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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.