SukhoCupTie: Port FC vs. Sukhothai FA Cup Preview

 

Over the years as a Port fan I’ve been so used to saying that Port’s best chance of a trophy is in one of the cups that it’s been a disorienting season. Until the weekend, Port had enjoyed a healthy lead atop the T1 table. Consensus was slowly forming, not just among the Port faithful but the wider Thai football community, that Port were really in with a shout of toppling the Thunder Castle. Many were even calling us favourites, and by the time we kicked off on Sunday the bookies had us the more likely to win on the day. Then there’s the cups. We’d already made a low-key exit from the League Cup, with a team of second stringers going down to Nongbua Pitchaya, and there are still 32 teams in the FA Cup.

Then Sunday happened.

Normal service resumed. I feel like a Port fan again. The champs showed why they’re the champs, Bangkok United are back within striking distance and we can finally go back to accepting that an unlikely FA Cup triumph is probably still more realistic than us unseating the winners of 5 of the last 6 league titles.

Still, we’re having a great season and our second 3-1 defeat of the season was still only our second defeat in 14 league games. Until Sunday we had yet to come up against a team who really looked better than us, and the fact that it’s taken this long shows just how far we’ve come. We’re almost good enough to win this league. That’s quite something for the happy-go-lucky yo-yo club we’ve been for most of my time as a Port supporter.

 

Sukhothai FC

Head To Head

 

Anyway, I haven’t even mentioned the opposition for our last 32 FA Cup tie on Wednesday yet. It’s Sukhothai, The Firebats. They’re no mugs; they even beat us earlier this season, although in all honesty it was more self-inflicted than it was brought about by any particular brilliance on their part. Historically, match-ups between these two sides have a habit of being close-run affairs. They’re also high scoring. Get a load of these recent results.

  • Sukhothai 3-1 Port (March 2019, T1)
  • Port 2-2 Sukhothai (July 2018, T1)
  • Port 4-3 Sukhothai (June 2018, League Cup)
  • Sukhothai 2-2 Port (March 2018, T1)
  • Port 3-3 Sukhothai (September 2017, T1)
  • Sukhothai 2-3 Port (April 2017, T1)

That’s an average of 5 goals a game if you’re in to that sort of thing.

Players to Watch

 

Many Port fans will probably be worried about one man and one man only from the opposition, and opining that if we stop him, we stop Sukhothai. Of course I’m talking about the man from Madagascar, the man whose name, if the letters are stacked vertically, is taller than he is. Baggio Rakotonomenjanahary (10), hereafter known simply as Baggio, has been one of the star performers in T1 for a few seasons now, leading many to wonder how Sukhothai have managed to hold on to him for so long. Well, the answer may be that he doesn’t score that many goals. He’s never got in to double figures in a T1 season. His assist numbers are historically excellent though; he averages nearly twice as many assists as goals. The lightning fast winger has taken a different approach this season though, probably due to the fact that he’s had a useless lump up top to work with. Gone completely are the assists, and Baggio’s goal count currently stands at 5, all of which have come in the last 6 games. He’s doing it all by himself this time, so if we stop him, maybe we do stop Sukhothai. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Baggio’s slight uptick in goals has raised interest from rival clubs, even though it’s come at the expense of his creative output. There are strong rumours that he will be leaving The Firebats at the mid-season interval, meaning this game could well be one of the Mini Malagasy Master’s final appearances in a Sukhothai shirt.

 

 

The aforementioned big lump who had a nightmarish first (and only) season in T1 was Petar Orlandic, but the Monenegrin has been let go even before the transfer window has opened. Just about all the Big Bald Blank-firer did was net twice against Port.

In his place up front could be Baggio, or it could be one of a few Thai forwards. Tubby Thai Terror Kabfah Boonmatoon (24) is probably the pick of the bunch. In the games I’ve watched this guy has been mostly coming off the bench and is frighteningly direct for a Thai player. He shoots for fun and likes running through people rather than around them. In short, he’s not very good, but he’s a bit scary.

 

 

They’ve got a known quantity at the back in Curvaceous Congolese Clobberer Joel Sami (3). He’s as good in the air as he is slow on the deck. Think Dolah with a much bigger arse, and I don’t mean his partner at the back Narongrit Boonsuk (4), who was responsible for one of the funniest moments of this season when we lobbed his own keeper.

 

 

Sukhothai are one of the few teams that have really tried to utilize the new 3 man ASEAN quota this season, and one of their local imports has been pretty useful. Filipino winger Iain Ramsay (7) has a good right peg on him, and much prefers crossing from the right flank or whipping in dead balls than running with the ball. He’s got a goal and 3 assists so far this season. Let’s call him the Poundshop Pinoy Pakorn. They’ve also got an Indonesian centre back called Yanto Basna (32), who hasn’t been playing much after throwing away 2 points against Prachuap with an appalling error, and Curran Ferns (11), who hasn’t made a matchday squad since week 3.

 

 

Former Port goalkeeper, and a winner of two trophies in his time in Khlongtoei, Wanlop Saechio (27) is Sukhothai’s back-up between the sticks, so if anything happens to regular stopper Kittikun Jamsuwan (14), expect Dom to lead a Sandpit sing-along dedicated to the former Port favourite. Brush up on your reggae in preparation!

 

Form

 

In 14 games this season there have been just 5 decisive results: two wins and three losses. Four of those five decisive results have come in their last six games, though.

  • Sukhothai 2-3 Chiang Rai
  • Ratchaburi 2-2 Sukhothai
  • Sukhothai 2-0 Chainat
  • Muangthong 2-0 Sukhothai
  • Sukhothai 1-1 Buriram
  • Trat 2-0 Sukhothai

It’s a mixed bag, but Port should beat this lot.

 

Port FC

Up For The Cup

 

To do that, we will have to show more discipline than was on display in our early season collapse against The Firebats. That’s really one of the only concerns with 2019 Port. We have buckets of talent and no shortage of self-belief, so as long as we keep our heads we can win most games pretty comfortably. Here are the players who should do just that.

 

 

 

I expect Jadet to field a full-strength team, so the only change will probably be Go (8) coming back in and Rochela (22) replacing Todsapol (6) at the back. Todsapol has done an admirable job so far this season, but he hasn’t done enough to convince me that he should keep his place at the expense of Rochela. His performance on Sunday was confirmation of that. I think the only other change that could be considered is up front. Boskovic (23) had an absolute stinker against Buriram, staunchly refusing to go anywhere near Tunez or the opposition penalty area for 90 minutes. All I remember of his ‘performance’ is him picking the ball up a few times in non-threatening areas and miscontrolling it. Still, until the mid-season transfers are eligible to play the only alternative is Arthit (29), and Jadet is unlikely to opt for him on Wednesday.

 


 

The match may or may not be shown live on True. We’re never quite sure with cup matches. Kickoff is at 19:00 on Wednesday 19 June, 2019. For those who can’t make it, The Sportsman will show it if it’s on. Don’t forget to wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.

 

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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  1. […] best seasons to date. Rather than rehash my thoughts on him, I’ll instead direct you towards my last Sukhothai preview from just a few weeks ago, where I go over his record in more […]

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