Top Of The Glass: Bangkok Glass vs. Port FC, March 4 2018

 

Port FC will look to continue their reign atop the T1 Table when they take on Bangkok Glass on Sunday. Nope, it’s still not getting old. We are top of the league, say we are top of the league!

Although the 2018 season is barely up and running, both Glass and Port seem to be slipping in to routines that they are far from familiar with. Remarkably, Port – in recent years notoriously poor at the back – have kept 2 clean sheets in their first 3 games, whilst Bangkok Glass – usually among the league’s most attractive teams to watch – have failed to register a single goal. Both sides were very busy in the transfer market, but some new arrivals have fared better than others.

Port brought in – among others – Dragan Boskovic, Nurul Sriyankem and Kim Sung Hwan, whereas Glass signed Frederic Mendy, Mario Gjurovski and Thitipan Puangchan. Boskovic has scored or contributed to 3 goals, Nurul 2 and Kim won our Man of the Match award against Muangthong; Mendy on the other hand has been dropped, Mario has been dividing his time evenly between missing chances and looking annoyed, and Thitipan looks like he spent the entire holiday in Sizzler. And he wasn’t eating from the salad bar, either!

 

Bangkok Glass

Players to Watch

 

Wherever he goes, Mario Gjurovski (70) leaves his mark. His team’s fans love him – scoring roughly a goal every other game from attacking midfield will generally have that effect – but the 32 year old has a rare way of provoking opposition fans’ ire. Whether it’s his affiliation with Port’s best enemies, an ego more commensurate with the achievements of Cristiano Ronaldo than a 12 time Macedonian international or his constant histrionics on the pitch, it’s impossible to ignore Super Mario. It’s fair to say things haven’t started well for him at Glass – he could have had a hattrick against Navy, but ended up drawing a blank – but Mario’s match-winning quality is still there, and he does have a record of turning it on against Port.

 

Mario Gjurovski

 

Behind Mario will be Spaniard Daniel Toti (20) and 30 million baht signing Thitipan Puangchan (8). Port fans should probably remember former La Liga midfielder Toti from when he ripped the Port defence to shreds last season, and for those who don’t yet know much about Thitipan, he will undoubtedly introduce himself to Port’s midfield with his studs within the first 5 minutes. I can scarcely imagine two players with styles as different as these two; Toti with his cultured Spanish technique and graceful style on the ball, Thitipan with his niggly, dirty fouling and gamesmanship. He can play a bit too, mind you, and this really ought to be among the most effective midfield partnerships in the league. In what is set to be one of the key battles, Thitipan and Port’s fouler-in-chief Siwakorn are separated by just a centimeter in height, but what I can only guess is about 15 kilos. Who ate all the pies? It was Thitipan.

 

Toti and Thitipan

 

 

Matt Smith (4) has a new defender alongside him this season: Spanish-Malaysian Kiko Insa (30). Kiko has played for more teams in more countries than I can bring myself to list, and the big, strong 30 year old made his debut for Glass last week, replacing Mongkol Namnuad (18) in the starting XI. Considering that Glass kept a clean sheet and won their first point, we imagine that the back 3 of Smith, Kiko and Piyachanok Darit (34) will remain unchanged.

 

Kiko and Smith

 

Things are not going according to plan for French-born Bissau-Guinean Frederic Mendy (10). He may well start on the bench against Port as he has looked horribly off the pace so far, and was dropped for the 0-0 draw with Navy. He was replaced by young Thai-French winger Jakkrit Laptrakool (17) who I’m struggling to find any information about. As far as the forwards go, let’s just say that the stats read 3 games, no goals.

 

Mendy: He shoots, he misses.

 

Port FC

One Change

 

There is only one likely change from Port’s hard-fought 3-2 win over Ratchaburi last week. It has been reported that Todsapol (6) and Kim (8) are both back in training, but only Kim is fit enough to be available for selection on Sunday. Adisorn (13) should find himself dropping to the bench, with the Korean returning to the first XI. Adisorn acquitted himself well against Ratchaburi, but up against one of the strongest midfields in the league, Kim’s return is certainly a timely one.

 

Kim Sung Hwan

 

Besides the injury concerns, why change a winning formula? The defence is looking all the better for having a quality new left back in it, the midfield is stronger when Kim is in the team and the attacking quartet of Boskovic (23), Nurul (31), Pakorn (7) and goal-machine Suarez (5) has proved unstoppable so far.

 

Predicted XI

 

 

Perhaps the only thing that can stop Port this year is themselves. We know Port have a bad habit of getting complacent when things are going well or weaker opposition come calling. All we can hope is that new arrivals like Kim and Boskovic will continue to hold their teammates to the highest of standards and demand continued excellence from everyone on the field.

Speaking of the field, Glass have played their first 3 games away while the artificial surface so many opposition teams have struggled on has been resurfaced. The Glass Rabbits, having leveled the playing field, welcome their first visitors to the newly blue Leo Stadium on Sunday, and must be looking to make a fresh start in their new-look home. Amazingly they’re probably the underdogs this weekend, but call me a pessimist, I’d take a point if it were offered right now. Glass may not have clicked just yet, but when they do it’s sure to be devastating!

 


 

The match will be shown live on True Sport HD at 18:00 on Sunday 4 March, 2018. For those who can’t make it to Leo Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match with sound if you ask them nicely. Mention the Sandpit or wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount.

 

Tom Earls

Tom Earls

Having moved to Thailand aged 10, Tom has been playing or watching football in Thailand for more than 18 years. A keen follower of the Thai National Team and an avid fan of Port FC, he is a regular contributor to The Sandpit.

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