Do Banshees Sing Football Songs?

 

And is “song” even the correct word to describe those choral rhymes bellowed from the terraces? Chants, maybe, although chants often turn to rants after a couple of Leos and a bunless hotdog served on a cocktail stick at the PAT, or any stadium. But here we are at the PAT and once we’ve downed that chilled beer from environmentally toxic containers we make our way into the ground proper to watch the match. A whistle blows and the lads are off. There are drums in the crowd and a woman’s screams echo around the stadium like that of the Banshee’s call. But just who or what is a Banshee? Well, it’s an ancient female spirit who cries loudly at night to warn others of something terrible about to happen. Normally the Thai Port Banshee cries ying mai kao (don’t score) just before the opposition scores. Her predictions are uncannily accurate. Before, however, we brand the Banshee as some sort of supernatural seer we ought to keep in mind the PAT is hardly a fortress. With almost 30 away goals conceded it doesn’t take a Mor Doo or a fortune teller to tell you that Port are a little weak at the back.

But what was I rabbiting on about? Ah yes, football songs. Growing up in London Millwall became my adopted team. I’d given Chelsea, Palace, Spurs, and Charlton a trial run but I kept finding myself returning to The Den. Why? Well, not so much for the predictable long-ball football and the career-ending tackles, but more for the crowd banter and downright hostile vibes. The burgers weren’t bad either if you got to the van early enough. The aggression at Millwall was simply palpable. Teenagers love a bit of conflict, crave a bit of pent up resentment, so naturally we fitted right in. The colorful linguistics added to our already expanding youthful vocabulary and the ethnic slurs tightened our schoolboy wits.

Cold Blow Lane felt like a safe place to be. The home supporters galvanized the opposing team both with their meat-pie-throwing antics and their four-letter artistry. The few away supporters brave enough to navigate South London in the early 1990s wished they hadn’t gotten out of bed that morning. You’re going home in a Millwall ambulance was one of the football club’s more creative chants. Fuck ‘em all, another.

No one Likes us, We Don’t Care is perhaps one of the Wall’s most celebrated tomes but only one of many in the lyrical toolkit. There is a legendary war cry song. This song (that has no name) is simply constructed of the vowels of the football team’s name drawn out for as long as possible. The meat of the chant is Miiiiiiiiiiiii and can last continually and dramatically for up to 40 minutes of the game. The roar sometimes lasted longer. Rumor has it the chant was started by a man they called the Opera Singer. This portly character stood on the stands wearing a white shirt and dinner jacket singing the team’s songs in a deep tenor’s range. He may have worked as a waiter at the Little Chef and likely belonged to part of what we now call the autistic spectrum. The Opera Singer attended each home game and began his now historic chant in full voice. That football song, or chant, was taken up by other pockets of the crowd and is now a standard part of the home experience. It has lasted decades becoming more finely tuned, and more menacing, with the passing of each and every game.

 

 

Thankfully perhaps the Thai Port Banshee has no such followers. Maybe she doesn’t need any followers? Perhaps her message is simply one of a lonely crusade in the world of soccer mediocrity. A solitary call of hope lost and faith abandoned on a Saturday afternoon.

But, here’s an idea. When we next hear the Banshee howl why don’t we join in her call? Perhaps the Banshee is the Opera Singer reincarnate and her mission to have others scream along with her? Perhaps together we can build that fortress. Perhaps they will think twice before banging it into the back of the net like they always do once they hear the stadium howl?

So next time you hear the Banshee call, do us a favor – yell with her.

 

Dolah’s Incensed: Chiang Rai Utd 2-0 Port FC

 

 

There can be few better places to enjoy a game of football than Chiang Rai in September. Lovely cool evening weather, a beautiful purpose-built stadium, and a mature attitude to in-stadium beer consumption all contribute to the ideal Thai footy experience, and throw in some particularly friendly food vendors handing out free crispy worms, and the weary travelling fan couldn’t ask for more. Apart, of course, from a decent crowd (note to the FAT – on what planet is 5.45pm on a Wednesday a good kick-off time?), and a referee with a degree of competence and integrity. That, in Thai football, seems too much to ask.

 

Stadium food Chiang Rai style. Who needs pies?

 

Following the piss-poor performances against Prachuap & Chainat, the uninformed observer may have expected Jadet to make a few changes to take into account certain players’ poor form and the inevitable fatigue that comes with playing two games per week. Those of us who know better were not at all surprised that the only change was an enforced one, with the suspended Pakorn replaced not by another winger, but by Port’s own midfield Jack Russell, Adisorn (13). Quite how Jadet had told his players to line up was a mystery to us and the players themselves, with Boskovic (23), Nurul (31) and Suarez (5) all having spells on the right, left and middle. It would’ve been no surprise had Bosko popped up manning the sausage stand under the away end, such was the players’ obvious confusion.

 

 

But Port began brightly, bossing possession and passing the ball around crisply. Chiang Rai simply couldn’t get near them until the 3rd minute, when Chaiyawat (and you’ll be reading more, oh so much more, about this dickhead later) broke forward and fed the left winger who crossed to an unmarked Phittiwat on the edge of the box, who fired home impressively past Worawut (36) to give the Beetles an undeserved lead.

Port once again began passing the ball around comfortably without really threatening and Chiang Rai, rather like a man whose wife has been invited out for the evening by Elton John, were happy to sit back & let them get on with it in the knowledge that there would be no penetration. But after a while Elton, presumably feeling nostalgic for his brief 1980s liaison with busty German saucepot Renate Blauel, started feeling a bit frisky. On 18 minutes Nurul broke into the box and picked out an unmarked Suarez, but the out-of-sorts Spaniard could only pass the ball tamely into the keeper’s arms. A few minutes later Siwakorn (16) curled a shot just wide of the post, and just before half-time Suarez headed narrowly over the bar. 1-0 at half-time, with Port much the better side and Chiang Rai seemingly happy to park the bus against far more talented opponents.

 

 

The second half began in similar vein, with Bodin (10), briefly remembering how to play football and hitting the side netting with a long shot, before the game was transformed by the worst piece of refereeing I’ve seen at a Port game since the infamous Chainat Debacle in 2014. Dolah (4) blocked a shot from Chaiyawat – known henceforth as Chaiyatwat – and the players briefly collided. The big Swede, being the decent sort of gent that he is, tried to help Chaiyatwat to his feet, but the latter reacted angrily and then, seeing that Port were bombing up the pitch at considerable speed, fell to the turf clutching his face. Port played on, and when Chiang Rai regained possession, they gave a similar number of fucks about Chaiyatwat’s plight as the rest of us – that number being zero – and launched an attack of their own, only to start surrounding the ref as soon as the ball went out of play. The ref, who throughout the game seemed to be waiting for the home side to tell him what decisions to make, bizarrely booked both players; at which point CR defender Victor, a huge bear of a man temporarily doing a pretty convincing impression of a weasel, minced over to the ref to point out that Elias had already been booked, and the ref produced a red card. An early bath for the big no4, and my sources tell me that he went the full Thiago on the dressing room door on his way back. And why not.

Minutes later Chaiyatwat cut out a Port attack with his hand – technically a straight red but at least a yellow – yet, despite being given a good mauling by a by-now incandescent Boskovic, the ref let him off. By this point the Port players were in a state of fury, as were the away fans, with one Sandpitter who shall remain nameless (cough) heading down several rows to the front of the away end to hurl abuse at the cheating fucker in the orange 18 shirt. Clearly fearing for their player’s safety, Chaiyatwat was subbed off to a rousing sendoff from the Khlong Thoey Army.

 

Chaiyatwat’s personal dressing room

 

With Port’s twin farang strike force always playing better when they’re nursing a grievance, Port tore into the home team but their best chances fell to Bodin, whose brief moment of enlightenment at the start of the half had long since passed, and who had reverted to his by now standard impression of “man seeing football for the first time”. It was inevitable that Chiang Rai would catch Port on the break and they added a second in injury time, condemning Port to a very unfortunate away win in a game they dominated and, but for the ridiculous referee, could well have won.

That said, all is clearly not well at Port. The team have won just twice in the last 11 games in all competitions (against Police Tero & Trat), and a team that was tearing T1 apart with pace, style and intensity a few weeks ago now looks lost & demoralised. Several players clearly don’t want to be there, others have visibly regressed, and any semblance of a tactical plan has long since vanished. Boskovic in particular seems like a lost soul, popping up all over the pitch when he should be planting himself up front and demanding some decent service. Jadet needs to look up the word “meritocracy” in the dictionary because at the moment he’s picking his standard first XI regardless of form and attitude, and the team are suffering as a result. Mme Pang was away on an Instagramming holiday to Paris, and there will be few people on the Port staff looking forward to her return.

We left the stadium with the red mist still hovering above our heads, but thankfully our faith in humanity and the fine townspeople of Chiang Rai was very quickly restored. Having taken a “fuck it, let’s worry about it later” approach to getting back into town after the game, we found ourselves stranded and facing a long walk. 5 minutes down the road I spotted a farang returning to his car and asked him how one might go about getting to the night market. He didn’t understand me so, recognising his accent, I switched to the old francais, and the farang in question revealed himself as Alain, French retiree and longtime resident of Chiang Rai. Not only that, but he also turned out to be a fellow St Etienne fan, having followed the mighty Verts throughout Europe during their late 70s/early 80s glory years, and happily ushered us into his car and took us all the way into town. Merci monsieur. Then, having located a khao soy stand, the chef complimented us on our choice of football team and threw an extra chicken leg into each bowl. It may have been the warming, hearty goodness of the soup, the kindness of strangers, or the large amount of beer I’d consumed by that point, but my wife informs me there was a tear in my jaded old eye as I slurped down my bowl of the very best.

And so as is often the case, another away trip which would’ve been perfect had we not had to go & watch football. As Alain would say, plus ca change…

 

Post-match khao soy therapy

 

The Sandpit Man of the Match: David Rochela

Despite dark mutterings in various Port fan circles about his declining powers, El Capitan was at his very best last night, mopping up at the back, starting attacks with his accurate passing, and making several last-ditch tackles. Honourable mentions to to the ever-reliable Nitipong (34), Adisorn (who was our best player until Jadet inexplicably subbed him off) and Kim (8), who at least tried to instill some order into the tactical chaos that was Port’s midfield.

 

Watch Out, Beetles About: Chiang Rai United vs. Port FC Preview

 

Port travel to Chiang Rai on Wednesday looking to turn around their worst run of form so far in 2018. Port’s last 6 league games have seen just 1 win, 3 draws and 2 losses, and they have slipped below bitter rivals Muangthong for the first time in months. Chiang Rai on the other hand have improved markedly in the second half of the season, and will be looking to close the gap to Port to just 1 point with a victory.

 

Chiang Rai United

Players to Watch

 

The main man for Chiang Rai is captain and certified brick shithouse Victor Cardozo (6). The best defender in the league has even managed to net 7 goals, including the opener in Chiang Rai’s 3-2 win over Prachuap last week. Dolah will have to maintain his excellent form of late when defending the big man, who is sure to be a threat from set-pieces. Chiang Rai’s back 3 will also contain the excellent youngster Shinnaphat Leeaoh (36), one of the more impressive up-and-coming defenders in Thailand.

 

 

On the left flank, Thai under 23 captain Suriya Singmui (30) will also be a solid presence defensively as well as a threat going forward. He was preferred to Port left back Kevin for the Thai Asian Games squad, just one of the many laughable decisions that got coach Worawut sacked as Thailand crashed out in the group stages. Still, Suriya is a very good player.

 

 

In midfield will sit the solid, dependable duo of South Korean Lee Yong-Rae (8) and Phitiwat Sukjitthammakul (6) who have combined for just 2 goals and 4 assists all season, but have provided excellent protection for the defence, and are rarely caught out of position.

 

 

Up front is the man who has really turned things round for The Beetles in the second half of 2018. Cleiton Silva arrived for big money at the start of the season carrying a huge reputation in Thai football, and was widely thought of as a safe bet to score 20 goals minimum. Well, Cleiton came, saw and ran off with his tail between his legs, and in came a player who was little more than a laughing stock in his first few games of 2018, Bill Rosimar (9). Since shedding a few pounds and finding his feet in Thai football, Bill has become one of the more dangerous forwards in the league. He has 5 goals in 9 games since making the switch. He will be fresh, having missed last week’s win as he was serving a one game ban for picking up 4 yellow cards.

 

 

Form

 

Only slightly better than Port’s, actually. Chiang Rai have won 2, drawn 2 and lost 2 in their last 6, although their 2 wins have come against 2 teams who Port have recently failed to overcome – Prachuap and and Chainat. Surprising draws against Air Force and Pattaya and understandable losses to Buriram and Bangkok United round out their last 6.

 

Port FC

Pakorn Out

 

Port will not be starting the same XI that has failed to win either of the last 2, as divisive winger Pakorn (7) misses out with his first suspension of the season. Nurul (31) is also a doubt, having just recently recovered from a serious injury and been withdrawn at half time on Wednesday. If there’s any risk at all, please just leave the little guy out. Coming in ought to be Bodin (10) and one of Terens (28), Chakrit (9) or Somprasong (14). Terens can only play if one of the other foreign players miss out, so either Chakrit or Somprasong are more likely. Jadet should probably also consider starting last week’s goal hero Arthit (29) and moving Boskovic out wide. It’s not like he ever plays through the middle when he’s on the pitch, anyway.

I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but the midfield problem just won’t go away. After bringing him off in the last 2 games, it must surely be time to drop Siwakorn (16). Anon (20) has proved much more effective when he has come on, and is a breath of fresh air with his tough tackling, meerkat-like awareness and crisp passing. Just do it, Jadet!

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 


 

The match will be shown live, although the channel is yet to be confirmed. Kick off is 17:45 on Wednesday 12 September, 2018. For those (and I assume there will be quite a few) who can’t make it to Singha Stadium up North, 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.

 

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before: Port FC 1-1 Chainat Hornbill

 

 

Football returned to the PAT Stadium after a month of intense, thrilling international footballing achievement thumb twiddling, with Port welcoming arguably our second most hated team, the Hornbills of Chainat. Regulars on the away terraces and this fine website might remember the away fixture earlier this season which resulted in a barrage of boos and harassment at the final whistle. At the time it felt like the lowest point of our season. Hoping this would serve as a constant reminder, and after the dismal showing at Prachuap, our boys needed to show some mettle. Another important factor was Police’s 4 goal capitulation to The Scum the night before, so a win was a must to keep up with the pace. 

Errr yeah, so about that “win”… Jadet chose to stick with the team from Wednesday’s defeat and in the opening exchanges Port played some neat football with Pakorn (7), carrying a little extra timber after a month of R&R, confounding his critics and sending a dangerous cross over to Boskovic (23) who couldn’t control his header. Then after 20 minutes Kevin darted to the byline and pulled back to Boskovic only for him to be crudely bundled over by Chatchon (6). Hands were raised appealing for a penalty but the ball quickly spilled to Suarez whose shot was blocked and it seemed as if the penalty appeal had been forgotten about. The crowd, sensing injustice, started chanting “VAR, VAR” and the referee, clearly thinking about leaving the stadium upright, duly obliged and consulted the gogglebox before awarding the penalty.

Now, when Dragan asserted himself and took the ball from captain Rochela’s (22) hands, you had to be impressed with the confidence of the man; his talent hasn’t shone as brightly as we had expected this season but his endeavour so far in the match had been commendable. The penalty that he attempted was somewhere between a “Tana” and a “Chakrit”; a lazy, half-assed failure of a faint that keeper Kritchana (1) saw straight through followed by a shot so tame even a corpse could have saved it. Chainat were now sensing an upset and duly upped their game with some smart wide play; Chatchai (15) sending in a dangerous low cross across goal for Dolah (4) to clear and then bollock Nurul (31) for failing to track back. Then another cross into the box saw Worawut (36) come off his line only to misjudge the flight and allow Diouf (20) to cushion his header over to Doumbia (11) who scrambled the ball into the net, then wheeled off to celebrate in front of The Pink Rangers (who are welcome to visit us anytime at the PAT Stadium). 

 

That sinking feeling

 

So 1-0 down when we should be 1-0 up and Jadet was forced to shuffle the pack with Nurul coming off, presumably injured, at half time. What followed was an inept, shapeless 35 minutes of hustle and bustle with no end product. Boskovic decided to play in several positions – anywhere apart from centre forward – with little success, and Suarez and Kim decided to be the front 2 because playing 2 midfielders up front makes perfect sense. Pakorn, Nitipong (34) and Kevin (97) all tried to make something happen but nothing seemed to work, that is until the arrival of everyone’s favourite carthorse Arthit Boodjinda (29). Suarez dinked the ball towards the Chainat goal and Arthit fouled the defender made a nuisance of himself as Kritchana smacked the clearance into Parinya (13), leaving the way clear for Arthit to foul the defender again stroke the ball into an empty net. Chainat were clearly incensed after getting shafted by VAR in the first half so decided to complain until the referee gave into his desire to not visit the hospital straight after the match and consulted the television again. Port fans waited nervously, so while we wait let’s have 3 fun football facts about our dynamic second choice centre forward: 

 

3 Fun Football Facts about Arthit Boodjinda 

  1. “Arthit” is Thai for “Heskey”.
  2. Arthit pulls up his shorts so he can be 42.7% more aerodynamic.     
  3. Pele recently said this about Arthit: “He reminds me of a young, more elegant version of myself; the raw exuberance of youth coupled with the burning desire to win at all costs.”

 

After what seemed an eternity the referee gave Port the goal, and to be honest that was that; a few more attacks and crosses with no result and then it was back to The Sandpit for Leo, drums and flares. A draw seemed like a fair result especially as it feels like our team still hasn’t turned up since their enforced break and the regular failings are still present. Our team shape is a mess once substitutions are made and it’s clear that the communication from the bench to the pitch is not working and several players are having to suss out what to do with varying degrees of success. It’s too much of the same errors shown week in week out with no solution in sight. 

Young Pele

 

Next up is our trickiest fixture of the remaining matches of this campaign: a midweek clash in Chiang Rai. If we play anything like our last two matches we will be on the receiving end of a sound thrashing but knowing Port we could just make a few people eat their words. The players need to realise that there is still a lot to play for and our season petering out is not an option; there is still the longshot of AFC Champions League qualification, the highest points total achieved in the top division and, most importantly, the opportunity to finish above those scumbags from Legoland.  

 

The Sandpit Man of the Match – Elias Dolah 

 

 

In a game that will be filed under ‘meh’ it was never going to be an offensive player claiming the plaudits. I’ve recently started tending to give this award to players who show heart rather than skill but Dolah’s performance was a solid combination of both, rarely putting a foot wrong and also reminding his teammates of their responsibilities on the pitch (something we have been sorely missing). Credit should also go to Nitipong, Kevin and goalscorer Arthit for their work but sadly too many players didn’t give the same amount of effort required to get the 3 points.

 

To Port FC: Thank You & Goodbye!

 

Allegiances are a funny thing. Even though putting the name of Muangthong United on my CV was probably the thing that kick-started my “career” in football journalism, there is something about Port that feels distinctly like home. They say one must never forget their roots. Even though I have been a supporter of the Kirin since 2014, it’s a saying that reminds me as much of the PAT Stadium as it does the SCG.

2018 has been a fantastic year for Port fans. The side has splashed the cash to bring in talents unlike anything ever seen before in Klongtoey. To have such pulsating football played to a remarkable, vibrant atmosphere tucked away in the most mundane of settings gives the air of a fantasy or other-worldly story. It’s a feeling that I tried my best to convey in my debut article for These Football Times, highlighting the club’s unique story.

Most importantly, Port, the Sandpit and the rest of the fandom opened their arms to me at a time of need. This year has been one of major upheaval for me, with my graduation and impending departure to foreign lands to pursue higher education providing a backdrop for major changes in my personal life. During this hard time, I could always rely on the energy and excitement of Zone B to sweep me away from my worldly troubles and take me to a magical land of Nurul dribbles, Rochela tackles, Suarez free-kicks and Boskovic goals.

It is with both anticipation and sorrow that I look forward to my final game of what has been a remarkable season. It is times like this when I know that football is more than just a game.

The reception for my aforementioned Port article was far greater than I had imagined. Maybe it was because of the emotion behind it, and my newfound attachment to this clubs’ fans managed to seep its way through. To find such a welcoming community at I time I needed it most has impacted me in a way no other football club really has.

Thank you.

It’s Your Fault We Can’t Drink Beer So We Hope You Go Down: Port FC vs Chainat Hornbill FC Preview

 

It’s normally a tasty one, this. Port vs. Chainat has some history to it, and with both sides locked in tense battles at opposite ends of the table this could well be another feisty encounter. The reverse fixture in the first half of the season was anything but – Port meekly surrendered a 1-2 defeat to their rivals – but at a PAT Stadium which has just had a month off T1 action, expect a boisterous crowd to inspire a much-improved performance than Wednesday’s limp affair, another 1-2 defeat, this time at Prachuap. This allowed Muangthong to restore parity with Port in the table, although Port retain third place due to their superior head-to-head record. Chainat also suffered defeat in midweek, although they did it in rather more spectacular fashion. Chainat scored 4 but conceded 5 against relegation certainties Ubon UMT, dropping them in to the final relegation spot, which they now share with Police Tero, Suphanburi and Bangkok Glass.

 

Chainat Hornbill FC

Players to Watch

 

Chainat are the poster boys of a disastrous approach to foreign player recruitment this season. The balls-out move of recruiting three foreign forwards has been common and successful in the past, with the quota previously allowing an additional player – usually a defender – along with those, but this season the quota shrinking has made this approach redundant. A few teams just didn’t get the memo. Of the current bottom 5, 4 (all except Ubon) have recruited 3 or more foreign forwards, and it hasn’t gone well.

 

Oh no, wait, not them…

 

That’s not to say that Chainat’s attackers aren’t a dangerous bunch. They most certainly are, the problem is that they’re largely a three-man team. Between them they have 30 goals and 15 assists, with the captain, big-name star and top-scorer in 2016 and 2017 – former Liverpool striker Florent Sinama Pongolle (10) – surprisingly the weakest on both counts with just 6 goals and 2 assists. He is 34 now, and has started dropping in to a more withdrawn role, similar to where Suarez plays for Port.

The tip of the Chainat spear is Ivorian striker Bireme Diouf (20), who netted against Port in the first half of the season. He has scored 12 times, and has also provided 6 assists. A very pacy striker who makes runs in behind and tries to stretch defenses, Port would do well to make sure he doesn’t get in to one-on-one situations with Dolah.

And finally, the most impressive of the three-piece jigsaw is Diouf’s compatriot Bernard Henry (11). Henry has spent most of the season playing on the right wing, but has matched Diouf’s 12 goals, as well as providing 7 assists. Port left back Kevin must avoid brain farts around this fella, as any error will be punished by Henry, as Kevin’s horrific back-pass was punished by Jonathan Reis on Wednesday.

 

 

Thai players of any significance are few and far between in Chainat’s squad, but young midfielder Baramee Limwattana (17), who is on loan from Bangkok United, scored last week and should finally have cemented his place in Chainat’s lackluster midfield. 20 year old Thai-Italian professional tall man (198 cm or 6ft 6) and Dolah impressionist Marco Ballini (23) isn’t a nailed on starter, but the youngster who recently broke in to the Thai under 23 squad should probably return to the starting XI just by virtue of not being involved in the midweek catastrophe against Ubon.

 

 

On top of getting battered on Wednesday, Chainat also managed to get two players suspended. Goalkeeper Teerath (27) got sent off for a professional foul in injury time, and winger Laksana (14) picked up his fourth yellow card of the season.

 

Form

 

It’s been over 2 months since Chainat’s last win, and that was only against Air Force. Since then, it’s been 3 defeats against Chiang Rai, Korat and Ubon, and 2 draws with Navy and Chonburi. Their next 6 fixtures are then Port, Bangkok Glass, Ratchaburi, Muangthong, Prachuap and Bangkok United. The trapdoor beckons. Now over to Port to give them a downward shove.

 

Port FC

We Are The Lethargy

 

It’s always a possibility at this stage of the season, and on Wednesday’s evidence it looks very much as though Port are going to follow form and endure a late-season slump. It’s not as if there is nothing to play for, either. Assuming that Buriram go on to lift the FA Cup (a likely but by no means certain outcome) Port could sneak in to the Asian Champions League qualifiers if they can hang on to third place. With Muangthong now level on points and Prachuap just one behind, staying third is far from straightforward; winning against Chainat is an absolute must.

There are no suspensions, and as far as I know Rattanai (17) is the only one who is certain to miss out with injury. Nurul (31) looked very lively on his return, and Adisorn (13) was fit enough to be named on the bench.

Worawut (36) made one outstanding save on his return to the side and could do nothing with Reis’ sensational winner, but could have dealt more decisively with Kevin’s horrific back pass for the first goal and fumbled a high ball in the second half to give away a corner. Still, he is assured of a start on Sunday. The most surprising selection on Wednesday (although we should know better by now) was Siwakorn (16) getting the nod ahead of Anon (20) in central midfield. On the evidence of Anon’s performances since his arrival at Port, there’s simply no question that he’s a better fit in Port’s midfield that Siwakorn, who has had his worst season with Port since re-signing in 2015.

Nurul looked lively and dangerous on his return to the team, meaning that Bodin (10), who has had more than enough opportunities to stake a claim to a place on the left wing, will have to get comfortable to the bench. That of course means Pakorn (7) will be starting again on Sunday, despite displaying an almost unfathomable lack of interest on Wednesday. When he wasn’t miscontrolling the ball to give away throw-ins or ballooning free-kicks over the bar he was generally moping around and refusing to put in the requisite work-rate. I’d drop him without a moment’s thought, but Jadet won’t.

The rest of the team really picks itself.

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True Sport 2 at 19:00 on Sunday 9 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.

 

Sticky Reis vs Fried Chickens: PT Prachuap FC 2-1 Port FC

 

Thai domestic football returned after its annual midseason unnecessary bullshit break, with Port making the journey south to take on Prachuap. The good news, Prachuap aren’t going anywhere soon. The bad news nor are Port, as we were defeated 2-1 in a match that had that a familiar feel of Port defeats that have come before.

The hope was that the tail end of the season would see Port put together a run of victories that would push for an ACL place, either via catching and surpassing Bangkok United for second place or the somewhat less assured route of Buriram adding cup success, to the now seemingly inevitable league title and a third ACL spot being awarded on league position. On last night’s evidence it is Prachuap who will have a greater interested in this battle. Bangkok United, had by the time we kicked off, already won the Rangsit derby 3-2, giving them a 9 point cushion. Come the final whistle it would remain intact, while victory for the Killer Wasp and the forces of footballing evil Legoland branch, means that Port remain in third spot on goal difference (or whatever FAI are using this week) over the lizards, with Prachuap now a mere point behind.

Thailand’s finest stadium khazi

That Prachuap are where they are says a lot about the state of Thai football, this isn’t a team that does more that be well organised and exploit the ability of its front men. The sum is considerably greater than its parts. In essence they are the opposite of Port. Find the right players for your system and play to their strengths. No square pegs in round holes, you want a target man you go and sign a Guianese SFS, who is about the biggest and scariest in the league, rather than signing the leagues top scorer and asking him to morph into a targetman, when its clearly the last thing he is. It seems a simple ideology yet it’s well beyond the brains trust at the PAT, along with most other clubs in Thailand. Prachuap do it wonderful and should be applauded, with owners and managers across the land looking to replicating it. Least we forget that this collection of journeymen Thais and unheralded foreigners were tipped by every preseason prediction article I read to make a swift return to the second tier. That they won’t and if they keep doing their thing will be a fixture in league one is great news, not only because it is a victory for an underdog but also because it means the opportunity to return to this excellent small Thai seaside resort. The ground is neat, well positioned in town, the home fans are noisy, passionate and friendly, to the point of visiting the away end for a prematch love in (who amongst couldn’t enjoy Ming and a 6ft killer Wasp having a dance). They buck the trend of over charging visitors with tickets at 100TBH. It also has the finest away end toilet l’ve seen in the league. Its not perfect our stand had a massive scoreboard in front of it (good thinking stadium design people, might I suggest the back of the stand next time). It also features a running track, which wasn’t quite wide enough to obscure the calamity at the far end that unfolded just a minute into the game.

Port had kicked off and looked ok for a good 50 seconds, when the ball was given away and a hopeful ball forward was collected by Kevin. Whilst Jonathan Reis(10) was pursuing, it should have been a simple back pass, however it was woefully underhit. Allowing Reis to nip in, the advancing Worawut manages to get to something on the attempted shot but only succeeds in playing back into Reis, off whom the ball rebounded into the goal. Not an ideal start but still plenty of time to turn things round. Except it was to be one of those nights where Port never really got going. Inside the first 7 minutes Prachuap would add two decent shots from outside the box, it amounted to more threat on goal that Port would offer over the entire evening.

 

Great place for a scoreboard

 

As the half wore on Port would come to have the majority of possession but it was always lacking an sense of any cutting edge. Generally, the same trick. Our wide players, Pakorn and the returning Nurul would get the ball and be supported by the full backs, at which point it would be utterly predictable, balls failed to beat the first defender or were easily cleared by the centre backs due to the lack of a target man. I can’t blame Boskovic for not getting on the end of any of the service he was offered, its hit and hope as often as not and he’s just not the type of player to feed off that sort of service. Not once do l recall a ball into space for him. On one occasion he managed to get the ball at his feet, he beat 3 defenders before his attempted pass resulted in a scramble and no attempt on goal. Nurul at least tried to create something different with the occasional dribble and was on his return was subjected to endless fouls the ref had little interest in stopping. Seldom did we try and create though the middle, on the two occasions someone went crazy and didn’t just pop the ball out wide, penalty shouts resulted. The first when Suarez burst though only to be tugged back and the second in first half injury time when Nurul made the most of contact by the keeper, both were deemed offside, having seen the Nurul call it looked an error from the officials.

The second half started in the same manner. Then after 57 mins Kevin fired a ball to the box and having drifted inside Nurul collects and has a shot blocked. It rebounds and is fired into the goal in a bit of a scramble, from my vantage point at the far end and judging from the celebrations, I thought he had fired his second attempt into the net. The official league website has awarded the goal to Boskovic but from my viewing of the highlights appears to be former Port player Piyachart Tamaphan (99) with a bizarre attempted clearance towards goal (and maybe the merest of contact with Bosko). However it went in, it was a scrappy goal and hardly validation for the “tactics” on show. A more reasonable team would at this point dig in and make sure they take at least a point for a match away against a team close to them in the league. So it was no surprise when five minutes later Reis had put the Wasps ahead again. Cutting in from the right flank unchallenged he shoots from the middle, his first effort blocked the ball falls to him again and he curls it past Worawut into the top corner. This attacking using the middle and taking the odd shot from range thing really seems to work.

Port then pushed the full backs even further forward (yep I know I told you’d seen this one before at the start), leaving the now seemingly back two of Rochela (22) and Dolah (4) ever more exposed. Prachuap brought Doubouya(21) who instantly set about causing havoc, I can only presume he wasn’t fully fit as 90 mins of his muscular battling would surely have seen the margin of victory increase. He had the ball in the back of the net in the 83rd minute only for it ruled out for offside, it wasn’t. Nobody should be more grateful than, the otherwise excellent, Dolah who had been picking up the Guinean before leaving him to drift to the near post and play him onside. And then it ended. As meekly and limply as Port in attack though out the match. See you all at the PAT for Chainat, it can’t be any worse than this or the last time we played them…can it?

The Sandpit Man of the Match: Nurul

The guy who signed off the away end toilets was getting a place on the podium till the 78th minute. At which point Anon (20) surpassed him. Doumbouya had since coming on been involved in a war both physical and verbal with any Port player in his vicinity. With 12 minutes to go he attempted to break past the Port midfield only to be met by a perfect body check from the former Leicester man. Not only did he flatten the Scariest SFS he remained on his feet. For that alone he should be applauded. However he offered far more than the once again invisible Siwakorn who he replaced. The only other Port player to excel where the centre backs and Kim. That said there was only one contender for the award, Nurul. His running caused more issues for Prachuap than the combined output of his teammates. He won endless free kicks, got in the faces of the opposition, deserved a penalty and wound up the home fans, including giving a few thousand people flack as he walked off. Its great to have the little fella back.

 

Panta Devils Welcome Khlong Toey Army: PT Prachuap FC vs Port FC Preview

 

Football’s coming home. After an enforced absence of 5 weeks, during which the Thai Under 23 team forcibly argued the case for not having a Thai football season at all to allow maximum preparation time for yet even more abject early departures, Port are back in action, although home ground on this occasion is more likely to be the Sportsman Pub.

This is another trip that I had carefully planned out in my head: back from East Timor, suitably reinvigorated by a thrilling home game against Buriram, then winding my way down south, via Hua Hin, for a glorious football weekend at the seaside. The season had gone on for so long without a hint of a change that we thought maybe, just maybe, this time there would be no disruption. It was not to be, so my deckchair will be replaced by a bar-stool, no doubt amongst other frustrated adventurers.

In reading several articles analysing the Thai U’23’s early exit, amongst the reasons given was, ‘lack of preparation time’. This does not bode well for future disruptions. Complaints were also made, and they may have a point, about the lack of decent Thai strikers at T1 level. Most teams, even outside the top six, opt for SFS’s (no need to explain), thereby limiting the development of local goal poachers. No doubt the FAT, in their ‘wisdom’, will come up with the perfect, inexplicable solution.

I had thought that the Thai Football Association was pretty unique when it came to bizarre, last minute, administrative decisions. That was until last week.

‘The Copa Libertadores second-leg game between Santos of Brazil and Independiente of Argentina was abandoned after police clashed with the home (Santos) crowd – who had been told only 12 hours before kick-off that rather than being level on aggregate they were actually 3-0 down.’ (BBC News)

This was, apparently, the result of an offence involving a suspended player three (yes, 3) years previously. Anyway, it was enough to spark off riots during which the police employed batons and percussion grenades to keep the enraged Santos fans at bay. Eventually, the game was abandoned with Independiente going through to the next round. It would be fascinating, and not a little scary, to imagine the scenes at PAT if a similar decision was made before a deciding game against Muang Thong. ‘Blood in the Sandpit’ the headlines ring out.

Port are finally back in competitive action on Wednesday with a tricky trip to Prachuap. The Killer Wasps have made a rapid rise from Regional League 2 since their founding in 2011 and, after a slight mid-season blip, have maintained their early season form to sit just 4 points behind Port in 5th place.

As Tom quite rightly pointed out in his preview for the reverse fixture, their main threat will come from the trio of Jonatan Reis (10), Lonsana Doumbouya (21) and Amorn Thammanarm (17) who have, incredibly, shared 39 of the 45 goals Prachuap have scored this season; Reis topping the list on an impressive 20 goals. I make no apologies for highlighting them again. Given this, the battle between this trio and our centre-backs and holding defensive midfielders will be crucial, which is why, fitness levels willing, I might go for a back three.

 

 

If Port have a fully fit squad available, although Nurul is probably still a doubt, I would fancy Anon and Siwakorn to get amongst them while Dolah and Captain Rochela, joined by Todsapol, will have to be at their most alert. I might go for this slightly defensive starting line-up, although Nitipong and Kevin offer options going forwards on the wings.

 

 

Pakorn, Bodin and Nurul (if fit) options for a quick change from the bench.

This is the first of our last 8 games which will determine if the joyful optimism at the start of the season was justified. In reality, the highest we can probably achieve is third place, which, in normal circumstances would see us just miss out on the AFC Cup qualifying place. However, I believe there is a possibility that should Buriram, champions elect, also win the FA Cup, the qualifying place that would earn, will be given to us. I stand to be corrected but, if true, what better incentive could there be for a rousing season finale?

In assessing those games, home wins against Chainat, Nakhon Ratchasima, Suphanburi and Chonburi have to be a given, while away wins at Navy and Pattaya are eminently do-able. That leaves the two difficult away matches at Prachuap and Chiang Rai, where I think we will drop points. Being eternally optimistic, we can look to get 18 points out of our final games. Obviously, the games against Prachuap and Chiang Rai (6 points adrift) will be vital, with both rivals for that third slot. However, it is in our hands, let’s grab it!

For those nerdy train-spotter types who like to anxiously fixate on the possible outcome of these things, like me, here is a quick guide to the 3rd place contenders run-in, assuming, of course, that Bangkok Utd do not implode. Chiang Rai could negate all of this by winning the FA Cup but their heavy game load in both Cups definitely puts them at a disadvantage.

 

Port

Muang Thong

PT Prachuap

Chiang Rai

Prachuap (A)

Chonburi (H)

Port (H)

Buriram (A)

Chainat (H)

BEC Tero (A)

Chiang Rai (A)

Prachuap (H)

Chiang Rai (A)

Ratchaburi (A)

Chonburi (H)

Port (H)

Nakhon Ratchasima (H)

Buriram (H)

Navy (A)

Bangkok Glass (A)

Suphanburi (H)

Chainat (A)

Nakhon Ratchasima (A)

Navy (H)

Navy (A)

Sukothai (A)

Chainat (H)

Ubon (H)

Chonburi (H)

Pattaya (H)

Suphanburi (H)

Nakhon Ratchasima (A)

Pattaya (A)

Bangkok Utd (H)

BEC Tero (A)

Chonburi (A)

 

A note on the main heading: The Panta Devil (I have added the plural, as I assume there are more than one of them) is/are the official Prachuap fan group who often provide information and welcomes for visiting fans. Quite what a Panta Devil is and its association with Killer Wasps I have yet to determine. But, if you are going to Prachuap and see a Panta Devil, please say hello. A rudimentary google search came up with the disturbing image at the top of the page.

For those of us who actually work for a living and cannot afford the luxury of a midweek trip to the beach, the game will be shown live in The Sportsman Pub on Sukhumvit Soi 13 at 8.00 p.m. Wear your Port shirt for discounted food and drinks.
Ta Rua!

 

PT Prachuap FC v Port FC

Wednesday 5 September 20:00