Three Time Losers: Port FC 2-0 Muangthong Utd

 

 

“I’m a three time loser
Fucked it up in Khlongtoey
Fucked it up in Muangthong Thani
Now my friends say it’s here to stay”

(Rod Stewart, ‘Three Time Loser‘, 1975)

 

The Choketawee era continued to delight and amaze on Sunday. After inflicting Cheating Chiang Rai’s first FA Cup defeat since 2016 on Wednesday, Port finally beat Muangthong at home for the first time in ten years. Following league and cup wins at the SCG, it was Port’s third win over the Kirins this season alone. What a week.


 

With Muangthong having won seven and drawn one of their last eight games, and with Port having won three and drawn one, it’s fair to say that expectations were high for this one, with both sides still having a sniff of the title and the AFC in their nostrils. As expected the game was a sellout, with Port sensibly opening up the away end to home fans creating a four-sided wall of noise that was deafening on occasions and was probably worth a goal in itself.

Port team selections continue to confound, as once again the unfortunate Todsapol sat out the game and Choketawee, who would shortly record his first win against Muangthong and Port’s third of 2019, stuck with the 4-6-0 formation that saw off Chiang Rai on Wednesday. As for Muangthong, who would lose to Port for the third time this season, the sight of Instagram model and part-time footballer Chappuis on the teamsheet was heartening for Port fans as it effectively made it 11 v 10, and so it proved, with the Swiss advertisement star anonymous as usual.

The game began with Port looking every inch the team who would go on and win the game – making it three wins against Muangthong this season alone – and mercilessly attacking the Muangthong goal, whilst pressing feverishly at the other end. Port may not be playing such pretty football as they were during the season but the energy level has been cranked up to the max and Muangthong simply couldn’t handle it. Bodin (10) and Steuble (15) in particular were causing chaos down the left, and it was Bodin who nearly opened the scoring when set free by a quickly-taken free-kick by Suarez (5), but he dallied too long on the ball and his eventual shot was weak. Even newly-married Pakorn was getting stuck in – rather too much, as after tracking back (yes, tracking back!!!) to dispossess Brazilian midfielder Gallo, he collapsed to the turf – presumably in shock from finding himself so deep in his own half – and had to be replaced by Josimar (30), which finally meant Port were playing with a striker.

The big Brazilian didn’t get off to the best of starts when some lovely work down the left by Bodin picked him out at the far post but, under pressure from Gallo, he fired over the bar from six yards out. But, as we reminded ourselves, Josi ALWAYS scores against Muangthong…

0-0 at half-time, with Port – just 45 minutes away from earning their third win over Muangthong in 2019 – bossing the game, and you could sense the momentum growing. Port tore out of the blocks in the second half and, after Suarez and Bodin both fluffed chances and with the PAT in full cry, finally took the lead – in Toby Time as per usual – on 58 minutes. A sublime through-ball from Nitipong (34) set Suarez free, and he cut the ball back from the byline to pick out Sumanya (11) who blasted it into the far corner to send the PAT absolutely wild and celebrated with the usual tribute to his TV idols Rod Hull & Emu.

Muangthong – facing their third loss to Port of 2019 – woke up and finally landed a couple of shots on target, but with Port’s back four in absolutely superb form, and Worawut rarely troubled, the game was only going one way and in the 88th minute the PAT was sent into utter delirium by one of the goals of the season. A Siwakorn (16) cross was weakly headed clear by an MTU defender, and Josimar nipped in to steal the ball and spank it past a despairing Van Lam from 20 yards for his first goal since his return to Port. The Brazilian has had a lot of criticism since his return but he’s been superb the last three games and the sheer outpouring of joy from player, teammates and fans alike was something to behold. Finally, the curse was lifted, and Port had their first home win over Muangthong since 2009 – and their third victory over them this season.

2-0 it finished then, and rightly so. Port were absolutely superb tonight, bustling with energy and intensity and subjecting Muangthong – who lost to Port for the third time in 2019 alone – to a pressing game they simply couldn’t handle. The half-arsed mid-season slump now seems like a bad dream, and Choketawee has his team playing not like expensively-assembled title contenders, but the way a team from Khlongtoey should play – with grit, passion and a healthy dose of swagger. Port’s chance of winning the league may already be gone, but at least it seems like the rest of the season may actually be worth watching.

The Sandpit Man of the Match: Nitipong

Where to start? There wasn’t a single player out there who deserved less than 9/10, so it shows you just how good Niti was last night that he gets the award. Very little got past him, and he attacked with pace from start to finish. Is there a more underrated player in Thai football right now? Honourable mentions to the midfield duo of Go (8) and Siwakorn who were imperious; to Josimar, who held the ball up and was the springboard for numerous attacks as well as scoring an absolute corker himself; to Bodin, who is surely favourite for Player of the Year; and to the rest of the back four who were simply incredible. I suspect Derley was still in Dolah’s pocket when he woke up this morning.

 

Image by Singhphanakon on TV

 

Tim Russell

Tim Russell

The founder and editor of The Sandpit, Tim has been in SE Asia since 2003 and in Bangkok since 2012, where he runs a travel tech business. Tim has followed Port FC since 2014, and is also a fan of his hometown club Coventry City, and French club AS St-Etienne. He has written for the likes of Football365, ITV.com, NME and The Quietus, and is a regular contributor to God Is In the TV. He's a keen photographer and his work can be seen on his website.

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