Imagine a Port team second in the league. They have the best defence and the best goal difference. It’s well in to the second half of the season, and if Port can match their biggest rivals – the league leaders – point-for-point until the final day of the season, then beat them in a Christmas Eve end-of-season winner-takes-all decider at home, the league title will be heading to Port for the first time since 2007. It’s a David and Goliath contest. The league leaders’ captain and national team icon has netted 251 times in 226 appearances for the club, their star foreign player has played 70 internationals for Brazil, and their home ground dwarfs their Khlong Toei competitors by a ratio of 15:1.
No, this is not just some bizarre concoction of my Leo-addled imagination, this is the scarcely believable reality in the Futsal Thai League. A perfect finish to the season would see Thai Port Futsal Club seal a first league win in 10 years, but the dominant force in Thai futsal stands between them and glory. Chonburi Bluewave have secured 7 consecutive league titles, and are the current AFC Futsal Club Championship holders. They have taken on and defeated all comers across the continent from Iran to Japan, but what will face them on Christmas Eve will be a rather different challenge.
Chonburi face a trip to what may as well be called the Khlong Toei sauna. Port’s Kodang Stadium is in such a state that the roof leaks water slap-bang in to the centre-circle when it rains. Screw your AFC-mandated standards, this is Khlong Toei. The heat and sound rattle around inside Port’s ramshackle warehouse like Siwakorn in a pin-ball machine. Each drum beat hits you like an Elias Dolah tackle, and you sweat like Jadet from start to finish.
Still, there is work to be done if Port are to reach the promised land. Seasoned champions that they are, Chonburi aren’t likely to drop points, so any Port slip-up could be fatal. Can they do it? Well, they’ve won 13 of 17 games to date. 9 more remain. Stranger things have happened.
Here are Port’s up-coming fixtures, for anyone who wants to get in on the act before Port’s potentially historic final-day decider. You’ll be able to say you went to the futsal before it was mainstream. The home game against Sisaket, then the three on consecutive Sundays to close out the season look ideal to me.
Sunday 12 November: AWAY against Samut Sakhon, 16:00 ko
Saturday 18 November: HOME at Kodang Stadium against Pattaya Thai-Tech, 18:00 ko (clashes with Ratchaburi away – gutted!)
Sunday 26 November: AWAY against Nakhon Ratchasima, 18:00 ko
Wednesday 29 November: HOME at Kodang Stadium against Sisaket, 18:00 ko
Saturday 2 December: AWAY against Bangkok City, 18:00 ko
Sunday 10 December: HOME at Kodang Stadium against Navy, 16:00 ko
Wednesday 13 December: AWAY against Surat Thani, 18:00 ko
Sunday 17 December: HOME at Kodang Stadium against Bangkok BTS, 16:00 ko (Bangkok BTS are currently third in the league – this will be a crucial game)
Sunday 24 December: HOME at Kodang Stadium against Chonburi Bluewave, 16:00 ko