this season. Once Maranhao gets up to full match fitness, Pakorn ditches the orange robes for the orange & blue stripes, and either Jadue or Asdrubal join the group, Port should be much more lethal in attack. It’s in defence where the problems lie. Port have conceded 34 goals in 18 games so far and, as much as we praise Dolah (4) and Rochela, something is clearly wrong defensively. Rattanai’s return should shore things up a little, and hopefully Yossawat will replace Pinkong before too long, because if Port continue to defend like they did in the second half tonight, bottom half obscurity beckons.

The journey home was initially somewhat sombre, the silence punctuated occasionally by AC swearing in impeccable West Midlands English; but by the time we made a beer stop spirits lightened and Hockers’ football team name quiz had us gripped for a good 45 minutes, even though he later revealed he didn’t know the answers himself. What was that about not asking questions you don’t know the answers to….? It seems that Dom’s journey back to his hotel in Suphanburi was much more eventful, with the bespectacled Sangsom-soaked Sandpitter fighting off the amorous advances of a smitten taxi driver. Anyway another great away trip and thanks as usual to Keith for organising the van.

 

Man of the Match – Adisorn

Despite the result, there were a few contenders for the coveted Sandpit MOTM award. It was a sheer joy to see Maranhao in a Port shirt again and he clearly enjoyed it as much as we did, despite tiring in the second half. Dolah had a truly magnificent first half but was far less imposing in the second. And Siwakorn was his usual destructive and constructive self, picking up his usual yellow card in the 3rd minute.

But Adisorn, the Pocket Rocket, gets the nod this week. Other than losing the ball for Suphan’s first goal, the little no13 had an absolute stormer of a game, harrying Suphan’s forwards and popping up with the ball over the pitch, even – unusually for him – making some good passes too. With Siwakorn suspended for the Bangkok Utd game, a similar performance will be needed next weekend.

 

SuperBuri or SupineBuri? Suphanburi v Port FC Match Preview

 

This Saturday sees the return of Thai Port Football, after a three-week drought with nothing but friendlies and futsal to quench the thirst. Suphanburi away is not an easy fixture, but this season it’s looking a lot more hospitable than it has in previous years. The Suphanburi players and all those Port fans that were there will remember the 3-2 comeback win for Port on 19th February, one of the best games of the season so far.

 

Suphanburi’s Form

With Suphanburi in 11th place in the table they will be looking to take all the points on Saturday. Suphanburi’s home form has been passable seeing them beating weaker opposition like Navy , Superpower and Korat along with a draw against Ratchaburi. Losses to Ubon UMT and Chonburi can give the traveling fans some hope. The usually steady Suphanburi have faltered this year, and owner Warawut Silpa-archa – aka “Top” – will not be happy with that the team are not living up to his name.

The last transfer rumour round up on goal.com had midfielders D. Madrigal and Gilson on their way out of Suphan. It also announced the signing of “Elizeu Araújo de Melo Batista”, just “Batista” to his friends. I’m sure his enemies can think of a variation on that name. He’s a right back and a defensive midfielder who looks to be well past his best. There’s a Youtube video of him looking very good in 2009.

For fans of tortured streams of puns, the ones that get ever more tenuous throughout the game we are quids in, as Suphanburi have bought in the decent former Bangkok Glass right wing/right midfield Lazarus Kaimbi. This signing was surely made in the hope of resurrecting their season. If Suphan go a goal down he’s sure to be called up to lead the comeback.

 

Players to Watch

Dellatorre (9) was Suphanburi’s top scorer in 2016. He got Suphan’s two goals at PAT Stadium, so he will need to be monitored a bit more closely this time round. He definitely looks like the main threat up front.

Defender Marcelo Xavier (3) former Juventus player, (no, not that Juventus – “CA Juventus” in Sao Paulo) and former Botafogo player, (no, not that Botafogo in Brazilian Serie A in the Botafogo FC João Pessoa in Serie D). Marcelo seems to have made his name by tricking agents into believing he’s played at the highest levels in Italy and Brazil. This season he has been the heart of the Suphan defence. He also has an impressive 3 goals and 5 yellow cards, (still two behind Siwakorn), and at 6’2 he could provide another target on long crosses. The crosses may well be supplied by Lazarus on Saturday.

Marcelo is a Syrian footballer, yes he is totally Syrian and he’s got the passport and everything, and knows how to say many phrases in Arabic like “Thanks for the Passport” and “I’ll play the odd national team game for Syria if you need me”.

 

Key Match Ups

Rochela (22) v Dellatorre (9)

Josimar (30) v Marcelo Xavier (3)

 

Suphan’s Stadium

The Suphanburi Provincial Stadium opened in 1947, and was formerly known as Suphanburi World War II Stadium. It was renamed after the Governor of Suphanburi watched episode six of Fawlty Towers, and thought it better not to mention the war anymore. In 2013 it was expanded and holds an impressive 25,000.

This is one of the many Provincial stadiums built for every sport under the sun so it has a running track. The away end is on the far curve as per usual. It’s similar to the National Stadium near Siam Square. The away end curve is a raised tier so gives a little bit of a better view than other running track grounds.

 

Meanwhile Back at Port

Transfer News

Great news! Weera (1) has left – it was always misleading having him as our number 1.

 

Likely Starting Lineup

In previous previews this has been the easiest section to write. This week it’s a bit more difficult, as this match comes slap bang in the middle of the transfer window. Port seem to have been juggling eight different foreign players as options for leg two. Of the new Thai signings I think Yossawat (28) will be on the bench. I would have picked him to start, but Tom reminded me he’s only played one friendly game with the team, then he went off to play with the Thai under 23 squad. I think we’ll see the central defender from Bangkok Glass Pravinwat (55) on the bench as a decent level of cover for Dolah (4) and Rochela (22).

So my prediction for the starting line-up is pretty much the same as the back end of last season. However, four weeks ago I’d have been confident about it, now it’s just a suggestion depending on how contract negotiations are going. Asdrubal (27) and Maranhao (92) have been with the Team for the friendlies but with the opening of the transfer window there are no definite signs of either being signed. Maranhao has posted a “thanks very much for all the support” message so he looks to be on his way out. Maranhao didn’t do that much in the last friendly, possibly because he knew he was on his way out. Still nothing 100% confirmed about Maranhao’s status. While writing this one of the Thai Port Facebook groups has reported he’s signed, but hold your celebrations as it’s not been confirmed by the club and that Facebook group has a 70% hit n’ miss record with transfer stories. To back up their claim Maranhao is now on the TPL League official squad list.

If Asdrubal is going to join us in the second leg, why hasn’t he been announced already? The injury problem that kept him away at the beginning of the season was said to be so serious he would be out for the whole year. In the last friendly Asdrubal put in some great crosses but never looked 100% fit. I think if he was going to be signed we would have done it already.

Matias Jadue was announced as a signing on some sites, but he still hasn’t been seen shopping with Madam Pang on Instagram, so I wouldn’t say it was definite signing. He has recently announced he’s come to terms with the Port, but Port haven’t come to terms with the need to tell anyone about it. Still no foreign signings have been confirmed by the club. Current time is 10.00 pm Thursday night. By the time you read this things may have changed.

 

Starting XI

 

 

Bench

Pakorn (9) meditating happily on the bench, perfectly at ease with his role in a team and willing to accept all things are as they must be..

Yossawat (28), possible second half sub on for Panpanpong (19).

Prawinwat (55), possible second half sub on for Dolah (4).

Watchara (66), definitely great at not being Weera as our back up keeper.

Tana (99), he’s a Thai National team player you know, he once scored for them, a real international goal and everything. Despite his poor form Tana will at least be on the bench because of previous halcyon days. We’ve definitely got (99) problems.

Wuttichai (14) Clinging on to the bench with all the tenacity of an Issan man holding on to bowl full of his favourite som tam.

Tatchanon (39) Itching for a game and likely to get one, on Wednesday in the FA Cup.

Pinyo (21) Likely to get injured doing up his laces a little too tightly.

Marahao (92) Deep in prayer wondering if Lazarus was sent to him as a sign.

If Suphanburi are Superburi on Saturday let’s hope they are super in the style of Super Power Samut Prakarn.

 

The match will be shown live on True Sport 6 at 18:00 on Saturday 17 June, 2017. For those who can’t make it out to Suphanburi, feel free to pop over to The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13, where the match will be shown on a big screen with full sound. 

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk: Port Drop Weera

Yes, we know, Weera is usually the one dropping things…

With Jadue’s signing making it 7 new arrivals already confirmed at PAT Stadium, it is of course inevitable that there will be a similar amount of departures before the transfer window closes. Wanchalerm (40) and Weera (1) are the first out of the door, having played a total of just 144 minutes of T1 football between them in 2017. Both managed just one league appearance – in the disastrous 5-1 write-off at Thai Honda – so it is no surprise to see them move on.

 

Confirmed Departures

 

Wanchalerm training at new club Prachuap FC

 

Wanchalerm (40) was on loan at Port from Chiang Rai, and initially looked like a pretty good signing, both in terms of his ability and where he would fit in to Port’s squad. The midfielder – described by Josimar as the most physical player at the club – impressed in a few pre-season friendly appearances with some disciplined play in front of the back four. It was a surprise, then, when Piyachat (88) and Adisorn (13) were both picked ahead of Wanchalerm. Adisorn went on to cement his place in the side, and Wanchalerm continued to be overlooked. His only ‘chance’ came as a substitute with Port 0-1 down against Honda, but Wanchalerm could do nothing to prevent Port conceding 4 more goals in a dire second half performance. Wanchalerm only made the matchday squad on one more occasion, so it is no surprise that he has moved on to Prachuap in T2, where he will likely get the opportunities he deserves.

 

 

Whilst Wanchalerm was doomed by his lack of opportunities, the opposite is true of Weera (1). If Weera had never played, then maybe no one would have realized just how bad he is, and he might have flown under the radar for another half season. Alas, he was bizarrely picked ahead of both Rattanai (17) and Worawut (36) against Honda, when he made two ridiculous blunders and looked more like a pub player who’d had a skin-full before kickoff than a professional footballer. Due to Rattanai’s injury later in the season, Weera went on to make the matchday squad 13 times, but thankfully never made it back on to the pitch. After the return of the younger, better Watchara (37) from his loan at BBCU, Weera has now been released, but has yet to find a new club. Don’t worry, Weera. Super Power seem to have a proclivity for washed up Port goalies who are as useful as a one legged man in an arse-kicking competition.

 

Confirmed Arrivals

Joining Yossawat, Jetjinn, Narakorn, Pummared, Pravinwat and Watchara (check the squad list for player profiles.) in the arrivals lounge, we can now officially confirm that attacking midfielder Matias Jadue has become Port’s eighth (yes, EIGHTH) foreign player, despite the fact that only five can be included in the T1 squad for the second leg of the season. For more on the latest newbie, check out the last edition of Tom’s Transfer Talk and his player profile.

 

 

The fact that Jadue plays in the same position as Sergio Suarez (5) likely means that the Spaniard is now deemed surplus to requirements. Nothing is set in stone until the squad is announced, but my best guess after the latest arrival is that we will be seeing Rochela (22), Josimar (30), Genki (18), Jadue and Asdrubal (27) make the squad, with Kalu (10), Suarez (5) and Maranhao (92) heading for the exit. Take my prediction with a pinch of salt, though, as I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve changed my mind over the last few weeks! As always, continue to watch this space…

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk: How Jadue?

 

Chilean-Palestinian attacking midfielder Matias Jadue has been pictured training with Port on Friday, raising yet more questions about which foreign players will be included in the T1 squad for the second half of the season.

Port currently have Rochela (22), Josimar (30), Genki (18), Suarez (5), Kaludjerovic (10), Asdrubal (27) and Maranhao (92) on the books, despite the fact that only 5 foreign players can be included in the T1 squad. With that in mind, the last thing we expected to see was another new foreign face, but clearly Port are still not convinced by the options they have available to them. Let’s break this down…

The two absolutely undisputed shoo-ins for the squad are Rochela and Josimar. Port’s best defender and best striker are not on the chopping block. We’re sure about that. Genki is a close third, with his versatility and hard work an integral part of the squad. In the next category are Suarez, Asdrubal and Maranhao, the 3 of whom seem to be competing between each other for 2 squad places. If we assume that, despite the Asian passport, Jadue is not going to be replacing Genki, then you can make that 4 players competing for 2 places. I’m not even throwing Kaludjerovic in to the mix as he is in the half-way-out-the-door category. If I did it would start to feel more like a Royal Rumble than a mid-season break.

So why, with the plethora of options available, are Port still looking to bring in a trialist? Because the management only really have faith in three of the foreigners at their disposal: Rochela, Josimar and Genki. Suarez has been too hit and miss; his inconsistency even led to him being dropped for the final game of the season and the two friendlies that followed. Maranhao is criminally underrated by the club, but despite looking bright in earlier friendlies has failed to convince alongside Josimar in recent weeks. Asdrubal’s fitness is still up in the air, as he continues to recover from a serious injury.

So, with the competition in mind, who is our latest trialist? Matias Jadue stands at 1.88m (6 foot 2). He is a 25 year old attacking midfielder born and raised in Chile who is eligible to represent Palestine at international level through his parents’ Palestinian heritage. This means he counts as an AFC player in the 4+1 quota, making him an attractive option for many Asian teams. Jadue most recently played for PKNS FC in Malaysia, who he signed for them in 2016, helping to secure them promotion to the Malaysian Super League by scoring 12 goals in a very successful debut season. Once in the Super League however, Jadue found life a bit tougher. He managed 3 goals and 5 assists in 10 games in Malaysia’s top flight, before being replaced in the squad for the second half of the season.

Are we likely to be seeing more of the Chilean Palestinian? We’ll have to wait and see…

 

Pravinwhat? Port Move Quickly To Replace Hansson

 

Port have moved quickly to replace departed youngster Niran Hansson, bringing in 27 year old Thai centre back Pravinwat Boonyong on a six month loan deal from Bangkok Glass. As was painfully clear in Wednesday’s friendly Port are short of numbers at the back, but management have acted quickly and decisively, bringing in a player who has represented the National Team as recently as March, when he was called up for the double header against Saudi Arabia and Japan.

Whilst Pravinwat has only ever been a peripheral figure in the national team squad, his signing must be seen as a coup for Port, who had temporarily put themselves in a tricky situation by releasing Hansson. Pravinwat has played 65 games for Bangkok Glass over the last few years, and at the beginning of the season started 6 of the first 8 games. He fell out of favour though, being replaced by Japanese powerhouse Jurato Ikeda, and has spent most of the rest of the first leg on the bench.

Assuming that Port’s first-choice duo Rochela and Dolah stay fit, it seems most likely that Pravinwat will be spending time on the Port bench, too, although he will almost certainly be the man to replace either should suspension or injury strike. We know how Jadet likes experience, and Pravinwat certainly isn’t lacking in that department.

At 1m79 (5ft10) Pravinwat isn’t particularly tall for a centre back, but his stocky build and strong upper body make him a match for most T1 strikers in physical battles. He has also been a back-up penalty taker for Bangkok Glass and the National Team, although in the few games I’ve seen him play, he certainly wouldn’t be my choice. Let’s just say he’s more Tony Adams than Gerard Pique when it comes to bringing the ball out from the back!

Welcome to PAT Stadium, Pravinwat!

 

Proud Junk Ship Scuttled at Port: Port FC 3-1 Samut Sakhon

 

Port enjoyed a predictably comfortable 3-1 win against T3 side Samut Sakhon on Wednesday. Goals from Siwakorn, Maranhao and Suchon helped to sink the Proud Junk Ship, who drifted aimlessly for most of the 100 minute match, but nearly found themselves back on course in the final period, only to see a dubious penalty kick booted so far over the Port bar it was nearly lost at sea.

First period – 40 mins

 

 

Port started with a strong XI this time out, with everyone except Pakorn (9) and new signing Yossawat, who is with the Thai under 23 squad, available for selection. Ekkapoom (8) came in to the side on the left with Genki (18) switching to the right, and Maranhao (92) – once again favoured to Suarez (5) – played alongside Josimar (30) in a front two.

Port looked in complete control, with Siwakorn (16) bossing the game in midfield, and the defence feeling so comfortable that Dolah (4) even found time for a mazy run down the right wing. Port nearly broke the deadlock when a ball across the six yard box was skied by Ekkapoom, who to be fair to him had almost no time to react and was unlucky not to see his effort hit the back of the net. Panpanpong (19) was next with a near miss when his side-footed effort drifted just wide of the post. Siwakorn made no mistake a few minutes later, though, as he curled a beautiful left footed effort in to the top corner after being smartly teed up by Josimar.

Port struggled from set-pieces, with there being no obvious replacement for Pakorn, but in open play were in complete control. A few minutes after Maranhao tested the goalkeeper with a well-hit effort aimed at the bottom corner, a clever through-ball put the Brazilian through on goal. He touched the ball to his left and the ‘keeper stuck out an arm, but only succeeded in sending Maranhao tumbling to the turf, giving the referee no choice but to point to the spot. Rochela (22) walked half way up the pitch before seeing that a determined-looking Maranhao had a tight grip on the ball and wasn’t about to let it go without a fight. The captain opted to let his football-starved teammate take responsibility from 12 yards, and Maranhao made no mistake with a calm, lofted effort down the middle.

Port finished the 40 minute first period on a slightly sour note, as a lapse in concentration in midfield allowed a Samut Sakhon player the space to evade a couple of challenges and find the top-corner with a curling strike. Port still went in a goal up, although that’s the least that should be expected against a T3 side. No individual performances particularly stood out from the home side, and Maranhao, despite getting amongst the goals, didn’t particularly impress alongside Josimar. He’s running out of chances to cement that place in the squad that he has worked so hard to put himself in contention for.

 

Second period – 30 mins

 

 

Port started the second period with a second string side. After missing the last friendly, Asdrubal (27) was deemed fit enough to participate, and he lined up on the right wing, with Suarez tucked in behind Kaludjerovic (40). The new arrivals from BBCU – Pummared (40) and Narakorn (29), – were both lively, but it was Pummared that impressed more. He put himself about in midfield, not shying away from 50/50 challenges, and showing a good work rate. Jadet will probably rate him, as he plays in a style very similar to Adisorn (13).

The creative burden was taken up by Asdrubal (27), who looked fitter and more confident than we’ve seen him before. Asdrubal’s movement and awareness were streets ahead of everyone else on the pitch, and he showed good technique in setting up a few chances for his teammates. On one occasion, Narakorn (29) failed to find a teammate with cross after Asdrubal had set him free down the left, and on another Kalu sent a hooked volley just wide from an Asdrubal cross. The Spaniard did everything except score, and will have done his chances of securing a squad place for the second leg no harm at all.

A couple of substitutions were made, with Dolah (4) and Nitipong (34) taken off for Anisong (15) and Meechok (20). With out-of-position right back Pakasit (2) and Anisong our new central defensive pairing, we were surprised to see no sign of Thai-Swedish defender Niran Hansson (33). He later exclusively told The Sandpit that he has terminated his contract with Port, as he felt that he was not going to get a chance of first team football under Jadet. Quite why the club thought it was a good idea to let a potentially excellent dual-nationality centre back go when we are playing an aging right back out of position there is beyond me.

 

Third Period – 30 mins

 

 

Port sent out the third string for the final thirty minutes. Asdrubal (27) was given a chance to play up front, but couldn’t influence the game as much as he had been doing from the right wing. Tatchanon (39) once again gave an exhibition in tidy midfield work. I saw him misplace one headed pass in his 30 minutes on the field, and besides that he didn’t put a foot wrong. His treatment by Jadet is another head-scratcher, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the talented youngster chooses to look for greener pastures in the near future, either. It’s good to see Pinyo (21) getting some minutes on the pitch, although he still doesn’t look anywhere near full fitness.

With just 6 minutes of the quarter gone, Port extended their lead. 35 year old left back Suchon (11) made a rare foray forward, and managed to flick Wuttichai’s (14) clever through ball past an onrushing ‘keeper in to the bottom left corner. Samut Sakhon perked up a little, and started putting together some threatening moves. One of their African strikers had tried a couple of dives already, and at the third time of asking the referee finally relented and gave him a penalty for a very innocuous challenge from Pakasit (2). The crowd jeered, and Port’s goalkeeping coach came charging out on the pitch to give the ref a piece of his mind. In a friendly. With Port 3-1 up. His remonstrations, and the grumbling of the crowd, raised the pressure though, and Samut Sakhon’s striker blazed the ball well over the bar, much to the delight of the few home fans in attendance.

The hilarity continued s few minutes later when the same striker headed in a cross from the left, fervently bursting in to a celebration aimed at the Zone A trolls. Presumably with a sly smirk on his face, the linesman belatedly raised his flag to signal offside, sending the trolls into rapturous applause. Hilarious stuff. It was the last significant event of the game, as the rain started to come down and the pace of the game slowed.

 

Port FC Man of the Match

 

Port can be content with a comfortable victory and no injuries received, as well as a promising display by my Man of the Match Asdrubal. If he can get a few more minutes under his belt and reach match fitness, he could well claim one of the foreign-player spots in Port’s second leg squad. With one friendly remaining – an away trip to MOF Customs Utd on Saturday 10th – Maranhao, Suarez and Asdrubal are fighting for 2 squad places. May the best players win!

 

Photos courtesy of การท่าเรือ เอฟซี Port FC Facebook page. 

 

EXCLUSIVE: Hansson Leaves Port FC

 

Young Thai-Swedish defender and former Sandpit interviewee Niran Hansson tonight confirmed that he has terminated his contract with Port FC. After his impressive performance in the friendly against Ang Thong on Sunday, we were surprised not to see Niran on the pitch against Samut Sakhon tonight, so I got in touch with him to find out why and he confirmed that he has left the club.

“The coach made his choice going for more experienced players so I feel I have to move to get to play and get more experience” Niran told me. “I feel sorry that I wasn’t given the chance to prove myself at the club but feel it’s the right thing to do.”

Niran is hopeful of getting a move to another Thai club. “I feel I can contribute to most of the teams here” he said. “So we’ll meet again – unfortunately I will have to steal some points from you!”

Niran also paid tribute to Thailand’s finest football fan website: “Thanks to you and all the Sandpit crew for always supporting me.”

From our point of view, it’s very sad to see such a promising young player leave, especially one who has been raised in a European footballing culture but who brings the benefit of Thai nationality. Niran always looked strong, fast and skillful in friendlies and his departure leaves Port with very little defensive coverage should Rochela or Dolah get injured. It also sends out a pretty depressing message about the status of young players at Port, especially given the continued absence of the likes of Tatchanon, Maranhao and Tetchin from the first team, whilst old lags like Tana, Wuttichai, Anisong et al are still getting first team action. Jadet clearly prefers more experienced players and Port’s league position suggests he’s not wrong, but there seems to be little thought given to the long-term future of the club. We hope that, with T1 safety already all but guaranteed, the coach will be a little bit more ‘youthful’ in his thinking in the second half of the season.

As for Niran, we thank him for being a friend of the Sandpit and for always being available for a chat, and we wish him well in his next move. He’ll always get a warm welcome from us at the PAT – just as long as he doesn’t go to Muangthong…

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk: Left Back in the Changing Room

 

Confirmed Transfers IN

 

Yossawat Montha

This youngster reminds me a lot of Nitipong (34). He joins Port from Buriram, having represented Thailand at under 23 level. The 21 year old is an attacking full-back who possesses quick feet and a cultured left foot, which will hopefully give Port another set-piece option on the all-too-common occasions that Pakorn (9) is misfiring. Expect Yossawat to be challenging Panpanpong (19) for a place in the First XI from the off, although with Jadet’s proclivity for more experienced players, he may have to wait longer than we would like. Read Yossawat’s player profile here.

 

Jetjinn Sriprach

Jetjinn is another young-ish left-back, emphasizing how unhappy Jadet is with his options in that position. The arrivals of Jetjin and Yossawat almost certainly signal the exit of Piyachart (23) and Suchon (11), who are out of favour and well down the pecking order at PAT Stadium. 25 year old Jetjinn, who joins from Thai Honda, is most likely to start out at third choice behind Panpanpong (19) and Yossawat, and will have to impress in training and friendlies to get his chance. He looks to have decent pedigree, having played 10 games for Honda (including the 5-1 thrashing of Port) in the first half of 2017. Interestingly, he played half of those games in left midfield, where he could also be challenging for a spot on the bench with Tana (99) and Ekkapoom (8). For Jetjinn’s player profile click here.

 

Narakorn Khana and Pummared Kladkleep

Narakorn and Pummared both join from defunct BBCU, and are expected to add depth to the squad rather than challenge for first team places. Red-haired Narakorn is an attacking midfielder who could be an option to come off the bench when Port are chasing a game. Before representing BBCU, the 25 year old played for a host of teams in the top two tiers. Blonde bombshell Pummared is a central midfielder with a good range of passing. He started out at Chamchuri United from before jumping on to sinking ships at Khon Kaen and BBCU. Pummared joins a whole host of midfielders already on the books at Port, and will most likely be competing with the likes of Ittipol (7) and Tatchanon (39) for a place on the bench. Read Narakorn’s player profile here, and Pummared’s here.

 

Watchara Buathong

Port’s erstwhile odd man out at PAT Stadium has been loaned out for 2 seasons in a row, and is only back because of BBCU’s dissolution. He’s a good young goalkeeper to be fair – much better than Weera (1) – but it’s probably not in his or Port’s interest to have him kicking around as a third choice when he could be starting for a lower-league team. Expect him to find another club on loan, possibly Super Power (remember their goalkeeping nightmare?) or another T2 team. Check our Watchara – or as he is also known, W-Hot – rapping here (seriously, do it right now, you won’t regret it!) and his player profile here.

 

Rumoured Transfers OUT

 

Wanchalerm Yingyong

It’s fair to say that Wanchalerm’s (40) time at Port has been a waste of everyone’s time. The young defensive midfielder who is on loan at Port from Chiang Rai has made just one appearance, and despite some promising performances in friendlies Jadet clearly doesn’t rate him. He will likely be loaned out to another club where he will get more minutes.

 

Piyachat Srimarueang

Piyachat (88) has failed to break in to the first XI, but is still first-choice back-up to Adisorn (13) and Siwakorn (16). There are rumours that the midfielder will head back from whence he came, joining Sukhothai in a loan deal. The arrival of two new midfielders would seem to support this rumour, although I doubt that either Narakorn or Pummared are better players than him. File this one under doubtful.

 

Andrija Kaludjerovic

Kalu has one foot out of the door already. The one-goal Serb has not been a hit at PAT Stadium, being replaced by Josimar (30) in the starting XI, and failing to even make the match day squad for the last few games of the first leg. Kalu has been casting flirtatious glances back to Lithuania, where he scored 21 goals in 19 games before joining Port. The move makes sense for everyone, so will likely be concluded sooner rather than later. For The Sandpit’s analysis of who will be replacing Kalu, check out Episode 2 Part 3 of our new podcast The Portcast which will be going online on Thursday.

 

As always, I will be trying my best to keep the squad list (click here) up to date, but I will not be adding squad numbers for the new arrivals until the official list is announced. Until they are official, they’re liable to change every week and confuse the hell out of us!

 

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Spit in the Sandpit: Josimar Rodrigues – An Apology

 

Eating crow is a colloquial idiom, used in English-speaking countries that means humiliation by admitting having been proven wrong after taking a strong position. Crow is presumably foul-tasting in the same way that being proven wrong might be emotionally hard to swallow.”

The following is an official note of apology to Mr. Josimar Rodrigues…or you could call it an unofficial love letter to Josi…

Dear Mr. Josimar Rodrigues

It has come to my attention that you have been chosen overwhelmingly as Port FC Sandpit player for the month of May. Congratulations. But I’m not surprised. Ever since your performance against Police Tero, my dining menu has consisted of a heaping helping of thick black crow.

 

 

How could I ever doubt your ability, skill and determination?

At the beginning of the season I called you lazy, aloof, disinterested. I claimed the only way your forehead would ever meet a football was if it bounced off your noggin.

Then you scored 5 goals in 5 matches. With every goal more and more steam was taken out of my lazy, aloof, disinterested, “no headers please” arguments.

Um, do you mind if I now call you Josi?

So, Josi, being proven wrong about you has been an absolute joy for me. Port FC is in seventh place in a very tough Thai League T-One. Seventh place! Some long time Thai Port Importz say these are heady times for the club. Oh, tee hee, sorry for using the word heady. I am now ready to lead the Chuck Berry inspired refrain of “Go, go, go Josi go. Go, go, go Josi go, Josi be good tonight”

May I ask you just one final question? Remember when you raised your arms up in the air in celebrating one of your many goals at PAT stadium? Remember looking directly at the crowd and saying something? Uh, were you looking at me and was that something “How do you like your Crow, diced, whipped, or as is?”

Signed a new-found Josi supporter

 

Like White on Rice: Port FC 2-4 Ang Thong FC

 

Ang Thong were all over Port like white on rice in Sunday’s friendly encounter. Port were easily turned over 4-2 by a lively Ang Thong side who showed Port’s second and third string players no mercy at PAT Stadium. The game was notable as four new signings made their debuts, although none got particularly long outings. Nevertheless, new left back Yossawat (28) looked outstanding, indicating that he could well be challenging for a starting berth sooner rather than later. As far as the rest of the squad goes, Jadet chopped and changed even more than usual, meaning few players were on the pitch long enough to get settled in before they were taken off again. The exceptions were Hansson (33) and Anisong (15), who played most of the game due to the absence of Rochela (22) and Dolah (4), who we assume are enjoying an extended holiday somewhere nice!

Those who are acquainted with my match reports know that I usually include line-ups for each period as well as substitutions, but trust me when I say that if I tried to do that a game with this many players and substitutions we would be here all day, so I’m not going to get in to too much detail. If you’re confused by some of the new names, check out the updated squad list, which includes the new signings at the top. I haven’t included the squad numbers they wore on Sunday, as those are likely to change.

Jadet started with a host of new signings and fringe players whereas Ang Thong opted for their first XI, and the visitors’ first string immediately set about dominating Port. Ittipol (7) and new signings Narakorn (29) and Pummared (40) couldn’t really get a foothold in midfield, and a central defensive partnership of Pakasit (2) and Anisong (15) was pretty feeble against a strong, fast Ang Thong attack. The only bright spots were the two full-backs, who got forward well and came racing back when required. Hansson at right full back was flying up and down the touchline at break-neck pace, and Yossawat at left full back showed superb quality with his crossing.

Nevertheless, Port conceded not one, not two but three goals in a dire first thirty minutes. Ang Thong were waltzing through the middle of the park practically unchallenged in either midfield or defense. It’s an understatement to say that Ittipol, Narakorn, Pummared, Anisong and Pakasit didn’t cover themselves in glory!

In the second thirty minutes Port started with what looked like something close to the first XI (minus holiday-makers Rochela and Dolah and temporary monk Pakorn), and interestingly Maranhao (92) was picked behind Josimar (30), with Suarez (5) left out. Whilst we don’t want to read too much in to what is essentially a meaningless friendly, it’s looking increasingly like the writing could be on the wall for the Spaniard. After being dropped for the final league game against Sisaket and then this friendly, his place in the squad is at the least under serious consideration. Unlike previous friendlies, however, Maranhao didn’t do his case any favours against Anthong. He didn’t see much of the ball, and despite a couple of useful runs, didn’t make a decisive impact on the game.

Yossawat (28) did, though. When Panpanpong (19) was taken off after a nasty-looking challenge left stud marks on his thigh, the 21 year old came on, and just a few minutes later he delivered a sumptuous cross which Genki (18) headed home from a few yards out. With Pakorn (9) missing – having temporarily become a monk – set-pieces were also up to grabs, and Yossawat took a couple of corners which had some pretty serious whip on them, too. Promising!

In the final period, Port fielded another cobbled-together XI including new signings, injury returnees and fringe players. Pinyo (21) played his first game since pre-season, replacing Ekkapoom (8) who had played in both of the first two periods. Both looked lively at times, but their lack of stamina also showed. Jetjinn (26), another new left back, also made his debut in the final period, looking steady although he didn’t see too much of the ball. Port pulled another goal back after some fantastic work from Nitipong (34) on the right. He twisted, turned and his well-struck shot could only be parried in the direction of Pinyo, who volleyed home from close range. Port’s short-lived search for an equalizer was brought to an abrupt end when more lackluster defending led to an Angthong forward rounding Watchara (37) in the Port goal and passing in to an empty net. It was a fitting end to a game in which Port were second best for the majority of the game, and a two goal margin was probably fair.

 

Port FC Man of the Match

It will have to be seen as an opportunity missed for Maranhao, who failed to make much of an impact when played with the first XI, but an opportunity seized for my Port FC Man of the Match Yossawat, who on the early evidence is a very good prospect indeed. Watch out, Panpanpong, he’s coming for you!