Smile You Son of a Bitch: Chonburi FC vs Port FC Match Preview

 

Port make the short trip down the coast to Chonburi on Saturday for one of T1’s most amicable fixtures. Fans of the Lions & the Sharks have a long-standing entente cordiale that makes our matches a friendly affair, though last year Port were a little bit too friendly, going down 2-1 away and losing 3-1 at home in what turned out to be the last game of the disastrous Zico Experiment. With much-loved former Chonburi coach Jadet now firmly ensconced on the Port bench, and ex-Shark Nurul a permanent fixture in our attack, there are further reasons for the Sharks to extend the usual warm welcome to those of us making the trip on Saturday.

 

The Form Guide (last 5 games)

CHONBURI: WDLWW

PORT: WWWWL

Chonburi’s form has been all over the place like a madwoman’s shit this season, whilst Port (apart from a brief blip culminating in the airing of grievances that was Chainat) have been banging in the goals & playing some superb football. Port go into the game on the back of 4 consecutive wins (including 2 consecutive away wins) and, with the Sharks struggling to find the net this season (only 20 goals in 16 games), Jadet & co will surely be targeting 3 points from this one, though Chonburi’s miserly defence (only 18 conceded in 16 games) will almost certainly be harder to break down than that of Navy.

And the history of this fixture certainly doesn’t make encouraging reading for Port fans. The two clubs have played each other 20 times, with Chonburi winning 14 to Port’s measly 3.

So will Port be dealing with the Pathetic Sharks on Saturday, or are we gonna need a bigger boat?

 

 

The Opposition

Chonburi fan Dale Farrington is a legend in expat football circles, having set up what is believed to be the longest-established English-language club website in Thailand. I asked him for his thoughts on Sunday’s game…

Tell us the story of Chonburi’s season so far. Are you happy or unhappy with the way it’s gone?
It’s been quite painful so far. There’s very little to feel excited or happy about. Sadly, this is unlikely to change, as long as certain individuals remain at the club. And, realistically, they’re going nowhere. We’re doomed to an eternity of mediocrity.

 

You’re one of 10 clubs to change coach so far this season. Has the change helped?
If you look at this purely in terms of results then the answer would appear to be ‘yes’. However, performances – with the odd exception – have actually been worse. We could see that Goran was trying to build something and was making steady progress. Unfortunately, those who employed him in the first place, seemingly didn’t have the patience to wait for all the hard work to pay off. I’m privy to a lot of what went on during the run up to his resignation (it was 100% his decision to leave) and, I’m afraid, the club doesn’t come out of it very well.

Which players should we be looking out for? Who’s most likely to do us some damage?
Worachit is on a good scoring run – three in three, I believe – but he often flatters to deceive. Other than that, our centre back pairing of Gyeong-Min and Nattphol have been the stand out performers so far this season. Which tells you all you need to know. However, if you’re looking for comedy…

Who are the weakest links in your team?
The goalkeeper, the full backs, the midfield, the so called strikers and everyone on the bench.

You’re just above the relegation zone but only a couple of wins off the top 4. Where do you think the Sharks will finish?
It’s been a strange season, with most teams being unable to find any sort of consistency, and we definitely fall into that category. Therefore, anywhere between 6th and 13th is a possibility.

How do you rate this 2018 Port side? Which players are you most concerned about?
They certainly seem to have hit a rich vein of form just lately. If you can keep that up there’s no reason why you won’t finish in the top three and possibly bag a cup. Your coach – a Chonburi legend – has plenty of experience in winning things and I’m so pleased it’s working out for him, although, I hope he has a miserable time on Saturday. As for individuals, I think most of us are looking forward to seeing Nurul return – and have a stinker!

We have a few Chonburi virgins on the bus this week. Give us a quick guide to your stadium and its facilities.
Don’t bother going anywhere near the ground until ten minutes before kick off. It’s like the stadium at the end of the world on match days. In fact there’s more life – and entertainment – there during the week. I’d suggest heading to Bang Saen pre match. However, it is a long weekend for many people and is likely to be packed full of Bangkokians. So give yourselves plenty of time and grab the first parking space you can find!

Finally, score prediction please.
I’ll be extremely optimistic and go for 1-1.

 

Port Lineup

Whatever the opposite of a Tinkerman is, that’s Jadet. The Globular Guru knows his best XI and only changes it when circumstances such as injuries or suspensions dictate. So whilst we may bemoan the fact that we don’t get to see as much of Terens or Bodin as we may wish, 4 wins in a row suggests that the Obese Oberleutnant has hit on a winning formula and sees no reason to change things up. In a season that has seen 18 managerial changes across 10 clubs, the Corpulent Capo somehow manages to dodge the slings & arrows of Thai footballing fortune and remains the highest-placed Thai coach in T1, and long may it continue.

This week the only change is going to come in defence where Elias Dolah (4), who has supplanted Todsapol (6) in the heart of Port’s defence of late, is suspended, meaning Tossa will almost certainly be the man to replace him. With Chonburi relying more on pace than brawn up front, that’s probably no bad thing.

Elsewhere, Rattanai (17) should continue in goal after very solid performances against Navy & Suphanburi. In midfield, it’s likely to be as-you-were with Kim (8) scoring his first goal of the season against Navy and Siwakorn (16) looking back to his old self, although Adisorn (13) may be called upon to add a bit of bite to Port’s midfield. Pakorn (7) took a bit of a pounding from the sailors on Sunday and went off injured late in the game; if he’s deemed unfit to face Chonburi then expect Bodin (10) to replace him. The Flying Marmoset, Nurul (31), will almost certainly be called upon to face his old club.

Up front, the Boskovic (23) & Suarez (5) bromance is blossoming nicely, with 17 goals & 9 assists between them already this season, so it’s highly likely that both will start on Sunday. Bosko’s sudden rediscovery of form (6 goals in his last 3 games) and Suarez’ return from injury have revitalised Port’s season and Chonburi certainly won’t be looking forward to facing them – it’s a long time since we had such a sphincter-loosening forward line.

Tim’s XI

 

The Stadium

Chonburi Municipality Stadium has been home to The Sharks since 2012. Whilst it’s in pretty good shape for a Thai stadium, it does have the dreaded running track and, with away fans shoved behind one of the goals on a low-rise terrace, the view is one of the worst in Thai football. Factor in the lack of atmosphere (home crowds have been declining in the last few years and they were very quiet on our last visit), the total food/drink ban inside the stadium, and the 200BHT away ticket cost, and you have one of the least agreeable away fan experiences in T1. But on the plus side, the Chonburi fans are a friendly lot, there’s plenty of food & beer available outside the ground (the Muslim Fried Chicken stall won The Sandpit’s Best Away Ground Food Award 2018), and the beaches of Bang Saen are just a short drive away, and that’s where we’ll be spending the afternoon prior to the game.

 

 

 

Chonburi FC vs Port FC, Saturday 26 May 19:00 at Chonburi Stadium. The game will be shown live on True, and on the big screen at our sponsors The Sportsman.

 

Tim Russell

Tim Russell

The founder and editor of The Sandpit, Tim has been in SE Asia since 2003 and in Bangkok since 2012, where he runs a travel tech business. Tim has followed Port FC since 2014, and is also a fan of his hometown club Coventry City, and French club AS St-Etienne. He has written for the likes of Football365, ITV.com, NME and The Quietus, and is a regular contributor to God Is In the TV. He's a keen photographer and his work can be seen on his website.

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