Dragan the Dragonslayer? Port FC vs Ratchaburi FC PREVIEW

 

The unusually long wait is over. Competitive Thai League football returns to PAT Stadium on Sunday with the visit of the Dragons of Ratchaburi FC. There will be a few questions to answer:

Can I get my season ticket? Can I get my shirt? Is a pint of Leo still 70 baht? Will Madame Pang wear that Big C tracksuit again? Did Tim Walker bring his wanking glove?

Rumour has it that there is an actual ‘fan’ in charge of the shop these days. Somebody who may have suffered from the complete and utter incompetence of his forerunners, someone who understands that buying a season ticket in advance might just give you certain privileges. We live in hope, but I will be taking my FB Battery 2010 model along just in case; still my favourite shirt by the way.

A more obvious question will be, ‘Who will replace Rochela and Go?’ Port left Chiang Rai last week mightily aggrieved by a display of South American style shit-housery that even surpassed Chiang Rai’s previous shameful efforts. I really cannot recall them being as thoroughly nasty as this before the trio of successive Brazilian coaches were appointed. Prior to that they had projected a kind of hill-tribe loveliness and the fans were fabulous. Put Sunday, June 30th in your diary folks, for that is when Chiang Rai visit Khlong Toey, hopefully in front of a packed and hostile PAT!

So what of Ratchaburi? The Dragons come into this game sitting proud at the top of the League, rather like we were last season, so let them enjoy it while it lasts. Their 3-2 victory over newly promoted, and relegation favourites, Trat, featured a superb, ‘Striker’s’ hat-trick from Ivorian, Yannick Boli and one that Bosko may do well to watch on re-run. More on Yannick and Bosko later. One of Port’s finest performances last season came away at the Dragon’s Den and following their 12th place finish last season, they should be put away comfortably if Port are to have any pretensions of another top 3 finish. Their Spanish coach, whose name, Francesc d’Asis Bosch, suggests a saintly Gestapo officer must, at 30 years of age, be the youngest in the division. Remarkably, he was once assistant coach at Ratchaburi at the tender age of 24.

 

A Tale of Two Strikers: Yannick Boli and Sompong Soleb

I apologise for the fact that one of these players may not actually make it on to the pitch but the opportunity to ‘celebrate’ the career of a Port ‘legend’ was too good to miss.

Sompong – Tom Earls’ favourite player

Back in 2004, Sompong Soleb was one of three Thais selected from over 500 hopefuls to spend a year’s training with Everton. The selection process was part of a reality TV show funded by Everton’s main sponsor, Chang Beer, with Everton’s Youth Academy director Ray Hall helping judge the competition. One of the other players was Teeratep (Leesaw) Winothai, now of Bangkok Utd. After nine months at the Everton academy and a failed move to Chester City, Sompong returned to resume his career in Thailand, his propensity for missing simple chances leading him to be dubbed by local fans, the ‘Thai Welbeck’. Had he made it at Goodison Park, the Toffees may have been calling him, the ‘Thai Stuart Barlow’.

He fared better back in Thailand, joining the national team in 2010, and at Port, where he was part of the team that same year which beat Buriram PEA in the League Cup Final. He returned to Port for a brief loan spell from Bangkok Utd in 2015. In spite of his seeming ‘pedigree’ (he was also part of the Buriram league-winning squad of 2011), Sompong always split Port fans, in much the same way that Pakorn does today (pause here while Trans-Atlantic Tom rushes to his ‘defense’).

Personally, I thought he was shit: clumsy and clueless, with a propensity to drive himself into blind alleys and shoot from impossible angles, a bit like (pause here while Tom anticipates preparing his ‘defense’)……… Tana. It was a constant source of bewilderment to most of my fellow Importz how he made the national team. Still, should he come on to the pitch on Sunday, I will give him a rousing cheer before settling in to some serious abuse, no doubt precipitating him scoring a late winner off his kneecap.

 

Yannick Boli

 

Yannick Boli, on the other hand, looks and plays like a footballer…with real pedigree. Born in 1988, he joined PSG at the age of 11 and figured prominently in their youth teams and reserves before becoming the journeyman footballer he is today. He is the nephew of former Marseille and French international defender, Basile Boli, and both his other uncle and brother were, or are, professional footballers. Against Trat, he looked quick, brave and deadly. But it was Trat and not Lyon. All the same, he should be fun to watch and Dolah might have his work cut out. Which brings me to…..

 

Port: The Line-up

With Rattanai as solid as a chocolate kettle, it will be a straight choice between Worawut and Watchara. While Worawut has the most T1 experience for Port, I would plump for Watchara’s pure entertainment value, but I fear it will not be so. The ever dependable, and sometime scorer, Todsapol, could be a safe bet (if fit) alongside Dolah, while the fullbacks will be unchanged. Hopefully, with attack in mind, Jadet will start Sumanya alongside a rejuvenated Siwakorn.

 

Rattanai in training this week

 

I’m hoping for a fairly fluid line-up with the emphasis on attack. In particular, I would like Jadet to work out how to make the best use of Boskovic, who was poor against Chiang Rai, except when threatening to take them all out in numerous penalty area melees. We need to utilize his strengths further up the pitch and this is an issue that will surely be a test of Jadet’s credentials, not to mention who will replace Bosko if we should ever lose him to injury. I am still not convinced that Jadet is the man to take us to the next level but I hope to be proved wrong.

Worawut: Nitipong, Dolah, Todsapol, Kevin; Pakorn, Siwakorn, Sumanya, Nurul; Suarez, Boskovic.

Subs: Watchara, Worawut, Adisorn, Athirbordee, Anon, Jirattikan, Sansern, Bodin, Arthit.

 

Opening Day Programme

1530: Media registration

1630: Welcome ceremony with club president

1650: 2019 kit unveiling

1700: Photo session

1710: Live concert from Paradox

1900: Port FC vs Ratchaburi FC kick-off

 

 

Peter Hockley

Peter Hockley

Peter 'Hockers' Hockley is currently the School Librarian at St Andrews International School, Sathorn and has lived in Thailand since 1992. He has followed Port home and away since 2010, with unbridled devotion and his famous woolly hat. He is a co-founder member of the Sivakorn (is a football genius) Appreciation Society (SAS). At present, the Society boasts a membership of, well, two. Peter has written travel articles for The Nation and Sawaddi magazine, and once had a letter published in Charles Buchan's Football Monthly which won him 5 guineas.

More Posts

0replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *