Port will try to become the first team to defeat clear title favourites Buriram when they travel to the land of depressed husbands on Wednesday. This match couldn’t come at a worse time for Port though, having just suffered back-to-back defeats against Police and Bangkok United, whereas Buriram have maintained their unbeaten start to the season and currently enjoy a four point gap at the top of the table.
Port are also missing a couple of foreign players, with Kim (8) suspended after getting his fourth yellow card against Bangkok United, while Suarez (5) is reportedly out for a month after picking up an injury against Police Tero. Buriram are also missing a key foreign player, with instrumental centre back Tunez (5) having sat out the last 3 league fixtures through injury.
It’s a strong team with too many to choose from, so here’s the lot of them.
33 year old Siwarak Tedsungnoen (1) kept two clean sheets against Port last season, with the fixture at PAT Stadium featuring an absolutely ridiculous point blank save from a Genki header. A model of consistency and Kawin’s understudy at national team level, don’t expect to get anything easy from Siwarak.
Buriram are without key defender Andres Tunez, and haven’t kept a clean sheet in the three league games since his injury. Their back three will be led by Pansa Hemviboon (3), who was my Player of the Tournament for Thailand in the recent King’s Cup. Standing at 6 foot 3, he is a formidable physical presence who doesn’t lose much in the air. Pansa will be joined by South Korean Yoo Jun-Soo (16) and former Port loanee Pravinwat Boonyong (4), who has become a surprise regular at The Thunder Castle this season.
Extremely attack-minded Narubadin Weerawatnodom (13) will be right wing-back, with the more experienced and less bombastic Korrakot Wiryaudomsiri (11) on the left flank.
Buriram have a mix of youth and experience in central midfield, with 20 year old Ratthanakorn Maikami (26) being joined by either one of experienced duo Suchao Nuchnum (8) – who you may remember being bitch-slapped by Lazarus Kaimbi after reportedly calling him a monkey a couple of years ago – or Jakkaphan Kaewprom (10), who made the T1 team of the season in 2017.
Ahead of them will be one of Thailand’s best youngsters Supachok Sarachat (19), who has scored one and assisted two in a promising start to the campaign. The 19 year old has already scored 10 times in 47 appearances for The Thunder Castle, and will try to occupy the space in front of the back four that Aung Thu and Sumanya used to such good effect in Port’s two recent defeats.
Remarkably for a team comfortably atop the league, before Buriram’s draw with Sukhothai last weekend, they had only one player who had scored more than one goal. That of course was The Divine Mop: Diogo Luis Santo (40). It’s not just his hair that invites the comparison. The Brazilian spends most of his time sprawled across the floor and has an uncanny knack for finding filth wherever he is deployed. Like a mop though, Diogo is also reliable. And yes, this metaphor is in need of a good rinse. In only one season since he arrived at Buriram have they not triumphed in the league, and this was in no small part due to the fact that he was injured for most of the season. When he is fit, The Divine Mop is guaranteed to clean up. He has done so 11 times in 9 games so far this season, and will be expecting to add to that tally against Port’s lacklustre defence. Never bet against the best striker in the league.
Diogo is joined by Edgar Bruno da Silva (23). Edgar scored his second goal of the season with a well-taken header against Suphanburi on the weekend, but has been far from convincing so far in 2018. He’s one of those players that has turned up at a lot of impressive-sounding clubs but not really seen a lot of action. Like his teammate Diogo, Edgar played for Brazil at youth level, then went on to represent such teams as Sao Paolo, Porto, Red Star Belgrade and Vasco da Gama. More recently representing a slew of average teams across Asia, Edgar is a mediocre T1 striker if ever there was one. His main function seems to be to get the ball to Diogo and watch the master at work.
Buriram have spent most of 2018 so far just getting the job done. Experienced winners one and all, they have made a habit of scoring late goals and grinding out results. Their recent last-gasp win against Chonburi was a textbook example. After starting out with 4 wins, Buriram were finally held to a 2-2 draw by Bangkok United, but they went on another run of 3 wins before being held to a 1-1 draw by Suphanburi.
Port, on the other hand… Actually no, I’d rather not. You all know how we’ve been doing over the last couple of weeks, so no reminder is necessary!
Now or Never?
It’s time, Jadet. It’s quite possibly now or never. 9 T1 bosses have received their marching orders in just 9 weeks, and Sir Det could well make that 10 in 10 if Port take another heavy beating. He doesn’t have a full complement of troops at his disposal, either.
With Kim out, Jadet will most likely turn to Adisorn (13) to fill the midfield void, although Athibordee (35) is another realistic option. Athibordee was brought on when Jadet tried to change Port’s fortunes against Bangkok United, but was later subbed off. Ouch. With Adisorn having a barnstorming Buriram battle under his belt from last season, he really ought to be the man Jadet puts his faith in in his time of need.
Further forward there is a bit more of a dilemma. Suarez leaves a hole in the team that no player in Port’s squad is particularly well suited to fill. If Bodin (10) comes in again, then we are likely to see him and Nurul (31) on the flanks and Pakorn (7) playing through the middle, which just doesn’t seem like a great idea. As much as I like Pakorn, that’s not his position. Alternatively, Arthit (29) – who looked lively when he came on – could be deployed as a partner for Boskovic (23) and Port could switch to a pure 4-4-2. Interestingly, when Buriram visited PAT Stadium last season, Port lined up in a 4-4-2 which featured Adisorn in midfield and came away with a point. Rattanai (17), recently restored to the first XI, also kept goal that day, making one of his finest appearances in a Port shirt, while Todsapol (6) made a rare appearance before going off injured.
Whatever Jadet chooses though, the players are just going to have to do better. More discipline will be required at the back, more running in midfield and most of all better finishing. Yes Dragan, I’m looking at you!
The match will be shown live on True Sport 2 at 17:45 on Wednesday 11 April, 2018. For those who can’t make it to The Chang Arena, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound. We’re already booked in, so head upstairs and we should be easy to find. Don’t forget to wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.