Port Float into Navy to Sink or Swim: Navy FC vs. Port FC Preview

We’re hanging on in there. Just when we thought we were out of it, Muang Thong prove once again that they are just as shit as we are when it comes to sealing 3rd place, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory at Chainat, which makes Saturday’s humbling defeat at the hands of a resilient Suphanburi even more galling.

 

 

This fan-torment from Jadet’s Jesters is almost Shakespearean, “As flies to wanton boys, are we to th’ Port, they kill us for their sport”.  And so, with spirits raised and brimful of eternal optimism, we work out the permutations once again: three ‘winnable’ games while Muang Thong face tricky Sukothai and Bangkok Utd in their closing run.

Talking of which, Sukothai’s 3-2 win at  Bangkok Utd featured a classic hat-trick from Salvadorean international Nelson Bonilla, the first from a seemingly impossible angle and well worth watching – the other two the kind of finishes we have come to expect from the League’s second highest scorer: 24 to Diogo’s 29, but in a much inferior team. Now this is a proper centre forward and one I would willingly swap for our currently flailing Montenegrin. You can see Bonilla’s hat-trick here – it helped to brighten up my Sunday, anyway.

 

Sattahip Stadium

 

So what are our chances at Navy? Our record at the Sattahip Stadium is poor; in fact I don’t recall ever witnessing a victory there in the League, with last season’s fixture ending in a disappointing 2-2 draw, after Port went in at half-time 2-0 up. And I seemed to have written so many Navy previews and match reports that I have run out of nautical puns and quips, so this will just be a straightforward assessment – even the delights of nearby Ban Chang, featured so prominently in last season’s preview, will have to take a back seat.

 

Ban Chang Cheerleaders

 

The corresponding home fixture ending in a pulsating 7-1 victory but this was in the middle of a run of 11 wins in 12 games with only the freakish, mad 3 minutes at home to Muang Thong spoiling the fun. We now go into Saturday off 3 wins in 13, one of those against lowly Trat in the F.A. Cup. The reasons for this slump are discussed ad-nauseum in the Sandpit: lack of fitness, the International break, injuries and suspensions, poor coaching and selection (what has happened to Anon?), lack of motivation, loss of key players’ form; maybe it’s a bit of all of these.

But football matches hang on such fine margins and Saturday was a good example. Port were actually not that bad in the first half, having more of the lion’s share of the game and creating several good chances, some of which would have been converted had it not been for some astounding saves from the Suphanburi keeper. The second half opened in the same way and Cleiton Silva’s headed goal was so out of the blue and against the run of play that it left everyone in stunned silence. The second, shortly after, came as a result of the War Elephants’ new found buoyancy and Port’s sudden deflation.  In fact, the first half was scarily similar to recent ones against Chainat and Nakhon Ratchasima, but in the latter we were gifted an early second half penalty which turned the game in our favour.

There was to be no second half redemption this time. Plus, we had brought on Pakorn, who, after early promise, became, well, Pakorn. It didn’t help either that players who had such an impact early in the season were poor – Kevin being a prime example.

I have just become one of the 63% that want to see Jadet gone at the end of the season and I firmly believe, at last, that the time is right. Even if he now ‘inspires’ us to a third place finish, it will be more down to other teams’ failings than our own brilliance.  A top four finish, although not our best ever (we actually came second in the top flight in 1999) should satisfy even the most pessimistic pundit after the recent yo-yo years, and should prompt further investment, especially if next season is the Madame’s final fling and she wants to go out with a bang, as it were. But I don’t think Jadet is the man to take us that further step.

Back to Saturday: Navy are down already, but with consecutive draws against Port’s top six rivals Prachuap and Chiang Rai, they will be no pushovers. Sailors do have some pride, even if the only young tars present will be those watching from the free seats.

Port, and Jadet, have three games left to make some kind of statement – will it all end in a bang or a whimper?

I am not highlighting any Navy players to watch because I won’t be watching them; this week, I am only interested in how Port perform, although Amadou Ouattara (81) looks to stand out from the crowd with 11 goals and 6 assists. I don’t even have the enthusiasm to poke duck orientated fun at Gabriel Quak (22), who incidentally got the only goal at Port – hopefully he won’t be ruffling our feathers this week. Oh dear, I’ve gone and done it.

 

Amadou (81) and Athibordee (63), who is on loan from Port so should be ineligible against his parent club.

 

For my Port line-up I have gone for the eleven (injuries and suspensions willing) that I sense that the Sandpit would like to see:

Rattanai (is he fit?) [Ed – he’s been back in training this week, but probably not match fit.]; Nitipong, Dolah, Rochela, Kevin; Anon, Kim, Siwakorn (or Adisorn – it’s a toss-up); Nurul, Suarez, Boskovic.

It would be great to see Terens and Sammy Slot on the bench with Arthit. Let’s have a bit of fun at least – Navy is a long way back when you’ve lost. [Ed – Bodin is suspended having picked up his 4th yellow card last week, so there’s a good chance we’ll see at least 2 of these fellas come off the bench.]

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True4U, True Sports 2 and True Sports HD2 at 20:00 on Saturday 29 September, 2018. For those who can’t make it to Sattahip Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound. Don’t forget to wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.

 

The Portlist 9: Tanagrams And The Most Ludicrous Port Stat Ever

 

1 (1) Kim Sung-Hwan

Kim remains on top by default, really. Any sustained run of form from any of Port’s key players would have secured them the top spot, but it doesn’t seem as though half the team can be bothered. After an inconsistent start to his time with Port, Kim has settled down in to a mostly mistake-free rhythm in central midfield. It feels like we’ve become so accustomed to his outstanding long passing that it doesn’t raise an eyebrow any more, but just you wait and see how much we’ll miss it if Kim is not retained next season. Firmly in the running for player of the year.

2 (7) Nitipong Selanon

He’s been beavering away on that right hand side all season and finally some real recognition is coming his way on the Portlist. When some of those around him have long since stopped being bothered, Nitipong has continued giving it his all and contributing consistently at the back as well as going forward. Also firmly in the running for player of the year.

3 (5) David Rochela

Port’s captain is never too far away from the top, and he comes in at number 3 this time. His form seems to have improved in recent weeks, having slipped down to his lowest placing yet in the last Portlist. Still one of the better foreign defenders in the league, but his place in next season’s squad is far from assured if Port spend big again to try and go for top spot in 2019. Here at The Sandpit there are whispers of two player of the year awards, one being a fan vote and the other being picked by our esteemed writers. Arguably the most popular man in the squad among supporters will be one of the favourites for the fan vote, but we’re not sure how well he’ll fare in our discerning writers’ estimations.

4 (8) Elias Dolah

He’s had an excellent run of form in the second half of the season, although things haven’t gone his way in recent weeks through no fault of his own. Dolah was ludicrously sent off after the referee got conned by Chiang Rai winger Chaiyawat Buran a couple of weeks ago, suspended the next week and most recently left out by Jadet in the 0-2 loss against Suphanburi. Nevertheless, Dolah’s improved form, his motivation to give his all week in week out and the leadership he has been showing on the pitch all mean that he is a big winner in this season’s penultimate Portlist. A late challenger for the player of the year award.

5 (4) Kevin Deeromram

His form has dipped quite a bit, if we’re being honest. Kevin is another who will run his socks off every week, and is never found wanting where effort is concerned. Is fatigue to blame? Quite possibly, but it could also be the lack of consistency in front of him. In recent weeks he’s had Bodin, Pakorn, Nurul and Boskovic playing left wing, none of whom are known for their tracking back. Kevin probably needs a couple of really exceptional games in the run-in to scoop the player of the year award, which he was one of the favourites for a couple of months ago.

6 (2) Sergio Suarez

The midas touch which Suarez showed so consistently in the first half of the season has gone missing. Since returning from his shoulder injury, Sergio has got nowhere near his early-season best form, and is lacking confidence in front of goal. He has 2 goals and 1 assist in his last 7 appearances. In Suarez’ defence, he did ping in a superb finish against Korat, but only after missing an open goal from about a foot out. At one point a shoo-in for player of the year, now Suarez is sure to have some advocates and also his fair share of detractors after his second leg slump.

7 (21) Nurul Sriyankem

He’s back from injury, and not much has changed as far as his form goes. Still buzzing around the wings hectically, getting fouled a lot and diving even more. Still creating chances, getting in to dangerous positions but not being quite as good with the final ball as we would like him to be. Still, Port always look better with him in the team, and with Pakorn and Bodin already having been on holiday for two months he is undoubtedly Port’s best winger at the moment. Which rather appropriately is something like being the tallest man at a midget convention.

8 (3) Dragan Boskovic

From the last Portlist… “Boskovic’s season looks like it’s going to be one excellent and prolific run of form sandwiched between two underwhelming and barren runs of form.” Called it. We never thought we’d see the day we’d be happier to see Arthit starting up top than the biggest T1 signing of the summer, but that’s pretty much what it’s come to. He’s a great player of course, just not the player Port need as striker in the system Jadet is playing.

9 (11) Siwakorn Jakkuprasart

Siwakorn scored a lovely goal the other week. How about that! Nevertheless, in all this season has to go down as Siwakorn’s worst since re-signing for Port, and that’s why he has gone from being Port’s most important Thai player to a passenger who honestly has very little effect on proceedings.

10 (10) Pakorn Prempak

He’s basically been on a sun-lounger for the last 2 months, so there’s very little to comment on. The one defence of him is that set-pieces are worse when he’s not on the pitch, but at this point it’s a price worth paying not to have him strutting up and down the right touchline pretending to be a professional sportsman.

11 (9) Rattanai Songsangchan

Retains a place in my first XI based on the fact that when Worawut plays I miss Rattanai just a little. And we know he’ll be restored to the first XI next season, so there’s no point pretending that Worawut’s going to usurp him in the long term, even if he stops flapping at crosses, which he won’t.

12 (14) Worawut Srisupha

A great shot-stopper, poor at dealing with crosses and mediocre at distributing the ball. Perfectly OK for a T1 second choice ‘keeper considering the dross that everyone else has to put up with.

13 (16) Arthit Butjinda

Or ‘young Pele’ as a particularly sarcastic excitable Sandpit contributor christened him. Arthit has been winning admirers of late with his battling performances, and although he’s far from the most technically gifted, what he lacks in talent he makes up for with heart. The team looks better with him in it too, as his sound positioning provides a focal point for a too-often aimless attack to build off of. Deserves another start in the run-in to make a case for himself next season. I personally think Port would be mad to let him go, although that’s as much an indictment of the caliber of strikers available in T1 as it is praise for Arthit.

14 (12) Adisorn Daeng-rueng

While others rise and fall significantly, Adisorn confines himself to the part of the list either narrowly inside or outside of the starting XI. A hard-working, dependable squad player who is welcome to stay at PAT Stadium as long as he’s happy playing a bit-part role from the bench.

15 (13) Todsapol Lated

Loses a couple of spots based on Dolah’s improvement, although he did well when drafted in as the big man got suspended. To my surprise, Todsapol kept his place the following week, although shouldn’t be expected to stay in the starting XI for much longer.

16 (15) Bodin Phala

The man behind the single most ludicrous Port stat of the season. Bodin has played a part in every single game across all competitions this season, and is the only man to achieve this feat. Against Suphanburi he picked up his fourth yellow card of the season, so the streak will finally be broken in Port’s next league match. Still, just let that sink in for a second. He’s been awful on a pretty consistent basis in the second leg, but has still played some part in every game.

17 (23) Sammy Slot

Sammy came off the bench the other week, and delighted his largely female fan base by providing an assist with his first touch in Port’s 4-0 win against Korat. We’ve still yet to see enough of Sammy to make a real judgment on what he brings to the squad, but the fact that he plays the odd minute is enough to move him in to 17th place for now.

18 (19) Chakrit Rawanprakone

Gains a place because when Panpanpong was injured he was the only back-up full back on the bench. He’s not really a full back of course, just the closest thing to it in Port’s rather winger-heavy squad. And he’s not Jetjinn, which is something Jadet seems to value very highly.

19 (18) Terens Puhiri

Speaking of which… Poor old Terens just hasn’t been given a chance by Jadet. Since his only start of the season against Air Force, where Terens put in a useful shift by all accounts, he has played just 2 minutes, neither of which have been in the last 5 games. He would be a useful squad player if he ever, you know, played!

20 (20) Worawut Namvech

Played for Thailand under 23s in their doomed Asian Cup campaign, but hasn’t played for Port since mid-July. Regularly gets a place on the bench, but that’s as far as it goes. Will return to Chiang Rai having thoroughly wasted a year of his young career with Port.

21 (6) Anon Samakorn

The most infuriating case of Port’s managerial incompetence in 2018. This season’s Maranhao. Anon burst on to the scene with a string of wonderful performances which had fans purring, and saw him named in various T1 ‘Team of the Week’ features. Nevertheless, after 3 promising starts Anon was relegated to the bench, from where he made 2 useful cameos. Now though, Anon finds himself out of the matchday squad altogether and will surely be looking for a new club in the off-season. What a monumental waste.

22 (26) Watchara Buathong

Another silly Watchara video, you say? Enjoy this tribute to former Port boss ‘Uncle Chuai’. Personally I particularly enjoy Nitipong’s little cameos, although the inclusion of a 30 yard screamer from Thitipan is also must-view stuff.

23 (17) Panpanpong Pinkong

Absent from the last 6 matchday squads. I think he was originally injured, but now he’s fit and just being left out.

24 (24) Pummared Kladkleep

Pummared has played 36 minutes for Port’s first team in 2018. They came against Thailand Amateur League West side Tamuang FC in the FA Cup. He was booked.

25 (22) Somprasong Promsorn

That’s 25 more minutes that Somprasong managed. He’ll be heading off in the off-season for greener pastures. Maybe his next club will give him the opportunity to show if he’s any good or not.

26 (25) Jetjinn Sriprach

And the award for ‘least involved first teamer’ goes to… Jetjinn! Poor fella has only made 2 match day squads all season, even while Panpanpong has been crocked for the last month and a half. That’s got to hurt.

27 (27) Chanayut Jejue

Won my ‘Man of the Second Half’ award for his performance with the first team in a friendly just over a month ago. Should be involved more next season, after impressing whenever he has been given the chance.

28 (28) Sarawin Phakdeekan

Another good performer in that friendly, playing alongside Todsapol and looking the more assured of the pair. Mind you, I saw him play in midfield rather than central defence for the B team and he was absolutely shocking.

29 (NE) Apisit Thornorman

The third Port B youngster to get a run-out against Southern FC didn’t get a lot of time, but saw a fair amount of the ball and looked pretty decent.

99 (99) Tana Chanabut

 

 

T2 statistics are not easy to come by, but I’ll do my best to sum up Tana’s season with a bit of research and a bit of guesswork. I THINK that Tana has started few games, but regularly come off the bench. This is based on looking at the last few games and extrapolating. I KNOW that until 10 days ago Tana had failed to score a single goal all season. Until 10 days ago that is… Nongbua’s last two games have seen the Moustachioed Pink Cock score 2 late goals. It’s almost as if he’s trying to impress enough to get another gig next season…

Of course I couldn’t let this segment go to waste by not handing out gratuitous abuse to my favourite punch bag, so here is my best attempt at a Tanagram: u banana tach. It’s one letter short of a full anagram, but in a way so is Tana, so we’ll call it even.

 


Let me know if you can do better than my Tanagram by commenting below. The winner gets absolutely nothing.

Suphanburied: Port FC 0-2 Suphanburi FC

 

Dear reader, if you’re reading this thank you but if I’m honest I have nothing to report but bad news. I could tell you about the match but it won’t live long in the memory. I could tell you about the problems in the club, team and with individual players but I’ve written and discussed these so many times before. Guess I could make light of it and tell you I missed both the goals taking my tally to 15 this season but it really doesn’t feel like something to laugh about today. At least I got a free sticker and a Madame Pang fan out of the experience yesterday.

The day started badly as I was due to cheer on Melbourne in the Aussie rules semi final against The Eagles but while running late I received a message that the Demons were 51-3 down in the 2nd quarter. Disaster. Watching the rest of the match was like watching a grown man beat up a toddler; brutal, ugly and totally unnecessary. So after that setback it was on to PAT Stadium for the last Saturday home game of the season and AFC Champions League still a very distant possibility. On arrival I was told Pakorn (7), arguably our best ‘performer’ last week, and Arthit (29) had been dropped, plus Anon (20) hadn’t made the squad. Ominous stuff. Then Tim appeared to inform me that the futsal team had lost and now dark clouds were circling overhead. He also mentioned Tottenham had won; this was going to be a bad day.

 

Oooooo pretty

 

Port did start the first half the better team and fashioned some good chances; Suarez (5)  was unable to control a header and shortly after Nurul (31) darted into the area, outwitted Anderson (3)  but fired over. It wasn’t until the 33rd minute that Port created their best chance but Suphanburi keeper Sinthaweechai (18) produced a magnificent triple save; tipping Suarez’s shot onto the post then blocking a close range effort from Boskovic (23)  and finally getting his body behind Suarez’s follow up. Suphanburi could have had a penalty thanks to Boskovic’s WWE-style defending but the referee clearly wanted an easy afternoon with as little controversy as possible. Sinthaweechai was not finished with his heroics and pulled off a Hollywood one handed save from Boskovic’s deflected shot.

So half time and obviously after a lacklustre first half I was keen to get my hands on a cold Leo and discuss the finer points of our performance. My love of the social aspects of football have been well documented and without hearing any noises from the stadium to denote any action taking place I decided to continue my conversation and take my sweet time with the ale. How wrong I was; by the time I had returned Port were 2 down and falling apart on the pitch. In truth Port could have gone 1 up with Pakorn, on for the completely ineffective Bodin (10), forcing Sinthaweechai to make another top save. As if to rub salt into the wound it was ex-Port player Meechok (20) who supplied a beautiful arcing cross into the box for Cleiton (22) to ghost between Nitipong (34) and Rochela (22) and send a bullet header into the net. Meechok, thinking that the wound needs a little more salt to be rubbed into it, controlled an excellent cross field ball to pull back to Chananan (10) who fired a beautiful first time shot low past Worawut. Chananan had been pulling the strings all game and the goal was just reward for his work, I just wish I had been there to see it.

 

 

The rest of the game played out as most Port fans have come to expect recently; Nurul did his customary dive and Rochela redeemed himself after not picking up Cleiton for the first goal to make a first rate last ditch tackle on Chananan. Pakorn had a shot deflected off the post and Romulo (9) unleashed an absolute thunderbastard of a shot that cannoned off the crossbar. There were also a few feisty moments with Suphanburi lucky to stay with 11 men on the pitch and their coach Pairoj marching onto the pitch to remonstrate with the ref but the man in the middle wasn’t in the mood to take action at all today.

So another woeful performance and our recent form, bar last week’s win, is frankly garbage. To see a team give 110% effort while your own players are going through the motions and thinking about sun loungers and pina coladas is pretty galling. Port needs players like Cleiton and Chananan next season because we can all see the attitude and effort of the players on the pitch is not good enough. We know there are several who think training is optional and that attitude is polluting the atmosphere in the club, especially as the reserve players who deserve a chance are working hard but not getting the opportunities they deserve. Jadet doesn’t have control of the team and playing with no striker for 60-odd minutes is not going to win games; to highlight this Boskovic’s best chances were both inside the area – where he should be when we’re on the attack.

Unbelievably we are still in fourth place, enjoying our best ever season and we are still not happy; it’s frankly amazing what we have achieved given the circumstances but these constant problems that hamper us make you think just what we could achieve if we were really well run from top to bottom and not this clown car of a club waiting to fall apart. Chainat finally did us a favour this season and beat those mugs from Legoland so the impossible is still possible but Jadet needs to get a grip and find some short term solutions to long term problems.

 

Best picture of the day

 

 

Man of the Match – Sinthaweechai Hathairattanakool

 

 

Nope, It’s certainly not going to a Port player this time. Only one team gave their all on the pitch and their captain and goalkeeper put in one hell of a shift, galvanising the rest of his team and pushing them onto victory. One of the best opposition performances I have seen in my short time at the PAT and watching his saves again today has been a pleasure. Go on son, you deserve it.

 

In The Suph: Port FC vs. Suphanburi FC Preview

 

The precariousness of Port’s unlikely bid to snatch the final ACL spot from under the noses of rivals Muangthong was brought sharply in to focus on Wednesday night, with Buriram crashing out of the League Cup to underdogs Bangkok Glass. Port need Buriram to prevail in the other cup – the FA Cup – meaning that the final ACL qualifying spot will be passed to the team who finishes third in the league. It’s never ideal to have to rely on other teams, but at least there is still a chance. Port got back to winning ways with a 4-0 victory over an under-strength Korat side, and were relieved to see Muangthong slip to a comfortable 0-3 defeat at the hands of Buriram, which brought Port back to within 2 points of third place. Muangthong still have Bangkok United to play in a key final-day fixture, meaning Port can still hang on to some slim hopes of qualification if they can string four wins together against this week’s opponents Suphanburi, then seaside clubs Navy, Chonburi and Pattaya.

 

Suphanburi FC

Players to Watch

 

I had nothing but harsh words for Cleiton Silva (22) after the first couple of months of his highly anticipated return to Thai football yielded just a handful of goals, and a whole lot of poor performances. Since being loaned out to Suphanburi, however, the Cleiton of years past has once again found his shooting boots, and the Brazilian has hit 7 goals in just 9 appearances. When he’s on form he’s deadly, and right now he’s on form.

The only man probably not overly chuffed with one of Thai football’s all-time great strikers pitching up in Suphanburi is compatriot Romulo (9). Very much the focal point of Suphanburi’s attack in the first half of the season, Romulo plundered 7 goals and looked in good nick. In the 9 games that both Brazilians have started since the mid-season break, Romulo has added just one more to his tally.

Making up for Romulo’s dip in form has been one of the few half-decent forwards in Thai football, and man with two many an’s in his name: Chananan Pombuppha (10). Chanananan was the main man up front for the Thai under 23 team before they were rubbish, but as almost all promising Thai strikers have been, Chananananan has been converted in to a winger/attacking midfielder. Playing just behind Romulo and Cleiton, Chanananananan has finally started finding his feet, scoring 4 and assisting 1 in his last 5 games. Port would do well to task a defensive midfielder with watching his forward runs and making sure he doesn’t have the opportunity to shoot from the edge of the box. Maybe Anononon (20) would be up to the task, if only he were returned to the starting XI.

 

 

They’re not all just strikers, either. Suphanburi can look to the Thai Ronaldinho – Tanasith Sripala (11) – to create chances for the forwards, although he doesn’t produce the quality that he is capable of nearly as much as he should.

A much more consistent presence in the midfield is another one who just doesn’t want me to pronounce his name properly. Japanese midfielder Takafumi Akahoshi (37) is in to his second season in Thailand, and does a solid if unspectacular job in the heart of midfield. He will be fresh and raring to go having missed the last game through suspension.

At the back, Thai league veteran defender Anderson dos Santos (3) has been in the game as long if not longer than any other foreign player around, and can be relied to put in a solid shift in Suphan’s back 3. Alongside him will be a useful young Thai centre back appropriately named Suphan (26) and some bloke who I’ve never heard of called Tinnakorn (33).

 

 

 

Form

 

Suphanburi’s form is very much mid-table, although with 5 going down their league position still puts them in with an outside chance of relegation. Their last 6 games have seen 2 wins, draws and losses. The two one-goal defeats came against Buriram and Sukhothai, the two draws against Muangthong and Ubon UMT and the two wins against Air Force and Ratchaburi. Suphanburi are a decent side capable of upset wins, but equally capable of shocking defeats. It’s not a lack of ability in their squad that’s got them in to trouble, rather a lack of consistency. They’re not bad on the road though, having lost just 4 all season on their travels. The question is, will coach Pairoj have the guts to play the attacking system which has got the best out of Cleiton and Chananananananan in recent weeks, or will he revert to a more defensive system to try to stymie Port’s attack.

 

Port FC

Young Pele

 

 

Speaking of that attack… He may not have gotten on the scoresheet last week, but Arthit (29) still providing a compelling argument for his inclusion in the first XI. He created one excellent chance for himself with a superb turn, shimmy and shot, and he again tested the Korat ‘keeper with a deft outside of the boot flick. More important than his chances to score, though, Arthit just played like a real striker, attempting to hold the ball up at the right times and getting himself in to the box at the right times. His positional discipline allowed Boskovic, Suarez and Pakorn to drift around as is their wont, and the team – poorly drilled under coach Jadet – gained structure by having a more natural centre-forward to lead the line. Give him another go Jadet, please! If only so we can enjoy watching him trying to overcome his limitations in talent with blood and thunder attacking for another week. Arthit did pick up a knock last week but, just by looking for the only bloke wearing his shorts as if they were a thong, we can confirm from the following picture that Arthit is in training, and so ought to be fit to start.

 

 

Another man who we can apply the same logic to also enjoys a tight pair of shorts. Anon (20) has mysteriously missed out on the last two match day squads, despite being one of Port’s best players in recent games. We really hope Jadet has not lost faith in the youngster after being involved in a few defeats during Port’s tough run of fixtures, as Anon was often the brightest spark during those most challenging games. We know he’s fit now (that’s him on the far left of the same picture) so there are no excuses for not picking him again.

Nurul (31), towards the front of the shot on the left, is the final outfield injury doubt, and although we know that he’s fit, he could miss out on selection if Arthit starts and Boskovic (23) is once again deployed on the left wing. He didn’t do too badly at all in that position last week, and would have provided Suarez (5) with a sublime assist had the Spaniard been able to hit a barn door from a foot out.

Dolah should return to the team (4) after serving his ban for picking up his 7th and 8th yellow cards in infuriating circumstances 2 games ago, but Rattanai (17) is still on the injury list. Quelle surprise.

 

Predicted Lineup

 

Yes, yes. I should know better than to have the slightest faith that Anon will be picked. Expect to see Siwakorn (16) starting again. At least he had a decent game last week, for a change.

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True4U and True Sport HD2 at 18:00 on Saturday 22 September, 2018. For those who can’t make it to PAT Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound. Don’t forget to wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.

 

Bai Loei! Remembering Loei City FC

 

The meaning of “bai loei” is open to a number of interpretations. “Loei” is one of those words that does not have a direct comparable in English. However, I believe a general understanding of “bai loei” to be “go already!”, often as a retort if someone is pestering to go somewhere. It can also be used to mean “far away” or “distant”…

Up in the elbow of Thailand, the bit where the Mekhong deviates from being the division between Laos and what used to be Laos but is now Isan, lies a tale of faded dreams and grand visions. A tale of City and United.

Way back in the mists of time, shortly after an economic schism that shook banks and financiers to their very core (for a bit) and destroyed livelihoods across most of the western world (for a bit), I took up the opportunity to fritter away a redundancy pay-off on a year’s volunteering work in in Loei province. Unknownst to me, only a few kilometres from the slow motion riot that took place most days in the school I was ‘helping’, someone else had also thought it a good idea to waste a load of money in the rural province of Loei.

Loei City FC (The Tha Kon Devils) were founded as a semi-professional club in 2009. The city, home to barely 50,000 folk, had itself a football team for the very first time. It didn’t yet have a functioning airport. The nearest train station is 150km away. They were placed in the bottom regional tier of the Thai football pyramid – the inaugural Regional League North East, including teams such as Buriram (in pre-Newin times, before assimilation with Buriram PEA and subsequent sale of licence to Songkhla) and Nakhon Ratchasima. They were to play their games at the Riverside Stadium, the municipal stadium of Loei, nestled beneath surrounding hills and in a crook of the River Loei. And boy did they play.

 

City’s first season saw them conquer most of what they came across, and sit atop the division as champions, losing only 3 all season in their 20 games (Nakhon Ratchasima doing the double over them, plus losing away at Nakhon Phanom). The highlight of the season was a 7-1 mauling, away, of Sakhon Nakhon. Buriram finished 4th; Korat 2nd.

Entering the ‘Champions’ League set up for achieving promotion from the Regional Leagues, their league form evaporated. Playing a round robin against the 4 other Regional League champions (including Chiang Rai), they finished bottom. For stattos everywhere, the top three from the five gained promotion – Raj Pracha, Chiang Rai and Nara United.

 

Loei City tickets – a bargain at 50BHT

Unperturbed, their sophomore league season picked up where their freshman had finished. The Regional League North East expanded to accommodate more teams, which also resulted in an additional place in the end of season round robin. The top two would go through. City, once again, finished top, two points ahead of Buriram. City hadn’t lost at home all season. Both teams had a goal difference far ahead of the pack (Loei +40; Buriram +45); Buriram were 10 points ahead of Yasothon in third.

The Champions League became a two group affair and City were placed in with Phuket, Chainat, Bangkok FC, Rayong and Samut Prakan. To say that City once again under-performed is a sleight to the definition of ‘under-performed’. They were atrocious, gaining 5 points and finishing bottom with a goal difference of -13. Promoted from the league? Buriram, having beat Phuket 1-0 in the final. It’s fair to say that this is probably the point that the two teams fortunes diverged. Dramatically.

 

The Riverside Stadium

City did not make it a hat-trick of league titles. 2011 saw them finish second behind Roi Et and ahead of Nakhon Ratchasima. Nakhon Ratchasima finished 20 points ahead of fourth placed Yasothon, which shows the strength of the top three that season. City also enjoyed an FA Cup run to the quarter finals, coming up short against Songkhla in a 4-0 home drubbing. Roi Et, City and Korat all entered the Champions League play-off structure.

Loei fared better than previous forays, finishing third in their group. The team promoted that season? Ratchaburi, who beat Nakhon Ratchasima 2-1.

 

Nong Bua Lamphu FC v. Loei City, 2013. 0-0. At the time this was the local derby for Loei City. A 200km round trip.

 

And that was about the pinnacle of football in Loei province for some time. City went into a tailspin. According to local sources and in-keeping with most clubs deaths, money dried up and the quality of players coming through declined. Although there was a noticeable spike in English language teachers from Africa in the local schools. A brief foray into the North Regional League saw them finish 7th. For the past two seasons they have finished second bottom, back in the Northeastern Regional League. The division champions this season?

Let’s just have a short history lesson first…

In 2012, around 20km away from Mueang Loei, in the small no-mark town of Wang Saphung, Wang Saphung Municipality FC were born. Sadly they were not nicknamed ‘The Wangers’. Wang Saphung bumbled about in the provincial amateur league from their inception until 2016. In 2016 they gained promotion to the T4 Regional League, home of their near neighbours Loei City. They achieved this through some byzantine process of groups and eliminations – ultimately triumphing 6-0 against TWD Tanaytum. The competition also contained a half dozen teams from Korat – Nakhon Ratchasima United, Korat City, Korat, Korat Huai Thalaeng, Pern Pak Chong and Korat United (not Nakhon Ratchasima United). A certain Life of Brian scene springs to mind.

 

Wang Saphung FC club badge. Their nickname remains a mystery. Suggestions on a postcard please

 

Before the start of the 2017 T4 season they rebranded, deciding rather brazenly on Muang Loei United. As though a reincarnation of the (yet to be deceased) Loei City, they began life spritely in T4 Northeast. Their first season saw them finished third, the derby game bringing a record crowd to the Wang Saphung Municipal Stadium of 1,010 that still stands today (demonstrating excellent stamina). Third place saw them enter the Champions League play-offs, going down to Muangkan United 2-1 on aggregate in a revised preliminary knockout format (don’t ask…).

 

 

The story of both teams in 2018 could not have been more dramatically juxtaposed. I’m unsure where to start, so let’s just go for the facts as they stand, and answer the previous unaddressed question. The Young Turks of United (immigration have been notified) finished top of the division by 1 point, Khon Kaen coming second. City finished 13th of 14 teams, clear of relegation though, enjoying a 17-point cushion over Ubon UMT United U23s who occupied the only relegation place. The derby games saw a 0-0 at the Riverside and a 2-0 win for United in Wang Saphung. United enjoyed an average attendance of around 500, City a ‘reasonable at this level’ 200. Incidentally, Khon Kaen had a frankly staggering average of 3,900.

Those are the facts. United are now playing in the play-off arrangements for promotion to T3. Three days ago they drew 0-0 away at Bankhai United, with four more games to play in their group. The five best teams from the two groups of six will be promoted. A complete head-screw.

 

Current T4 Promotion play-off table (Northern Group)

 

And what is in store for City? Even by Thai FA standards they have fallen victim of astounding failings of logic. Now, I’m not pretending to fully understand this situation, but from digging around this is what I have established.

The 2018 T4 Northeastern League saw Buriram, Ubon UMT and Nong Bua Pitchaya enter U23 sides into the league (much like Port B this season). There is only one relegation place in the T4 Northeastern League, which was filled miserably by Ubon UMT. Since the completion of the season it has been deemed by the Thai FA that neither Ubon UMT nor Buriram U-23 teams can play in next year’s T4 competition as there are too many ‘normal’ teams wishing to play. The consequence? Ubon’s relegation has been effectively nullified, and Buriram are voided out of T4. With Ubon ‘escaping’ relegation by not being allowed to play the following year (which, as they were relegated, they wouldn’t be playing in anyway), the relegation trap door swung open with gay abandon once again, and swallowed the next bottom team: City.

Bye Loei indeed.

All of this happened post-season, to the best of my understanding. I hope my understanding is wildly inaccurate. To see a team disappear in such circumstance is gutting, particularly when there is no real need for it to happen as the FA had already doubled the places available for promoted teams by dumping out the U23 sides.

What may follow is purely conjecture. United need to heed the warnings and tribulations of City. City may never again rise to the heady heights of T4, or even survive to play in the amateur league. Fans are already crossing the divide to support the more successful United. There are Facebook groups for combined City & United fan groups. One could suspect that given the name of Muang Loei United, United could seize the moment to actually move the 20km in to Muang Loei – perhaps the intention all along.

All I do know is that Loei City will always hold a little piece of my heart, being the first team I saw in the Land of Smiles. Loei travel advice can be sought in the Sandpit, for the cost of a Leo.

 

Farewell Jadet? Be Careful What You Wish For

 

Despite flying as high as third for the majority of the season, the inevitable ramifications of the no-tactics, no-training and no-fitness regime at the PAT Stadium have seen Port regress as low as fourth, in what has been called the “first crisis of the Jadet Era.”

 

All jokes aside, Port – and more specifically owner Madame Pang – are in a position where they must choose whether or not to stick with their current boss come next season. The 2019 campaign is likely to have high stakes for the Klongtoey side, as it is expected to be Pang’s last in charge of the club, and she will be in the hunt for some silverware to show for her vast investment.

 

Firstly, it is important to recognize what Jadet has managed to achieve. To string together a disparate group of newly acquired stars into a team that plays fluid, attacking football is no mean feat. He has lifted the club after Zico’s disastrous tenure with what appears to be a far more laid-back regime has taken the club very far, which deserves to be respected.

 

However, many people are of the (seemingly correct) belief that Jadet is holding Port back. The development of many bright young prospects has slowed, the side tends to lack a Plan B, and complacency has begun to settle in as many of the players have become undroppable at the behest of the owner.

 

However, the most troubling aspect of this Port regime seems to be the lack of improvement of individual players within the system. The side is run by players who are already at their peak, and have been signed as “finished articles” from their clubs at very high prices. Players such as Nurul, Boskovic, Suarez or Kim Sung-Hwan are excellent, but they were already excellent when they first stepped foot into Klongtoey.

 

None of these players have improved or developed new facets of their game under Jadet Even Kevin Deeromram, who should be improving rapidly as a 21-year-old, has not been helped to correct the defensive aspect of his game since arriving at the PAT Stadium. This strikes a stark contrast to some of the players who have been turning out for Buriram, Bangkok United and Muangthong – the three sides that currently sit above Port in the league.

 

Stagnating players lead to a stagnating team, and Jadet’s seemingly laissez-faire approach to man-management has finally caught up with the side.

 

However, calls for a change on the touchline should be met with caution.

 

The failed “Zico Experiment” continues to weigh of fans minds, and should serve as a reminder of how attempting to enforce stricter tactical constraints on this team can backfire. Any attempt to overhaul the team at the behest of an ambitious new manager would put the groundwork laid down this season to waste, and wouldn’t be possible due to the limited time remaining under the current ownership.

 

In short, the Klongtoey Lions are looking for a coach that can work within Port’s highly restrictive management system with a set of players that are unlikely to respond well to being pushed or transformed to meet the needs of a more developed system. When looking at these search criteria, only one name springs to mind – Jadet himself.

 

While his methods and management may not be ideal, his departure could risk upsetting the extremely precarious balance Port currently find themselves in. The question is not about whether or not change is needed, but more so about whether or not Port’s contrived hierarchical setup is capable of handling the change.

Digital Jumpers for Goalposts: Konami Enters Thai Football

 

Football on the home computer has come a long way since the early days of my childhood playing Kevin Toms’ Football Manager. In that game you could manage any team in the top four divisions but your squad would always be made up of the England 1982 World Cup squad, no matter what team you chose. (Editor’s note: you could actually hack the game and change team & player names. I know one particularly nerdy teenager who created a version with all four divisions of French football **cough**)

 

I can’t quite remember if the 13 for G.Rix was his Stamina rating or the age of his girlfriend

 

Fast forward to the late 90s and Konami of Japan released their first “Winning Eleven” game for the Playstation 1, known in Europe as “International Superstar Soccer Pro”. The game had 16 International teams, and although player names were not licensed, you could easily pick out certain players, eg Italy had a grey haired striker, Colombia’s best player had a huge ‘fro and England’s midfield dynamo had bleached blond hair.

 

In 1997, I don’t ever remember Dave Seaman being on the ‘roids

 

Over the next several iterations of the game they did get licensed player names but team names were still fake. Konami’s big rival in the football gaming arena was the FIFA series produced by EA Sports. In terms of spending power, EA are Manchester City….Konami are Southampton. EA had full licenses and image rights for most of the major European leagues including the English Premiership.

Jump forward another 10 years or so and both the FIFA series and Konami’s game, now known as Pro Evolution Soccer divided the footballing fanbase. While FIFA had better presentation and more licensed content. Pro Evolution was considered a better simulation of the beautiful game. During the Playstation 2 era of the mid-noughties, Pro Evolution was the better game of the two, in spite of the lack of licensed content. The game was built in with a deep editing function that allowed gamers to rename teams such as “East London” and “Merseyside Blue” to West Ham and Everton, as well as being able to reproduce their kits and club badges. This lead to online communities popping up to quickly edit in all the missing licensed content.

When both series moved over the PlayStation 3/XBOX 360, PES (Pro Evolution Soccer) went through a dip in form akin to the one Jadet is overseeing of late and FIFA began to dominate both in terms of sales and critical acclaim. Not only was PES full of hokey teams but the gameplay was going backwards too.

 

 

In recent years Konami have raised their game and began to close the gap in gameplay but licensing has always been the stick used to beat them with. For many years Konami did at least manage to secure a big license with UEFA for the Champions League and Europa League to be included, thus allowing players to play through those competitions. They also added content for the South American Champions League and later the Asian Champions League. Konami are a Japanese company, while FIFA is head and shoulders above PES in the European market, PES still has a very strong presence in Asia. If you go around any shopping centre in Bangkok where they have arcade machines set up. There is usually kids on quite a lot of screens playing PES, outside the Cinema at Terminal 21 being a good example.  

A few months ago EA fired another shot across the bows by nipping in and taking the UEFA license from Konami. Konami were left scrabbling around to try and fill the void for their 2019 game. This is not the first time such shithousery from EA has been used to try and snuff out the competition. In the field of NFL games, EA’s long running Madden series was under real threat from the upstart NFL 2K games being produced by Sega. After Sega released the highly acclaimed NFL 2K5 and sold it for half the price of Madden, EA knew they needed to pull their socks up to bridge the gap, they opted instead  to ink an exclusive deal with the NFL, stopping any other producer from using the NFL license, thus killing the competition dead. Some 14 years later, players still regard Segas 2K5 edition as better than anything EA have produced since. So EA’s snapping up of the UEFA licenses from Konami this year has echoes of what happened in the virtual gridiron arena.

To try and fill that gap, Konami have gone out and snapped up the Turkish, Belgian, Russian, Swiss, Danish and Scottish Leagues. PES2019 was released at the end of August, a couple of weeks later, and slightly left of field, Konami came out and announced through social media that a deal had been reached with the Thai FA to license the Toyota Thai League for the next couple of years. This had been rumoured a few months ago that Konami had been talking with the Thai FA but as the game launched with no sign of a Thai league, it didn’t seem to be happening. Instead it now looks set to launch as a patch update to the game.

We here at the Sandpit (very) often like to bemoan things the Thai FA do but I actually have to give them a lot of credit for this move in terms of raising awareness of the Thai League brand, and potentially putting global eyes onto the league. There I said it….the Thai FA have done something good!

The move is also beneficial for Konami, despite their Asian stronghold, the Thai league will be the only licensed Asian league in the game. Given the games popularity within Thailand, having the Thai league available should further cement its popularity and acts as a great bit of fan service on Konamis part. It has been said Thailand and Brazil are the two largest fanbases for PES outside of Europe. Although some J-League, Korean and Chinese teams appear via the Asian Champions League tie-in, none of their leagues appear in the game. With the Thai League being an added league after launch, it will also pique peoples interest to go and check out the new content once it’s added, even if it’s to scroll through the teams and scoff at how lowly rated the teams are. As an example, the teams are usually rated out of 5 stars and most of the SPL teams are only rated 1-1.5 stars.

As mentioned earlier, due to the AEC license, Buriram and The Scum have already appeared in the game over recent years.  It remains to be seen how accurately the Thai League players will be digitally recreated. While the likenesses of the major European players are bang on, the minor league players only get more a generic look. With that in mind I’m not expecting a very good recreation of Boskos beard.

 

As you can see, Diego got the full treatment, Diogo not so much

 

It is unknown if any Thai Stadia will be added in the update, if any Thai stadium does get added, in all likelihood it will be The Thundercastle.

After an exclusive meeting at Konami HQ that probably didn’t really happen, I can confirm some special modes being added for the Thai league add-on. …

WEERA MODE : No matter what direction you press on the gamepad, the keeper dives the opposite way. After losing 6-0 I returned to the main menu to find I suddenly had enough PES Credits (in game currency) to purchase half the Real Madrid squad….

CHANG MODE: Experience how it is to view a game at Thai stadia where only the Devil’s Piss is on offer before kickoff.

 

PES Chang Mode

 

THAI LEAGUE SEASON MODE: At the start of the season you will see your fixture list, then suddenly the fixtures will all change and the game will lock you out of the game for a month in August. You will start the season with 18 teams but this may change throughout the season depending on any rulings from above, in a simulation I played Ratchaburi were suddenly demoted to T4 because one of the ball boys had a haircut 2mm longer than regulation. Constant rebranding and franchising has also been taken into account, when I got to season 2, Chainat moved to Isaan and are now called the Mukdahan Monitor Lizards.

The game lets you play either 5/10/15 minute halves although this triples if you enable Thai VAR!

All the Thai league 1st/2nd/3rd kits are also fully licensed, at time of writing the digital artists are still working on getting all of Madame’s crushed velvet tracksuits rendered.

 

 

 

Pussycats Swatted in Second Half Clawing: Port FC 4-0 Nakhon Ratchasima FC

 

 

“Well, that was good, that was good” – a post match mantra I seemed to have repeated ad nauseam, according to Tim: on the terraces, in the Sandpit and probably while going for a piss. After not witnessing a Port win since I flew off to East Timor on July 3rd, it was certainly, for want of a better word, good. Mind you, my repetitive endorsement didn’t quite match that of the English translated, official Port FC website headline, “The Dock back to form a cataclysm, cataclysm, cataclysm.”

Port went into this game knowing that they would probably need to win all of their remaining 5 matches and hope that Muangthong dropped points against, most likely, Buriram and Bangkok United to secure that third place. With Dolah suspended and Pakorn (7) returning, Port lined up with what, for once, was a reasonably discernible formation: 4-3-3 with emerging Sandpit cult hero Arthit (29) leading the line. And lead it he did, doing the things a centre forward should be doing, that is, occupying a forward position, mostly in the centre. Bosko (23)take note.

Having previously compared him to a poor man’s Wuttichai, I am warming to Arthit. I grew up next to a farm and the lambing season was a highlight of the agricultural year. It was charmingly endearing to see the lambs emerge bleating from the womb, staring dazed and bleary eyed, not quite sure where they were, then suddenly discovering that they had legs, but unsure what to do with them. They would then gambol off, albeit unsteadily, and seemingly in several directions at once. It was this image that always came to mind when I watched Arthit. His 1980’s short shorts only exaggerated his enthusiastic, but barely co-ordinated leg pumping. I was prepared to give him a second chance.

Although the little lamb failed to score he didn’t disappoint. In a one-sided first half, Port laboured to break down a stubborn SwatCat defence. I’m not sure how many numbers Dominick was able to cross off on his Korat absentee bingo card but they certainly seemed to have their midweek cup-tie on their minds, displaying very little attacking ambition, with their only shot comfortably clearing Zone B.

At the other end, Suarez (5) and Boskovic had shots blocked from close range while Nitipong (34) tested goalkeeper Cunningham with a rare left foot shot after a good run across the box. On 31 minutes Arthit, who had linked up well with Pakorn and Bosko, made a smart turn in the box, skipped past the next defender only to place his shot straight at Cunningham. This was the perfect chance to achieve hero status and he slightly blew it. However, this did not seem to deter him as minutes later he met a Suarez cross with a clever, outside foot bender, again well saved by Cunningham with an athletic tip over the bar.

Scoring goals has been a struggle in recent matches and Port fans would have pondered over their half-time Leos whether or not this was going to be another frustrating evening. Then Nitipong, spotting that Toby had failed to return to the terraces after his half-time beer, burst into the box to chase a lofted clearance and was brought down by a lunging Chanatphon. It was a clear penalty in spite of the shameful, pathetic protestations by a few Korat defenders, led by soon to become arch-villain American/Thai Cunningham. Why referees cannot, in these instances, book the very first protester to send a strong message is beyond me.

The only debate now on Zone B was, Bosko or Rochela (22)? Bosko’s last attempt was pathetic but he is bigger than Rochela so it was a question as to whether the armband topped the arm-wrestle. There was a brief and seemingly amicable discussion on the edge of the box before El Capitan placed the ball on the spot and dispatched it into the corner with the minimum of fuss, as he always used to.

On 62 minutes, the spurned Montenegrin worked the ball cleverly on the left hand side of the box before sending over an inch perfect cross to an unmarked Suarez who elected to side-foot volley rather than attempt a simple, stooping header. It was an unfortunate choice as the volley inexplicably cleared the crossbar to send Zone B into gasps of exasperation. A minute later the fragility of Port’s single goal lead was exposed when a Swat Cat free kick into the box just eluded the flailing leg of marauding defender Kantapot.

Port continued to attack; Nurul (31) replaced Boskovic on 70 minutes before the first of three stunning goals lit up the night. Siwakorn (16) played a forward pass, Kim (8) dummied, being fouled in the process, to allow the ball through to Suarez who turned and worked his way past a bevy of retreating defenders before hammering a right-foot screamer past a hapless Cunningham.

Bodin (10) replaced Arthit, whose first half promise had faded, and then it all got a bit silly. My beloved Siwakorn, whose shooting prowess had been ridiculed at every wide and scuffed goal attempt, picked up the ball to the left of the box, worked himself into a shooting position and sent a beautiful curler inside the keeper’s left hand post. His look of disbelief mirrored our own.

There was still time for the game to slip into the realms of childhood fantasy with the insertion of Sammy Slot (11). Just twenty-one, Sammy is a Danish Thai with a proper surname as well – Christensen. Sammy, whose name is reminiscent of a character from children’s cartoons Trumpton, Camberwick Green or Captain Pugwash, is a headline writer’s dream and Sandpit correspondents will be preparing their puns as I type. ‘Sammy Slots In Seamlessly’ can kick you off.

He was not on for long enough to affect the game (he provided the assist for Siwakorn’s goal actually – Ed). That was left to Bodin, who finished a glorious sequence of one-twos with Nurul to cap a fine second half performance by Port.

Four goals, a clean sheet – just what we needed. In fact, that was good.

 

The Sandpit Man of the Match: Arthit

There were no real stand-out players, but several decent performances against a poor Nakhon Ratchasima team. Port play well when Suarez plays well and he had one of his better games today. Siwakorn worked himself back into a bit of form, capped off with a superb goal. However, I started with him so I’ll stick with him. My Man of the Match – Arthit, for turning me into a Believer.

 

Editor’s Note: This result marked an historic moment for Port, as it took them to 52 points – their highest ever total in the top flight of Thai football.

 

Det’s All Folks?

 

Port’s 2-0 defeat at Chiang Rai on Wednesday night was, despite the encouraging performance and the mitigating factor of some absurd refereeing, sadly predictable. The team is in freefall, with no win since 25 July (and you have to go even further back, to 21 July, for the last league win), just 2 wins in the last 11 games, and no clean sheet in 8 games. Port have gone from battling Bangkok Utd for 2nd place to struggling to stay in the top 6, and any thoughts of a 2019 AFC place have long since been forgotten.

It’s the first real crisis of the Jadet era. When Sir Det took over from Wada in June 2016, Port’s promotion bid had hit a bit of a wobble; Sir Det steadied the ship and took Port back to T1, along with a League Cup semi-final along the way. And last year’s mid-season blip came during the bizarre Zico Experiment – after Jadet was given back the reins, Port’s form magically recovered, as did Det’s reputation.

This time however, the buck stops at Jadet’s door, as a team that won 12 out of 14 games earlier in the season, playing some magnificently swaggering attacking football, suddenly looks lost, demoralised and tactically clueless. Det’s refusal to rotate his squad, particularly at time when there are two games per week, is leading to tired legs, and the fact that there are clearly certain players who know they are undroppable, however poor their form or their level of commitment, is apparently causing some dissent amongst fringe players who feel – quite rightly – that they deserve more game time. Several players seem uninterested or frustrated, a couple have visibly regressed in recent weeks, and the tactics, such as they are, are no longer working. The dressing room appears to have been lost, and with a home game against a resurgent Nakhon Ratchasima coming up tomorrow, Det’s stock could sink even further by the end of the weekend.

The word from Port is that, whilst Jadet’s contract is up in October, they are planning to retain his services for 2019. Other sources suggest October will see him given a pat on the back & a handshake and sent on his way, possibly to the Thailand U23 job he subtly applied for recently. Defeat to Korat tomorrow may mean he may not even see out September.

Personally I think it most likely that Det will be allowed to see out his contract and then allowed to leave come the end of the season, which would be an acceptable solution all round. He remains popular with the fans, certainly the Thai fans at least, has done a very solid job during his 2+ years at the PAT, and deserves a warm & affectionate send-off when he does eventually leave. And maybe, given the managerial chaos that has afflicted numerous T1 clubs this season, we should possibly be careful what we wish for – there are few Thai coaches of Jadet’s stature available, and the consensus is that no foreign coach, even one well-versed in the arcane world of Thai football, could work in Port’s current management structure.

As it is, a season that once promised so much looks like fizzling out into mid-table mediocrity as the coach no longer seems able to get the best out of the most talented set of players the club has ever assembled, and with the club’s stated target of a top 5 finish now in considerable doubt, we’ll highly likely be seeing a new man on the PAT bench in 2019.

 

Specially Reserved Port vs Korat Reserves? Port FC vs Nakhon Ratchasima Preview

 

Port return home this Saturday to face Nakhon Ratchasima after a disappointing run of form. I was talking with Hockers trying to remember our last win, anyone?…….. Trat away July 25th. Our last league win?…….. Police Tero July 21st. I know we’ve had a break, but it comes to something when you are struggling to remember the last win for a fourth placed team.

So where is the bright side? Nakhon Ratchasima are in town, also known as Korat and the Swatcats both are a lot easier to write so I’ll use those. Four months ago Port won 4-0 in Korat, oh the heady days of 4-0 away wins. If Port have confidence against anyone it should be these Swatcats. Korat are a better side now with two recent wins and a creditable draw against Bangkok United. These results have pulled them into mid table safety. But wait what’s that coming up over the Korat plateau to save Port? It’s a Wednesday fixture in the league Cup semi final. Korat vs Chiang Rai a definite highlight for the Swatcats in a difficult season. The semi final is on the Wednesday 19th. Korat rest them, rest them all, the big and the tall and the small. Has it come to this? Hoping the other team field a weakened side? Yes, Yes it has.

Eyes down for a full house

For those wanting to play “have they got their first team out bingo” the player numbers you are looking for are,

4, 11, 15, 25, 27, 32, 37, 77

If a player is not in the starting line up just cross him off your bingo card. If all of these players are not in the starting line up shout “BINGO WE ARE SET FOR A WINGO” and receive your free large bottle of Leo with an amaretto chaser. Be careful not to celebrate too much, check first their absence isn’t due to the Korat team bus crashing.

Port lineup

Dolah is out, those two yellows take his card tally up to 8 this year so he’ll serve a second suspension. More bad news on the suspension front Pakorn (7) is back. I guess he’ll be rested, so he will bound onto the pitch with nervous energy for three and a half minutes then settle down for a nice stroll. There were patches of decent play in the Chiang Rai, match Kevin proved he can take a decent corner, so we will see if there is any discussion around the corner flag at the weekend. Unfortunately Nurul’s wayward free kicks didn’t make the case for prising the ball out of Pakorn’s hands come free kick time. We’ll probably see a traditional Port line up. Anon(20) should get the shout to start but probably won’t. If Nurul’s injury was serious Jadet will probably start Bodin in his place.

The Likely Lads

Worawut(36)

Nittipong (34) ,Rochela(22), Tossapol(6) Kevin(97)

Pakorn (7), Siwakorn(16) Suarez (5) Kim(8) Nurul(31)

Boskovic (23)

With this run of form you have to wonder how much the players are trying. If Jadet really wanted to do something different he could just pick the eleven players trying to do something.

Port effort 11

Rattanai (trying to get back from injury)

 

Nittipong (genuinely trying)

Rochela (trying to remember what it was like playing for a sane club)

Dolah with a huge false mustache (trying to play even though he’s suspended)

Kevin (trying to get in the national team)

 

Terens (trying to do remind Jadet he exists)

Kim (trying to communicate with anyone)

Adisorn (trying to tower over Terens in order to look taller)

Nurul (trying to win a free kick)

 

Boskovic (trying to play anywhere but up front)

Artit Bunyinda (trying to score, always trying to score not actually doing it)

 

My Prediction Port 5-4 Korat

A barnstorming game against a second choice Korat team and a Terens last minute winner. You can call me crazy for predicting this, but what do we have left in the season? Not much, a fading hope of 3rd place, a Terens winner would be genuinely worth celebrating.

I asked Korat fan Russ about the match and the Korat players to watch. Russ writes regularly about the Swatcats at http://russjohn1000.blogspot.com/ 

I also asked Russ what he thought of Port’s season, I should have just asked what he thought about the first half of the season.

 

Port v Nakhon Ratchasima – an away fan’s view

An intriguing match up given the relative current runs of form of the two protagonists. Port on an awful run of results and fading fast, the Swatcats, after strengthening the squad, resurgent with an encouraging set of second leg results moving them up to a respectable 8th place.

Whether the visitors will field a full strength team with next week’s League Cup semi final imminent is up for debate but the match should provide Port with a chance to placate their fans with a dominant display over a pretty ordinary Swatcat side.

Swatcat men to look out for? – well actually we have no real stars; we are just a hardworking set of players who give 100% and who play for each other. Samuel Cunningham(11) in goal has been a real hero at times this season and has undoubtedly saved the team a few points. Everyone knows Leandro Assumpcao (77), of course and now back after injury he will be a threat up front. My third pick for men to watch is an unlikely hero. Watch out for Yayah Kunath (27) (if he plays) buzzing around just behind the front men.

My views on Port’s season so far you may not wish to hear…. their season has been like opening a bottle of champagne – the cork is popped, lots of fizz, then everything goes flat. I have watched a few Port games on TV and performances have been erratic. In the recent game against Chainat I seriously thought that they had all been out on the pop the night before. The reality is of course they have stopped playing for coach Jadet.

I am no tactician but whenever I see Port, I see a team in a rush to get forward with men streaming forward in a ridiculously cavalier fashion. This will of course lead to the occasional super performance when individuals perform well but for a sustainable approach and success, they need to put their foot on the ball and build slowly from the back.

With the team in danger of finishing a disappointing 6th how long will Pang maintain interest? Jadet has to go of course, then hopefully the light bulb will come on and Port will attempt to temper expectations and build for a sustainable future….I suspect given the bumpy road that Port fans have learnt to expect, there is nil chance of this happening.

My match prediction Port 2 Nakhon Ratchasima 0

 

Port FC vs Nakhon Ratchasima FC, Saturday 15 September 18:00 at PAT Stadium and live on True Sport HD3