Tom’s Transfer Talk: The Christmas Special

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk has been rather busy of late, what with the festive season in full swing and visitors from the motherland forcing us to spend our time decorating trees, eating dangerous amounts of chocolate and missing irrelevant friendlies. The shame!

That’s my excuse for being an awfully long way behind with transfer happenings, anyway. In true Christmas spirit, though, my gift to you all is a full roundup on what has happened so far, including a quick word about a couple of big signings that have been brought in since the last Transfer Talk.

 

 

Obviously the biggest signing, not just for Port but arguably whole league, is The Beast himself, Dragan Boskovic. The scorer of an all-time Thai football record 38 goals last season, the fearless wearer of cravats and the man of Transfer Talk’s dreams, Dragan is set to light up T1 next season in the blue and orange shirt that isn’t accustomed to sitting on the broad shoulders of a true Scary Foreign Striker. Transfer Talk sincerely hopes not to have to mention your name again for the duration of your 2 year contract, Dragan!

 

 

Weirdly enough, the second signing since our last Transfer Talk is perhaps more well-known to the internet than any other Port player. Terens Puhiri is that bloke who you might have seen making like Usain Bolt after giving an unfortunate Indonesian defence a ridiculous headstart and still leaving them looking like absolute plums on his way to scoring this viral goal. He will fill Port’s ASEAN quota in 2018 after signing on a one year loan from Borneo FC, and is expected to be used largely as an impact sub unless he impresses Jadet as much in pre-season as he did the internet in 2017!

Finally, here’s the rest of Port’s transfer business to date. Click on any of Port’s new signings to see their profile, or here for the full squad list.

 

Ins

 

Panpanpong Pinkong (loan from Bangkok Utd made permanent)

Chakrit Rawanprakone (Nakhon Ratchasima FC)

Athibordee Atirat (Nakhon Ratchasima FC)

Bajram Nebihi (Ubon UMT)

Kim Sung-Hwan (Ulsan Hyundei)

Nurul Sriyankem (Chonburi FC)

Bodin Phala (Buriram Utd)

Dragan Boskovic (Bangkok Utd)

Terens Puhiri (one year loan from Borneo FC)

Marcel Essombe (Ratchaburi FC)

 

Outs

 

Genki Nagasato (released)

Josimar Rodrigues (released)

Anisong Chareantham (Nong Bua Pitchaya)

Pravinwat Boonyong (loan from Bangkok Glass ended)

Siwapong Jarenrsin (released)

Marcel Essombe (loaned to Police Tero)

 


 

As the Outs column is rather shorter than the Ins you can expect that a few more players will be heading towards the exit in the near future, especially those like Tana who are rumoured to be on the outs and who haven’t been spotted at training. Come on everyone, let’s all wish for a Christmas Miracle!

 

‘Yong, Three and Jingle: Port FC 2-3 PTT Rayong (Friendly)

 

You couldn’t have had a more perfect evening for football. Cool December weather, a stunning red sky over the PAT, and the Sandpit posse clad in santa hats and knocking back festive Leos. Unfortunately Port took the concept of goodwill to all men somewhat too literally and gave their T2 opponents Rayong rather too many presents, in what turned out to be a fairly unremarkable friendly.

 

 

It was a Thai-only affair, with Port’s foreign contingent being given some Christmas time off – although Boskovic was watching from Zone A and I also spotted someone looking suspiciously like Kim Sung Hwan worriedly scrutinising the half-time sausages.

Port kicked off the first half with a largely second string XI, including a couple of unknowns – a tall, balding centre back (no55) who didn’t impress at all, and a youth team player taking over Tana’s 99 shirt, which hopefully means the Moustachioed Assassin is on his way out.

The first half hour was largely uneventful, the only action of note being Rayong’s constant and highly entertaining physical assaults on an increasingly pissed off Wuttichai (14). They’d clearly not done their homework and thought that the best way to stop Port is to stop Wuttichai, when in fact the best way to stop Port is to simply give Wuttichai the ball, stand back and let him get on with things. Foul after foul was committed on the no14, and had it been any other player we’d have been howling in outrage, but in this case we were cheering every one.

 

 

The game finally came to life on the half-hour mark when a cross from the left was nodded past Watchara (66) to give Rayong a deserved lead, and five minutes later a similar move put the visitors 2-0 up. I can’t tell you the exact details as I was busy topping up my Leo. Port almost pulled one back when a trademark Pakorn (7) curler (a free-kick, not a turd, just in case you were wondering) was acrobatically tipped over the bar by the Rayong keeper.

Port started the second half with a stronger side, with Worawut, Todsapol, Nitipong, Siwakorn and Adisorn all joining the side. The impressive Pummared, Pakorn, Meechok and Bodin all stayed on, though depressingly Panpanpong replaced the excellent Yossawat at LB.

Pakorn started the siege of the Rayong goal on 52 minutes when his shot was narrowly tipped over the bar, and then on 10 minutes a lovely through ball put Nurul (31) through on goal only for the balding linesman to raise his flag for offside, which led to him getting considerable abuse from a certain santa hat-clad section of the crowd, which he took in good spirit and engaged in a bit of BANTZ.

 

 

On 60 minutes, a Bodin (15) pass found Nurul who was scythed down from behind and the ref pointed to the spot, Pakorn stepping up to convert. 1-2 and the momentum was now definitely with Port, with both Nitipong (34), Pakorn and Nurul coming close to equalising. Sadly though the next goal went to the visitors, thanks to a lovely 25-yard curler into Worawut’s top corner, and they nearly made it 4 five minutes later but were denied by a brave Worawut (36) block.

Port did pull one back late on, when a Pakorn free-kick picked out Bodin on the edge of the box who fired into the bottom corner, but it was too little too late, and Rayong ran out deserved 3-2 winners.

 

What Did We Learn?

  • Yossawat is an excellent young LB – quicker and stronger than Panpanpong and with a good cross on him, and most importantly he gets back into position quickly when the opposition has possession. He should be Port’s first choice in this position next season
  • Jadet is going to have fun trying to accommodate Pakorn, Nurul and Bodin, all of whom were excellent. Pakorn played as a striker in the second half and looked less comfortable there than he does on the right, but it’s hard to make a case for Nurul playing anywhere else than on the right so the Midfield Monk may find his game time limited next season. Bodin looks like he can comfortably play just about anywhere
  • Over both halves, Pummared was my MOTM and showed that he deserves to stay as backup for Hwan at DM. Calm on the ball, accurate with his passing and reading the game well, he’s a better option than Adisorn’s headless chicken routine
  • Port’s lack of Thai strikers is a concern. Yes, Boskovic will get a hatful of goals with the service he’s going to receive, but if he’s injured or suspended there is literally noone to replace him and Port need to bring in reinforcements in this position ASAP

 

 

Festive Friendly Football Fun at the PAT This Saturday

 

Port have announced their latest pre-season friendly, at home to T2 side PTT Rayong on Saturday 23 December at 17:00. Rayong narrowly missed out on promotion to T1 last season finishing 5th, and so should provide a bit more of a test than Tonburi and Chonburi Reserves. They also have possibly the most amusingly-named goalkeeper in Thai football in Bandit Suksa.

For Port fans, the game is a good excuse to gather for a few pre-Christmas Leos (Santa hats obligatory) and hopefully see new signing Dragan Boskovic make his first appearance as a Port player – what better way to celebrate the festive season than by waiting in expectation to catch a glimpse of a large bearded man?

 

Enter the Dragan! Boskovic Joins Port

Just when we were getting worried about the lack of a decent striker at Port, the club today announced the signing of 2017 T1 top scorer Dragan Boskovic from Bangkok Utd. Yes, that Dragan Boskovic. The one who scored 38 goals in 33 games last season. The one who has scored 71 times in 95 games for Bangkok Utd. HIM. Mme Pang described the deal as “an early new year present for Port fans” and she’s right about that.

 

 

As of yet we don’t have all the details of the deal, but frankly, we don’t care. We assume he hasn’t come cheap and we also guess it’s probably a 1-year deal. But whatever the T&Cs, Boskovic is a Port player and we finally have the Scary Foreign Striker we’ve been crying out for for so long. Our mouths are already watering at the prospect of Boskovic teaming up with the likes of Pakorn, Nurul, Bodin and Nebihi in Port’s attack next season.

If Port can just tighten up at the back and stop conceding penalties and silly goals, then 2018 looks like being a very, very exciting season indeed.

 

Friendly Fire: Port FC 4-0 Bangkok Thonburi

 

For the second consecutive year, Port began their pre-season preparations against University side Bangkok Thonburi. Last season saw Port secure a comfortable 4-1 victory, with French trialist Saer Sene bagging a brace, and giving Port fans some hope that they had found themselves a top striker. It’s a year later, and Port once again find themselves in a similar situation. The competent if not exceptional Josimar was allowed to leave, the very good but arguably not exceptional Marcel Essombe has been signed and loaned to Police Tero, and Port are currently left with Wuttichai and Tana up front. Nevertheless, Port’s first XI excelled in a promising second half which yielded four goals, narrowly bettering last season’s scoreline, even if there wasn’t a recognized striker to speak of. Onward and upward!

Due to a shortage of photographic/video evidence of the game at the time the report was written, I will be inserting alternative artwork of my own choosing. In honour of retired Port midfielder Piyachart they will be a symbolic or artistic representations of what happened in the game, with some kind of Instagram-like filter applied to them.

 

‘The Football Match’ by LS Lowry with ‘Glow Edges’ filter applied to make it look less like a 5.6 million pound piece of art and more like one of Chris Coles’ representations of Soi Cowboy.

 

Port started with something between a second and third XI, and appropriately they turned in a performance that belonged somewhere between T2 and T3. Quite possibly below that, actually, as their opponents were a University team and Port certainly didn’t outplay them.

 

Tracy Emin’s ‘Messy Bed’ with a ‘Concrete’ filter. The huge turd on the bed represents Port’s first half performance.

 

Incidents of note during the opening period included several diabolical first touches, a missed header from 2 yards by Wuttichai and an argument between him and Jadue which had to be broken up by Pakasit. Jadue had just made one of about a hundred school-boy errors that had been made by the team in the first period, but Wuttichai took particular umbrage with this particular mistake and gave Jadue a dressing down which he was in no mood to listen to. The two were eventually told to go their separate ways back to the dressing room by Pakasit, and presumably their ‘conversation’ was continued behind closed doors during the break.

 

Wuttichai and Jadue as David Goliath with ‘Cut Out’ filter applied to represent the fact that both should be cut out from the Port squad ASAP

 

In terms of Port’s first half personnel, there were a few unfamiliar faces worth mentioning. Thanakorn (37) and Supachai (30) were sold to Songkhla and Sukhothai respectively last season, and appear to be training with Port until they find other club. Pinyo (21) is a winger who was on loan at Prachuap in the second half of 2017, and was injured for more or less the entire year and a half before that. Pinyo is a player with excellent potential, but that certainly wasn’t realized in this performance. Narakorn (29) is a left winger who joined Port from BBCU in 2017, but didn’t manage to make a competitive first team appearance. It’s pretty clear why. Port also brought Burmese trialist Aung Lwin (18) on up front, and in a team chock-full of pretty poor players he managed to stand out for being particularly awful. We’re going to tentatively predict that even while Wuttichai and Tana are the only available options, his trial will not be a successful one.

 

A representation of Aung Lwin’s first touch, with ‘Pencil Sketch’ filter applied to emphasise the sketchiness of his performance.

 

Things got going very quickly indeed in the second period, though. Port started with new signings Bodin (15) and Nurul (31), who played in a fluid front four with Pakorn (7) and Suarez (5). For the most part it was Pakorn on the right, Bodin through the middle and Nurul on the left with Suarez playing as a kind of ‘false nine’. Port immediately showed what the gulf in class should look like between T1 and University. Nurul was the stand-out performer, showing energy, dynamism and most of all superb skill. He was robbing the ball from his opponents, dribbling around them at will and linking up well with his teammates. Bodin was also excellent, playing in teammates on both sides of the pitch from his outpost in the centre and playing a lot of one and two touch football. In didn’t take long for the gulf in class to turn in to goals.

 

Port’s new formation, with Brightness and Contrast turned up to the max as Port’s performance was so bright and in contrast to anything we’ve ever seen before.

 

The opening goal was typical of Port’s early play, with Bodin playing in Nitipong (34) on the right, who fizzed in a dangerous cross which Suarez nonchalantly flicked past the goalkeeper. The Spaniard was looking very happy indeed with the tiki-taka football going on around him, although this was one of the rare occasions that he got on the end of anything as you would expect your ‘striker’ to do. A few minutes later it was Nurul’s turn to cut the defence to ribbons, which he did all by himself. First he broke through on the right and dinked an ambitious chip just over the bar, then after another jinking run he was scythed down well inside the area, although the referee charitably gave a freekick rather than a penalty, which Pakorn fired in to the wall.

The second goal was another combination between the two wingers, with Pakorn this time on the left and Nurul coming in from the right. Another flowing Port moved ended with Pakorn dinking in a cross with his weaker foot, and 5 foot 4 Nurul somehow getting the better of his defender to head the ball back across goal and in to the net. Something tells me he’s not going to be scoring many headers in T1!

 

Nurul Dinklage from Port of Thrones

 

The poor old Thonburi defenders just couldn’t get to grips with livewire Nurul, and before long he again bamboozled a defender down the right and was scythed down inside the area. This time the official did point to the spot, and interestingly Pakorn (7) rather than Rochela (22) stepped up to take it, comfortably beating the ‘keeper from 12 yards. It was to be Pakorn’s last action of the half, as he was replaced soon after. If he’d only stayed on another couple of minutes he would have had another penalty to take.

 

Salvado Dali’s impression of Pakorn’s penalty, with a ‘Smooth’ filter applied.

 

We weren’t sure what this one was given for, but it was in the middle of a move where Port embarrassed so many defenders with one-touch flicks that the referee may just have awarded it as a kind of mercy killing. Port weren’t done with gratuitously humiliating their opponents, though. With Pakorn off it was Rochela’s turn, and in the fine tradition of Johan Cruyff and most recently Lionel Messi, Rochela tapped the ball to his left where Suarez was waiting to score the simplest of tap-ins. Ay Caramba!

 

A representation of Rochela and Suarez’ penalty.

 

In terms of what we learned from the personnel in the second half, we learned that Pakorn, Nurul and Bodin all being on the pitch together works a treat! Admittedly they will need to do the business against better opposition than this, but this performance was certainly a good sign. The left back battle is well and truly on, with Yossawat (28) and Panpanpong (19) both getting a run-out with the first XI. Todsapol (6) has also maintained his position ahead of Dolah, and on a day where practically no defending was necessary nothing will have changed with the pecking order. Adisorn (13) has hung on to his place, but he looks very much like a placeholder until Kim Sung-Hwan starts his Port career. We would be nervous about him not being there today if we hadn’t already seen him on Madame Pang’s Instagram! Speaking of which, Chakrit, Athirbordee and Nebihi have all yet to be inducted in to the Madame Pang timeline of Fame, so their transfers may potentially still be up in the air.

 


 

First and second half lineups

 

Port Futsal Club 4-3 Rajnavy: Gone In 14 Seconds

 

Port performed a dramatic 14-second heist against Navy, with victory keeping them level on points with Chonburi. The Sharks now lead the Futsal Thai League from Port by a single goal. With three games left to play, and a final-day encounter between the two championship contenders looming large, there is still all to play for. Seven time consecutive champions Chonburi did the business in emphatic fashion at home on Saturday, winning 5-1 against Samut Sakhon, which meant that the pressure was on Port to take all three points off 9th place Navy. They left it until the last 14 seconds, but ultimately came through in front of a packed Kodang Stadium, whose already fragile roof was nearly taken clean off in the celebrations.

Port took the lead early on after a slip from a Navy defender left Watchara (3) clear though on the keeper. He finished calmly to put Port 1-0 up, but Navy soon seized the initiative and put the pressure back on the title hopefuls. They leveled the score with a superbly worked move in the 10th minute. Navy played the ball down the right, with 3 players bringing defenders with them, but a quick switch of play found their fourth player unmarked on the edge of the area, and he arrowed the ball in to the top corner.

Navy continued to impress, but it was Port who re-took the lead, with Man of the Match and Thai national team star Lertchai (6) scoring from close range. Noppadol (13) showed fine technique to drive the ball towards Lertchai with the outside of his boot, and the big man just about reacted quick enough to get a touch on it from less than a yard out. It may have been the goalkeeper who actually directed it towards goal, but Lertchai’s desperate lunge on the line ensured that the ball couldn’t be cleared.

 

 

At half-time the general feeling was that Port were probably a tad lucky to be in the lead, and Navy set about making that point early in the second half. Navy’s captain and best player put on an exhibition in close control on the edge of Port’s area, dragging the ball this way and that before firing a vicious toe-poke past Kanison (18).

At 2-2 with 10 minutes left on the clock, the onus was really on Port to go and win the game. Port showed the spirit of champions, taking the game by the scruff of the neck and peppering the Navy goal. It was a series of corners that ultimately did the business, and Port’s all-action coach must take some of the credit for the creative set-pieces that finally broke Navy’s resistance.

The first was a howitzer of a cross which smacked Lertchai full in the chest and bounced harmlessly behind. Lertchai, unmoved by a contact which would have sent most T1 players to the treatment table, gestured to his teammate to keep it down next time. With the next corner, he did just that and Lertchai showed incredible control to direct the lightning-fast cross towards goal, although it cannoned off the post and out. With Navy wising up to Port’s tactics, they changed tack once again. From the opposite side, a chipped delivery was intended to be volleyed back across goal, but was smothered by some attentive Navy defending. Finally at the fourth attempt, Lertchai pulled further back towards the touchline and attempted the same trick again from greater distance, striking the ball as cleanly and powerfully as you’ve ever seen on the volley. The ball was past the Navy goalkeeper and in to the top corner before anyone could react, and the fans behind the goal went absolutely wild, as did Lertchai himself.

 

You’ll believe a man can fly! (Pic by Tim Russell)

 

A lead is never secure in futsal though, as the team in arrears invariably takes the goalkeeper off and plays a 0-0-5 formation. Navy looked dangerous with their extra man, although Kanisorn in the Port goal had a chance at an empty net which would surely have put the game out of reach. Navy’s extra attacker came through for them, though, applying the finishing touch to a mesmeric spell of futsal. The ball zipped from one player to the next with incredible speed and precision, eventually finding a man right next to the goal who took two defenders out of the game by squaring it for his teammate wearing the goalkeeper’s jersey to turn in from point blank range.

With just 152 seconds remaining on the clock, it seemed like Port were destined to drop two crucial points in the title race, but they showed incredible heart to turn the game on its head once again. Navy could certainly had been forgiven for trying to play the last couple of minutes out for a draw, but they opted to take their goalkeeper off again, and go all-out for the win. They came close, but it was Port’s final attack that would decide the game.

With Navy eventually going back in to defensive mode for the final seconds, Port had a compact unit to break down. 20 seconds were left on the clock, and the players knew that any error would put an end to their chances, but under immense pressure they displayed inch-perfect precision to open up their opponents. A risky switch of play just about evaded a defender to find Port’s rush goalie Nattapol (8) in a bit of space. He played it forward to Thananchai (17), whose square ball across the area was crying out for a heroic finish, which Brazilian Marcos (10) duly supplied. Port hearts were in mouths as Marcos slipped just as the ball reached him, but he managed to keep his effort on target from close range, and Kodang Volcano erupted. Scenes! Marcos celebrated with Cantona-level arrogance, strutting around the area while the crowd, his teammates and the bench went barmy. Port recomposed themselves to survive the last few seconds, and the final whistle was once again greeted with a deafening Khlong Toei roar.

Chonburi may have retaken the lead on goal difference, but Port will have renewed belief that they have the guts and the nerve to win with the pressure on. They will need all of that belief to overcome Surat Thani away on Wednesday, who recently secured an upset victory over Chonburi. The Sharks also have a tough test away at third-placed Bangkok BTS.

Port will be be playing at home again next Sunday, and after last night’s drama, it is something you do not want to miss!

 

Highlights

 

 

Friendly News: Port Catch Buri-Buri

 

The Port squad reconvened for pre-season training last week, and the first two friendlies have just been announced. On Wednesday 13 December at 17:00, Port entertain Krung Thonburi FC, aka The Knight (just one of them), who despite their name play their football in Nakhon Pathom and are currently in T3 Lower.

Then on Saturday 16 December at 15:30, Port travel to Chonburi to take on the Sharks in what is likely to be a much more competitive game, given that both sides have already strengthened considerably during the window. As it’s a friendly you’ll probably be able to sit in the decent seats rather than 7km away behind the goal, and you’ll be able to sample the wares of The Sandpit’s 2017 Best Away Ground Food Award winner, the Muslim fried chicken lady.

FOOTBALL’S BACK!!!

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk: Bodin Well

 

Port returned to training on Wednesday, which means we can now definitively confirm a few more transfers.

Bodin Phala has become the third winger to sign for Port in this transfer window, meaning that competition for places is really going to be heating up in pre-season between Pakorn and new boys Bodin, Nurul and Chakrit. Bodin signs from champions Buriram, but has a surprising Port connection from his youth. Bodin played for Port Futsal Club as a teenager in 2013, and from there made the switch to football with Rangsit. He was quickly spotted by Bangkok Glass where he soon became a regular, after which he was signed by Chiang Rai and then Buriram. Port are believed to have paid about 7 million baht for Bodin, who broke in to the national team alongside fellow new signing Nurul in the last couple of years.

 

 

Kim Sung-Hwan – whose signing we were first to announce what seems like ages ago – has also been seen at training, and taken his obligatory photo with Madame Pang. We were starting to worry that no one else seemed to be mentioning Port’s new Korean defensive midfielder, but they caught up with us eventually and reported his free transfer from Ulsan Hyundei in the last few days.

 

 

Port have also finally been linked with an ASEAN player, suggesting that they may intend to bring in a player to fill the newest part of the 3+1+1 quota. An 18 year old Burmese player was been spotted wearing the number 15 shirt at training, although he is as yet nameless and we’re not sure what position he plays. We will let you know more about this when we do!

 

 

We also have a couple of confirmed departures, neither of which are at all surprising. Central defender Anisong Chareantham, whose number 15 shirt our new Burmese friend is wearing, has moved to Nong Bua Pitchaya, where he will play alongside former Port left back Suchon next season. Lost boy and reported central midfielder Siwapong Jarernsin has also moved on after an unsuccessful spell in Khlong Toei where he did a pretty poor job impersonating a professional footballer.

 

Anisong Chareantham (l) and Siwpong Jarernsin (r)

 

When it comes to gossip, not much has changed in the hunt for a foreign striker since Monday’s Transfer Talk, although we have seen one very optimistic addition to Port’s star-studded wish-list. It seems very much like Port are still in the frame to sign superstars Jaja Coelho and Dragan Boskovic, and the most recent addition is former Muangthong striker Cleiton Silva, who has being banging in goals for fun in Thailand for years. His success earned him a big move to China, where he has continued to perform well, netting 17 times in 26 games for Shanghai Shenxin. File this one under ‘speculative’. No progress appears to have been made with Jaja or Boskovic, who are the targets Port are really working on bringing in.

On the exit front there are a couple of new rumours, such as promising talk linking Tana with Khonkaen FC, who have just been promoted to T2. Last year they spent big on foreign players Romain Gasmi and Darko Tasevski, so it seems within the realms of possibility that they are willing to pay Tana’s substantial wage demands to bring him back to a level more suited to his abilities.

 

 

Elias Dolah has also been linked with a move to Bangkok Glass, who tried to sign him when he came to Port. Our source says that Port have received several offers for Dolah, but he will be staying where he is. With their lack of depth at the back, Port should certainly be loath to consider letting Dolah go, as he was first choice centre half for the vast majority of 2017.

Finally, Wuttichai and Piyachart have repeatedly been linked with moves away from PAT Stadium, and it seems likely that both will be moving on before too long. Piyachart may be holding out for a T1 offer, as he had a successful loan spell with Ubon in the second half of 2017, but Wuttichai will likely settle for a T2 berth at his hometown club Sisaket. The Sandpit will be eagerly anticipating the 0-0 draw that is virtually guaranteed when striking legends Wuttichai and Tana face off in T2 next season. That’s if either of them can get a game in T2.

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk: Nuru and the Montenegrin Coat of Arms

 

So, this isn’t exactly the most punctual Transfer Talk ever. To be fair though, when the news broke about Port’s marquee Thai signing, The Sandpit was eyeball deep in craft beer and couldn’t have told you whether ‘Nurul’ was a Thai footballer or a style of Japanese erotic massage.

 

Port’s new signing?

 

Then, just as our social media accounts started to be bombarded with news about the pint-size winger – that in our inebriated state we probably mistook for an actual pint of beer – we discovered a Thai Port bar not far away on Udom Suk and proceeded to celebrate by swilling Leo like thirsty privateers celebrating the capture of a Spanish treasure ship. Somewhere between taking on the ‘buy 5 get 1 free’ promotion as a repeat challenge and engaging in an extremely intense debate about the objective value of music, we eventually called it a night, and resolved to report on the good news in the morning.

 

 

Come the morning however, we discovered that it was not a Spanish treasure ship that we had captured, but a Moby Dick of a headache so savage that between us we would have probably offered to pay Nurul’s 20 million baht transfer fee just to make it stop. But stop it didn’t, hence why we bring you news of Port’s excellent new signing rather later than we would have liked.

 

Nurul Sriyankem

For the basic details on Port’s new superstar winger, check out his player profile here. Whilst Nurul is an excellent signing, his acquisition certainly raises a tricky issue for coach Jadet. He now has two of the best right wingers in the country at his disposal, and has to figure out what to do with them. The simplest way I can think of to explain his conundrum is to relate Nurul and Pakorn to the rather better known Giggs and Beckham. Nurul is our Giggsy, with his electric pace and lightning changes of direction, while Pakorn is our Becks, with his pinpoint crossing and dead-ball expertise. So, if Giggsy was right-footed, what would you do? For me the answer is to stick him on the left anyway, because if you put Becks out there you lose the whole point of having him in the team in the first place, whereas Giggsy can still do a job even if his performance from that side of the pitch is likely to be a bit sub-optimal. Alternative ideas have also been proposed, such as putting Nurul on the right, using Pakorn through the middle and starting with new leftie Chakrit on his natural wing.

 

Bajram Nebihi

Another now confirmed signing is that of German attacking midfielder Bajram Nebihi. He scores his hattrick of transfer-talk references today, and we are still none the wiser on what Port intend to do with him. As we’ve said before, if he’s replacing Suarez then we’re over the moon, but if he’s going to be used as a centre forward then we think Port could most certainly do better. With rumours still flying around left, right and centre about strikers, it seems likely that Nebihi is indeed being rightly seen as an attacking midfielder, which could mean that Suarez will be finding a new club and Port will continue to try to secure a big-name goalscorer. Speaking of which…

 

Bangkok Untied

The latest superstar to be linked with PAT Stadium is an absolute corker. It’s based on a story about Bangkok United’s foreign players, which says that they will be keeping hold of just 2 of their current 6. That means that only 2 of the superstar trio Dragan Boskovic, Mario Gjurovski and Jaycee John will remain at Thammasat stadium, assuming that Yohan Tavares, Mehrdad Pooladi and Chinedu Ede all move on as expected.

Bangkok United’s – and indeed T1’s – leading scorer in 2017 was Montenegrin scoring ace Dragan Boskovic, and reports have emerged in the last couple of days suggesting that with Jaycee John holding an Asian passport, Boskovic is the forward most likely to give way. Now, let’s be very clear, this is a very suspect story indeed and I’m not saying that I think there is even a grain of truth in it, but if nothing else it is Exhibit 87 so far of the transfer window of Port being linked to exactly the right kind of players. At the risk of getting too many hopes up, we know from a less-than-sober chat we had with Dragan earlier in the season that he is a big, big fan of the PAT Stadium atmosphere and already a Khlong Toei local, and that the Montenegrin Coat of Arms features a lion. Up next, how Port are being linked with David De Gea, who they plan to loan to Samut Prakarn FC, and how Mezut Ozil is set to be named team optician.

 


 

Additionally, it just so happens that The Sandpit’s very first Birthday coincides with my 100th Sandpit contribution, so here’s a massive thank you to everyone who helps me churn out the untimely, error-ridden ramblings that I offer up on this fantastic website. Thanks to Editor-in-chief Tim for providing this awesome platform and pointing out my constant spelling mistakes, Dom in his unofficial capacities as Port historian, chief news-spotter and reports/previews editor, and all those who send me rumours and news. Thanks also to all the guests who have appeared on Zone F podcasts and the players who have participated in our interviews. Most of all though, thank you to all of the Port fans who continue to make going to games the highlight of my week. Here’s to doing it all over again in 2018!

 

Happy Birthday to Us! The Sandpit’s First Year in Numbers

 

In all the excitement of Port’s hyperactive transfer window, we missed a very important landmark last week – the Sandpit’s first birthday! We launched the site on 27 November 2016 thinking we’d be catering to a small number of hardcore farang Port fans, but the site has exceeded our wildest expectations. Here are a few numbers from our first year…

 

38,488

The total number of visits to date

16,500

The amount in baht that we raised for victims of the Khlong Thoey fire in February 2017

2,522

The number of visits we received on our most popular day so far, which coincided with our April Player of the Month competition. A suspiciously large number of those visits were from Brazil. Yes, we’re looking at you Mr Josimar Rodrigues!

265

The number of articles we’ve posted since we launched

57

The number of matches – including friendlies – we’ve reported on

17

The number of writers who’ve written articles, reviews & previews for us. Thanks to all of you – we couldn’t run the site without you!

12

The number of podcasts we’ve recorded

9

The number of interviews we’ve run, with well-known Thai football figures such as David Rochela, Josimar Rodrigues, Mano Polking, Matt Smith & Jason Withe

1

The number of players who’ve blocked us on Instagram after getting a bad review

 

As founder of the site, I’d like to say a big thank you to all those who’ve written for us or taken part in podcasts, all the players & coaches who’ve happily taken part in interviews, the photographers who’ve shared their images with us, our sponsors at The Sportsman, and most of all to my two colleagues Tom Earls and Dominick Cartwright, without whose hard work, knowledge & creativity The Sandpit would cease to exist. A massive thank you to all of you, and we hope you’ll continue to help make the site a success as we move into 2018!