The Best Cup of Leo Ever: Port FC 2-1 Muangthong Utd (Leo Cup Final)

 

 

Frankly it couldn’t have been scripted better, we won the biggest preseason prize on offer (Champions’ Cup? Never heard of it). Beating bitter cross-town rivals, having come from a goal down, thanks to an injury time winner scored by their former goal scoring hero.

The evening started like a lazy metaphor for Ports preseason. We jumped in a taxi, we knew where we wanted to end up, as did the driver but with three different voices articulating three different routes, all we achieved was to start out going in wrong direction, then a double back and a finally a loop before finally we headed into the countryside north of Bangkok and the mythical land of Leo where Port go to collect silverware. What was clear on arrival was that we were to be outnumbered, as the place was swarming with MTU fans. There was a strange atmosphere with people unsure whether it was better to scowl at the sworn enemy you’ve been the deprived the chance of “propa nawty straighter” with for years by the powers that be. Or make like Thai football fans and clink plastic glasses and get a selfie with everyone you meet. The later won though and hopefully come April our friends (there are limits) from Legoland will be allowed to come and witness a fifth straight victory for Port in the scum v slum derby.

For Port there were raft of changes as Rattani (17), Jaturapat(81), Bodin (10) and Chenrop (39) replaced Warawut (36), Steuble (15), Herberty (37) and Adisak (9). While Kevin (23) was back on the bench. Any doubt regarding if the players would treat this as preseason kick about or go for the full blood and thunder effort of a derby was almost instantly put to bed, as Derley (87) tangled with Go(8), a bit of a shirt pull by the Brazilian and some encouragement for the Korean to get on with the game followed. Seconds later from the resulting Port free kick, Go receives the same treatment from then same player and reacts by taking a swipe at the Brazilian. Whilst it wasn’t the fall blown elbow to the face that Delrey and the most of the Muangthong players and staff implied, it was clearly the kind of act that players can and will be sent off for, fortunately the referee decided to be lenient (or maybe it was karma for the Chiang Rai finishing Sundays game without seeing red). There after the game settled down somewhat, there was still niggle from both sides and neither team were able to establish clear domination. Then in the 19th minute Curren (27) got behind Jaturapat on the Muangthong right and fired a cross to the far post where Delrey had fount some space and fires his header downwards into the corner of the goal. Nobody involved in the process for Port covered themselves in glory.

Moments later Suarez (5) reacted to a foul by Saharat (25), whilst it was part of the weekly incessant sly digs and fouls our Sergio has to endue, to throw the ball at the opposition player is silly and invites trouble, once again the ref chose not to punish the Port player. The ensuing Port free kick resulted in a Muangthong break ended by a great saving tackle by Jaturapat and the bizarre sight of Pakorn (7) being the last defender as the counter was repelled. There was still time for a couple more yellows firstly to Curren who looks an excellent acquisition and coped well with all that Port threw at him especially whilst on a yellow. Whilst Siwakorn (16) collected one for an unnecessary foul of a player going nowhere because that’s what Siwakorn does. And so ended the first half, very little between the two teams, Muangthong created the one decent chance and took it.

The second half started in much the same vein as Popp(19) sent a hopeful pop shot (like that wasn’t getting used) wide for Muangthong and at the other end Suarez did the same stretching to reach a cross. Then on the 51 minutes Adisak(9) was introduced for Chenrop (39), who if nothing else had put a shift in for the cause and we got to see if Adisak would work as an impact substitute. A couple of minutes later Delrey set about balancing up the Port misdemeanours of the first half, as in 15 seconds he managed to throw an arm in Dolah’s (4) face and then kicked the ball in to the his body having tripped up him up and stood on his ankle, in between the two. The Brazilian had now been sucked into a running battle with Dolah, a situation that always pleases the big fella as striker more interested in getting a dig in, rarely contributes much for the cause and on the rare occasion Muangthong got the ball into Port territory this was the case with Delrey for the remainder of the match. Which meant the burden fell on his strike partner Popp, who’s evening was high on endeavour and low on end product.

From here on Port gained the upper hand, Go saw a shot beat Van Lam (1) but go just wide of the post. Kevin (23) replaced Jaturapat and such was the dominance of Port he would basically play as a winger with Bodin (10) drifting into more central positions. On the right Tanaseth (11) replaced Pakorn. The little fella lit the game up from the moment he came on. In a checkered preseason, the arrival from Suphanburi, has been the major bright spot. You get the sense he will be this seasons fans favourite, the lineage runs strongly though the years I’ve watched Port, Saruta, Ekkapoom, Terans, even Nurul, all diminutive wide men, all loved by the masses. Along with Bodin he looks capable of producing the kind of football that has you thinking with 15 minutes to go in a final a goal down to your biggest rivals, even if its as bad as the worst doom monger predicts it’ll still be worth going just to watch these lads play. Flicks, whirling limbs, swagger, tricks, questionable hair cuts, its was all on display as Port pushed for an equalizer.

Which finally came in 82nd minute, Kanarin (31) who had come on Siwakorn, collected the ball, took a moment, looked up and found Tanasith who beat a defender and from the right squared a ball to Adisak who with his back to goal found Go centrally on the edge of the box, who wouldn’t refuse a second opportunity to place a shot into the corner. Could Van Lam have done better probably, was he wrong footed or unsighted possible. Did anyone behind the goal care, no not one bit. Port weren’t done yet as a moment later Suarez beat the hapless keeper but saw his shot go just wide.

Worst was to come for the stopper, with the game in injury time and discussion ongoing as to if we were going directly to penalties as previously in the competition or with this being a final we would see extra time that you felt would result in a Port win. A thought that might also have been on the mind of Muangthong’s “are you sure you’re big enough to be a centre back” centre back Promsupa (15 and 5ft9), who dwelled for a moment and saw substitute Nattawut (45) nip in and nick the ball, his little legs can’t keep up with our blonde haired hero who plays a pass across the goal to Adisak who slides it into the bottom corner. Que pandemonium behind the goal. There was still time for Bangkok’s third team to throw everything at Port but ultimately it came to nothing. So 2020 starts as 2019 ended with Port collecting silverware. Anyone thinking it was a meaningless cup didn’t see Gama’s little face as he led his players off without watching the victors lift the cup.

In typical Port style the evening wasn’t done, as their was still time for Dom to be bloodied battling for a Worarut shirt and leaving the stadium and some distance from the players area, we encounter the trophy being passed around by the assembled Port fans seemingly without anyone from the club around.

 

 

The Sandpit Man of the Match: Tanasith

He only came on for 25 minutes but as soon as he did the mood of the match changed. Might as well give him the player of the season award if he performs like that every week.

 

James Clarke

James Clarke

Originally from England, James first came to Thailand in 2010 to escape big cities and spend time on beaches away from crowds. He now divides his time between living in Bangkok and wishing he was living in Bangkok.

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