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.

We could not quite secure the victory we all craved and a draw was probably a fair result, but, make no mistake, this was a statement as powerful as any 5-0 home thrashing or commanding 3-0 away win. This was Bangkok Utd, whilst not performing up to their best this season, but still in the opinion of many, the best footballing team in the League and certainly a personal bogey for Port; the best we have managed against them in recent years, I believe, a 2-2 draw in 2014, in amongst some 5 and 6 goal thrashings. So, not to lose was a great psychological boost and the manner of that drawing a continuing sign of the development of a very good Port side. In a classic, full-blooded footballing encounter we matched them in almost every department, including goals, red cards and melees. Yes, we should have had a penalty but, on the form he was in, it was likely that Falkesgaard would have saved it anyway.

Yet, we continue to make things difficult for ourselves. I had said in a previous report that our indiscipline could cost us and, with another red card losing us the services of Suarez for the tricky away tie at 5th place Nakhon Ratchasima, we are skating on thin ice. Bosko was also lucky to stay on the pitch as the game descended into madness and one must have a certain sympathy for the suspended referee. Ill-equipped as he seemed to manage such a frenetic, high-pressure game, the behaviour of many of the players, some of them Thai internationals, was a disgrace. Sanrawat, for one, should receive a lengthy ban for his sneaky and cowardly punch to the referee’s stomach, souring what had been an outstanding performance by the elegant midfielder.

Whilst I am on Port, I will reverse the order of most previews and select our team first. Watchara (1), for that point-blank save alone and confident handling throughout, will keep his place, while the back four largely depends on who is fit. Kevin (97) is likely to be out for a while if it was a hamstring pull at Chainat, but Adisorn (13) did a fair job replacing him so probably no change here. Todsapol (6) is a superb tackler and header of the ball, but can be caught ball-watching by quick, intelligent forwards and Rochela’s (22) superior reading of attacking intentions has been missed. However, this is a minor criticism, so no change in the middle either. Niti (34) picks himself.

In midfield, Go (8) and Siwakorn (16) continue to flourish but with Suarez (5) out for two games and Nurul (31) fit, it may be prudent to drop Sumanya (11) back into advanced midfield behind an interchangeable front three of Nurul, Bodin (10) and Boskovic (23); Pakorn (7) being the first change.

The Swat Cats are unbeaten at home this season, drawing 1-1 with Bangkok Utd and inflicting heavy defeats on Muangthong, Chonburi and Chiangmai. Port will, one hopes, provide stiffer opposition.

Eleven of their goals have come from the pairing of Brazilian, and Thai League journeyman Leandro Assumpcao (7), and Ivorian Bernard Henry (11), so they will certainly be looking to get in behind our central pairing. Completing the SFS line-up is Amadou Ouattara (81), another Ivorian and formerly of PTT Rayong and Navy. One would have hoped he would have slowed down a bit after living for many years near the flesh-pots of Ban Chang but this did not seem the case against Chiang Mai when he laid a perfectly weighted pass into the path of Assumpcao for the first goal, the latter making the blindside kind of run the Port defence have been prone to in some recent games, and then later scoring a superb individual goal himself. Port beware. Goalkeeper Samuel Cunningham (89) is a familiar, highly capable keeper who has kept us at bay on more than one occasion. So, potential obstacles at both ends.

 

 

However, firmly donning my floppy, football shaped, Port away hat, I am going for 2-1 win for the Lions.

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True Sport 2 at 17:45 on Saturday 25 May, 2019. For those who can’t make it to Korat, 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.

 

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.

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