Tom’s Transfer Talk: The Bee Gees

 

Port have acted early with the mid-season break coming up, signing two players from T2 leaders BG Pathum United. Thai national team star Tanaboon Kesarat has apparently been signed on a permanent deal, while Piyachanok Darit has joined on loan.

The rumours of new Port signings started about a week ago, just after a new face joined the Port management team. Chalermchoke Lamsam, a relative of a certain Nualphal Lamsam (that’s Madame Pang to you and me,) is no stranger to Khlongtoei, having been a Managing Director at Loxley for the past few years. That’s his building behind PAT Stadium’s Zone B.

 

 

I have no idea whether Chalermchoke is directly responsible for Port’s flurry of transfer activity, but it would be a pretty big coincidence if he wasn’t involved in some capacity.

The first name to be all over the Port Facebook groups was a rather underwhelming one. Lampang centre back Ronnapee Choeykamdee has little T1 experience, although he did score against Port with a powerful header a few years back. Still, before rumours of his transfer had borne fruit, the two much shinier more well-known names popped up, and within a couple of days the Pang Instagram post had gone up and they were officially Port players.

 

 

I have mixed feelings about these transfers. On the one hand, signing a national team regular with as big a reputation as Tanaboon is a positive statement of intent, on the other hand, we don’t particularly need him and I don’t think he’s very good. Maybe I’m being a bit harsh here; it would probably be more accurate to say he’s vastly overrated rather than not very good, but I can’t help but think we’re just wasting money. I don’t know exactly what we’re paying Tanaboon, but I do know that Chiang Rai made him the highest paid Thai player in T1 when they signed him in 2017, and it’s unlikely that he’ll be earning much less now. So, why don’t I rate him?

 

 

Well, he’s supposed to be able to play both defensive midfield and central defence, but I’ve never been convinced with him in either position. He’s got great feet and he can pass the ball, but he’s not up to much in the air, and he’s not particularly tenacious. Watching him being paired with Thitipan in Chiang Rai, BG and Thailand’s midfield for the last few years infuriated me, as blood-and-thunder Thitipan played two positions most of the time, while Tanaboon just seemed to stand around and pass the ball sideways. It’s probably no surprise his own teams always seem to have an all-action midfielder next to him. He just doesn’t do a great deal. Then again he consistently gets picked for Thailand, and the pundits still seem to love him, albeit a little less than they did a few years ago. Maybe I’m just wrong. I hope I’m wrong!

Then there’s Piyachanok. I haven’t seen as much of this guy, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by what I have seen. He’s very big and strong for a Thai centre back, and he spent a good few seasons playing alongside Matt Smith for BG. He must have learned something! We’ve only got Piyachanok on loan though, and with Rochela fit again, Dolah arguably the best defender in the league on current form and Todsapol having put in a solid two month shift in his captain’s absence, Piyachanok is probably fourth choice. Don’t expect to see much of him.

 

 

One additional concern relating to this transfer activity is that we’ve signed Tanaboon in the expectation that we could lose Go Seul-Ki to parent club Buriram in the mid-season break. Go is on loan from Buriram, and I’m not sure on the particulars of our loan agreement, but if Buriram go in to the mid-season break trailing Port and they have the option of cutting his loan deal short, it certainly wouldn’t be the biggest surprise in the world if they did just that. If that’s the case, then perhaps bringing in Tanaboon is a shrewd move. Only time will tell!

 

And Finally

 

 

You’ve just been called up to the Thai national team. You haven’t have met many of your new teammates before, and are keen to make a lasting first impression. What do you do? Well, if you’re Port stopper W-Hot you turn up with a customized t-shirt emblazoned with Port goalkeeping coach Milan’s grinning mug.

Legend.

 

Chiang Mai Hole, I’ll Have Another Ordinary Port Please: Port FC 3-1 Chiang Mai FC

Let me take you back a little. The cup final last year. Thai Port had completed the best season in the league I’d ever seen. We’d spent a record amount of money in pre-season and elbowed our way in amongst the consistent clubs of Thailand. You know, the big 2 and a half. The ones with all the money and shite fans. The league in Thailand has been dominated for a decade. I could be forgiven for thinking this might be a peak.

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Taking On The Wounded Tigers: Port FC vs. Chiangmai FC Preview

 

Thai Port take on the visiting Lanna Tigers, who are likely to be homeless come the beginning of July. If Port FC have any aspirations of knocking the dominant Buriram off their perch, these are 3 points they cannot afford to let slip.

Port have spent well, and performances have largely shown that their place at the top of the league is well warranted, despite being punished by two ludicrous decisions in their recent matches.

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Swatcats Deny Lions by a Whisker: Nakhon Ratchasima FC 1-1 Port FC

 

 

An away trip to Korat had not really appealed to me before, just one look at the stadium had me thinking “Nope!”, but over a Leo fueled conversation in the Sandpit (aren’t they all?) last weekend, Dom had sold me on the idea of making the trip as this is one of our only away games that falls on a Saturday night thus allowing enough time to travel up for the weekend. I traveled up by bus on Friday, the journey taking pretty much exactly four hours for a measly 209 baht.

I traveled to the game with Dom and Derek, Dom had managed to book an accommodating taxi driver by the name of Mr Bandit who was happy to drop us off at the stadium and wait in the car park to pick us up after the match, it turned out he would have to be even more accommodating than we thought….

On arriving at the stadium the Port fans were already gathering, eating and drinking with a large crowd of Korat fans who were also laying on free food and refreshments for the traveling Port faithful. A friendly sing-off was taking place between the two sets of fans, this had been one of the friendliest welcomes I’d experienced since Sukhothai or Chonburi. I couldn’t help noticing one of the fans had bought a 42” TV to the game, who brings their own TV to the game and why??? I would get an answer to that later!

 

Team News

Sergio’s impromptu game of dodgeball had not endeared him to the referee last week, so with him suspended, Jadet opted to play Sumanya behind Boskovic with Pakorn and Bordin on the wings. Kevin was still injured so Adisorn would continue as a makeshift left-back and it seemed maybe David wasn’t quite ready after all as he didn’t make the matchday squad.

 

The Match

I took my spot in the bleachers (what on earth are ‘bleachers’? – Americanophobe Ed), of all the running-track stadiums I’ve visited so far, this one was slightly more bearable. While away fans were still too far from the pitch, the home support was impressive, and with the stadium around half to 60% full, there was actually something of an atmosphere on all four sides of the pitch.

 

 

The opening exchanges were pretty cagey with neither team having huge spells of pressure or possession, this pattern would continue through the match. On the ninth minute, a neat pass from Sumanya found Bordin on the wing, he cut in and unleashed a shot which Korat keeper and “Friend of Zone B” Cunningham tipped around the post. The ensuing corner from Sumanya eventually found its way to an unmarked Boskovic at the back post but his shot was easily gathered by Cunningham.

In the 41st minute, Bosko tee’ed up Go but his shot was pretty high and wild. Straight up the other end, Korat had their best chance of the half, Leandro unleashing a dipping volley from 25 yards that deflected off Dolahs back before hitting a post and bouncing awkwardly in front of Watchara.

In first half injury time, we thought Bordin had broken the deadlock after firing a shot over Cunningham that looked to have nestled in the top of the net but had actually gone over it and landed behind the goal.

The ref blew for halftime with the score still locked at 0-0, in the distance we could see lightning, and sure enough the heavens opened at half-time. When the second half kicked off, I was one of the few foolhardy souls who made it out for the start of the second half. What I witnessed for the next few minutes was a total farce with the ball getting stuck at regular intervals and players slipping and sliding all over the place. In a rare move of Thai referee sensibility; he quickly halted proceedings after about 4 minutes of attempted play.

 

“It was a bit wet”

Upon returning to the concourse I found all the Port fans and many Korat fans had gathered around the earlier mentioned 42” TV, which was also connected to a TRUE box showing the game. While the TV showed ball-boys and staff trying to scrape the pitch of surface water using advertising hoardings, the Port and Korat faithful’s had what I can only describe as a good old “Cockney knees up” as the rain continued to fall. The rain showed no sign of letting up so the singing (and drinking) carried on for another hour, Thai football has a habit of throwing out some wild and random fan experiences and this was definitely in that bracket.

 

 

While the rain had stopped and the pitch had been cleared of the worst, it was still very slippy and slidy out there and at times it began to resemble a slapstick scene from a silent movie. From a relatively tame Korat corner, what should have been a routine catch for Watchara was dropped but he was able to gather it again before any of the Korat forwards could pounce.

On the 76th minute, Bordin was impeded near the edge of the box after a mazy run and Pakorn stepped up on the subsequent free-kick, initially it looked as if he had fired it straight at the wall but it smashed a Korat defender in the face, wrong footed Cunningham and nestled in the bottom corner to send the drenched Klong Toey faithful into raptures of joy. This joy was short lived however as from their next attack, we were about to see another red card for Port. While things had been very friendly between the two sets of fans all afternoon, Adisorn tried to take it one step further, holding Korat winger Amadou’s hand as Amadou tried to get free of him. Adisorn was already on a yellow and began marching off before the ref could produce the red card. In Kevin’s absence it’s a shame we don’t have a better back-up option at left-back, Yossawat doesn’t seem to be part of Jadet’s plans and Panpanpong can’t be trusted to actually track back. Adisorn does a solid job in the midfield but he’s clearly not a full-back and makes the team a bit lopsided with only Niti playing as a more adventurous full-back down the right and Adisorn becoming exposed against Scary Foreign Strikers on the left.

 

 

Port had the chance to put the Swatcats to bed with only three minutes left, a neat ball over the top had left Arthit beating the offside trap and in acres of space, A Korat defender foolishly slid in the wet surface to stop him and went flying past Arthit and probably landed somewhere near the 100m finish line, however Arthit pussyfooted around a bit too much with his shot, and Cunningham didn’t exactly have to show cat-like reflexes to scoop up his eventual shot.

That missed chance would haunt Port a couple of minutes later, an opportunistic up and under found its way to Korat winger Naruphol, Port substitute Athibordhee now at left back, stuck out a leg, while the initial contact looked to be outside the area, Naruphol applied some real alleycat tactics by hooking his trailing leg around Athibordees in mid-air landing in the box. The ref pointed to the spot and Ivorian striker Henry sent his penalty into the top corner, sliding through a puddle as the Swatcat fans purred with delight. Perhaps the referee had caught wind of the fans’ “Festival of Friendship” taking place today and didn’t want to send one team home unhappy? The final whistle came not long after, for the second week running Port had been pegged back to 1-1 and finished the game with 10 men.

The game kicked off at 5.45pm and finished just shy of 9.00pm, by far the longest match I’ve ever attended, luckily our taxi driver was still waiting. This felt like 2 points dropped, and with Buriram catching fast with games in hand, next months clash between the two could have really high stakes.

Korat was quite a sleepy city, upon meeting Dom and Del after the game, the bars seemed to all shut dead on midnight but we were barely getting started at that time. A 20 minute walk around the city like desperate beer zombies, we finally found a late night restaurant still serving beer and also showing the German Cup Final. One discussion we had was about the awkward situation Arthit and his like find themselves in, all T1 teams (and most T2) use their foreign quota on recruiting “Scary Foreign Strikers”, so as a result, Thai players tend to fill midfield, full-back and goalkeeper positions. Thai strikers lack game time which makes it hard for them to establish themselves. Sadly, misses like the one Arthit made last night will do little to encourage Jadet to give him more game time.

 

The Sandpit Man Of the Match: Elias Dolah

From my lofty position about a mile from the pitch, it was hard to pick out the nuances of separate player performances, so being 6ft5 was a bonus here for Elias!. I picked him last night because even during the farcical second half where all the other players were falling over and kicking it into puddles, Dolah’s reading of the game remained calm and error free, he made key blocks without sliding in and his distribution choices were correct given the lake around him.

When David got injured at the first game, it instantly raised a worry about the Port defence but what has happened is that Dolah has really stepped up this season and formed a very good partnership with Todsapol.

 

Lions Swat Cats, Don’t They? Nakhon Ratchasima FC vs. Port FC Preview

 

With images of Saturday’s requiem still imposed on the memory, the club and its fans must now move on, unforgetting, but conscious of the desire to leave a legacy for the departed. The crowd played a full part in this with their moving ceremonies, while the players gave us something to believe in on the pitch.

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Farewell to the Fallen: Port FC 1-1 Bangkok Utd

 

This is a report you would never wish to write. Yesterday, we came to mourn the fallen five; Thai and foreigner alike, heads bowed, black-bedecked, unified in a singular outpouring of grief for lost members of our footballing family. Whether it is one game or a hundred, we, strangers in a foreign land, have been touched by the warmth and humanity of this wonderful club and its supporters, its most stellar members no longer with us. And, today, the Port family did not let them down.

 

 

From the flower-strewn, memento-laden shrine outside the stadium, to the heartfelt, sometimes choked, renderings of our tribal anthems; from the moving, tear-jerking, tribute videos to Madame Pang’s emotional, gut-wrenching speech, lovingly rescued by the crowd when it seemed the occasion had overcome even her. The two minutes silence was impeccably observed, the only sound the muted rustling of the Thai Port flags in the breeze, and then, there was a game to be played. It seemed almost an irrelevance but our sadly departed heroes would have demanded nothing less.

In keeping with the occasion, Mano and some Bangkok Utd officials and players presented bunches of flowers to fan representatives in Zone C before the game. Bangkok Utd was, in many ways, the perfect opponent for this day. Mano Polking, their Brazilian/German manager, had expressed enormous admiration for the club and its fans earlier in the week; one gets the feeling that Mano, the Jurgen Klopp of the Thai League, would love to manage here. They would be respectful but resilient opponents, prompting Port to be at their very best to get anything out of the game. Some of that respect went a little wayward in the final ten minutes but this was a truly fitting, marvelous contest to match the heavy weight of the day.

 

 

Port’s only major changes was Adisorn replacing the injured Kevin at left back while Sumanya continued on the right wing, much to the consternation of the Sandpit faithful. The ground was almost full to capacity with many still outside, queuing to get in. The atmosphere was tense and, for a while, strangely subdued, the drums silenced for the first 12 minutes as a mark of respect. After that point, bedlam reigned, as events on the pitch took a dramatic turn.

Port went on the offensive from the off, Bodin found by Go’s exquisite through pass, but his shot on the turn lacked the power to trouble Utd’s Danish-Filipino goal-keeper, Michael Falkesgaard (1) who was to have another inspired afternoon between the sticks. Two minutes later, Nitipong’s arrowed long-distance strike was spectacularly turned over the bar by the keeper. A minute later, Utd’s Salvadorean striker, Nelson Bonilla (11), was put through by Sanrawat (29) to be thwarted first by an onrushing Watchara and then a recovering Dolah.
On 11 minutes Dolah was to have a massive impact at the other end, his glancing header from Sumanya’s corner, perfectly placed to elude even Falkesgaard’s outstretched fingers. A minute later the drums opened up and we had a tumultuous, fevered contest on our hands.

Sadly, for Port, the contest was evened almost immediately by, who else, Bonilla, set through, by Sanrawat again, between a static Todsaporn and Adisorn to beat Watchara with a chipped finish. That is 5 goals in 3 games for Bonilla at the Port. The boy is a bit special. A clumsy goal all round for the Port defence; Todsaporn again caught ball-watching and Watchara possibly too eager to come off his line. But, Bonilla is a class finisher and you would bank on him to score in those situations. Honours even.

In the 24th minute Bonilla caught Port napping again from a Sanrawat pass but his lob cleared the onrushing Watchara and, thankfully, the crossbar. A few minutes later Port had their best chance of the half. Nitipong won a challenge on the right wing and, storming forward, found Suarez, unmarked and onside in the middle. He brought the ball down superbly but elected to shoot high rather than low, giving the athletic Falkesgaard the opportunity to bring off another finger-tip save. We were really not to have another chance like that again. Suarez may not have been aware but he had the time to take another touch and a step to pick his spot, perhaps low rather than high. But the moment had gone.

The start of the second half was what one might call ‘cagey’, both sides testing each other out, probing for an opening. They were to be few and far between. After a sliced clearance, Boskovic laid the ball off for Suarez to fire wide with the outside of his boot – the Spanish striker was a few shrimps short of a paella today.

As the game reached its closing stages, Nurul replaced Sumanya (finally) and Bodin gave way for Pakorn and the hope of a free-kick redemption.

 

Pic by Nig Dammusig

 

The time of madness began in the 82nd minute. Suarez took a pass from Adisorn, headed into the box, only to be clipped by Wisarut (37). In live time from Zone D, it looked like Suarez had taken a dive but replays clearly show the trip took place, although Suarez’s fall was a tad exaggerated. The referee, possibly thinking he had awarded a foul in error, gave a free kick outside the box when it was clear to anybody in the immediate vicinity, not to mention a few casual passers-by, that it was a yard inside. In the unseemly melee that followed (Thai fans love a good melee), Suarez gently lobbed the ball into the back of Peerapat’s (31) head, who went down as if he had been hit by a sledgehammer, which, at that point, would have been Zone D’s weapon of choice to deal with the insidious, cheating bastard. The inevitable red card was issued to Suarez and from that point what had been a wonderful game of jolly hockey-sticks got rather toxic.

Boskovic started picking fights with anybody in a white (or lime green) shirt, more melees ensued, while, almost as an after-thought, there was actually some football played, including an incredible Schmeichel-like point-blank save by Watchara from Peerapat’s header (which he wouldn’t have been able to attempt had there been a sledge-hammer handy).

The Bangkok Angels, halos rapidly slipping, seemed determined to join in with the red-card fun and after a slalom run of Bonilla’s, leaping over several desperate Port challenges (with no foul given), Utd felt aggrieved enough, after a foul given against them, to mount another final melee, during which any number of players could have been sent off for bodily assault on the hapless referee. In the end, only Sanrawat walked, seemingly for a spot of verbals (video clearly shows him punching the ref in the stomach – Ed).

A minute later, whether for his own safety or sanity, the referee blew the whistle to end what was, the Sandpit agreed, one of the finest games ever seen at Port. Bangkok Utd were forgiven and their players, along with Port’s, given a rousing and much deserved ovation.

It had been a match of the highest class and drama and a fitting end to this most difficult of days.

The Sandpit Man of the Match: Elias Dolah

This is a tight one but as I can’t really have another shared accolade, I will go for the resolute Dolah over the imperious Go. Dolah held it all together at the back during Utd’s spells of control and his goal brought the game to life. His celebration, heading straight to kneel in front of Zone C, was pure class.

Can I also give a special, slightly begrudging mention to Michael Falkesgaard, another brilliant display of goalkeeping – surely, the best in the League.

 

Weeping Angels: Port FC vs. Bangkok United Preview

 

I can’t very well start this preview without first addressing the tragic events that unfolded on Wednesday morning. A bus carrying a group of Port fans to the away cup fixture with Nongbua Pitchaya was involved in a deadly accident, killing 5 people and injuring 3 more. Among those in the Port bus were fans that will be familiar to any regular visitor to PAT Stadium. The tireless leader of Port’s fan club who we all know as Spiderming has passed away. Saman, who carries his Pakorn banners with him home and away week in week out is in critical condition. Doubtless other fans will have seen or had personal relationships with others in that bus, and their absence will touch each and every one of us. Every Port fan contributes in his or her own way to the community that all of us know and love, and after this terrible accident that community will never be the same.

Rest in peace to those who passed away. Condolences to their loved ones, and the Port community as a whole. Those still in hospital, we wish you a speedy recovery.

There will be a service before the game on Saturday to commemorate those who have passed, starting at 17:00. Port fans are asked to wear black as a sign of respect. There will be a collection to support the grieving families.

 


 

With all that said, what follows is obviously very trivial. It’s never felt more trivial. Nevertheless, we go on with our previews and our match reports because it doesn’t feel right that we should stop what we’re doing in response to this horrific event. Did Spiderming ever stop?

 


 

Port have come through a succession of tests so far this season, and in most we’ve passed with flying colours. The ill-disciplined fiasco at Sukhothai is the only real black mark against us; we’ve shown incredible fortitude in securing a late goal to nick the 3 points away at Chonburi, we’ve gone to the SCG and beaten our biggest rivals, we’ve recovered from a goal down with 15 minutes to play to overcome Suphanburi, and we’ve won comfortably on a wet Sunday night in Chainat. The draws against Chiang Rai and PTT Rayong are the only other games we haven’t won, and in both cases the opposition employed negative, roughhouse tactics to grind out a draw. It happens.

With that said, the latest test Port face is the biggest yet this season. Bangkok United may not be among the top dogs in the table just yet, but in the last two seasons they suffered from a slow start before surging up the table at around this point in the season. They’re also a team with a habit of doing well against Port (our last league win came in 2010), and in recent seasons have come up with some really outstanding performances in doing so. Whether its luck, coincidence, or coach Mano Polking having the edge on Jadet tactically, something needs to change if Port are going to defy the spell The Angels seem to have us under. Maybe it already has.

 

Bangkok United

Players To Watch

 

I’m getting stuck in to this preview with plenty of time to spare, so rather than pick out a few of Bangkok’s top talents, I’ll just go through the team I think Mano is going to pick.

 

The Goalie

He needs no introduction, having produced one of the best goalkeeping performances I’ve ever seen last season at PAT Stadium. Michael Falkesgaard (1) is the top stopper in T1. Just wait ‘til he gets a load of Pakorn’s corners, though!

 

 

The Back 3

This season Bangkok United have gone out and brought in the players they feel like they need to make a back 3 work. Interestingly though, none of those players are themselves part of that back 3. One of the outstanding defenders of 2018, Everton (3) is a key man for The Angels, and one of the best foreign defenders in the league. No problem there, then. His partner is no-nonsense Thai-German Manuel Bihr (4) who, similarly to his counterpart at Port Elias Dolah, adds that extra physical presence without violating the foreign player quota. Bihr is a little more prone to error than Everton, but he’s worked his way in to the Thai national team set-up with a couple of years of solid defending. The third man is where Bangkok have had to experiment to find the right fit. After losing first choice Mika Chunuonsee (16) to injury early in the season, Mano first tried Puttinan Wannasri (5) in that position, before temporarily switching back to a back 4. Most recently Wisarut Imura (37) has been dropped back from midfield to fill in, but the youngster isn’t a natural there, nor does he have a lot of experience under his belt. Whichever formula Mano goes with on Saturday, it’s not ideal. Maybe going with a back 4 and using the system that Bangkok have used to such devastating effect in previous seasons is the way to go. Over to you, Mano.

 

The Wing Backs

Two of the players that Mano did bring in to make his system work are right wing back Tristan Do (7) and left wing back Peerapat Notechaiya (31). Tristan Do is of course a national team stalwart, and on his day he’s probably the best wing back in the league, although he’s not very popular among the Port faithful. Expect him to get plenty of stick on Saturday. Fellow ex-Muangthong full back Peerapat similarly has plenty of national team experience, although I’ve made it no secret before that I think he’s one of the most overrated players in the league. Naturally he must be compared to Kevin. So far in 2019… Kevin (LB): 2 goals, 2 assists; Peerapat (LWB) – 0 goals, 0 assists. Is it too soon to say I told you so?

 

 

The Midfield

I’d be lying if I said I could reliably guess who Mano is going to pick in his midfield. Thai-American holding midfielder Anthony Ampaipitakwong (6) has been wearing the captain’s armband recently, so he’s a dead cert, but alongside him either Pokklaw Anan (10) or Sanrawat Dechmitr (29) could equally get the nod. Both are excellent players, but Port fans will more likely remember Sanrawat for some devastating performances he’s put in against us in the past. I’ve always thought that he’s not a big game player though, so don’t be surprised if he reacts to a tough game by curling up in to a ball and crying. He does it for the Thai national team all the time.

 

The Forwards

Another area where injury has deprived The Angels of a key man in Vander Luiz (8). Anon Amornlerdsak (27) has stepped up in the creative role with some promising performances to help ease the loss, but the youngster still only has a goal and an assist to his name. Not great. Then there’s star man Nelson Bonilla (9). The Salvadorian striker has been impervious to his teammates struggles this season, netting 8 times in 8 starts, and he also stuck more goals than I care to remember past Port for Sukhothai last season. Mano’s biggest dilemma has been who to put up top with Bonilla, or whether to go with an extra creative player. Big new signing Mike Havenaar (9) seems to be the perfect foil for the main man, but the two have not been used together much yet this season, with the big Dutch-Japanese forward struggling for fitness early in the season and scoring twice in 5 appearances since his return. Mano also has many more options at his disposal, like using Sanrawat Dechmitr in a more advanced role, or bringing in one of their wingers Jakkapan Pornsai (13) or Rungrath Poomchanturk (17). Supersub Teeratep Winothai (14) will likely be brought off the bench if Bangkok United are in need of a goal, too.

 

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 

Form

It’s not been good enough so far. Bangkok haven’t won back-to-back since the third gameweek. Since then they’ve lost to Buriram, drew with Korat, lost to Chonburi, beat Suphanburi, lost to Chainat, beat Prachuap then drew with Chiang Mai. That’s 3 losses in 10 games, which is too much for a team with title ambitions. Bangkok have to find consistency, and a couple of injuries is not a good enough excuse. After all, Port have had to deal with the loss of their captain in week 1, and have missed several key men through injury and suspension for various games since. Our squad has coped, and so far Bangkok’s hasn’t.

 

Port FC

Trying To Keep It Together

 

Until Port reserves, who understandably may not have really had their heads in the game, slumped to a 2-3 defeat away at Nongbua Pitchaya in the League Cup, things were going rather well on the field. Jadet still has selection dilemmas to deal with, but his problems are the best kind of problems.

Newly minted national team member Watchara (1) will keep goal once again. He has kept clean sheets in 50% of his games since coming back in to the picture in the tail end of last season. Solid.

Rochela (22), despite nearing full fitness last week, has suffered a setback and will not be available, so Dolah (4) and Todsapol (6) will continue in the heart of defence. With both Kevin (97) and Panpanpong (19) unavailable, third choice Yossawat (32) seems to be in line for his first start of the season (he came off the bench against Chainat) unless Jadet opts to play Adisorn in the position he played a large chunk of Port’s last T2 campaign in. I’ve always been a fan of Yossawat; he’s got an absolutely wicked left foot, and I’ve always thought that he’s a better all-round player than Panpanpong. Here’s his chance to prove it. Nitipong (34) starts at right back. Duh.

Go (8) and Siwakorn (16), who is lucky to be available after narrowly avoiding his fourth yellow card last time out, will continue in the engine room, but ahead of them is where Thai League Manager of the Month Jadet will have to earn his money this week. Thai League Player of the Month Bodin (10) is a no-brainer on the left, but whether or not Jadet opts for Sumanya (11) or Nurul (31) on the right is the big question. Sumanya is a quality player, but he’s not a natural wide man, and this throws Port off balance, with the team so used to having Pakorn (7) hug the right touchline. Nurul, as he showed with his stunning chipped finish after being brought off the bench, is the man for the job on Saturday. Come on Jadet, let the penguin at ‘em!

Up front Boskovic (23) is well and truly in the groove now, and will fancy adding to his recent flurry of goals against his former team, while Suarez (5) will continue providing the ammunition. There’s not a player in Port’s team who isn’t worth their place right now.

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True4U And True Sports HD2 at 19:00 on Saturday 18 May, 2019. For those who can’t make it, 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.

 

A Tragic Day for the Port Family

 

As you may already have heard, earlier this morning a minivan carrying a group of Port fans to tonight’s League Cup game at Nongbua Pitchaya was involved in a collision with a truck on a road near Khon Kaen. As a result, five fans were killed and a further three are in a serious condition in hospital. The picture above shows the group at the PAT this morning before setting off on their trip. You can read a report on the accident (in Thai) here, but be warned as it contains some fairly graphic images.

Amongst the victims was legendary Port fan group leader Spiderming, known and loved by all who follow (and play for) the club – a lovely, friendly, outgoing man with absolutely boundless energy (as anyone who’s ever been on an away bus trip with him will confirm), and a man who was always first in the queue to help others and raise money for fellow fans in need. I knew Ming well and have tears in my eyes as I type this; I still can’t get my head around the fact that we won’t be seeing his face or having a beer with him at Port games again.

Fans have been sharing tributes on Facebook all day and players and fans from around Thailand have also been expressing their shock and grief on Twitter:

 

 

Saturday’s game against Bangkok Utd is sure to be an emotional occasion and fans are being asked to wear black Port shirts if they have them, or just black shirts if they don’t. There are sure to be collections for those affected by the accident and The Sandpit will be donating all this season’s Sportsman sponsorship money, as well as our own personal donations. If you’d like to donate but won’t be at the game, please transfer to BBL 9260085668, and either drop us an email or leave a comment on this post to let us know so we know where it’s come from. We’ll update this article with more news when we have it.

Finally I, Dom, Tom, and all our contributors, would like to offer our heartfelt condolences to the families who lost loved ones in this horrific accident, and also send our support & best wishes to the survivors for a speedy recovery.

 

Mano Polking: “Port & Buriram Are the Strongest Teams”

 

Port take on 2018 runners-up Bangkok Utd in an absolutely HUGE clash at the PAT this Saturday (19:00). We’re excited, you’re excited, and so is BU coach Mano Polking! We had a chat to Mano to get his thoughts on what is a crucial game for both teams’ title ambitions…

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Bulls in a Chainat Shop: Chainat Hornbill 0-3 Port FC

 

With Chainat already having defeated Bangkok Utd and Muangthong this season (not that the latter is much of an achievement these days), and with referees often being very accommodating to the Hornbills on their home turf, this was a potential banana skin for table-toppers Port. Despite the Hornbills being in the relegation zone most of last season, Port only took a point from them and turned in their worst performance of the season on their last visit to Khaophlong Stadium. And with title rivals Buriram and Chiang Rai both winning the night before, the pressure was on Port to restore their 4-point lead.

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