Jadet’s Big Bogey: Bangkok Utd vs Port FC Match Preview

 

After getting their season back on track against Police Tero last Saturday (albeit slightly fortuitously), Port travel to Rangsit this Sunday to face bogey team Bangkok Utd in a game with potentially huge ramifications in the race for the second AFC spot. Mano Polking’s side sit in second, just 3 points above Port after a recent dip in form. Not that form really matters in this one – Port habitually get battered by Mano’s team, having lost the home game this season 3-0 and having shipped 15 goals in 3 games against the Angels last season. My first away Port away game was at Bangkok Utd in 2015; we lost 1-0, and little did I know that that would be as good as it got.

 

The Form Guide (Last 5 T1 Games)

BANGKOK UTD: WDLLD

PORT FC: WLDWW

After a slow start, BU hit a purple patch of form and stormed up the table, topping it at one point. But their recent form has not been great, with defeats against Pattaya in the league and minnows Ranong in the League Cup proving particularly disappointing. However, they got back in the groove on Saturday with an impressive win against Chiang Rai, and on their day they’re by far the best footballing side in the division. Port, wracked by injuries & suspensions and no doubt mindful of their recent appalling record against the Angels, will not be looking forward to this one at all.

 

The Opposition

To get the lowdown on Port’s opponents this Sunday, I had a chat to one of BUFC’s few farang followers, Matt Jenkins…

How did you become a Bangkok Utd fan?

When I arrived in Bangkok 5 years ago, I was getting a fix of EPL on Saturday nights at a great time, in a good bar somewhere. But I missed the buzz of the buildup on the day, travelling to the ground, discussing with mates team selections and possible outcomes , a dodgy burger somewhere, and a read of the programme, and sticking a couple of bets on etc. I just missed ‘going’ to the football.

A mate suggested going to a game in Bangkok and I jumped at the chance – he’d been to watch Bangkok United FC play before (when they were playing at Thai Japan), so I joined him and another pal for the match… he rest is history!If I had done a bit more research, I’d have realised that Port FC was 10 mins from my home and had a big expat following. In fact even Dave Barraclough was trying to tempt me down early days. Though I’ve come to enjoy being only one of a small number of farangs that go to Bangkok United.

Tell us about Bangkok Utd’s season so far. Are you unhappy or unhappy with the way it’s gone? What would you consider to be a successful season?

Absolutely – Impossible not to be unhappy with the start to the season, breaking records for winning streaks, and playing some great football. The last few weeks have been tough, but was to be expected once the run had come to an end. Frustrating thing is, that we haven’t been ‘well beaten’ in games since then. We have just played poorly with an unbalanced / non settled side due to injuries. I think during our winning streak we made about 3 changes only to the starting line up. A successful for season for us will be holding second place now – it does feel funny that 3 weeks ago we were top of the league and in both cups, and that small blip has hurt morale. We hopefully turned the corner after the weekend, with one of the best team performances I have seen from us in a while. New players seem to be finding their feet.

Like Port, you’ve hit a bit of a slump recently. How do you account for this?

Injuries , not getting decisions our way, the week in Buriram where we went out on pens in the cup, and then lost 2-1 in the league game, in what was possibly the most biased refereeing display I have ever seen, a couple of our more creative players seemingly downing tools for a bit, playing needless passes, and pointing at others when they are the ones that need to create a bit of magic for us. Our back 4 changed more than a Nana short time hotel’s bedsheets in the last month, injuries to Mika, then suspensions for Everton, and trying to get the balance with Puttinan/Ekkachai on the left.

Which Bangkok Utd players should we be worried about?

For me , Everton has probably been our player of the season so far. Vander Luis is still very dangerous on the ball and can go past players in a flash. And depending which Dechmitr turns up, there is also a threat there. He probably put the best performance of any BUFC player I have seen this season in again Port at your place, but he’s way too inconsistent and doesn’t decide to control enough games.

Hoping our back 4 starts to get settled again soon, we looked so good and in control when they are all fit and available. We also have a keeper that will be pumped from his last game against you guys.

…and who are your weak links, if any?

Can’t tell you guys that 🙂 What I do like is that Mano brought in some good players mid season, and 100% will provide competition and cover for our weaker areas.

Most fans of other clubs have a bit of manager envy when it comes to Mano Polking. Do BU fans feel the love too?

Yup 100%. Settled, honest, communicative on Twitter with fans. His new contract couldn’t have come soon enough for me, and the club have done well to sign him on for a long term contract. For me also, the back room staff deserve a lot of credit, his team behind him are absolutely superb and engaging, and it’s that unity I think that allows Mano to focus on the team.

On the reverse, you mentioned on Twitter once that you have a bit of stadium envy when you visit Port. How hard is it to watch your team in a largely empty Thammasat? What more can your club do to get bigger crowds?

Ha…I remember writing that. That envy still applies (from a getting to the ground perspective, and the actual ground itself). Look I was probably a bit hard on Thammasat when I wrote that, we moved seats a few times, and tried different areas, and the view is better (but by no means great).
Its just too big for our fan base. I’m baffled why they open all 4 sides of the ground…putting the away fans in one of the sides (segregated) would create a better atmosphere.

I’ve been to a fair few away games this season (with some huge ground envy! Bangkok Glass & Ubon Ratchathani in particular) and we have some of the best and most loyal fans I have ever seen anywhere…we just dont have many of them. For an area the size of Rangsit/Thammasat I’m baffled as to why more people don’t attend to be honest. We do a good job on social media to promote the games and update news in both English and Thai.
The natural thing to want is a return the city, and a new ground, but we have to be realistic, attendances of 3000-4000 aren’t going to justify that.

Maybe if the club could scoop a decent EPL pre season friendly opponent it would raise some overseas following/awareness, that would hopefully trickle down to the locals.

How do you rate Port’s 2018 side? Which players are you most worried about?

You’ve crept up out of nowhere in the last few weeks, with some solid results.
I’ll be honest when we played you at your place, I wasn’t that blown away with your side, I though Terens looked good when he came on, and Nurul was clearly a good player.

But now Sergio is finding goals, and Boskovic is up against his old side, we will have some worry with your front line for sure. Will be a very different story from the last game.

Ex-BU striker Dragan Boskovic hasn’t scored as many goals for Port as he did for you guys last season. Why do you think we’re not quite getting the best out of him?

I was gutted and surprised when Boskovic left BUFC to be honest – he was so brilliant for us. He was a target man with good service, but could also create goals from nothing. He was the number 9 up there alone almost. I think he’s sharing that front line now at Port FC, and that’s become a little more difficult to adapt to perhaps? He’s always a threat, and I can 99% guarantee he’ll pop up with a goal on Sunday!

First half of the season , I looked back and thought – We got good money for him, and maybe it was his time to leave. The last few games we have played, I’ve reconsidered and actually feel he may have thrived in this current BUFC team.

Please share your recommendations for visiting fans on Sunday – pre-match food, drinks etc.

University area – so beers are limited (BYO) , the area out the front of the stadium (opposite side to the away fans) , is always good pre-game, with some decent food vendors, and drink sellers willing to sell some ice for those carried-in beers. I’ll be there on Sunday, so 100% come and say hello.

And finally, score prediction please?

Predicting a game full of goals as you try to chase us down, and we try to cement that second place. (Also depends on which colour shirt we go with)

Bangkok United. (Vander Luis, Everton, Pokklaw) 3-2 Port FC (Boskovic (no celebration) & Nurul) (Nurul’s injured, so guess that makes it 3-1! Ed)

 

Port Lineup

Injuries, suspensions and cup-related fixture congestion are forcing Jadet, never normally one to fiddle with his players (as it were), to dig deep into his squad at the moment. Saturday’s win over Police Tero saw three players making their Port debuts, and Sunday’s game could see a similarly unfamiliar lineup with Nitipong suspended, and Nurul (and possibly Dolah) still injured. Luckily though Port came through the tricky trip to Trat unscathed. Top league scorer Suarez limped off in the latter stages of the Tero win but played the full 90 minutes at Trat so will almost certainly start. Having recovered from his exhaustion (and has there ever been a less likely candidate for exhaustion at Port?) Pakorn should take his place on the right, meaning Bodin can move to the left and the Panpanpong/Kevin experiment can be consigned to the dustbin of footballing history where it belongs. The only uncertainty is in midfield – with Siwakorn and Adisorn available, will Jadet bring one or both of them back, or will he stick with Anon, who made a very impressive debut on Saturday? Adisorn started the cup win at Trat but was replaced in the second half with Anon, which proved the spark to Port’s spectacular comeback, so I suspect the youngster will keep his place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sandpit Predicts

Port are just not playing well at the moment and so, given our missing stars and our history against Bangkok Utd, I can only see more of the same this Sunday. 3-1 to BU.

 

Bangkok Utd vs Port FC, Sunday 29 July 19:00. If you can’t go to the game, or prefer watching football without the aid of a telescope, it’ll be shown on True, or you can join us at The Sportsman to watch on a big screen with beer discounts for anyone wearing a Port shirt.

 

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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