Thai national team star Siroch Chatthong, widely known as Pipo, has reportedly agreed to join Port on loan for the 2018 season.
Last season Pipo was arguably the hottest property in Thai football, but Ubon stuck to their guns and held on to their striker despite the advances of many of the top teams in the country. To everyone’s surprise, Pipo failed to find his scoring touch in T1, remarkably failing to find the net even once in the first half of the season. Ubon finally decided to cash in, selling the powerful striker to Muangthong who were desperate for more depth with their striking options. Along with Pipo they also brought in prolific Brazilian Leandro Assumpcao from Sisaket and former Ratchaburi striker Heberty Fernandes. They joined Thai talisman Teerasil Dangda and his national team understudy Adisak Kraisorn at the SCG, putting Pipo at fifth in the striking pecking order. Hardly ideal for a developing footballer.
There is a certain logic to Pipo being willing to join the manager who plucked him from relative T2 obscurity and thrust him in to the national limelight. When he was Thai national team manager Zico took a bold gamble on Pipo, and he shone with his robust physical performances in World Cup Qualifiers – most notably against Australia – then the Suzuki Cup, where he scored twice against Indonesia in the final to give Thailand victory.
Then there are Port’s striking options. Josimar has scored 10 goals to date in 2017 – a pretty reasonably return – but besides him Port have little to offer up front. Kaludjerovic has scored three times, Tana twice and Wuttichai zero times. Yes, Siroch has also drawn a blank this season, but when he doesn’t score he still offers something important to the team. Pipo runs at – and often through – defenders, he wins physical duels, he keeps at least one if not two defenders occupied dealing with him, and he gives everything for the team. What do Tana or Wuttichai offer except the motivation to tear your own hair out? Pipo is far from the finished article, but both as an alternative to Josimar and an option on either wing he would add to Port’s firepower immensely.
So, is this at all likely to happen? Well, it’s not outside the realms of possibility. It would have been at the start of last season, but with Pipo’s dip in form and his move to a quality-packed Muangthong squad Port’s chances have improved markedly. That’s not to say that it’s very likely, though. There is a long time between now and 2018, during which Muangthong’s willingness to let Pipo go, and his willingness to join Port have plenty of scope to shift. We’ve seen more than our fair share of ‘done deals’ fall through at Port, that’s for sure.
Regardless, I’m holding out hope. Pipo has been a favourite of mine ever since I saw him play for Ubon for the first time. His all-white Ubon kit was caked in mud within about 15 minutes of kick-off, such was his commitment and his willingness to put his body on the line for his team. He may never be a twenty goal a season striker, but he plays hard, he creates, he gives everything for the team and he entertains.
Come on Pipo, you know you don’t want to waste your time on that SCG bench!