Know Your Enemy: Jumbo JET Lands

After an away day for the ages on Friday night, with Port provisionally going top of the league after a stunning comeback victory over Chonburi, it’s fair to say I was not that fussed what the rest of the league did for the rest of the weekend. Of course the ideal scenario would be the rest of the high-flyers to falter, preserving Port’s spot at the summit, with a couple of choice victories at the bottom sending Muangthong bottom. Let’s see what they had in store for us.

The Action

 

Trat and Bangkok United were next up, with The Angels looking to build on their big win over Muangthong last time out. The game followed the same pattern as Trat’s previous matches this season: end-to-end mayhem. Both sides missed several chances before Bonilla showed his class with an excellent finish across the Trat goalie in to the bottom corner. That’s two clean sheets out of three for Mano’s new back three, who after a worrying opening performance have really tightened things up. They still don’t look great going forward though, and it will be a concern that veteran Leesaw started (he did well, I’ve got nothing against Leesaw) with Havenaar still sat on the bench.

With Port and Bangkok now on 7 points, Muangthong really needed a win against Chiang Mai to avoid slipping too far behind their rivals. Under increasing pressure, Pairoj finally packed it in with the Adisak experiment, and… picked an even more mental team. You’ve got to admire this guy’s commitment to comedy team selection. The pundits were unable to agree on who was supposed to be playing where, with the likes of inexperienced youngster Korrawit Tasa and deeply mediocre Sanukran Thinjom coming in to the side while Aung Thu continued to warm the bench and Mario was lef tout altogether. Having watched a decent portion of the game I’m still not entirely sure what the formation or game plan really was, but in the end Muangthong broke their scoring duck with a trademark Teerasil finish. Heberty later added a second from the spot, easing the pressure on Pairoj, and hopefully encouraging him to continue picking silly teams. Chiang Mai offered a splendid white kit with some lovely ‘ethnic’ patterns down the sides, but not much else. Going down…

The only game completely escaping my attention on Saturday night was the clash between Ratchaburi and Korat, and it seems like I missed a real humdinger. The highlights are a good watch, with the second most incompetent Pairoj in T1 – the Ratchaburi goalie – getting things up and running by gifting a goal to Korat, which fortunately for him was ruled out after a VAR review. Korat just kept coming though, and incredibly shot out to a 3-0 lead, with winger Amadou Outtara starring in The Swatcat’s dangerous foreign front three. I noted last season how unlucky he was to have hit the post so many times for Navy, but he seems to have found his range this season, with the pick of Korat’s goals being his stunning long range effort. Ratchaburi didn’t go down quietly though, with Kang Soo-il having more luck conning the Ratchaburi stadium announcer into awarding him a goal he had absolutely nothing to do with than he did with the K-League drugs testers. He did net a late spot kick, but it was too little too late for Ratchaburi, who really need to sort out their leaky defence, starting with the muppet they’ve got starting between the sticks. The perfectly competent Ukrit is watching from the stands while Pairoj is playing like a bloke with a wooden leg and an eye patch who’s stealing a living.

 

 

The Disagreeable Derby was the final fixture of the day, with Chainat hosting Chiang Rai in front of barely a handful of fans. Two of the most objectionable teams in the league served up some decent entertainment to be fair to them, with a sublime Gorka through ball leading to the first glaring miss of the game for Ricardo Santos. Little winger Santipap and even littler Laotian midfielder Soukaphone both look busy and useful, but Chainat don’t have an awful lot else going for them, besides some generous opposition defending. Early in the second half Fat Bill made a couple of charitable donations to the Cheating Chainat fund, firstly taking the glaring miss count to one apiece, before heading in to his own net from a dangerous Soukaphone corner. Aww, bless him. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer bloke. It was soon dishonours even though, with Sivakorn Tiatrakul practically walking the ball in to the net after some comedy Chainat defending.  A dramatic late call for VAR against Gorka came to nothing – let’s be honest, with Gorka it probably just hit his belly – and the points were shared. Fair enough.

 

 

The two teams still with perfect records both took to the field on Sunday, with Prachuap first up facing a tough trip to Buriram. There’s little to say about Buriram that I haven’t said already. Buriram were lackluster going forward, although Supachok was the bright spark once again. The strikers were poor, although Maiga got himself a scrappy goal having come off the bench. Midfielder Hajime Hosogai also made his first appearance off the bench, and Supachok wrapped up an important 2-0 win after a clever set piece from Ratthanakorn. If the strikers don’t improve, they’ll have to keep on grinding.

The second game saw two draw Sukhothai host two draw Suphanburi. It was a draw.

Finally, the second team who could have knocked Port off top spot, Samut Prakan City, visited PTT Rayong, with big name forward Jay Emmanuel Thomas (We’ll go with JET from here on out) restored to the starting lineup after missing out last week. It turned out to be a masterstroke, with a reinvigorated Jumbo JET firing on all cylinders and looking like a constant menace. He also looks like a bloke whose head is far, far too small for his enormous body, but aesthetics aside he’s a damn talented player. He opened the scoring with a smart looping header, and laid on a second after a direct forward run. Rayong looked to be coasting to their first victory of the season before a frantic final few minutes where all hell broke loose. First, midfielder Kim Tae-yeon fired in the second most beautiful strike of the weekend to bring them back within striking distance, and seemingly just seconds later Ibson Melo was dancing through the PTT defence, and looked like he might go all the way before his run and Samut Prakan’s hopes came to a disappointing end. Good stuff to finish off the weekend, especially as the result kept Port top of the league on goals scored from Bangkok United. Long may it continue!

 

Public Enemy Number One

 

 

There were a few contenders this week. Three diminutive attacking midfielders Amadou, Soukaphone and Supachok make the shortlist with productive attacking performances, but it has to be Jumbo JET, who probably weighs as much as the three of them combined, who takes the biscuit. And probably one of Rayong’s seafood barbeque buffets. It’s easy to see why JET divides opinion among fans of his previous clubs; his languid style combined with the odd bit of outrageous unwieldy skill can be a joy to watch, but it can also be deeply frustrating. Simultaneously a favourite and a flop at clubs like Gillingham and Bristol City, the only thing you can be sure of about JET is that he will fire some fans up and wind up others. After a goal and an assist this week he’s on the up, but a raucous Khlongtoei welcome next week could well unsettle the notoriously inconsistent big fella.

 

Results and Highlights

 

Chonburi FC 2-3 Port FC

Trat 0-1 Bangkok United

Muangthong 2-0 Chiang Mai FC

Ratchaburi 2-3 Nakhon Ratchasima

Chainat 1-1 Chiang Rai

Buriram 2-0 Prachuap

Sukhothai 1-1 Suphanburi

PTT Rayong 2-0 Samut Prakan City

 

Tom Earls

Tom Earls

Having moved to Thailand aged 10, Tom has been playing or watching football in Thailand for more than 18 years. A keen follower of the Thai National Team and an avid fan of Port FC, he is a regular contributor to The Sandpit.

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