Air Farce: Port FC vs. Air Force Central FC, 28 March 2018

 

Port welcome Air Force to Klongtoey on Wednesday with some popular old faces set to make well-received returns to PAT Stadium. Of course it makes it easier to applaud opposition players and managers when they’re clear underdogs; indeed, despite possessing some enviable foreign-made offensive weaponry, Air Force have completely failed to get off the runway in 2018. Having sat forlornly at gate 18 for the first 5 weeks of the season, Air Force finally started taxiing in the right direction in week 6, but Port will be trying to make sure that their first flight is postponed for a few more days while Klongtoey’s finest sweep pig’s blood and pungent fish water from the runway. But enough about the walk home through the market, let’s talk football.

 

Air Force Central FC

Players to Watch

 

At the start of the season, many were speculating that Air Force would have one of the most fearsome forward lines in T1, and why not? With Renan Marques (14) fresh off a 27-goal season for Chonburi, Leandro Assumpcao (10) a 26-goal season for Sisaket and Muangthong and Jaycee John (22) scoring 10 in just 12 appearances for Bangkok United as he returned from injury, there was certainly reason for optimism. This bunch aren’t exactly spring chickens, though. At a combined 99 years old, this forward line has seen better days, but Port should certainly be weary of players with as much ability as this bunch. If and when they do fire up the jet engines, they will take some stopping.

 

Renan Marques and Leandro Assumpcao

 

It’s also worth mentioning that all three have seldom been used simultaneously. Manager Sasom has made like Ranieri and tinkered unyieldingly with his squad in an attempt to find the perfect formula, and it’s fair to say that his experimental alchemy has, so far, blown up in his face. Marques, Assumpcao and John have started together on just one occasion – a 2-0 loss against Pattaya – and between the three of them, they have managed just three goals in 2018. If I had to guess, I would say that after securing a 2-2 draw in their last outing, Sasom will stick with Marques and Assumpcao, with John being brought off the bench in the second half.

 

 

Then there are Port’s old flames. Manager Sasom is still a well-liked figure in Klongtoey, and he has called on his Port connections to bring in the likes of former Port captains Kiatjaroern Ruangparn (now retired) and Jirawat Makarom (7), as well as the most recent arrival: legendary winger Ekkapoom Potharungroj (36). Jirawat has been in and out of the team in central midfield, but Ekkapoom has played a part in every game to date, starting three and coming off the bench in the other three. Both players are largely as we remember them: polar opposites of eachother. Jirawat often struggles for pace in midfield but is capable of excellent quality given the opportunity, whereas Ekkapoom is a hard-working speedster who creates great opportunities for himself which he almost always squanders. Both are 32 years of age. I’m noticing a pattern here…

 

Jirawat and Ekkapoom

 

And right on cue to upset the narrative is Montenegrin centre half Aleksandar Kapisoda (5). Air Force captain and a reliable, physical presence at the back, Kapisoda has played every minute of the campaign so far, and is a relative spring chicken at the age of 28. It’s not every day, or indeed possibly ever before, that T1 has seen two Montenegrins face off, but Boskovic (23) vs. Kapisoda should be a key battle on Sunday.

 

Aleksandar Kapisoda

 

Form

 

There isn’t much to say that I haven’t said already on the form front. Air Force have scored just three times, making them by some distance the least potent attacking team in the league. They have lost to Sukhothai (1-2), Ratchaburi (0-1), Muangthong (0-1), Ubon (0-1) and Pattaya (0-2), before finally taking a point at home against fellow strugglers Chainat (2-2) in their last outing. So much for all those 4-3s we were expecting from the Eagles this term!

 

Port FC

Stick or Twist?

 

Jadet, me old mucker. Listen, big fella. Sooner or later, you’re going to have to give the Fresh Prince a start. Fresh off an international break where Bodin (15) showed that he’s not only ahead of Pakorn (7) in the Thai pecking order, but was even brought on before Nurul (31) in the final, it’s got to be about time to give the guy a chance. Fair enough, last season there was very little depth in Port’s squad, and it made a lot of sense to stick with the same XI whenever possible, but money has been spent, the squad drastically improved and there are now legitimate attacking options that are worth being tried for 90 minutes, not just 25. And don’t even get me started on The Flash (28)!

The only other potential change to Jadet’s XI is once again at the back. I expect that when Todsapol (6) returns to fitness he will return to the centre of Port’s defence, but as always with Todsapol, that could be next week or next year. Athibordee (35) hasn’t done a lot wrong since he’s been brought in, but I’m not going to be persuaded that a 5 foot 10 midfielder is anything other than an emergency stop-gap.

The rest of the side should remain as-is, with Port looking to bounce back after letting a 2-1 lead slip away to the ten men of Sukhothai a week and a half ago. They would do well to follow the lead of their B Team, who got back to winning ways in T4 by overcoming Airforce Robinson FC 1-0, with young superstar Chaowala Sriarwut (57) scoring in the first half to take his tally for the season to four. Time to mend some fences, fellas!

 

Predicted XI

 

I’m feeling brave. When I feel brave, I’m almost always wrong. Unfortunately, when it comes to predicting lineups, fortune decidedly does not favour the brave.

As we’ve seen a tactical innovation or two in recent games, with Port adopting distinctly different formations with and without the ball, you get two lineups for the price of one today. Firstly, here’s Port without the ball…

 

 

And when Port win the ball and Kim has waved his arms about a bit and shouted at a couple of people…

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True Sport 2 at 20:00 on Wednesday 28 March, 2018. For those who can’t make it to PAT 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 on drinks.

 

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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