Down the Ratch! Ratchaburi FC vs. Port FC, 18 November 2017

 

Saturday’s trip to Ratchaburi will bring the curtain down on an eventful 2017 season for Port. We’ve had the usual ups, downs, managerial mayhem and transfer tomfoolery. Along the way we’ve beaten our biggest rivals, been thrashed by a team who got relegated and done just about everything in-between. There were goals-a-plenty, brave come-backs, leads thrown away, more penalties than most shoot-outs and enough yellow cards to make Big Sam blush. So, what should we expect on Saturday? Well, more of the same would be a safe bet. Expect goals, penalties, cards, ridiculous substitutions and maddening tactical maneuvers. Expect good, bad and ugly football, beautiful skills, inexplicable errors and shameless cheating. Expect passionate support, emotional farewells, soppy speeches and most of all a very unhealthy amount of photos. Expect Port to be Port, because that’s just all we know how to do, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Anyway, before I start getting too sentimental, there’s an opposition to dissect. Scalpel, please…

 

Marcel Essombe (18) enjoyed a superb first half of 2017, banging in 13 goals in 14 starts and being among the highest scorers in the league. He has slowed down a little in the second half of the season, scoring 6 times in 14 starts, but is still undoubtedly among the best strikers in the league. His height and strength make him a handful for any defence, and he will provide a particularly tough test for Todapol (6) if he keeps his place ahead of the more physical Dolah (4). What Port wouldn’t have given for a tall striker as proficient in the air as Essombe this season! Interestingly, Essombe hasn’t started Ratchaburi’s last 2 league games, although he came off the bench to provide a crucial late assist during Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Honda.

In a truly comedic twist for Port fans, the man who has taken Essombe’s place up front in the last 2 league games is former Port ‘striker’ Sompong Soleb (14). Yeah, that’s right, I can’t even bring myself to highlight his name. That’s how bad he is. Combine the work-rate of Tana, the skill of Weera, the strength of Siwakorn, the positional discipline of Panpanpong and the sportsmanship of Suarez, and you have Sompong. He’s like the Frankenstein’s monster of shit footballers. With 6 goals (and no assists… #teamplayer) to his name in 2017 you could argue that he’s less awful than Tana, but I’d take issue with that. Yes, this guy is that bad!

Alharbi El Jadeyaoui (10) is a French-born Moroccan who plays on the left wing. He’s tall, rangy and looks pretty dangerous, although with just 5 goals and 7 assists in 2017 he probably doesn’t do as much damage going forward as he should. Expect the much taller Alharbi to give Nitipong (34) a tough test on Saturday, but be hit-and-miss with his end product.

 

Marcel Essombe, Sompong Soleb and Alharbi El Jadeyaoui. Sompong is as accurate with his water bottle as he is in front of goal.

 

Half-Thai full-backs Kevin Deeromram (23) and Philip Roller (33) have had breakthrough seasons in 2017. At just 19, Kevin is one of the youngest players to feature regularly in T1, and has provided a goal and 8 assists so far in 2017. He is superb on the ball, and one of the best crossers around. Philip has also looked excellent since joining Ratchaburi for the second leg, but has not been nearly as productive from the right. Playing about half his games at full-back and half in midfield, Philip has notched up just 2 assists. If the 23 year old can sort out his final ball, he will be a real handful.

In their opening-day encounter, Port were frustrated by a superb performance from centre-half Santos. Port fans will be happy to hear that the Brazilian has now moved on, although the main man at the back on Saturday will be the bigger and possibly scarier Joel Sami (3). I haven’t seen much of this 1.91m Congolese centre half, but he seems to tick all the boxes for a top foreign defender in the Thai league.

 

Kevin Deeromram, Philip Roller and Joel Sami

 

Ratchaburi will likely introduce dynamic youngster Montree Promsawat (14) in the second half. This 22 year old right winger is mighty pacy, and will be the last thing a tiring Panpanpong (19) wants to see. Former national team player Rungrath Poomchantuek (11), who was linked to Port mid-season will also likely start on the bench and look to make an impact late on.

 

Form

 

Ratchaburi come in to Saturday’s game on a tidy run of form, having secured 4 wins and suffered 2 losses in their last 6. The wins came against Sisaket, Suphanburi, Navy and Honda, with the defeats against Bangkok Utd and Buriram. Port are in even better nick, though, having won 4, drawn 1 and suffered 1 defeat. The defeat came in Zico’s final game in charge against Chonburi, meaning Jadet has an unbeaten run to defend. Wins against Pattaya and Nakhon Ratchasima were followed by a draw with Muangthong, after which Port dispatched Super Power and Sisaket with ease in their last 2 games. Both teams have been scoring for fun, and neither has kept a clean sheet in their last 5 games.

 

Port FC

Starting XI

 

Usually these Starting XIs are pretty straightforward, but on Saturday pretty much nothing would surprise me. Could the old guard be given one last hurrah? They certainly could. Ittipol (7), Pakasit (2), Wuttichai (14) and Tana (99) – none of whom should be at the club next season – could very well be called upon. Could those who have barely made it on to the pitch be given a sympathy run-out? Watchara (66) in goal perhaps, Pakasit and Anisong (15) at the back and Narakorn (29) and Siwapong (97) in midfield? I can see that happening. Equally, foreign stars Josimar (30) and Genki (18) could be given game-time in a Port shirt for the last time, and home-town boy Ekkapoom (8) could be made captain for the day. And what about the youngsters? Could Meechok (20) and Yossawat (28) get starts at fullback? Who knows? The one thing that’s almost certain is that if I make fantastical predictions then Jadet will almost certainly pick his best XI and I’ll look like a plum. Or the reverse. So, let’s just say this almost certainly isn’t going to be who Jadet will pick.

 

 

The match will be shown live on True Sport 2 at 18:00 on Saturday 18 November, 2017. For those who can’t make it to Ratchaburi, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound if you ask them nicely. Mention the Sandpit or wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount while you’re at it!

 

The Sandpit’s 2017 Port FC Player of the Year Poll

 

It’s time once again to vote for your Port FC Player of the Year! Cap’n David Rochela won the 2016 vote with a landslide and will no doubt be amongst the favourites this time round. But there are plenty of other contenders including top scorer Josimar, Mr Productive Pakorn, the resurgent Sergio Suarez, and midfield genius Siwakorn to name but four. We’ve selected the 12 top candidates so if you’re hoping to vote for Tana or Wuttichai, please move along.

To cast your vote, click below (you can only vote once). Voting ends on Wednesday 22 November.

 

 

Sayonara & Adeus! Genki & Josimar to Leave Port

 

‘Tis a sad day at Sandpit Towers as we learn of the departure of two of our, or at least my, favourite Port FC stars. As I type this, my salt tears drip onto the keyboard, my wife drapes a consoling arm around my shoulder, and I stare disconsolately into the bottom of my wine glass. Because, dear readers, on Saturday, messrs Genki Nagasato and Josimar Rodrigues will put on the hallowed blue & orange for the last time, for both are moving on at the end of the 2017 season.

Genki Nagasato

Genki joined us from Ratchaburi – where, fittingly, he will play his last game in Thailand on Saturday – at the start of the 2016 T2 season, and quickly won the hearts of Port fans with his hard-working, all-action style. No, he’s never going to be mistaken for a Messi or a Neymar, and he may have the delicate first touch of a chest of drawers, but there are few sights in Thai football that gladden the heart more than seeing the Genk, socks down, pelting down the left (or occasionally, for reasons best known to Jadet, the right) wing, and his sheer joy at scoring a goal, or simply playing football in general, is infectious. In his 2 years at Port, Genki always gave 110%, was never seen diving or play-acting, and very obviously enjoyed every single bloody minute on the pitch, which is a lot rarer than it should be.

Favourite Genki Moment

We didn’t expect him to figure much in 2017 – indeed many were surprised that he was still on Port’s books when the season started – but he popped up 5 minutes into injury time in our first game at home to Ratchaburi to head home a late equaliser and spark wild scenes of celebration on the terraces amongst fans who’d been starved of football for nearly 6 months; since when he’s pretty much been a first-team regular.

Josimar Rodrigues

The Brazilian striker joined Port a couple of games into 2017 on the back of an impressive 2016 T1 season at relegated Army Utd, where he bagged 16 goals. He may not have turned out to be the Scary Foreign Striker Port fans have long craved, but his 17-goal haul so far this season is the best return for any Port striker since King Leandro in 2014. And he’s always done it with a smile on his face and, like Genki, by working his knackers off in every game, despite being in a team that has consistently failed to give him the kind of service he thrives on. He’s a good honest player and, as we found when we interviewed him earlier this year, he’s also a lovely bloke with a great sense of humour. He also featured in the first ever Portcast, and for that alone he will go down in Sandpit folklore.

Favourite Josi Moment

He scored twice in 2 minutes at Muangthong to help Port to a 3-2 win. What more need I say.

 

Genki is apparently heading back to Japan; Josi’s next destination is as yet unknown. As they played together in Japan and again at Port it’s possible they may move together. But whichever team takes them on will get players who put in a shift every game, and play the game as it’s meant to be played – with great sportsmanship and a big smile. The Sandpit thanks them for their contribution to Port, bids them farewell, wishes them the best of luck for the future, and hopes we see them back at the PAT in the very near future – and we’ll make sure to give them a good send-off at Ratchaburi on Saturday!

 

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk: Hwan Love

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk is back a little earlier than expected! Usually we have to wait until the end of the season to start talking confirmed signings, but this season Port have got stuck in to their transfer business early and there are already two pretty-much confirmed signings, with one more that is likely to be confirmed in the near future. As always, bear in mind that even transfers that have already been confirmed can quickly become unconfirmed. We do our best to separate the rumours from the reality, but it’s a tricky business!

 

Kim Sung-Hwan

 

The headline news is the arrival of 30 year old Kim Sung-Hwan, a tall South Korean who will add strength and experience to Port’s midfield. With Genki having said his goodbyes to PAT Stadium last Saturday, Kim will be taking the AFC foreigner spot in 2018. He arrives from Korean powerhouse Ulsan Hyundai, who he has played 83 games for since 2013, and captained several times in 2017. I haven’t seen him in action yet – besides this Youtube clip – but Ulsan are one of the top teams in the K League, so Port fans can expect to be signing an excellent player. So far, so good…

 

Chakrit Rawanprakone

 

Port’s other confirmed arrival is Chakrit Rawanprakone, a left-footed forward/winger who has joined from Korat. Chakrit was in and out of the Korat first team in 2017, scoring 4 goals and providing 2 assists. He has been brought in to challenge for the left-wing berth, which already has many suitors in Port’s squad, although a few of those are likely to move on in the transfer window. Yes, Tana and Narakorn, I’m looking at you.

 

Athibordee Atirat

 

A third reported but as-yet unconfirmed signing is Athibordee Atirat, a versatile 25 year old also from Korat. Swatcats’ occasional captain Athibordee can play at the back or in midfield, so should be a useful guy to have around, but is unlikely to be in the first XI. The new Ittipol, basically. Athibordee has apparently already been seen training at PAT Stadium, so this one is in the ‘very likely’ column.

Here are a few conclusions I’m drawing from Port’s little shopping spree.

  • Getting transfers done early is usually a good idea. The more time the new players have to train together and get used to the club, the better the team likely to start the season.
  • The biggest weakness in Port’s first XI has been identified and addressed. Having Kim in the team in place of Adisorn should make a huge difference.
  • Port’s two Thai transfers may not be particularly inspiring, but at least we’ve upgraded our bargain basement from BBCU to Korat.

Stay tuned for more transfer news. There will be a lot of moving and shaking in the coming weeks, and as always we’ll do our best to keep you updated.

 

Port Accrue Big ‘Det: Coach Signs New Contract for 2018

 

Prior to the club’s final game of the 2017 season on Saturday, Mme Pang has announced that coach Jadet’s services have been retained for 2018. Since taking back his place on the bench following the bizarre and unsuccessful Zico experiment, Jadet’s league record reads played 5, won 4, drawn 1, with that draw coming against Muangthong, and a season that looked like fizzling out or worse, turning into a relegation battle, has been turned around, with Port only needing a point in their last game to guarantee a top half finish.

In an interview with Goal, La Pang revealed that she is, and this is from Google Translate lest you think I’m being naughty, “glad to be able to make a happy end to the fans.” Bet those of you who left early on Saturday are regretting it now eh? She also stated that next season will be tough with 5 clubs going down, and that the club are already planning for next season.

As for Jadet, whilst I still don’t think he’s the guy to take Port up to the next level, it’s hard to argue with his achievements since taking over midway through 2016. Promotion back to T1, a League Cup semi-final, THAT win over Muangthong and a top 10 T1 finish for a club who cannot compete financially with most of the teams around them, is a pretty damned impressive record. But with 5 teams facing the drop next season and Pang likely to splash more cash than usual during the close season, the pressure will be on the big fella from day 1 and a slow start could well see our fragrant chairwoman wield the axe. Whatever happens, you’ll read about it on The Sandpit!

 

The Queen Bees’ Knees & the Return of a King: Port FC 5-3 Sisaket FC

 

In the end, this was a thoroughly entertaining match to round off what has been, despite some frustrations, a solid season from Port. Any place from 10th–8th is now possible and would represent progress. The last time we went into a season sitting comfortably in mid-table with no excitement of promotion to look forward to, or relegation to fear, was in 2011! So, joining the rest of the Sandpit in Zone B in a carefree, happy, Leo enhanced mood was indeed a rare treat.

The Port line-up raised a few eyebrows but every cloud has a silver lining. Some players were being given, we suspected, a final run-out in a Port shirt, most notably, the often, deservedly maligned Tana (99) and he was certainly to live down to expectations. 33 year old Ittipol (7) is already confirmed to be on his way at the end of the season, and he was also given a final 90 minutes at PAT Stadium.

Apart from some typical left wing raids from Genki (18) and a header which went close from the same player, the opening half an hour was typical of Thai League football: great first touch, fast, neat, incisive passing, tricky wing play, rash tackles and the odd dash of theatrics but, like a Japanese tourist in a Nana Plaza pay-by-the-hour hotel, short on penetration.

It might be an age thing, but at times like this my mind does wander; random thoughts started to meander through my head, though still obscurely connected to the scene unfolding before me:

  • Madame Pang’s legs are far too pale for her to be wearing skimpy shorts on a wet Saturday in November
  • I wonder how much it would cost to rent a flat in the orange and blue painted apartment block behind Zone D
  • I miss seeing the temperature updates on the old scoreboard
  • Is Tana the square root of nothing?

 

 

Then, just as my thinking delved into the existential, a goal of infinite beauty, yet stark simplicity, lit up PAT Stadium in the 37th minute; Pakorn (9) delivering a defence splitting pass for Suarez (5) to race on to and power past the keeper. The Spaniard has been on fire recently and was having another of his better games.

Half-time did nothing to disturb Port’s new-found momentum and, after a couple of narrow misses, on 53 minutes, Genki Nagasato ran on to another through ball to the right of the penalty area and smashed in a shot off the post. Beats ‘working as a waitress in a cocktail bar’, the Sandpit in Zone B reminded him. He had laboured hard for that goal and it was well deserved.

 

 

Three minutes later, Zone B was again in raptures when Todsapol (6) seemed the most likely scorer with a glancing header from a corner. At one point it appeared that Tana was about to claim the goal but the hapless midget would have needed a stepladder to have nodded that one in, so his celebrations were largely ignored.

Port were rampant now and chances came and went, at both ends of the pitch to be fair, with Rattanai (17), who had been superb, pulling off a couple of acrobatic saves to deny Sisaket a consolation goal. Then, in the 73rd minute, came possibly Port’s best worked goal of the season, Suarez expertly side-footing the ball into the net after a rapid exchange of passes in the box, the final assist from the recently introduced Ekkapoom (8): 4-0.

 

Image by การท่าเรือ เอฟซี Port FC

 

Sisaket pulled one back before the always energetic ‘Poom’, who adds more to our attack in two minutes than Tana (whom he replaced) does in 200, was to figure prominently for the 5th goal in the 85th minute; the Sisaket keeper bringing him down illegally after another burst into the box. As soon as the penalty was given, David Rochela (22, or David Roosevelt according to Google Translate) left his place at the back to assume his duties and, despite some muted protest from Josimar, duly dispatched it well out of the keeper’s reach.

 

Image by การท่าเรือ เอฟซี Port FC

 

And that, really, should have been it. Port were leading comfortably, and quite deservedly, after a compelling second half performance. But, just as if to remind us that old habits die hard, Port performed at their most Portsy in extra time, conceding two sloppy goals to give a slightly distorted look to the result. Still, none of us would begrudge Sisaket and their wonderful travelling fans this belated consolation.

So, some home comfort to send the fans away happy, which is more than I can say about the club’s, and Queen Bee Madame Pang has to be heavily implicated in this, feeble attempts to commemorate 50 years of Thai Port football and appropriately reward her worker bees. I did mention this in my match preview, but quite frankly, it has been pathetic. My memory may be playing tricks, but I am sure we have had end-of-season parties on the field outside the club shop in recent years, the two most memorable being the promotion party in 2013 and the relegation party (!) the season before.  For various reasons I am sure, the turn out today was very disappointing, but those of us who were there deserved better.

Still, there was one supreme consolation at the end, which will live long in my memory certainly. King Leandro was in the Sandpit. And looking trim. He shook my hand, signed my shirt and said, in a warm, cuddly tone, “I remember you”. Amazingly, all this after we had just been discussing his Port career over post match beers. Those of you who have read my footballing love letter to him: ‘Leandro, Portrait of an Icon’ will understand my turning into jelly – it was man-love at its finest and no doubt cringingly embarrassing for those who witnessed it. I offer no apologies.  Ratchaburi – here we come!

 

 

Tim’s Man of the Match – Sergio Suarez

OK, I hold my hands up on this one – I’ve spent most of the season criticising Suarez for only showing up for one game every 3-4, but in the last few weeks he’s been absolutely superb, and last night he was magnificent. Two goals, and bossing the game like no player I’ve seen since Zidane tearing Howard Wilkinson’s England a new one in 1999, or the peerless Berndt Schuster silencing Old Trafford for Atletico Madrid in 1991. Admittedly this is a slightly lower level than that but if he can keep up this kind of form then SS (er, maybe not) may be lining up in Port’s midfield next season. And maybe he’ll unblock the Sandpit on Instagram now…

 

Past Forward – The Prequel: Port’s Foreign Strikers Since 2009

 

Tom: “Raise. Thierry Fidjeu.”

Marco: “I see your Thierry Fidjeu, and raise you a Douglas dos Santos.”

Tom: “A what now?”

Marco: “A Douglas dos Santos. You know, that bloke who was at Port in 2010 who never played a competitive game.”

Tom: “Erm… No?”

Marco: “You know the guy, no photographic evidence of his time with Port and no record of where he’s been before or since.”

Tom: “Fine, you win. I’m not playing anymore.”

 

In this prequel to Past Forward: Port’s Foreign Strikers Since 2012, Marco takes us all the way back to 2009. Where Wikipedia and Transfermarkt fail, Marco’s treasure chest of knowledge succeeds in bringing us some fascinating stories from the glory days when Port were winning FA Cups, and their strikers were… oh, right… they were still rubbish. Take it away, Marco!

 


 

We’ll start with Thai Port’s FA Cup Final hero Edvaldo. ‘Eddie’ arrived in Thailand with a CV as long as your arm and more stamps in his passport than a dodgy English teacher, having plied his trade in Portugal, Switzerland, Mexico, USA, Ecuador and China – as well as several clubs in Brazil. He was tall and strong but about as mobile as an IKEA wardrobe. He was, however, a very effective target man – the perfect foil for his goal poaching strike partner Pipat Tonkanya. The pair combined for Edvaldo’s goal in the 2009 FA Cup Final to level the score at 1-1 after Wuttichai Tatong had given BEC Tero the lead. The Brazilian also calmly slotted a penalty in the subsequent shoot-out – which we won 5-4 – ending Port’s 16-year trophy drought.

His FA Cup Final heroics proved to be the high-point of Edvaldo’s time at PAT Stadium. He was retained for the 2010 season but barely featured amid rumours of a bust-up with manager Sasom Pobpraserd. He was allowed to leave during the mid-season transfer window and joined Chiang Rai United for the remainder of the campaign, scoring 8 in 16 games. Eddie continued playing for one last season with lower league side Phang Nga F.C. before calling time on his career at the age of 37 with his name firmly etched into Thai Port folklore.

 

Edvaldo

 

Next up is Douglas Dos Santos. The odd man out during the 2010 season – the original Matias Jadue. A player so obscure, there is no photographic evidence of his time at PAT Stadium. He definitely exists though, honestly. I remember him playing in an attacking midfielder/striker role in a few friendly games. He joined us aged 30-year-old from… erm ….not sure… and he left during the mid-season break and signed for… erm …not sure.

The one thing we can say with 100% certainty about Douglas is that he failed to make a first-team appearance for Thai Port. He signed during pre-season but Sasom then added Yoshiaki Maruyama, Hiroshi Morita and Jacob Aikhiobare to a squad that already contained four foreign players; Edvaldo, Mario Cesar Da Silva, Ulrich Munze and Moudourou Swa-Moise. 8 into 7 doesn’t go, so Douglas was left to kick his heels for 6 months before departing mid-season with his anonymity well and truly intact.

 

Douglas dos Santos. Maybe.

 

The lesson of signing one foreign player too many was not heeded and the same situation arose in the 2011 season with calamitous consequences. English defender Jay Harris penned a contract at PAT Stadium and was fully expected fill the seventh foreign player spot. However, a day before the Transfer Deadline, we signed Yu Myeong Han and registered him in our TPL squad instead of Harris. The South Korean defender then broke an ankle in one his first training sessions, leaving us with 7 fit foreign players on the books but only 6 of them available for selection for the first half of the season. You couldn’t make it up. (Ed – Thai Fussball interviewed Jay Harris, and talked in depth about this situation and lots of other Port-related stuff – an excellent read! click here)

 

Japanese striker Hiroshi Morita joined Port from J-League 2 side Ventforet Kofu a few weeks into the 2010 season. The gangly forward didn’t have the best of times in Khlong Toei, netting just one goal for the club in a 2-0 away win at Army United. With Sasom happy to let Sarayoot Chaikamdee, Sompong Soleb and Jacob Aikhionbare spearhead the attack, Morita said sayonara to Thai football during the mid-season break and joined ambitious J-League 3 side V-Varen Nagasaki, where he scored 4 goals in 13 games.

It is fair to say that we didn’t see the best of a striker who was clearly coming towards the end of his playing days. The most successful spell of his career was with Omiya Ardija for whom he scored their first ever J-League 1 goal in 2005. On top of that he bagged a match-winner against local rivals Urawa Red Diamonds at Saitama Stadium. That pretty much guaranteed his ‘cult hero’ status with Omiya supporters. He definitely won’t be remembered as fondly by Thai Port fans, if he is even remembered at all.

 

Hiroshi Morita

 

Jacob Aikhionbare – The pacey Nigerian forward joined Port from Sunshine Stars in 2010 (despite what his Wikipedia page says). He had a good first season at PAT Stadium, scoring plenty of goals – including a brace in the unforgettable League Cup Semi-Final second leg against Siam Navy. Thai Port were 4-1 down on aggregate with 34 minutes remaining and fought back to win 5-4 at an empty PAT Stadium (due to yet another fan ban). Our name was clearly on the Cup. They should have handed us the trophy straight after that game.

Jacob was also a first-team regular during the 2011 season. Port reached the final of the League Cup for the second season in a row and finished seventh in the league – despite 4 influential players and the manager joining Buriram FC mid-season. Several other squad members, including Jacob, left at the end of the season after a dispute over unpaid wages and on-going uncertainty over the future of the club.

He joined BBCU (now defunct) for the 2012 season, a club with a minuscule fanbase. Why they decided to play their 2012 fixtures at the cavernous Rajamangala Stadium is anyone’s guess. The season didn’t go well for Jacob or BBCU in their grandiose surroundings. He scored just two goals – one was against us, obviously – whilst BBCU won only 4 games and were relegated along with Port and TTM.

Jacob has subsequently played for both Globlex F.C. (now defunct) and Samut Prakan United in the lower leagues.

 

Jacob Aikhionbare

 

Valci Junior – The Steve Claridge of Thai football. In Thailand alone he has played for TOT (defunct), Sisaket, TTM (defunct), Thai Port, Nakhon Ratchasima, Rayong United, Bangkok FC, Krabi, Ayutthaya and Udon Thani – where he spent the 2017 season. On top of that you can add spells in his native Brazil, Oman and Japan. To call the 30-year-old ‘nomadic’ would be something of an understatement.

Valci’s goalscoring prowess over the years – if you believe his Wikipedia page – looks impressive. He allegedly scored 7 league goals for Port in 18 games in 2011. I’m far from convinced. He was sidelined for most of the campaign with an ankle injury sustained in the fifth game of the season – at which point he hadn’t scored a single goal for the club and had barely broken sweat in any of the games. He ranks alongside Kaluderovic as the laziest player I’ve seen at PAT Stadium. He might have scored 1 or 2 league goals towards the end of the season but none immediately spring to mind. You can draw your own conclusions on this one.

 

Valci Junior

 

The next player was so forgettable I had to really wrack my brain just to remember his name. Bruno Santos was a member of the Port squad for the 2012 season, joining from Chainat. He was injured more often than not during his time at PAT Stadium. When he was fit, he looked very poor in an awful side that were relegated to the second tier. He definitely scored at least one goal in a Port shirt – an equaliser in a 2-2 draw against his former club Chainat. Sadly he doesn’t have a Wikipedia page with an artificially inflated goals tally, so we’ll never know if he added to his account.

Where he’s been playing in the intervening years remains a bit of a mystery, but he was back on the radar at the start of the current season when he joined Ubon Ratchathani F.C. in T3. He netted only 3 goals during the campaign. Not exactly a goal machine is our Bruno.

 

Bruno Santos

 

Last but not least is Alex Ruella. He first came to my attention during the 2011 season when he tore the Muangthong United defence to shreds at Yamaha Stadium during Robbie Fowler’s ill-fated stint as manager. Siam Navy won 3-1 that night and the two outstanding performers – Ruella and Olof Watson – both joined Port for the 2012 campaign.

Alex was by no means an out-and-out striker but he was always loitering with intent in the final third. He had great technique, an eye for goal, good skills and an uncanny ability to con referees into awarding free-kicks and penalties in his favour. He wasn’t quite in the same league as Leandro or Thiago Cunha for diving, play-acting and waving imaginary yellow cards, but he ran them pretty close.

His one year stint at PAT Stadium coincided with relegation, unpaid salaries and question marks over Port’s future. It came as no surprise to anyone when he left at the first available opportunity. His career, though, was put on hold when he was involved in a car accident in Brazil. He fought his way back to full-fitness and returned to Thailand to join Angthong, where he spent two years before signing for PTT Rayong in 2016.

 

Alex Ruella

 

I had a nagging feeling I’d forgotten someone. I was right. Read on, however, and you will understand why Ibrahim Khalil Doumbia was so easy to forget.

The Ivorian signed a six-month deal at PAT Stadium during the 2009 mid-season break and was added to the squad to bolster our attacking options for the remainder of the campaign. It didn’t exactly go to plan.

The 6’4″ striker had previously played for Stella Club d’Adjamé – less than stellar, though, were his performances in friendly games for his new side. He quickly found himself well down the pecking order and out the manager’s plans. He failed to make a competitive appearance for the club and was released at the end of the season. (Ed – The only trace I can find of this guy is a Danish website which claims that he was born on January 1st 1970. Either www.bold.dk is wrong, or he was pulling an Obafemi Martins on us!)

Doumbia has since been joined by Douglas dos Santos, Yu Myeong Han, Jay Harris and Asdrubal in the ‘foreign players who never made a first team appearance’ club. Matias Jadue’s membership application is currently waiting to be rubber-stamped.

 

Ibrahim Khalil Doumbia. Or Douglas dos Santos. Or someone. 

 


 

So, we’ve made it all the way back to 2009 with our strikers. Have we missed anyone? If you have any suggestions for more players from the old days who deserve a mention or even an article written about them, don’t hesitate to send us your comments or your articles. At the Sandpit, we welcome guest contributions in all shapes and sizes!

 

The Party’s Over – Did We Miss It? Port FC vs. Sisaket, 11 November 2017

 

Port end their home season, in what has been their 50th anniversary year, with a fixture against newly, and sadly, relegated Sisaket.

Equally disappointing, is the fact that, apart from the odd souvenir in Port’s dismally run shop, and some independently made t-shirts, there has really been nothing of note to mark this very special year. Perhaps Madame Pang is saving it up for a final shindig – our loyal fans deserve nothing less.

 

 

Port’s form at home has been equally underwhelming, with 7 games won, 5 lost and 4 drawn; 26 goals scored and 26 conceded – there has, at least then, been some balance to our play.

We started with some really tight, scrapping thrillers against Suphanburi (3-2), Navy (1-0), Ubon (2-1) and, despite a lack of goals, probably the best of all against Buriram (0-0), in front of another packed house. Defeats against Bangkok Glass (0-3), Pattaya (0-2) and Bangkok Utd (0-3) kept our feet on the ground as the boys failed to fulfill their early season promise.

Our opponents today, Sisaket, will not be short of support; a good number of their fans live in the area, certainly judging by the number I met on the way home from the last encounter. They have a short, but controversial history.

The club was formed as Sisaket FC in 1999 and won the Provincial League that same season. By 2010 they had improved enough to gain promotion to the Premier League and it is shortly after this that it began to get messy. What follows is a story which will sound depressingly familiar to regular followers of the dark side of Thai football and, like most of its controversies, has more twists than a pig’s penis.

In 2012 the club were relocated to Ubon Ratchatani after the local Sisaket government decided to back the newly formed Sisaket United F.C., which then promptly changed its name to Esan Utd. There were, naturally, loud and vehement protests from the Sisaket fans at the prospect of losing both their team and its name. The BB-CU FC v Esan United match had to be interrupted for five minutes after Sisaket fans invaded the pitch in protest. Local Sisaket fans were also on Zone B, in force, at an early Port game to make another protest and were loudly cheered by the Klong Toey faithful. Sisaket fans were to pay this back in 2014 when Port needed to beat them in the final game of the season after a 9 point deduction by the League put us firmly in the 5 team relegation zone. Port won that game 4-1, I believe, generously applauded by the sympathetic Sisaket fans, the only ones ‘officially’ allowed in.

Back to 2102, and despite the protests, Esan United carried on and finished the season in 6th, a record for the club, in that guise anyway. Did you get all that? There will be a test later.

Keith and I traveled down to Ubon for the Port game in early August 2012, the only two farang Port fans at the game and watched in dismay as Port threw away a 1-0 lead to lose 2-1 to a ten man Esan Utd, (not much has changed!), featuring former Port keeper Munze and, quite possibly, Tana! Efforts to find out if he was on the score sheet have floundered.

If you thought 2012 was dodgy, the scandal deepened in 2013 when the Football Association of Thailand found Esan United guilty of forging documents, causing the club to return to Sisaket. It then descended into farce when, due to legal conflicts, Sisaket were suspended for the rest of the season after only playing three games, but were not relegated. The club returned to the Thai Premier League in 2014, returning to their old name of Sisaket F.C and using Sri Nakhon Lamduan Stadium as their home ground, where they play to this day. So, Port fans of long standing will have a certain fondness for Sisaket and their welcoming, lovely fans and their presence in T1 will be sorely missed.

The reverse fixture this season was notable for an excellent away social weekend and the first of a double header of Port giving up a two goal lead for a dismal draw (the next was Navy)  – goals from Leroy Lita and Leandro Assumpcao (a penalty in the 95th minute) cancelling out efforts from Pakorn and Siwakorn.

Assumpcao is now at Muang Thong and Leroy Lita is also missing so a quick glance at the current squad on the transfrmarket site lists their three most valued players as Mariano Berriex (20, Argentina) – 250,000 Euros; Isaka Cernak (32, Australia/Uganda) – 200,000 and Denis Silva (2, Brazil) – 150,000, the latter featuring in Tom’s ‘players to watch’ earlier in the season. With the first two down as attacking midfielders Siwakorn may have to get in early. Incidentally, all Port’s players, in a post-Brexit homage, are listed in pounds sterling, with Josimar topping the pile on 360,000 quid. Tana is 68k.

 

Denis Silva, Mariano Berriex and Isaka Cernak

 

Having not seen the game against Muang Thong or tonight’s match at Super Power, I will leave the potential line-up to Tom.

Whatever it is, Port should have enough for a win, added to the three points gained in Samut Prakarn, to help in that push for 8th place.

 

Tom’s Predicted Starting XI

 

 

Two changes are possible from Wednesday’s win against Super Power, with Rochela (22) and Siwakorn (16) missing through a leg injury and suspension respectively. Rochela wasn’t in the match day squad, but is recovering well and hopes to be fit in time for Saturday, and Siwakorn should come straight back in to the team for Piyachat (88).

 


 

The match will be shown live on True Sport HD3 at 18:00 on Saturday 11 November, 2017. For those who can’t make it to PAT Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound if you ask them nicely. Mention the Sandpit or wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount while you’re at it!

 

That’s Futsal Folks

 

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

 


 

For those of you who want to know more about the Port futsal experience, I wrote two articles about it earlier this season, which can be found here and here.

 

Super Power Port Ballads 2017: Super Power 1-3 Port FC

 

Wednesday Away

Tom on his portcasts always asks “You’re a Port Fan, is it more about football or more about the social side of things?” For me it’s a 40/60 split. The football is OK. Port are a decent T1 team with a potential for a good cup run, or in a bad year a quality T2 team chasing promotion. More importantly Port are a fantastically well supported club. And some of the best Port days are Wednesdays away. Wednesdays you have to nick off work early or be free to mission to whatever far flung part of Thailand the season throws up. There are no part timers on a Wednesday away. Some regulars can’t make it, this week Hockers was stuck in the library with a trainee librarian, we’ll have to ask him about that on Saturday. Tim Russell was forced to leave the country, because he’s a jinx for away games. Sorry Tim, your Thai Port Visa has been revoked, we’ll let you back in the country for Sisaket Home, and you’re allowed Ratchaburi Away as it’s the last game of the season.

Those of us that did make it converged on Samut Prakan in various different ways like a Thai Port version of Wacky Races. Keith driving, Costa flying in, I went for the bike, then BTS, then taxi, then walk combo. It reminded me of the old Paul Simon Song. “There must 50 ways to Support Port…”

 

There must be 50 ways to support Port,

Get to the PAT Matt,

Head to Klong Toei Boy,

Stand in Zone B Vee,

Set yourself free

 

Jump on a bike Mike,

Check out the save Dave,

Support the Lion Brian,

Listen to me

 

Arrange to meet Pete,

Check out the Sandpit.com Tom,

Get a Port sim Tim,

Kick off is on John,

Stand in Zone B Vee,

Set yourself free

 

Come down and cheer Bank Frank,

Have some belief Keith,

Sort out your biz Giz,

And set yourself free.

(to the tune of “There must be 50 ways to leave your lover”)

 

I believe Paul Simon re-wrote it and had a small hit with the song a few years ago. I still think his first draft was the best version. Paul Simon, Thai Port hardcore since ‘67.

On the way to the ground most of us noticed the nasty smash up about two miles down the road from the ground. Passing it I thought this might be an omen of the carnage that was to come, Port’s party bus might well obliterate  the Super Power Fiat Punto with an head on collision of goals. Super Power Samut Prakan have only won once this season, could they make it two tonight? Surely not. Pre-match predictions in the taxi were, Costa 3-1, Kenny 3-1, Me 6-4. With Super Power relegated a long time ago and Port safe already, this game had no jeopardy, just one last Wednesday Away in 2017.

 

 

Port went up after 15 minutes, a great pull-back from Pakorn (9) blasted in by a resurgent Sergio Suarez (5). The Wednesday Away crowd rewarded for all our troubles. One goal up, Port established the natural order of things, but it was Super Power that had the majority of the chances over the next 60 minutes. With a slim lead we were scared we might slip up and make a sad footnote in Thai football history as one of the teams to give up points to the worst T1 team ever. Josimar (30) popped up with a good chance half way through the second half. Then Super Power came back with a good long range shot turned over the bar by Rattanai (17). We were not worried as Port fans we know…

 

“Rattanai’s in the goal was is he gonna do?

Rattanai’s in the goal was is he gonna do?

He’s gonna save that shot, that’s what he’s gonna do

He’s gonna save that shooooooooot,

Woo Woo Woo Yeah

Woo Yeah.”

(To the tune of “There’s a rat in me kitchen” by UB40)

Genki always smiling, never tired. Pictured here in Chiang Rai enjoying the Genki Song.

Genki managed to play most of the game for a change and we were given ample chance to sing…

 

“You were working as a winger in Ratchaburi

When we met you

We picked you out, we signed you up,

We cheered you on

We turned you into something new

 

Genk

Gengki Naga

Genki Nagasato, Genki Nagasaaaaaaatoooo

Genki Nagasato, Genki Nagasaaaaaaaaaaatooo

 

Oh, Nagasato – you know I don’t believe you when you say you can play football

You’d better step it up or we will sign your sister,

Genki Nagasato, Genki Nagasaaaaaaatoooo

Genki Nagasato, Genki Nagasaaaaaaaaaaatooo

(to the tune of “Don’t you want me baby” by The Human League)

 


 

Eventually with the minutes ticking over Genki was subbed off for Pummared (41). I’m not sure why we always sub him off, I think the Jadet just looks at his work rate and figures he must be tired after all that running. He’s not tired he could go for another 45 minutes and then some.

If there are two players I can’t stand to see coming on the pitch it’s Tana (99) and Wuttichai (14). So it was only fitting that while I was hurling abuse and both of them Tana scored in the 82nd minute and Wuttichai set up Pakorn for a Port’s third three minutes into injury time. In between these two footballing aberrations, Super Power got one back to confirm Costa and Kenny’s pre-match picks of 3-1 at full time. And it also confirmed the fact that I should never gamble with predictions like mine.

Post-match beers and cheers saw Pang pushing Jadet forward to receive the adoration of the away end. I think this shows he’s going to be our coach in 2018 and Pang will back him for the long term. When I say long term I mean at least 6 games into the 2018 season.

Oh I almost forgot…

 

The other night dear while I lay sleeping

I dreamt we won the FA Cup

But when I woke dear, I was mistaken

So I had another beer

 

You are my Thai Port

My only Thai Port

You make me happy when skies are grey

You’ll never know Port

How much I love

Please don’t take my Thai Port Away

(to the tune of “You are my sunshine” by Johnny Cash)

 

That’s all for this Wednesday Away, See you on Saturday.