Port’s Academy suffered Coke Cup heartbreak after they slumped to a 2-0 loss against Muangthong in the Bangkok Regional Final. Port had already exceeded expectations by getting as far as they did, outperforming the youth sides of some of Bangkok’s best clubs, most notably Bangkok United – who were dispatched in the group stage – and Bangkok Glass. Ultimately their efforts came to nothing, though, as rivals Muangthong advanced to the last 8 of the Coke Cup, where they will face the champions of 7 other regions.
The game itself was a pretty one-sided affair, and it’s no surprise when you look at the teams. The Muangthong Academy provides a sizable proportion of Thailand’s under 19 squad, whereas Port don’t have a single representative, with Meechok having turned 20 this year. Nevertheless, Port’s young lions did themselves proud, surviving against the prohibitive favourites until well in to the second half.
Tall, powerful midfielder Polkrit (11) was arguably Port’s key man, shielding the defence well and making Muangthong’s forwards think twice about going in to challenges with him. Unfortunately his all-action performance took its’ toll, and Polkrit limped off with a foot injury at about the hour mark. It was shortly after the big man was replaced that Port finally succumbed. A pinpoint cross from the left was headed home by the only forward in the box, who did well to find space between the two centre backs and finish clinically.
It was at about this time that Port players started dropping like flies. A spate of substitutions were made as Port’s players were clearly not able to cope with the physical demands of playing every 2 or 3 days in a tournament format like this, with most games being played at four o’clock in the afternoon. The game slowed down as numerous Port players cramped up, and others suffered injuries. Muangthong held up much better, retaining their impetus and continuing to attack in search of a second goal that would surely kill the game off.
It wasn’t long before it came, and it was a goal that goalkeeper Jedsadakorn (23) will want to forget in a hurry. In fairness to Port’s stopper there was a clear hand-ball in the build-up, but the way he flung himself on to the floor in an attempt to gather what should have been a fairly routine ball through was definitely more Weera than Rattanai. It was a disappointing end to what had been a good tournament for the ‘keeper, who kept two clean-sheets in four games.
Nevertheless, Port can certainly return to their regular season with heads held high. Perhaps some of Port’s players may have even done enough to be considered for an under-19 national team call-up. From the bits and pieces I watched, if I were to pick the two with the best chances they would be Polkrit (11) in midfield and Partchya (27) on the left wing.