Ooh Baby I Love Ba-We

 

I wrote a piece for this website which praised, lauded you could say, even go so far as to say worshipped a particular ex-Port legend. (It was Moise and I meant every love-soaked word) It was, however on the gushing side of the teeny-boyband idolization spectrum I’ll admit. So being a deeply repressed Englishman who longs for the emotionless and sterile relationships and behaviour of a 19th Century English public school and who feels way more comfortable in the pre-Princess Diana’s-death Britain than the share your feelings, go and have a good cry it’s normal, gimme a hug, post-Princess Diana’s death Britain, I thought I would write something more natural: an article about Kim Ba-We. I met the ex-Port player Steven Robb a few times and he got on well with Kim, so while chatting with him I was capable of restraining my spiteful hate-filled outbursts when mentioning him, so I will tap into that mindset again.

I will be as positive as I can be and attempt to present my bile and ammonia-filled rants in the most positive way possible. I could very easily use up all the negative adjectives I can think of and use every rude word I have in my arsenal, but instead I will be “nice”. I will discuss the great Kim Ba-We by comparing him and his style of play with the following famous and to some extent good midfielders, namely Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes and Jack Wilshere.

So here we go! Let’s start with Michael Carrick. Four Manchester United managers have all rated him as the composite professional; all have continued to play him in place of other more fashionable options. He has also represented England. Fellow footballers always seem to say Carrick is a model professional, who allows other players to play their game. So how does Kim demonstrate Carrick-esque characteristics? Well there are few players who have played in a Port shirt who could match Carrick’s staggeringly limited and unambitious sideways and backwards passing as Kim Ba-We managed. Kim’s ability to match Carrick’s 10 yard pass back to the central defender to totally avoid the responsibility of driving the game forward was effortless. Amazing, truly amazing!

Moving onto Paul Scholes: let me just state I was a huge fan of Paul Scholes – the ginger menace was part of one of the best midfields ever in my desperately uninformed opinion. He was the full package, scoring amazing goals and being the heartbeat of numerous United teams over the years, yet criminally under-appreciated for England. So, how, I hear you ask, is Kim possibly like Scholesy? Well there was one part of Paul’s game (I think I can call him Paul, I don’t think he would mind) that Kim mirrors with eerie accuracy. Both Paul and Kim matched each other in their ability to tackle. Tackles were usually late, often misjudged and regularly foul-inducing. Masterful!

Next is the enigma that is Jack Wilshere. I have a friend who thinks Wilshere is awesome, says he has the potential the boss the England midfield for years to come, and I have heard of really great games that he has played in and performances that have defied belief in the completeness of all things. He seems to be continuously championed for greatness and apparently should be the first name on any team sheet. I, however, have never seen any of Wilshere’s majestic displays, never seen anything in his game to justify the hype, or any performances that seem to justify his inclusion (when fit) with almost suicide-inspiring regularity. I have never really worked out what it is that Wilshere does and what role he plays for his team. In my view Jack seems to be desperately over-hyped, and has an ability that seems to be described in terms that are way beyond the reality regularly seen on the pitch. On numerous occasions I spoke with Port fans who seemed to feel similar affinity for Kim that many people I know feel for Wilshere. Kim’s performances were in my opinion, routinely Wilshere-esque in their anonymity and blandness. Kim can truly claim to walk in the footy boot steps of good old Jack.

So there you have it. Kim Ba-We compared with some “greats” of the game, Carrick, Scholes and Wilshere. I did my best. I’m off for a lie down, this positivity is killing me.

 

 

Zico Begins: Bangkok Glass 0-0 Port FC

 

Port travelled to Rangsit yesterday for a tricky away fixture at high-flying Bangkok Glass. Thanks to some tactical changes and excellent preparation, they came away with a well-earned 0-0 draw, riding their luck at times, scaring their opponents at others. This was the first game in which Zico really put his stamp on the team and augurs well for the rest of the 2017 season.


The Sandpit posse pitched up at the ever impressive Leo Stadium just before 5pm, leaving us a good two hours to soak up the atmosphere, wander around the ground and chat to the home fans  drink lots of beer – something Rabbits Bar make very easy with their competitively priced Leo towers. We also mingled with Glass’ farang fan club – a bloke called Tony. Wandering outside for a while to take some pictures, I found Importz Kenny & Achim consorting with the Glass bunny girls and looking very pleased with themselves.

We arrived in the away end to find the usual excellent beer service was still in place, and as such it would’ve been rude not to shower them with our money. Settled into our seats, we learned that Zico had made two very important team changes. Firstly – and he’s obviously been reading the Sandpit here – he dropped Panpanpong (19) and finally gave a debut to ex-Buriram youngster Yossawat (28). Secondly, he gave up trying to choose between two ageing defnsive midfielders – Ittipol (7) & Adisorn (13) – and instead gave a debut to the somewhat more youthful ex-Barbecue Utd midfielder Pummared (41), who had previously impressed me in friendlies.

The game started with Glass predictably dictating the pace, though the first chance fell to Port  in the 9th minute when Pakorn (9) curled a free kick just wide of the post. Otherwise the next 20 minutes were one-way traffic with Glass laying siege to the Port goal, only some rather wayward shooting preventing them taking a deserved lead. Sandpit interviewee Matt Smith was the worst offender, ballooning a shot over the bar in the 27th minute with an open goal gaping, shortly followed by Campos whose angled shot went wide of the post when it would clearly have been easier to hit the target.

But it was in fact Port who came closest to scoring. In the 39th minute, Siwakorn (16) found himself in space on the edge of the Glass box and unleashed an absolute thunderbastard of a shot which beat the keeper but cannoned back off the crossbar. Minutes later, Pakorn found himself free on the left but opted to try and chip the keeper rather than pass.

Half time, 0-0, and a sense of relief that we’d made it to the break without conceding. The Port fans set about the half-time Leo with gusto and soon drank the bar dry. They’re clearly not used to dealing with big away crowds like this. Well, it has been two years since we last visited.

Port started the second half somewhat more brightly than the home side but had little more than a 59th minute curler from Suarez (5) to show for it, and soon found themselves on the back foot again. Thankfully Glass still hadn’t found their shooting boots, though in the 77th minute Worawut (36) was called upon to make a simply stunning save from a close-range header from Surachat. Minutes later, Pakorn curled another free kick just wide of the post, before the referee blew for full time to the considerable relief of the away fans.

There were some pathetic, embarrassing scenes after the final whistle as the Port players were joined on the pitch by the owner, management, coaches & sundry other hangers-on for a celebratory group picture in front of the fans. Most unbecoming for a proud club like Port to be celebrating a 0-0 draw in this way. We’re not Super Power or some T3 team celebrating a giant-killing; getting a point at Glass is a good result but that’s as far as it goes, and certain people at the club really need to have a look at themselves if they think this kind of behaviour is befitting.

Anyway, this was a very encouraging performance from Port. Zico had clearly done his homework on Glass and, whilst their quality meant they had plenty of chances, they didn’t boss the midfield the way they did in the home fixture and were generally restricted to long range shots. Yossawat is clearly a more defensive player than Panpanpong and whilst we missed the latter’s forward runs down the left, the defence felt a lot more secure with the youngster in it. Likewise, new boy Pummared was a cooler head in defensive midfield than Ittipol or Adisorn and his performance surely means we’ll be seeing more of him. Port chances were few & far between with Josimar playing much deeper than usual and Zico thankfully opting not to use Tana (99), though Wuttichai made a combative late appearance. All in all a very good point from a team that looks fitter, sharper and better organised than under Jadet. The Zico Revolution starts here.

 

Man of the Match – David Rochela (22)

I’ve said it before – Rochela is so consistently excellent that we take good performances from him for granted. But last night he was massive, particularly in the first half when playing without his trusted lieutenant Dolah (4). A typically disciplined, influential and occasionally backs-to-the-wall shift from the Port captain. Top marks also for Pakorn, Worawut, Siwakorn and Pummared who also impressed me.

 

A Touch of Glass: Bangkok Glass vs. Port FC, 5 August 2017

 

Port face Bangkok Glass on Saturday, looking to imitate the kind of performance they put on against Chiang Rai, if not the result. Port were comfortably the better team, but ended up 1-2 losers, as Chiang Rai proved more clinical in front of goal than their opponents. Wednesday saw Port put in another good performance, albeit against T3 Ayutthaya, but once again Port did not score nearly as many goals as they could. Glass, on the other hand, are coming off 3 comfortable wins in a row, overcoming Honda and Navy to nil in the league, then triumphing 6-1 against Navy in the FA Cup on Wednesday. A further win against Suphanburi, a draw against Sisaket and losses to Bangkok United and Ratchaburi complete Glass’ last 6 league games, from which they have taken 10 points. Port have taken just 4.

 

Bangkok Glass

Players to Watch

 

Last time we previewed a game with Bangkok Glass we picked Matt Smith (4) out as a player to watch and he ended up being injured. Well, this time we had a chat with Matt, and we’re quite sure that he’s fighting fit and ready for the physical battle that Josimar is likely to engage him in on Saturday. For more on Matt, read our interview here.

Peerapong (23) has had a stellar season in 2017. The defensive midfielder who has been at Glass since 2007, has played a part in every league game to date, been busy and combative, and has also chipped in with a few spectacular goals. An absolute belter in their 6-0 win against Sisaket sticks in the memory. Port would be well advised not to give the shaggy-haired enforcer too much space if he does decide to venture forward.

Chaowat (19) has come of age in 2017, making the attacking midfield spot his own. The 21 year old star has never been a physical presence on the pitch, but his guile and vision make up for that. Not a prolific scorer or assister, but very often the player who makes the ‘key pass’ in the build-up. With Ittipol (7) likely to come back in to the Port midfield on Saturday, it will be a battle between youth and experience.

Toti (8) just returned from a spell out, playing his first game in over a month against Navy. Let’s hope Glass’ best player against Port last time out is still a little rusty…

Jhasmani Campos (21) is Glass’ top scorer and assister so far in 2017 with 9 goals and 7 assists. That’s very good indeed from attacking midfield. Campos might be the most one-footed player I’ve ever seen, but it’s a bloody good foot. Port defenders be advised: if he’s on the left he is going to cross it with his left, and if he’s on the right he’s going to cut in and shoot with his left. Try your best not to let him do either!

Ariel Rodriguez (7) would normally be next on my list of players to watch, but hasn’t played yet in July or August, so I’m assuming he is unavailable for selection. With Jakkapan Pornsai having moved on to Bangkok United, 2 of the key architects of Port’s 3-0 defeat to Glass in the first half of the season could play no part. Despite the form book, that should give Port some hope!

 

Toti, Campos and Peerapong

 

Port FC

The Players

 

Port will likely stick with their usual back 5 of Worawut (36), Nitipong (34), Dolah (4), Rochela (22) and Panpanpong (19). It’s outrageous that Panpanpong has been allowed to make as many mistakes as he has without bring dropped, but Zico just can’t seem to bring himself to replace the experienced left back with either of the younger, better left backs at Port’s disposal. Dolah picked up a knock on Wednesday which meant he was substituted and had some ice strapped to his leg, but hopefully it won’t be enough to keep him out of Saturday’s game, particularly as Pravinwat (55) is unavailable to replace him as he is on loan from Glass. We really don’t want fifth choice centre back Anisong (15) being exposed to the Bangkok Glass attack, that’s for sure.

In midfield, Zico seems to prefer Ittipol (7) to Adisorn (13) in defensive midfield, and I can see why. A more composed, technically proficient midfielder, Ittipol defends well and keeps play ticking over nicely, although he normally only lasts until about the hour mark before being subbed off. Siwakorn (16) will doubtless start alongside him in midfield, while Suarez (5) has very likely done enough to retain his place in ‘the hole’ behind Josimar.

Goals from the bench against Ayutthaya followed by a superb performance against Chiang Rai, then another solid display against Ayutthaya, are probably the best 3 consecutive games Suarez has had so far at Port. If he can keep up the level of performance we have seen in the last few games, he will undoubtedly retain his place in the team.

On the right wing, Pakorn (9) has finally been blossoming into the player we always knew he could be. Tenacity and tracking back have improved markedly, and his decision making is becoming less and less selfish by the game (except from corners!) Pakorn is without a doubt now the main creative force in the Port starting XI. Well done Zico! On the left, Genki (18) is just about doing enough to hang on to his starting berth, but then again the competition is Tana (99)… To be fair to Genki he had decent games against Ayutthaya and Chiang Rai, but is certainly not on his best form at the moment.

Josimar (30) remains the only viable option up front, and thankfully he managed to get back in to goalscoring form on Wednesday, converting a header from 6 yards and rounding the ‘keeper to finish from close range at the death. We desperately need a confident Josimar up front, as our chance conversion has been pretty pitiful of late. A little run of 5 goals in 5 games would be lovely right about now, Josi!

 

Predicted Starting XI

 

 

Key Battle

Peerapong vs. Suarez

 

Peerapong is a rough, tough customer enjoying an excellent season, but an in-form Suarez could pose him real problems. If Suarez can harass Peerapong when he gets the ball he could help stymie Glass’ attacks, and if he can find space when Port have the ball he could make a crucial contribution going forward too. With the most positional flexibility in the team, it will be down to Suarez to get it right.

 

 

Another key match-up could be between Pakorn and Glass left back Supachai (17). Remarkably the left back is still usually first choice at the age of 37, but an in-form Pakorn will be licking his lips at the prospect of tormenting the aging full-back, who I would imagine isn’t the paciest in the league.

 

The match will be shown live on True Sport HD 3 at 19:00 on Saturday 5 August, 2017

 

Ayu the Win That I’ve Been Waiting For: Port FC 2-0 Ayutthaya Utd

 

As expected, Port dispatched T3 high-flyers Ayutthaya Utd at the PAT last night to take their place in the last 16 of the Chang FA Cup, with a dynamic attacking performance which, had the finishing been more clinical, could and should have produced a hatful of goals.

 


 

August 2nd is my dad’s birthday and were he still with us, he would’ve been 77 yesterday. So what better way to celebrate the birthday of the man responsible for so many of my formative footballing – and drinking – experiences by having a few beers and watching Port? It might’ve lacked the glamour and significance of our most memorable game together – Coventry v Spurs in the 1987 FA Cup Final – but as a man who played and refereed Coventry Sunday league football for over 30 years, I’m sure he’d have appreciated the earthiness of the surroundings, and the coldness of the Leo. I know I did.

Anyway onto the football. Zico once again showed that he’s up for the cups by picking a full-strength team, the only change from Sunday’s lineup v Chiang Rai being the return of Adisorn (13) for Ittipol (7). Ayutthaya, on the other hand, seem to be more focused on their T3 promotion battle so whilst star player Noah Chivuta started – and put in a performance that showed he truly belongs at the top level – last weeks MOTMs Jirawat and Kendall were rested. The sight of Ayutthaya’s team sheet led to excited predictions of 4-0 and 5-0 amongst the farang faithful, and in the first half Port did their best to make those dreams reality.

Because for the first 45 minutes, Port absolutely battered their opponents, with Suarez (5) and Siwakorn (16) bossing the midfield, Genki (18) charging down the left with his socks down a la Peter Barnes, and Pakorn (9) & Nitipong (34) rampaging down the right. Chance after chance was created, with pretty much every outfield player having a shot at some point without a single one hitting the target. Josi (30) in particular was having a right mare, missing an open goal midway through the first half and generally still looking out of sorts since his return from injury.

Ayutthaya did have a few chances, normally due to Panpanpong (19) once again not bothering to do his defensive duties and leaving acres of space down Port’s left. When will Zico realise that he simply isn’t good enough to play as a wing-back and replace him with Yossawat? With Chivuta pulling the strings in midfield and lively Brazilian forward Maraba keeping Port’s defenders on their toes, they frequently threatened an opening goal which, given Port’s wastefulness, could’ve been fatal to the home side.

 

 

Thankfully, 13 minutes into the second half Port got the goal their sparkling attacking play deserved. Nitipong fed Pakorn with a somewhat overhit pass down the right – a pass which, pre-monastery, the no9 might well have given up on. But the Midfield Monk is a player reborn and he kept the ball in, steamed down the right, and pinged in an inch-perfect cross right onto the head of Josi, who showed he can head the ball after all and buried it into the Ayutthaya onion bag for 1-0.

But any thoughts that this might open the floodgates were somewhat misplaced, as Port, seemingly torn as to whether to park the bus or go for a second, found themselves on the back foot for much of the last 20 minutes, with Worawut making a couple of smart saves and Ayutthaya grazing the crossbar on a couple of occasions.

On 90 minutes however, Ayutthaya, as they did last week, found themselves down to 10 men when one of their midfielders put the boot in on Prawinwat long after the ball had gone and was given his marching orders. A couple of minutes later, in the last meaningful action of the game, that man Pakorn skipped past two defenders and once again found Josi in the box, and the Brazilian had time to round the keeper and a defender before sticking it in the net for 2-0.

So, as with the Chiang Rai game on Sunday, Port looked very lively and played some wonderful attacking football, only to be let down by poor finishing. You can get away with that against T3 teams, but we’ll need to take any chances we get against Glass on Saturday. Still, we’re now into the last 16 of the FA Cup and have as good a chance as anyone of going further. With the team looking faster, fitter and more motivated under Zico, Josi finding his scoring boots again, and players like Pakorn and Suarez finally finding some consistency, the rest of the season should be a lot of fun to watch.

 

Man of the Match – Pakorn

There were a few contenders for the coveted Sandpit MOTM award last night. Suarez managed his third impressive performance in a row – a record for him; Genki put in one of those balls-out left wing shifts that made us all love him in the first place; Nitipong complemented Pakorn beautifully down the right; and Adisorn was the usual Tasmanian Devil-esque whirlwind of energy and tackling in midfield.

 

 

But once again, and for the third game in a row, the award goes to Pakorn. Whether it’s the influence of Zico or some higher power, the right-winger is finally fulfilling his potential and becoming the star player he’s always hinted he could be. Once again he provided both assists, and at one point he even got straight up after being tackled and carried on running, and you’d have got pretty long odds on that earlier in the season. The big question is – can he do it at Bangkok Glass on Saturday? He’ll need to if Port are to stand any chance of getting something out of the game.

 

Photos by Tim Russell

 
 


 

The Sandpit’s Port FC Player of the Month for July – Vote now!

 

Voting opens today!

Every month, The Sandpit is going to choose the Port players we think have played the best, and let our readers decide who should be named Player of the Month.

Port have had a disjointed July, with the first two games on the 5th and the 9th, and the second two on the 26th and 30th. Port started the month with a brave performance against Buriram, only being condemned to a 0-1 defeat by a comical decision from the linesman. Next up was Ubon, where a lame performance saw Port slip to a disappointing 1-2 defeat, with Kaludjerovic getting the only goal for Port. Port returned from the break with what should have been a routine victory against T3 Ayutthaya Utd, but needed a last minute own-goal to take the game to extra time, before Suarez sealed the win late on in added time. Finally, Port welcomed Chiang Rai to PAT Stadium, putting in by far their best performance of the month but once again being condemned to an unfortunate 1-2 defeat.

This month’s nominees in order of squad number are…

 

Sergio Suarez (5)

 

Ittipol Poolsap (7)

 

Pakorn Prempak (9)

 

Andrija Kaludjerovic (10)

 

David Rochela (22)

 

ร่วมโหวตที่นี่

 

[yop_poll id=”6″]

 

Pipo to Join Zico at PAT?

 

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.

 

Photo by ESPN FC

 

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!

 

Return of the Chedi: Port FC vs Ayutthaya Utd Match Preview

 

Following last week’s rain-soaked squeaky bum League Cup win, Port have the chance to knock the Warriors out of another cup competition when the two sides meet in the Chang FA Cup R2 at PAT Stadium on Wednesday (2 August, 19:00). Whilst the T3 side put up a very impressive performance on Wednesday, Port will be overwhelming favourites to proceed into the last 16.

 

FORM

After successive home defeats to Udon and Port, Ayutthaya got back to winning ways at the weekend with a 1-0 away win at Lamphun Warrior to stay in the thick of the T3 promotion battle. Port may have lost 2-1 at home to Chiang Rai, but they put in arguably their best performance of the season and were only denied a win by some out-of-this-world goalkeeping by the Beetles’ new Thai-French goalkeeper Nont. The bastard. If Port play anything like as well as that, they should win fairly comfortably.

 

THE OPPOSITION

For a T3 side, Ayutthaya put up a damn good fight last week and looked a lot better than many of the teams Port faced in T2 last year. That said, they did tire noticeably towards the end and with this being their 3rd game in 8 days, stamina could well be an issue. They’re also right in the middle of a very tight promotion battle and may decide that the FA Cup is worth sacrificing. So will coach Narongthanaporn Choeithaisongchodok (try getting that on a shirt) put out a full-strength team, or will he save his star players for the promotion race?

One thing we’re pretty sure of is that star striker Noah Chivuta will probably miss out, having received a somewhat harsh red card last Wednesday, which means his strike partner Kendall Jagdeosingh, who scored against Port, is almost certain to start. The big Trinidadian caused Port’s defence considerable anxiety last week and, whilst not quite SFS level, is the kind of big, physical, bullying forward Port continually fail to sign.

Other players to look out for are classy defender Jirawat, who was their MOTM last week, and goalkeeper Kerdklung, who made some stunning saves to keep Ayutthaya in the game.

 

PORT LINEUP

If last week’s side is anything to go by, Zico is taking the cups seriously this season. With Port almost certainly safe from relegation but too far off the top to challenge for the AFC, the cups are our last hope of something to get excited about and with the big clubs falling like skittles in the early rounds, there’s a good chance of reaching another semi-final at least.

With another 5-week break coming up after the weekend, there’s little need to rest players at this stage and so I expect Port to line up with their best XI tomorrow night. Possible changes from the Chiang Rai game? I’d like to see Panpanpong (19) make way for one of his understudies, ideally young Yossawat (28). Panpanpong is A) on loan only and B) far too focused on the “wing” part of his wing-back designation, once again being caught out of position on numerous occasions on Sunday. Yossawat is the future, and if he’s played 5 times for Buriram this season he’s more than good enough for Port. Get him in the team for god’s sake. Otherwise I expect the defence to line up as per usual.

In midfield, the only choice is likely to be between Ittipol (7) and Adisorn (13) for the DM role – I expect Adisorn to get the nod with the more physical (as Tanaboon will attest) Ittipol saved for the more difficult game at Bangkok Glass on Saturday. I’d also like to see Ekkapoom (8) given a runout on the left, but inexplicably he seems to have fallen down the pecking order even behind Tana (99), who is a much better singer than he is a winger. So expect Genki (18) to start.

Up front, Josimar (30) hasn’t looked so sharp since returning from his Evil Knievel escapades, but given that the alternatives are Kaludjerovic (hmmmm…), Tana (no) or Wuttichai (GOD no), he’ll almost certainly start in the hope he can get some morale-boosting goals to bring his goal drought to an end. I also expect Zico to go 4-4-2 again, which means Josi will likely be partnered by Kalu (10), with Suarez (5) given a break after his impressive exertions on Sunday.

 

 

THE SANDPIT PREDICTS…

Port have far more quality than their lowly opponents and, coupled with home advantage, should run out comfortable winners. But our inability to keep a clean sheet means Ayutthaya will almost certainly sneak a goal at some point. I’m going for a fairly big win – let’s say 4-1.