Port FC v Chiang Rai Utd on Sunday 7.00 pm – live on True Sports 2HD
Port return to Premier League action with a tricky home fixture against fourth place Chiang Rai. In the mini summer holiday Zico took the team away for some training days out in Korat. I hope this has given him a better view of the team. When I say better view I mean, the simple view that everyone else with eyes has. I hope he’s realised that Wuttichai is a liability and Tana should only be used as the last resort. Unfortunately what the team really needed was 3 major signings in the transfer window. Zico will need to know the squad well, and with 4 games in 11 days players might need to be shuffled around. Sunday is our best chance of points, as the other league match is Bangkok Glass away. Looking at the table you have to favour Chiang Rai, but Port have beaten them already this year so should go into this game with the hope of picking up something. Maybe there is something about Chiang Rai that brings out the best in Port sides – in the last 7 games over 5 years Port are undefeated against the Beetles.
Port sit in ninth place with 32 points. With the implosion of Super Power, Port should easily pick up the points to guarantee safety. This being said, I will definitely be a lot happier when those points are actually in the bag, rather than a just a solid prediction. A target of 38/40 points gives us something to aim for and celebrate. After yo-yoing back and forth between T1 and T2 solid mid table obscurity might just be as good as it gets, but it’s something we can all enjoy.
In a League Cup of their Own
Chiang Rai comfortably booked themselves a place in the second round of the League Cup on Wednesday with a 3-1 victory away at Trang F.C. I was pretty disappointed with our performance at Ayutthaya. But when I was reminded they dispatched Chonburi in the first round of the FA Cup it doesn’t feel so bad. We were lucky to escape to victory, after not capitalising on so many gilt edged chances.
Chiang Rai’s Chances
Chiang Rai started the season looking like a genuine contenders and threat to the top two, but have now settled into the chasing pack. They are a decent T1 team who occasionally drop points. A string of good results then a loss to Navy away gives us hope. The likelihood of a blip is increased this weekend as Chiang Rai will be without Everton Goncalves Saturnino (28) – the ever present central defender is out on 4 yellow cards. The men to watch out for in the Chiang Rai attack are forward Rafael Coelho (9) who’s scored 11 goals and midfielder Felipe Azevedo (11) with 13 goals.
Port’s Usual Suspects
Wednesday’s starting line up was positive, with the hopes that a 4-4-2 formation would spark some champagne football. No champagne, only real pain for 89 minutes followed by a smash n’ grab win. Josimar (30) looked back on form, but his tireless running around showed up Kalu’s pedestrian ambling around the pitch. He had one nailed on chance, but he seems to need three chances like that to put one away.
We looked a lot more dangerous when we reverted to the tried and tested 4-5-1. One variation that could be tried is centre back Praweewat (55) but he won’t be available on Sunday as he’s on 4 yellow cards. Left back Jetjin (51) looked good coming on in the second half on Wednesday, so it will be interesting to see who Zico starts on Sunday. He has consistently picked Panpanpong (19), so is likely to stay with him. Worawut (36) should start between the sticks as Rattanai (17) is still out with the shoulder injury he picked up in Ubon. An Ayutthaya player did crash into Worawut (36) on Wednesday, but he shook it off and seems to be fine.
Adisorn(13) v Felipe Azevedo (11)
Felipe Azevedo (11) is Chiang Rai’s best chance at goal but doesn’t seem to have 90 minutes of football in him. He has been subbed off 6 times and come off the bench to play in 3 games this season. If Adisorn (13) the pocket rocket can keep him in check and chase him around the midfield Port have a chance. If he manages to break free and link up with Coelho (9) we could be in trouble.
House of Cards
Siwakorn (16) 9 yellow cards v Thitiphan (8) 8 yellow cards
The midfield will also see the battle of the most avid card collectors in T1. With Siwakorn first and Thitiphan joint second in the Premier league yellow card table, both have experienced two games out on suspension. Interestingly enough neither has seen red this season, suggesting they are consistently just doing enough to stop the opposition without really wanting to hospitalise anyone, “the gentlemen foulers”. This foul is not personal, this is just business.
It’s good to be back at Port after the long break. Enjoy it while it lasts: another month-long football drought is coming up. Bangkok Glass Away is 5th August, then there’s a month to wait till the next match Sukothai at home on 10th September.