Port Set Up Anti Air Force Battery in the League Cup

 

Sunday 1st October League Cup last 16

Kick off 6.00 p.m. shown live on True Sports HD 1 and True Sports 6

Air Force vs Thai Port, it’s Lions vs Eagles in a match up which always sees Andy Griffin a bit torn about who to support.

Lion vs Bald Eagle, they live on different continents it’s a big away game.

Port jet off to Thupatemi Stadium this Sunday. The dark blue side of the Force are flying high in T2, but have stalled a bit lately, so Port have every chance to make it into the quarter finals.

 

Air Force’s Form

After an average start to the 2017 season Air Force went on an 11 game winning streak. A recent loss to Chainat and two away draws in the league have halted their rapid ascent into the top flight of Thai Football. The second of their away draws saw them splutter into promotion. Their resident RAFa Benitez is Port’s very own former ace Sasom Pobprasert who led Port to the FA Cup 2009 and the League Cup 2010. Yes, there were ancient days of yaw when Port won things. He’s had a good 3 year run with Air Force, landing them in 9th and 4th along with promotion this year.

 

Players to Watch or Make Weak Puns About

“Valdomiro Soares Eggres” “Valdo” (33) was Air Force’s top goal scorer with 12 last year and is currently second best with 10 this year. Let’s hope he’s not the one who Soars on Sunday and it’s Air force who Egress out of the Cup.

So who is Air Force’s danger man? Who’s the player we will all have to look out for? Step forward 2017’s 12 goal hero… Kayne Vincent (11)… Wait, what ? I’ve checked it a few times, then I checked my glasses. Yes, it’s true! Our old friend Kayne has hit the target for Air Force twelve times in 2017. Let’s just say this is the least Scary Foreign Striker of any Sandpit preview to date. Maybe he’s found some form and is on the up, but either way he’s as scary as Hello Kitty holding a butter knife.

Sasom eyeing Port’s Panic on the streets of Rangsit

Air Force are a solid crew normally winning games by the odd goal. They have only lost once at home this year and that was to the T2 Champions elect Chainat. They will be confident as they roll out on to the pitch this Sunday. In two online articles Sasom had mentioned playing a younger squad in the cups, but with promotion now sorted I can’t see him doing that.

 

Jadet: Magician or Monster? Top Gun or Top Yourself ?

From the heady heights of winning 5-2 away to the 5-1 crash and burn that was Wednesday night. What can we make of “Sir Det”? Better teams than Port have been obliterated by the bombarding attacks of Bangkok United. It’s not time to abandon the 4-1-4-1 formation that gave us great win away (a win away, a win away, ooooh  aaa win awaaaaay). I think managers get too much praise when they win, and too much criticism when they lose. Jadet’s trying something a little different with the team and against mid-range opposition it worked well. I think he should stick with it.

Panpanpong wasn’t available on Wednesday as he’s on loan from Bangkok United. I’m not a big fan of his wandering up front recklessly, but if we start with Rochela (22) Dolah (4) and Todsapol (6) he can get up the pitch without leaving too many gaping holes at the back.

Jetjin (51) might get a chance to jump start his Port career, but it’s unlikely. He will probably just be good for another idle pun in the preview. If we are desperate for goals it would be good to see Tana (99) brought on as a feckless goal hanger rather than a left winger. He’s definitely more suited to that role and as he seems to be contractually guaranteed to get time on the pitch, better have him doing that. I’m tired of seeing him wander aimlessly as a cloud on for Genki (18), even when Genki’s doing a perfectly good job on the left. Let’s hope Genki can zero in on the target like he did on Wednesday and justify a full 90 minutes. If Worawut (36-24-36) doesn’t flap about too much we should be OK at the back.

I think Jadet will stick to the formation that blew away Pattaya United. Here it’s 5-4-1 as Rochela is the very defensive midfielder the formation sometimes looks like that. And Eurosport’s Best XI doesn’t have a 4-1-4-1 option. 4-1-4-1 does sound more like a chant than a team formation.

Match-Ups

I rarely spot any great match up over and above our striker v their central defender or vice versa, Josimat (30) v Aleksandar Kapisoda (5) should be a good clash.

But Sunday has fascinating yellow card specialist match up. They won’t be facing each other that much as they are both attacking midfielders, but I get the feeling they will spot each other and a dog fight will ensue. Noppon Polkum (7) (or just “poll cum” to his friends) has managed to rack up 12 yellow cards and will serve his Siwakornesque 3rd suspension for Air Force during the next league game. I expect Siwakorn will get a yellow for shooting him down in the first half, then Noppon will come back with two yellows in the second and will be promptly ejected. Siwakorn’s calmed down a bit now, and he has a mere 10 yellows in the league this season; most of them tactical strikes to bring down dangerous attacking players. So expect some surprise attacks on both sides in the middle of the pitch if the game is close. Remember, always come out of the sun, they never see you till it’s too late.

 

History

This fixture saw highs and lows in 2013, with anger following a tense away loss. Then  a momentous late winner to secure promotion on the last day of the season. Last year there was an epic away battle that saw Port go up 1-0, then down 2-1, only to pull it back to win 3-2, this was followed by a close fought 2-0 home win for Port. Whatever happens Sunday it should be a riveting match, both sides are pretty much settled in the league looking to launch a cup run.

 

My Prediction: 6-4 Away Win

With 13 goals in the last 2 games it could happen. I see Dolah and Nitipong (34) conspiring to give away four first half penalties between them, then Rochela and Josi both getting second half hat-tricks to air lift Port out of trouble.

 

Thupatemi Stadium

The Stadium is just past Don Muang Airport, for anyone taxiing to the ground here’s a link to the ground on google maps.  Thupatemi Stadium

A bad view, but a good atmosphere in the way away end.

The Away end is Zone C unfortunately it’s another running track stadium but we should be able to fill it out and make some noise. It’s 120 baht for away fans.

 

The League Cup Last 16

There are some decent ties to look out for this Sunday. Here’s the full line up for the last 16, which is the 2nd round. There are 3 stages of qualifying rounds before that, but they don’t count. It’s simple it’s the 2nd round and after that it’ll be the quarter finals or the 3rd round if you like.

wiki leaked fixtures

See you Sunday.

 

Arbeitsverweigerung: Bangkok United 5-1 Port FC, FA Cup

 

No, the Sandpit is not now doing match reports in German, we’ve just run out of English words to describe the ineptitude of most of our players. The German word arbeitsverweigerung is translated by online dictionaries as ‘refusal to work’, but our resident Brummie Hun, Achim, offers a slightly more colourful translation: ‘lazy c*nts’. Quite.

 

Rochela was one of a few who put in a spirited performance

 

Port went for some slightly off-beat team selection, with Nitipong (34) playing out of position at left-back with Jetjinn (51) on the bench and Yossawat (28) not even in the squad. We once again started spectacularly, with a 9th minute Tana (99) freekick being toed past slow-reacting Kittipong (1) by a stretching Genki (18).

Port’s lead was to last all of 3 minutes though, as a cut-back from Mario (20) was clumsily diverted goalwards by Todsapol (6). Worawut (36) was wrong-footed and stood no chance as the ball rolled past him in to the bottom corner.

It wasn’t long before Boskovic (7) put the home side in the lead. Mario was once again the creator. His smart throughball found Jaycee John (22) in far too much space in front of goal. His simple square ball to Boskovic took Worawut out of the game, leaving the clinical Montenegrin with a tap-in. He could have walked it in the goal sipping a glass of champagne had he wished, so lax was Port’s defending.

Port never looked like keeping Bangkok’s advantage at just one goal, though, and it was sadly inevitable when Jaycee John got on the scoresheet. John is one of the finest forwards in Thai football, but remarkably is not even in The Angels’ T1 squad. I assumed he had already left Bangkok, but the Nigerian with a Bahraini passport has actually stuck around just to play in the cup. He looked suitably hungry for goals on this rare return to action, but once again he was helped by some less-than-enthusiastic defending. A cross to the far post by Mika (16) found John un-marked by a ball-watching Todsapol (6) who turned in a particularly wretched all-around display after his man of the match performance against Pattaya. Arbeitsverweigerung!

Port went in at half-time 2 goals down, but it could have been much more. Ten minutes after the restart, number four came courtesy of Thai-Welshman Mika (16), who had been putting it about quite a bit on the right hand side. Never one to shirk a tackle, he had irked the away support a couple of times with strong challenges, but the Port defence made no challenge on him at all as he headed home from a corner. It looked like Genki was supposed to be marking him, but was nowhere to be found as Mika powered home from 10 yards.

Bangkok really took their foot off the gas, content to maintain their healthy lead and save energy for their weekend clash with Muangthong. There was still time for Port to give away their obligatory penalty, though, and it was once again Dolah (4) who was the culprit. This has happened so many times now, it has to be addressed. Dolah is quite often beaten for pace, and decides the best thing to do is bring down whoever is going past him before he gets in to the area. Not a bad idea necessarily, but Dolah overestimates the ability of referees to adjudge that he is in fact fouling them outside the area. I can think of three occasions (against Muangthong on Teerasil, against Pattaya on Stojanovic and against Bangkok on Ede) where Dolah has deliberately fouled players right on the edge of the area, but they have fallen inside the area and the referee has pointed to the spot. Dolah has to re-evaluate his strategy, as it’s clearly not working. In an ideal world the referees would get it right every time, but in reality this is Thailand and they are rubbish. John did the honours from the spot in the 93rd minute to cap a fine man of the match display and condemn Port to a 14-2 aggregate loss over three games in 2017.

 

He’s outside the area, ref…

 

With these away trips to Thammasat stadium in far-away Rangsit the trip back can be a pain in arse after a heavy defeat. Well, not this time. Myself and a few others hitched a ride on the fan bus and let me tell you, this is something you absolutely have to experience! Even after a hopeless four goal defeat, music blared, fans sang raucous karaoke and Spiderming made sure everyone had enough beer to drown their sorrows. Forty baht per can from a massive cooler full of the stuff downstairs. Fantastic. A trip that would otherwise have been spent ranting about substitutions, penalties and rubbish defending was instead spent playing air guitar, bellowing out ‘Sing Jow Tha’ at full volume and having a whale of a time with fans literally dancing up and down the aisles. Imagine what it would have been like if we’d won!

 

All photos from the Bangkok United FC Facebook page.

 

Massive Attack Leaves Port Safe From Harm

 

Port’s dismal run of form under now departed coach Zico had fans who’d spent the first half of the season looking hopefully up at the top 5 of T1 suddenly shifting their gaze downwards towards the table’s sweaty nether regions. With Port adept at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory the spectre of relegation, whilst not exactly haunting the PAT, was at least getting ready to rattle its ghostly chains in the direction of Khlong Thoey.

Thankfully, Sunday’s 5-goal demolition of in-form Pattaya has seen said wraith packing up his chains and white sheet and heading off to loosen sphincters in Sukhothai & Nakhon Ratchasima instead, and left Port virtually guaranteed their place in T1 next season. Here’s a snapshot of the T1 drop zone, courtesy of our freunde at Thai Fussball:

 

 

Of the bottom clubs, the truly lamentable Super Power are already down, and with Honda 10 points off safety with 6 games to play, we can assume they’re down too. Sisaket also look doomed, 7 points off safety with 5 to play. Mathematically one of, but not both clubs can still catch Port by winning all their remaining games – I say not both because they still have to play each other. Even if both clubs could still win all their remaining games, they’d still have to hope Port fail to pick up more than 1 point from their remaining 5 – unlikely, with games against Super Power, Nakhon Ratchasima and Sisaket still to play. Whilst we’re unlikely to shed many tears for Super Power, despite their wonderful support, or Honda (I won’t miss getting vaccinations, hiring a team of sherpas and trekking out to their shithole of a stadium next season – unless someone else moves in of course), Sisaket are always fun to play against, always bring a big crowd, and gave us a very warm welcome when we went there earlier this season, despite us blasting out Rick Astley as we arrived.

So, barring a miracle on a par with the beer purveyors of the PAT turning water into Leo, or the FAT finding some reason to dock us points again (which isn’t beyond the realms of possibility), Port will once again be a T1 club in 2018. Which, with 5 teams going down, will be a very tough season indeed. But let’s cross that bridge when we come to it, and meanwhile enjoy the sight of a rejuvenated team playing out the rest of the season without any pressure.

 

Ja Ja Black Sheep: Tom’s Transfer Talk

 

This season has been a record-breaking season for Port. Nothing to do with football of course, but when it comes to stacking up column inches Port have been nothing short of extraordinary. We would probably be contenders for the title if 3 points were awarded for outlandish transfer rumours rather than wins.

The name that just keeps popping up again and again in connection to Port is Jackson ‘Jaja’ Coelho. The Buriram man, on loan from Belgian top tier side Lokeren, is currently second top scorer in T1 with 28 strikes to his name thus far. Bloody hell. It’s to be expected that when a player racks up the goals like Jaja has, bigger clubs will come calling; what isn’t to be expected is that the club he has fired to the summit of the table doesn’t seem too bothered about keeping him, and the club that most people are talking about as his next destination is a mid-table outfit with a penchant for crap signings.

The only thing that makes this story even slightly plausible is the pre-season palaver that was Port’s last attempt to sign the Brazilian bulldozer. Without getting in to any details, Port were on the verge of signing Coelho, but the deal fell through at the last minute. The Sandpit’s sources say that the Jaja deal is definitely, unequivocally not happening, but the sheer number of rumours make it a story worth following at the very least. Muangthong, despite their plethora of striking options, are also reported to be in the frame.

 

 

In other news, the man who has been responsible for the majority of Port’s column inches this season – Zico – is rumoured to be getting out of dodge and resurfacing in Vietnam. After his stock fell considerably during his miserable spell with Port, Zico is sensibly looking to relocate to a place where his exploits with with Hoàng Ang Gia Lai have made him a household name, and his reputation is still intact. We wish Zico the best of luck in his future endeavours. It’s a shame things didn’t work out. He is expected to either rejoin Hoàng Ang Gia Lai for a third spell as manager, or most likely take over as Vietnam National Team boss.

 

Angels and Alcohol: Bangkok United vs. Port FC, FA Cup Round of 16

 

Port face the former, and traveling fans will most certainly be in need of the latter.

Port can’t be said to have had the luck of the draw in the FA Cup this year. Getting Bangkok United away is about as tough as it gets, although after Sunday’s five goal romp in Pattaya Port finally look to be regaining their confidence. The first half of the season under new-old manager Jadet saw Port score some stunning upset victories away from home at Muangthong and Chiang Rai, so with team spirit once again lifted following the departure of Zico Bangkok United will have to be wary of a re-invigorated Port.

 

Bangkok United

Players to Watch

 

With this being a cup game, it’s very hard to know who Mano Polking will pick against Port. United will certainly need a strong team – Port are not expected to be push-overs – but he will probably not employ all of the resources at his disposal. I have had a look at the team Mano picked on the weekend against Super Power, and am choosing my Players to Watch based on those who didn’t feature in that 4-0 win.

After getting a rest on the weekend, Teeratep Winothai (14) looks set to replace top goalscorer Dragan Boskovic (7) in the forward line against Port. No surprise really, considering that Teeratep, widely known as Leesaw, banged in 4 goals last time Port visited Thammasat Stadium, and was still popular enough among the traveling support to take selfies with the entire away stand. Cheeky beggar. Leesaw isn’t quite in his prime anymore, but Mano has the former national team superstar working harder than ever, and making an excellent all-round contribution. He’s notched up 8 goals and 4 assists too, which is pretty tidy for a player who has spent as much time on the bench as on the pitch.

Bangkok United’s captain Sanrawat Dechmitr (29) is one of the classiest Thai footballers in the game. He plays between midfield and attack, and has supplied much of the ammunition – 13 assists if you’re counting – that Boskovic (7) has used to fire himself to the top of the goalscoring charts this season. He is at the heart of Bangkok’s cultured attacking style, as Port fans may remember after he helped himself to an assist in both of their league encounters in 2017. If Port are lucky, the man who he shares the creative burden with – Mario Gjurovski (20) – could well be given a rest after starting against Super Power on Saturday. Nevertheless, Sanrawat is more than enough to deal with on his own.

 

Teeratep and Sanrawat

 

Never try to say Anthony Ampaipitakwong’s (6) name after you’ve had a couple of beers. This Thai-American holding midfielder made his name in the MLS for the San Jose Earthquakes, before moving to Buriram and then Bangkok United. He doesn’t do anything fancy – seriously, he doesn’t have a goal or an assist to his name in 2017 – but does a disciplined job in front of the back 4 and has a good range of passing. His willingness to do the hard yards, stay disciplined (just 1 yellow card this season) and play the simple passes makes him a rare and valuable commodity in Thai football.

Do try to say this Thai-German’s name after you’ve had a couple of beers. With any luck, you’ll get a top-up! Manuel Bihr (40) is a Thai-German central defender who played in the second and third tier of German football before being signed by Bangkok United in 2016. He struggled for game-time in 2016, but has earned the right to partner Yohan Tavares (32) with some solid displays in 2017.

 

Anthony Ampaipitakwong and Manuel Bihr

 

Form

 

Bangkok enjoyed a stonking run of 8 consecutive wins from the start of the second leg of the season, but a shock 1-0 defeat to Pattaya United put a dent in their top-2 ambitions, before a crushing 4-0 loss to Muangthong effectively wrote them off. Bangkok United now have 6 points to make up on second place Muangthong, but they also enjoy a 7 point cushion over Chiang Rai who are in fourth. Bangkok will still likely continue to focus their efforts in the league, where another Muangthong collapse is not beyond the realms of possibility, and staying above Chiang Rai in the table to secure the coveted play-off spot for the Asian Champions League is also of paramount importance to the ambitious Angels.

 

Port FC

Starting XI

 

Last week’s hero with his sensational dead-ball deliveries, Panpanpong (19), is unavailable for selection against his parent club, but right back Nitipong (34) returns after his league suspension, which is handy as his understudy Meechok (20) is a doubt after getting the shit kicked out of him for 80 minutes by Pattaya. Pravinwat (55) is suspended after picking up yellow cards in the previous two rounds, and Pakorn (9) is out of action for a month with the injury he picked up against Chonburi.

It seems likely that Jadet will continue with the 4-1-4-1 shape that served Port so well against Pattaya, which will mean Rochela (22) continuing in defensive midfield and Todsapol (6) replacing him in the back line. Todsapol made his long overdue return to action with a man of the match display last weekend, where he was magnificent in both defence and attack, and should once again partner Dolah (4), who was unfortunate to give away two penalties against Pattaya’s crafty Serbs. He deserves his share of the blame for having a handful of Stojanovic’s shirt, although that infringement was outside the area, but there was nothing he could done about Jevtic, who was intent on throwing himself to the ground regardless of what was going on around him. At full back, Yossawat (28) should replace Panpanpong on the left, whilst Nitipong (34) should return in place of Meechok on the right.

In front of Rochela will be Siwakorn (16) and Suarez (5), and out wide will be Genki (18) and possibly Tana (99) again. Alternatively, Ekkapoom (8), Jetjinn (51) or Narakorn (29) could be picked in place of the warbling winger, whilst if Meechok is passed fit, he could play at right back with Nitipong on the wing. Up top will be back-in-form Josimar (30), who has bagged 3 goals in his last 2 games, and is once again looking dangerous in front of goal.

 

Predicted Lineup

 

This is not quite the formation I wanted, but unfortunately Eurosport’s otherwise excellent Best XI lineup generator doesn’t offer the 4-1-4-1 formation that Jadet used on Sunday. Just imagine Rochela playing a bit deeper than Siwakorn.

 

 

The match will be shown live on True4U at 19:00 on Wednesday 27 September, 2017. For those who can’t make it to Thammasat Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will be showing the match on a big screen with sound.

 

They Called Him Zico

 

Did you notice a story in the papers a couple of weeks ago about the Beloved Leader turning on the power line and water supply for a village in Sa Kaeo? Once the guardian of peace and happiness  and his entourage had left, the power and water supply were all turned back off.
It made me laugh – but relating the story to Thais they seemed only slightly amused and less than surprised. They even have a phrase for it “phak chee roay na” which means something like the coriander leaf garnish on top of a dish. And such places are called Potemkin Villages (sorry if you know all this). I’d always thought it had something to do with Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin but it originates from Grigory Potemkin, an architect who made fake, portable village facades to impress (and deceive) Catherine the Great while she was on a tour of Crimea in 1787.
There is, you may not be surprised to hear, a lot of that kind of thing over here.
Once a year I endure a day of suffering at Chaeng Wattana – Immigration Division. Emerging from that scary maze is passing through a looking glass and re-entering Potemkinland.
It s almost everywhere you look: from roly-poly  monks selling snake oil at you local wat that doubles as a money laundry, to  an apoplectic  university lecturer  putting a student in a headlock for failing to prostrate himself before a statue in yet another pathetic, made-up ritual. You know the place -Potemkinland’s highest seat of learning, the one that struggles to come bottom of Asia’s academic league table.
But we Sandpit-Farangs are too smart to be taken in by such things…we knew he wasn’t really Zico (or even Steve McClaren). He was a guy who’d spent a year at Huddersfield and didn’t get a game, and whose national side would hammer Burma & co only to get hammered by Japan & co.
We had no evidence he knew how to set up a team – and he probably thought catenaccio was something shaken in a glass full of ice and topped with whipped cream.
He was, for a few months, the phak chee on our Portemkin FC. The perfect garnish  for our equally photogenic owner. The two of them could hold hands, smile and put reality on hold.
Of course, after only 10 games the jury’s still out – was he totally crap or just a bit crap?
Ah well, as the guy with the megaphone in zone B keeps telling us:
‘We are Tarua…we cheer Tarua’!

Jadet’s Return Ensures Port’s Happy Ending: Pattaya Utd 2-5 Port FC

Like most people I had this nailed on as another away loss against an in form Pattaya United. I had not reckoned on Jadet “the miracle worker” Meelarp. I thought he’d done a competent job at Port, but just saw him as a safe pair of hands.

So on to Sunday with Pakorn (9) hobbling around PAT Stadium and Nittipong (34) suspended due to a red card on Wednesday Jadet had to shuffle the team around. He started with 5 defenders: Meechok (20), Dolah (4), Todsapol (6), Rochela (22), and Panpanpong (19). I thought the main aim of this team was to stop the rot, and maybe sneak an away point. Port played with a back four and had Rochela sitting in front of them as a very defensive midfielder

Without Pakorn and Nittipong our options going forward were always going to be limited. So this was not the expected start. 25 seconds into the game we had a shot on target and within 90 seconds we’d scored. Panpanpong floated in a corner, and Josimar (30) fought his way through the crowd to head in from 6 yards out. A great start, but this was the same heady optimism that greeted the first goal against Chonburi only to be sadly snuffed out. 88 minutes to go in the game, it can’t be that easy, it never is. However Panpanpong only needed 3 more minutes to turn provider again from a free kick. Central defender Todsapol craftily got in between two defenders and headed in, then celebrated like all his birthdays had come at once. Five minutes, two goals, the new manager bounce turned into some sort of magic trampoline act.

 

After more settled play Pattaya started making some headway down the left side. Dolah was dispossessed after a cheeky nudge in the back from Stojanovic (18). Dolah then tried his best to pull him back by the shirt and keep Stojanovic and the foul outside the area. There was minor contact, but the shirt pulling followed by a handy dive convinced the ref to go to the spot. Lee Wonyoung stood up to take the penalty, went for the chip right down the middle and it was 2-1.

Port came right back two minutes later, with what can only be considered the gift of the season. The Pattaya keeper took a fairly easy high ball, then proceeded to release it as his hands came down. The ball dropped at his feet to be met by a wide eyed Todsapol, who was running towards goal to catch the chance of a rebound. I don’t think he could believe it, I had to watch it 3 times before I did.

Mongkol had been enjoying harassing the young Meechok for most of the first half. Just before the break he came a cropper as he picked up his second yellow. Port 3-1 up and playing against ten men in the second half. Surely we have to ….. I can hear Del’s words  “Don’t say it Dom, you know what happened last time. Don’t jinx it.”

Port started the second half well, looking to go forward not just to settle. Pattaya brought on two subs trying to cancel out being a man down. One of the subs Jevtic (30) seemed to be intent on falling over any time the ball came near him in the box. Unfortunately on his third trip to the ground the referee bought it. Dolah was standing next to him, but this time he can feel incredibly hard done by as Jevtic managed to pull a dive out of thin air. Jevtic slotted the penalty home in the 72nd minute. Suddenly all the ghosts of games past seemed to loom large.

Those ghosts materialised before Port’s eyes as Stojanovic was bearing down on the Port goal with only Worawut(36) in front of him. Worawut pulled off an excellent point blank save.

 

Minutes later Tana(99) found himself with tons of space in the box, but in a shock move unselfishly set up Josimar with a golden opportunity. Josi, please don’t just stand there like Cantona, from that reaction I’d thought you’d hit the side netting! It was 4-2 to Port and time to celebrate. Suarez (6) polished off the night with a great run at the end. He shrugged off one challenge, beating the next then booted home the 5th ! yes 5th ! Port goal. Is that the most we’ve scored all season? It must be, it might be, I don’t care.

This result along with the home draw against Buriram and the win, yes a win against Muangthong, provide proof of Meelarp’s miraculous powers.  Let’s see how many more miracles Jadet has left in 2017.

Port now sit in 11th with 37 points, 14 points clear of ailing Sisaket on 23 points in 16th. 5 more games to go this season 15 points to play for. A win against Korat at home, or even just another loss from Sisaket would see us mathematically assured of a place in T1 next year.

 

Can Port Score in Sin City? Pattaya Utd vs. Port FC, 24 September 2017

 

Port return to action on Sunday away against Pattaya United, one of the form teams in the country. Port will be desperately hoping for the famed ‘new manager bounce’, although I’m not sure if that applies as Jadet never left in the first place! The big man’s beaming smile has been the subject of many hilarious memes over the last couple of months, while Zico has repeatedly failed to find his feet at PAT Stadium. With Zico having resigned as promised after the home defeat to Chonburi, Jadet is now back in the hot-seat and we will likely see that care-free semi-retired grin he has been sporting turn more serious, as he tries to push a stalling Port side back up the table. That will not be an easy task against Sunday’s opponents, though.

 

 

Pattaya Utd

Players to Watch

 

Wellington Priori (6) is a tall, rangy central midfielder who had a superb game against Port in the first leg of the season. Strong in the tackle and skillful on the ball, Wellington had it all his way against Port’s diminutive midfield. If Port are going to get the better of Pattaya this time out, thwarting the big Brazilian should be the first order of business.

The Serbs up front. Milos Stojanovic (18) has scored 11 goals and provided 6 assists in 2017. There’s not much to say about him other than he’s very good in the air, and has a half decent shot on him. Most of his goals have come from headers, and most of his assists from knock-downs to his attacking midfielders. I assume. Stats for that kind of thing don’t exist in Thai football, but I would be shocked if it wasn’t the case. His partner in crime – new arrival Aleksander Jevtic (30) – is the same nationality, the same age and just a few centimeters shorter than his teammate. Did Pattaya just try to sign the closest thing they could to Stojanovic? Probably. He’s scored 3 in 6 since arriving, a similar scoring rate to… yeah, you get the picture.

 

Wellington, Stojanovic and Jevtic

 

Picha U-Tra (37) was Port’s tormentor in chief in the 2-0 defeat at PAT Stadium. I’d never heard of this little attacking midfielder before 2017, but he announced himself on the big stage with a brace against Port, before becoming a mainstay in the Thai under 23 team which won the SEA Games last month. He bagged a couple of important goals, too. Picha is very much from the Park Ji-Sung school of attacking midfield. Not particularly skillful or creative, but a constant thorn in the side, and he just never bloody stops running. His two second half goals against Port underline how much he likes to harass tiring defenders in the closing stages of the game. Port’s rear guard must stay alert for the full 90 minutes with Picha around.

Peeradon Chamratsamee (8) is another youngish Thai player to have had a break-through year in 2017. Having had a successful loan spell at Pattaya in 2015 he returned to parent club Muangthong in 2016 where he kicked his heels for a year, before Pattaya secured the 24 year old once again in 2017. Since moving back to the Blue Dolphins, Peeradon has notched 6 goals, 2 assists and even a couple of call ups to the full National Team. Well, he is technically still a Muangthong player after all! With Picha providing the running, Peeradon provides a bit of quality in central midfield.

 

Picha and Peeradon

 

Mongkol Tossakrai (9), as we reported in the mid-season transfer window, was widely thought to have agreed a move to Port, but changed his mind at the last minute and moved to Pattaya instead. Maybe it was the pristine beaches and the promise of a quiet, tranquil life by the sea that persuaded him. Regardless, Mongkol has started all 6 games since his arrival on the coast, including a goal on his debut. Full disclosure, it was 1 of 9 that Pattaya put past Super Power, so shouldn’t really count. Whilst his personal stats haven’t been anything to write home about, Pattaya have enjoyed a stellar run of form since the national team star arrived, scoring 19 goals and conceding just 4. Maybe he knew what he was doing when he spurned Port after all…

I wanted to mention Surachet Ngamtip (77), because he was another player who was on the verge of signing on the dotted line at Port, before moving to Pattaya. Whilst the 26 year old looked like a good signing on paper, apparently Port turned him down based on his medical results. Wait, Port do medicals?! Well, after 4 appearances Surachet suffered a meniscal laceration (or in English, he knackered his knee) and spent the better part of 3 months on the sidelines. The upshot of this was that 6 months later Port ended up signing promising youngster Yossawat (28) from Buriram in his position instead. So… Port made a sensible transfer decision? Knock me down with a feather. Surachet could still make an appearance on Sunday, but he certainly hasn’t had the impact he or Pattaya would have wanted this season.

 

Wellington, Surachet and Mongkol

 

Form

 

Put simply, Pattaya are on fire right now. So much fire that one might even call it a red-light district. 5 league wins from 6 and a goal difference of +16 in the second leg of the season mean that The Blue Dolphins have leaped far ahead of Port in the table. A routine home victory against Not-So-Super Power was followed by a 2-0 win away at Sisaket, where Port discovered that 2 goal leads are not so easy to hang on to. 3-0 wins against Buri’s Ratcha (home) and Suphan (away) rounded off a barn-storming July, before Pattaya came storming back from the break, ending Bangkok Utd’s winning run by condemning them to a 1-0 defeat. Pattaya stuttered a little last week, drawing 2-2 with Navy on the weekend, before Honda held them to a 0-0 draw on Wednesday. Nevertheless, over the last 7 games, this is the second best team in the league versus the second worst.

 

Port

Starting XI – Jadet’s Right Hand Men

 

With Nitipong seeing red against Chonburi and Pakorn (9) hobbling around on crutches after going off injured, Jadet has a selection dilemma on the right hand side.

Last time Port started with a right winger who wasn’t Pakorn, they slumped to a 5-1 loss against Honda, with the one goal coming from substitute… yep, Pakorn. Oh dear. That day, Meechok (20) came in at right back, with Nitipong (34) playing on the wing. Ah. So, on to plan C, then.

It seems most likely that Jadet will shift Genki (18) over to the right, with either Tana (99), Jetjinn (51) or Ekkapoom (8) on the left. Having been frozen out under Zico, Port’s crowd favourite Ekkapoom must be absolutely dying for a run-out!

A return to action for young right back Meechok seems certain, but who Jadet picks on the left is anybody’s guess. I can see the value of bringing in Ekkapoom, whose energy and direct play might be just what Port need to lift their spirits after their horrific run of form. Jetjinn has also looked useful going forward, but having not seen him play on the wing yet, it’s tough to say if he’s in with a shout. What I can’t see the value in is any game time whatsoever for Tana. Ergo, he will almost certainly be the man that Pang, I mean Jadet, turns to.

In other areas of the pitch, it will be interesting to see if Jadet brings Adisorn (13) back in to midfield in favour of Pummared (41). Pummared has been playing pretty well, but Jadet could hardly be blamed for trying to return to the winning formula that served him well in the first half of the season. That will probably also mean that Panpapong (19) keeps his place on the left once again, with Yossawat (28) having to settle for picking splinters out of his arse on the bench. Any other changes are unlikely, with Port’s squad offering the manager very little in the way of options.

 

Predicted Starting XI

 

 

The match will be shown live on True Sport 6 at 19:00 on Sunday 24 September, 2017. For those who can’t make it to Dolphin Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will be showing the match on a big screen with sound.

 

Zic & Tired: Kiatisak Quits Port

 

Yesterday afternoon Port announced what we’d all known since midway through Wednesday’s second-half capitulation against Chonburi: Zico has left the building, leaving the club looking at their 8th coaching appointment since the start of 2015 and raising more questions about the competence of the club’s management.

It was not quite a reign of Frank De Boer-esque brevity, but at 3 months and a mere 10 league games it was pretty damn close, and whilst Zico’s stats are slightly better than Frank’s, the figures are still pretty damning – 1 win in 10 league games (against doomed Thai Honda), 3 draws, 6 defeats, 6 points from a possible 30. It’s that last stat, and its comparison with his predecessor Jadet, that truly damns Zico. Under Jadet this season, Port averaged 1.70 points per game – enough to give them 58 points over a whole season. Under Zico, that figure plummeted to 0.6 points per game, or just over 20 points per season – guaranteed relegation.

You could of course argue that Zico was given a bad hand. He joined Port at the end of a transfer window which had already seen the Maranhao/Kaludjerovic debacle as well as the departures of Hansson, Asdrubal, Tatchanon & Pinyo, leaving him little time to improve a threadbare squad – anyone doubting the poverty of Zico’s resources would merely need to have looked at the bench on Wednesday and observe Wuttichai, Tana and Siwapong sitting on it to realise that Port’s player cupboard is bare. And there were some good performances under Zico, notably the home defeat to Chiang Rai (when only a miraculous goalkeeping display from Nont deprived the home side of 3 points) and the 0-0 draw at Bangkok Glass, one of the team’s finest performances of the season.

But what really undid Zico was a string of poor performances against struggling teams that Port would’ve expected to beat. That laboured away win at Ayutthaya in the League Cup for example, or the pitiful late capitulations against Sukhothai and Police Tero. Zico would’ve known that making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear is part of the job description for Port coaches, and whilst Jadet was adept at getting his players to punch above their weight, Zico appeared to lack his predecessor’s inspirational powers. A few vignettes stick in the mind: Port’s goalkeeping coach interrupting Zico’s cosy chats with Madame Pang to alert him to what was going on on the pitch; substituting Suarez in the middle of one of his rare good performances (against Sukhothai) to replace him with the hapless Siwapong; telling Pakorn, the club’s finest attacking talent, to play in defence at Police Tero; and in the same game, Zico & his mates on the bench having a good laugh after Josimar missed a header. The impression was of a man who had no idea how to get the best out of a limited but enthusiastic squad, and who didn’t really care that much either.

For Mme Pang of course, the appointment was only ever a PR/marketing exercise, and on those terms at least, it has been a success. Brand Port has been all over the media, raising the club’s profile (if not necessarily its stature), whilst Brand Pang has also been burnished, showing the big swinging dicks at Buriram & Muangthong that she too has the metaphorical balls to pull off the big moves. If things didn’t work out on the footballing side, so what? Port will still, barring a miracle, be a T1 club next season, so what does a little mid-season chaos & disruption matter?

What next for Zico? Well, as one who doesn’t follow the Thai national team I take as much interest in Zico now as I did before he joined Port, ie very little. What matters to The Sandpit is what’s next for Port. It seems that Mme Pang has given Jadet his old job back, with a fresh (and no doubt improved) two-year contract, but the old problems still remain – an inadequate playing squad, a leaking defence, an utterly clueless recruitment policy, and most significantly, La Pang’s limited contract as chairwoman which prevents any long-term planning. Pang needs to extend her tenure as soon as possible, and give Jadet – or whoever is in the post come the end of the season – complete autonomy (and a proper T1 budget) in the transfer market. A dedicated defence coach would help too.

As it is, the latest episode in the ongoing Port FC soap opera – Dallas meets Mike Bassett – is now over, and we await the next drama with morbid interest. In years to come, Thai football historians will look back on Zico’s brief reign as they do on Kayne Vincent’s Port career, the departure of Maranhao or the existence of Siwapong – by scratching their heads and asking themselves “What the fuck was THAT all about?”

 

The Artist Currently Known as Prince; The Fall of Zico: Port FC 1-3 Chonburi FC

 

Well what a 24 hours this has been… the club is in turmoil and one win in ten games leaves us now in a relegation fight, make no mistake about it. I was very optimistic and I openly shared this view in the sandpit prior to the game as I really felt that it was time the players showed some balls and played for their manager. The optimism was there right up until the sixtieth minute.

Port matched Chonburi in the first half although it was very clear that they were more menacing on the ball with Prince Amponsah (29) and Nakano (7) operating at a very high intensity but the first real chance of the game came from another Pakorn (9) free kick that crashed off the crossbar. Both teams evened themselves out until a beautiful defence splitting pass from Sergio Suarez (5) sent Josimar (30) racing clear to slide the ball past Chanin (35) in the Chonburi goal. Genki (18) then skied a lovely measured Pakorn pass when he should have done better on his trusted left foot. Port then had two goals ruled offside: the first was clearly off, but the second a – slip pass through to Genki – was touch and go.

 

 

With Port’s heads still in the changing room the self-destruction started. Good link up play from Marques (14) and The Prince led to the latter driving the ball low and hard into the bottom corner. Port rallied and the introduction of Tana (99) added extra spice to our attack and within five minutes of his arrival the aforementioned headed over from eight yards with the defender just doing enough to put him off.

Suarez who had a good game came close a couple of minutes later hooking his shot past the post. With ten minutes to go the potent strike force struck the killer blow this time Prince the provider for Marques who had his first shot excellently blocked by Worawut (36) only for the rebound to fall to his feet and he dispatched into an empty net. The game was now over as a contest and The Sharks were deservedly in front. Nitipong (34) then received his marching orders for a mistimed challenge that, although clearly intentional was not malicious. Two minutes later The Prince caught a cross field ball sweetly on his right foot and drilled it into Worawut’s right hand far post. That was it from me I was overdosing on Leo when the final whistle sounded, all my positivity drained out of me like a mosquito bite!

 

“And then he put Pakorn at right back!”

 

Zico announced his departure in the post-match press conference as expected. What happens next is anyone’s fucking guess! With Pang at the helm we will either have Jadet back, or she will try doing the job herself. This situation needs to be sorted immediately. Actually, looking at our prolific recent record, the process should have started four games ago which feels like last Christmas the way this season has been going!