I had planned to start writing this last night but by the time I had got to the third volume, second part, seventh chapter, 85th page of James’s epic Suphanburi report, it was three o’clock in the morning, and so, here I am, a day later, about to embark on my Navy preview, fortified by a stiff drink (rum, naturally). The words of Polonius (Hamlet: Act 2, Scene 2), “Brevity is the soul of wit”, will be my watchwords.
Having had nothing of note befalling me (rather like James and Tim) on the way to my laptop in terms of transportation, accommodation, nutritional sustenance and lesbian-based entertainment (strictly reserved for weekends), I’ll slip anchor and steam into the preview.
Navy, under various guises, are even older than Port, founded, according to which Wikipedia account you prefer to disbelieve, in 1937 or 1956, so only a small margin of disagreement there. They have won a few Cups (only once) and were League runners-up in 2006. In recent years, the only thing about Navy that has tingled the senses (for me anyway) is their ground’s proximity to the cultural high-spots of Ban Chang. So, their current League position and the real possibility that they might be relegated, has left me in a cold sweat, only slightly relieved by seeing Ban Chang’s other neighbours, PTT Rayong, at the top of League Two.
This season, with 5 relegation places, ‘up for grabs’, as it were, Navy have steered a course into troubled waters indeed. Their 6-3 home defeat to Chiang Rai last weekend was just the tip of the iceberg and, with the Ta Han Nam sitting 10 points off the safety zone, it will require a Titanic effort to avoid plunging into the depths. They are the League’s second lowest scorers (12) and have conceded a whopping 35 goals. So what, if anything, can they provide in the way of a threat?
Given their goals tally to date, their foreign strikers seem somewhat less than scary, although I suppose three goals against a rampant Chiang Rai was at least creditable. Long-term Navy stalwart, Brazilian Rodrigo Vergilio (23), in his second spell after a temporary hiatus at Chonburi, has netted 3 times, equaling his ‘striking’ partner Chusana Numkanitsorn (11). They are likely to line up in a staggered, attacking four with another Brazilian, Vitor Junior (10) and Ivorian, Amadou Ouattara (81). Vitor’s nickname is Careca, giving birth to a possibly now well-jaded, Frank Carsonesque, shout every time he scores of, “It’s a Careca”. Unfortunately, another absolute gift for a few cheap ribald catcalls from the terraces, Singaporean Gabriel Quak (22 – fittingly, two little ducks in Bingo parlance), has not been in beak form recently and won’t ruffle many feathers from his likely perch on the bench (do ducks perch?). He will be hoping to fit the bill later on. Defender Jantakul (35) starts the game with the unfortunate burden of carrying on his back the number of goals he and his fellow defenders have conceded, although hopefully Port will quickly help relieve him of that embarrassment.
Port fans of long-standing will be hoping to see the return of goalkeeper Wanlop Saechio (27), who, after last week’s drubbing, may return at the expense of Apinyakul (19). Wanlop is still fondly remembered from 2012, mainly for lending his name to a terrace song based on Bob Marley’s, “One Love”. You know the rest. He is not so fondly remembered for letting in a shitload of goals that season as we were relegated. Hopefully, we can nostalgically serenade him from Zone B as he picks the ball out of the back of the net with alarming regularity. I think this is the team from that year pictured below, featuring crowd favourite Robbo and a 12 year old Siwakorn. I will be giving out a free, signed copy of April’s Big Chilli magazine featuring, ‘Thailand’s Number One Expat Football Fan’, to anybody who can name the full eleven. Answers on a postcard.
As for Port, well, the watershed continues. Can a watershed continue or is it a single moment frozen in time, never to be seen again, like a goal from Tana? Does anybody really care? What is important is that Port seem to have woken up from their April slumber – the ‘cruellest’ month (T.S. Eliot) and now look like a proper, facking team again. Away victories at both Nakhon Ratchasima and Suphanburi have been won with a combination of grit and determination, some nifty teamwork, opportunistic finishing and the occasional stroke of luck. Players like Boskovic and Kim are beginning to impose themselves again, while Kevin, Nitipong, Nurul and Rochella remain consistently solid.
However, it pains me to say that, recently, my hero Siwakorn has let the team down badly with his decision making, both in his finishing and tackling – not good enough for someone who is a Rochela injury or suspension away from being Captain. He needs to be left out this week to cool his heels or practice his shooting, along with an off-the boil Pakorn, replaced by Bodin and Adisorn. If Bodin shows the same adventurous energy as he did against Chiang Rai, and Suarez and Boskovic continue their renewed, effective understanding, Navy could be in for a bombardment. This attacking line-up below should guarantee at least a 2-3 goal victory, although I am always loathe to make predictions about Port’s fortunes, but is this a new Port?
To be the old Port or not to be the old Port, that is the question (T1 2018; Act 1 Scene 16).
Port FC vs Navy FC, Sunday 20 May 2018, KO 18:00 at PAT Stadium.