Bats in the PAT: Port FC vs. Sukhothai FC Preview

 

Port’s woeful run of form continued last Saturday with PTT Rayong snatching a victory against a team who looked flat, unconfident and lacked ideas. Jadet’s final throw of the dice as Port coach was a midfield diamond system which, despite a fortuitous win against Muangthong, didn’t click at all in the two games in which it was tried.

Port face Sukhothai at home this Sunday with a new man in the dugout. Choketawee Promrut will be a familiar face to those who follow the national team, although he has never held the top job. He has been assistant coach, and he has led the under 23 team, but is usually one of the men behind the scenes rather than the top dog. Even the club teams on his resume – the likes of Dome FC in T4 and Chiangmai FC when they were in T2 – suggest that Choke has yet to gain the crucial experience under pressure that prepares you for an intense job at one of Thailand’s top clubs. On Sunday, Choke will enter a PAT Stadium who have been calling for the exit of top players and coaches alike in recent weeks, and only a win will do if the frustration so clearly shown during Port’s last home game is to be sated.

Fortunately the team manager Spencer Prior, the man who will be alongside Choke in the dugout, has a wealth of experience both at Port and throughout his career that will help ease the transition. Hmmm. Either that or he’s sat in the dugout twice, Port will be his first ever job in senior men’s football, and his previous career experience amounts to stints with the Australian and Thai women’s national teams.

Now, I don’t say any of these things to wish ill-will on any of our new arrivals; I sincerely hope that both Prior and Choke can find a way to influence things at PAT Stadium for the best. If I were a betting man, however, I would look at those higher up the food chain than the manager and coach, and suggest that unless their attitude changes, substantial improvement is unlikely.

 

Sukhothai FC

Players to Watch

 

As usual, John Baggio (10) tops the list. The Mini Malagasy Magician is having one of his 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 detail.

 

 

As well as the old favourites there is a new man to talk about up top for the Fire Bats. Having had such a sensational success last time they went shopping in El Salvador, Sukhothai have gone back to the well for Irvin Herrera (9), who will be leading the line for them on Sunday. Much like Bonilla, Herrera isn’t particularly physically imposing, but plays on the shoulder of the last defender. With the success teams have had getting in behind Port of late, Port’s defenders must be wary of Sukhothai’s movement. They’ve got pace, and although Herrera has just one goal in his first 4 games, being in poor form doesn’t seem to matter when you play Port!

 

 

Joel Sami (3) is another player who has been around long enough that we know what to expect from him, and this time it’s most certainly not movement. Dominant in the air, strong in the tackle but with the pace of Jadet and the turning speed of an oscillating fan. Unfortunately neither of Port’s forwards have looked a whole lot sharper in recent weeks.

 

 

South Korean Jung Myung-oh (16) is also solid in midfield, and Filipino winger Iain Ramsay (7) has got a useful cross on him. All in all this isn’t a great team, but they won’t be as bad as they were in the FA Cup where Port ran out comfortable 4-1 winners against a mostly reserve side. This lot will put up a fight.

 

 

Port FC

Don’t Choke

 

New manager Choke will know quite a few of the players under his charge already. All of those who have played in the national team in the last couple of years like Sumanya (11), Nurul (31) and Bodin (10), as well as the likes of Tanaboon (71), Pakorn (7) and Siwakorn (16) who came through the Thai under 23 team in 2014-15 will be familiar faces, and Choke will hopefully have a very good understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. Hopefully this doesn’t mean that the likes of Tanaboon and Sumanya will favoured over those who Choke has less experience with. Just a quick look at Port’s last couple of games is more than enough to suggest that Sumanya is not playing nearly well enough to merit a place in the team, whilst Todsapol is surely a better fit in Port’s defence than Tanaboon. Still, a fresh pair of eyes with plenty of time spent managing many of the players in question ought to be able to come up with a plan less useless than what Port have been trying for the last few games.

Choke has one suspension and one injury to worry about. Pakorn has retroactively picked up a one match ban and a 10,000 baht fine for his exchange of opinions with Zone B a couple of weeks ago, and Kevin (97) is still sidelined. If Choke continues using a similar system to that favoured by Jadet, Nurul (31) is the natural replacement for Pakorn and Martin Steuble (15) will likely continue at left back. Besides that, I really have no idea what to expect, and in a way that’s exciting and refreshing. Choke is a good coach, and given time it seems very likely that he will be able to engineer a return to form for one of the most talented squads in the league.

 

Not Predicted Lineup

 

Oh why not, lets have some fun. If Choke really wants to get creative and make use of all his centre backs and his strikers he could try to shoe-horn them in with a system something like this. Watchara (1) returns in goal, and Tanaboon, Dolah (4) and Todsapol isn’t a bad back three if you’re in to that sort of thing. Go sits in front of them, with Nitipong (34) patrolling the right flank and Bodin the left. Possibly too much defensive responsibility for a flare player who should be playing higher up the pitch, but Choke has said he’s going to be playing attacking football, so maybe trying Bodin here is worth the risk. Suarez (5) drops back in to midfield alongside Siwakorn, returning to his natural position. Up top, Josimar (30) will be the target man, with Blackburn (99) playing on the shoulder and getting in behind.

 

 

The match will be shown live on True4U and True Sports 2 at 19:00 on Sunday 28 July, 2019. For those who can’t make it to PAT Stadium, 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.

 

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.

More Posts

Follow Me:
Twitter

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 *