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My Favourite Game: Port Blitz Sinks Navy (2010)

 

After listening to Tim and Tom’s excellent audio-visual podcast featuring a decade of highlights and currently having plenty of time on my hands, I started to think of games that would fit their criteria. One match from the 2010 season immediately came to mind and would have been a great way to kick off the episode…if any highlights of the classic Toyota League Cup semi-final second leg vs Raj Navy Rayong existed. Sadly, they don’t, so Thai Port’s equivalent of ‘that night in Istanbul’ is consigned to the memory banks of the few who witnessed it. Whilst Liverpool had overcome a three-goal half time deficit within 15 minutes of the restart, Port were 4-1 behind on aggregate at that point in the game. We did, however, produce our own brilliant comeback – with the added jeopardy of the away goals rule looming large and without the need for a penalty shootout. Granted, Liverpool had to overhaul the mighty AC Milan whilst Port had the less imposing task of beating a well-drilled Navy side but, as an Everton/Port supporter, that’s a detail I’m more than willing to overlook.

 

Port went into the second leg at a disadvantage for two reasons. Firstly, we’d put in a dreadful performance at the Rayong Provincial Stadium in the first leg, losing 3-1. Wuttichai Assuweewa opened the scoring early on but Sarayoot Chaikamdee quickly equalised for Port. That was as good as it got. Moudourou Swa-Moise’s own goal restored the hosts lead and Brazilian midfielder Ratinho completed a comfortable win for Navy from the penalty spot after the referee had blown for a foul that was clearly committed outside the 18-yard box. Secondly, the tie would be played in a practically empty PAT Stadium because Port fans were banned from attending following the recent crowd trouble at LEO Stadium after a bad-tempered 0-0 draw with Bangkok Glass. That meant only a couple of hundred Navy fans – along with a few Port infiltrators – witnessed the evening’s unforgettable events. That said, there were a few thousand Port fans outside Zone C watching on a big screen, drinking beer and helping to create an atmosphere.

 

Sasom made four changes to the side that lost in Rayong. Mario, Jakkrit Bunkham, Worawut Wangsawad and Issarapong Lilakorn replaced Yoshiaki Maruyama, Yai Nilwong, Kiatjareon Ruangparn and Jacob Aikhionbare. Given the 3-1 first leg deficit, the pre-match team talk would surely have mentioned the importance of starting well and getting a confidence boosting early goal. Expectations that Port would come flying out of the blocks, however, were quickly dashed. Navy were more than happy to get men behind the ball, kill time and frustrate the home side at every opportunity. The visitors game plan worked well and the drab first half ended goalless, with Port heading out of the tournament as things stood. The uphill task grew even steeper on 51 minutes when Ivorian striker Didier Gnapka opened the scoring on the night and extended the visitors overall lead to 4-1 – whilst simultaneously wiping out Port’s away goal from the first leg. The jubilant Navy celebrations suggested they thought the tie was done and dusted; how wrong they were.

 

 

As Gnapka celebrated his goal, Port’s inconsistent but occasionally brilliant Nigerian striker Jacob Aikhionbare was on the touchline waiting to replace the ineffective Issarapong Lilakorn. It wasn’t long before the “bow legged goal-poacher” (The Lagos Daily News, 2009) took centre stage and equalised just after the hour mark, reducing the overall deficit to 4-2. At this point Sasom decided to go for broke and commit players forward in search of the two further goals needed to level the tie, fully aware of our vulnerability to a sucker punch Navy goal that would effectively end Port’s challenge. On this occasion fortune favoured the brave as Jacob went from goal scorer to provider to set-up skipper Sarayoot Chaikamdee who netted from close-range with 20 minutes remaining. By the 80-minute mark Port were 3-1 up on the night as super-sub Jacob produced a great run and finish to level the tie – cue pandemonium on the pitch and outside the stadium. Port pushed for a late winner but couldn’t finish the tie inside 90 minutes. With the aggregate score level at 4-4 and both teams with one away goal apiece, extra time beckoned.

Port, having scraped past Bangkok United in the previous round via the away goals rule, were well aware of the implications of another Navy goal and had rejigged their tactics accordingly. The visitors were content to try and regain a foothold in the game after Port’s three goals blitz and it was no surprise that the first half of extra time was both cagey and goalless. The second half of extra time, though, started with a bang. Sarayoot had received a yellow card earlier in the match – meaning he’d be suspended for the final – but put that personal disappointment behind him and gave Port the lead for the first time in the tie as he unleashed a powerful shot into the roof of the net. Cue more joyous celebrations on and off the pitch.

 

From 4-1 down on aggregate to 5-4 up, the tide had clearly turned our way and continued to do so when Navy’s playmaker Ratinho was shown a red card for a mistimed challenge. The visitors couldn’t produce any late heroics of their own and – despite being absolutely garbage for 150 of the 210 minutes over the two legs – Port were victorious, booking their place in the Cup Final. After the full-time whistle was blown, many of the Port players wearily climbed up the steps to the top tier of Zone C and leaned over the railings to salute the fans who had cheered them on from outside the Stadium. It was one of those games that had to be seen to be believed. It’s hard to do justice, in written form, to the pendulum swing of emotion from despair to elation – culminating in 4 goals in 44 minutes. You also have to consider the pre-match context of the woeful first leg performance, the crowd trouble at BG and the subsequent supporter ban to fully appreciate the tension that had accumulated in the days leading up to the match.

 

 

The win over Navy paved the way for the fantastic Toyota League Cup Final win over Buriram PEA at Supachalasai Stadium. Despite Sarayoot (pictured above) being suspended for that game, he was named player of the tournament and received a Toyota Camry Hybrid plus prize money. Well-deserved for his semi-final exploits alone. Sadly, the second leg vs Navy proved to be his last game in a Port shirt. He left PAT Stadium after a prolific season, scoring 26 goals all in all competitions, and signed for Bangkok Glass – a move that hastened his decline. History repeated itself a few years later when one of his successors to the Port number 10 shirt, Leandro, made the move from Khlong Toei to Pathum Thani and looked a shadow of the player idolised at PAT Stadium.

Lineups:

Thai Port: 1. Pattarakorn Thanganurat, 26. Alef Poh-Ji, 17. Pongpipat Kamnuan, 22. Mario Cesar Da Silva (3. Todsapol Lated), 36. Moudourou Swa-Moise, 4. Worawut Wangsawad, 8. Jakkrit Bunkham (27. Kiatjareon Ruangparn), 11. Jirawat Makarom, 13. Issarapong Lilakorn (14. Jacob Aikhionbare), 24. Sompong Soleb, 10. Sarayoot Chaikamdee (c)

Goals: Jacob Aikhionbare (62, 80), Sarayoot Chaikamdee (70, 106)

Raj Navy Rayong: 30. Kosin Hembut, 2. Rattapon Saetan (19. Wuttichai Asuweewa), 6. Chantawat Srisook, 9. Somjet Sattabud (c), 10. Ratinho, 13. Panuwat Konchan, 14. Yannick Georges, 15. Seksan Chaothonglang, 22. Komsan Muendee (5. Suradet Saotaisong), 28. Didier Gnapka, 35. Jang Gil-Hyeok (11. Suttinan Nontee)

Goal: Didier Gnapka (51)

 

Gone ‘Til September: FAT Announces Season Restart

 

With many teams back in training this week there was some brief optimism amongst Thai football fans that the season just might restart on 2 May as recently suggested; but with COVID-19 still wreaking its human and economic toll on the world, that was always likely to be a little ambitious and yesterday the FAT – wearing very chic FAT facemasks – announced that the season will restart (from scratch we believe) in September and run through until May, bringing it in line with Europe. It was also announced that this timescale is likely to be a permanent change, which could cause logistical issues should the rest of Asia fail to fall in line.

I’ve been saying for ages that aligning with Europe would make sense, meaning the season would be played during the cooler winter months and avoid much of the rainy season – and best of all we’d get Christmas football. However it does raise several questions:

  • What are the players going to do until September?
  • How will those clubs not bankrolled by sugar daddies/mummies survive?
  • What will happen with player contracts, most of which end on 30 November?
  • What happens with Asian tournaments, should the rest of Asia stick to the usual calendar?

There’s also the issue of other Asian leagues – particularly China – restarting in the next couple of months and poaching bored/financially deprived T1 foreigners.

Anyway, as we all know with Thai football, things will no doubt change several times before we finally have a restart date set in stone, so watch this space for updates!

 

UPDATE 17 APRIL

The FAT announced yesterday that 14 of 16 T1 clubs had voted to continue the season from gameweek 5, instead of starting from scratch. Only Samut Prakan Dons and Rayong objected, for obvious reasons.

 

Outsiders: Why We Follow Port

 

NB this article was originally written in February 2019 for an anthology of Thai football writing that was never published.

 

In Bangkok’s chaotic Khlong Toey ‘slum’ district, no two houses are alike. Sturdy two-storey brick houses sit next to old wooden buildings leaning so far to one side they look like one gust of wind would topple them to the ground, whilst neat one-room bungalows, kept spick & span by poor but houseproud widows, rub up against jerrybuilt shacks of plywood & corrugated iron, as squalid on the inside as they are outside. Since the early 1970s, when poor rural Thais began pouring into the area looking for jobs at the port and the market, the slum has grown haphazardly to become the jumble of architectural styles we see today, and if there’s one common denominator, it’s the orange and blue stickers on countless front doors – ZONE D HARDCORE; DRAGAN BOSKOVIC 23 GOD; and most commonly, PORT FC: NEVER STOP. For this is Port FC territory, and nowhere else in Thailand will you find a club so inextricably linked with its local community.

 

 

Port is a throwback in many ways, to the early days of English football and works teams like Singer FC (now Coventry City) or Thames Ironworks (West Ham), founded in 1967 by the Port Authority of Thailand who still own the club and its stadium; and it remains a place for the poor working class folk of the area to release their frustrations and have some fun at the end of another hard week. The bond was truly sealed in 2009 when, after a few nomadic years, the club moved to its permanent home, PAT Stadium, just a 10-minute walk from the slums, and nowhere is that symbiosis clearer than when driving along the highway, with that jumble of corrugated iron roofs on one side, and the orange & blue stands of the PAT on the other.

It’s the stadium’s location, along with its core demographic and its structure – no running track (unusually for Thai football), four stands just a few feet from the pitch – that have given it something of a reputation in Thai football. Whilst those who’ve frequented La Bombonera, the Geoffroy Guichard or Celtic Park might find it quiet, its atmosphere is by far the most raucous in Thailand, and in a country where shows of emotion, aggression or anger are avoided at all costs, the PAT is feared by those who don’t quite understand football.

This was brought home to me just a few weeks into my life as a Port fan, when we stopped at a beer garden for some food on the way home from a match. The waiter saw our Port shirts and said “Why do you go there? It’s so dangerous!” Having begun attending matches at Coventry in the mid-1980s, the idea that the PAT could be dangerous seemed laughable, but in Bangkok, the name ‘Khlong Toey’ is synonymous with crime, poverty and general unpleasantness, and that reputation has firmly attached itself to the club, despite the relative gentrification of the Madame Pang era.

The area’s reputation was best summed up by the principal at a charity kindergarten in the area, where most of the slum kids are given as good a start as possible thanks to devoted staff and generous donors. “We find it hard to get Thai teachers to come and work here” she told me. “They are scared to come, and also they think the name ‘Khlong Toey’ on their CV will scare off employers.” The school thus employs mostly alumni – ex-slum kids made good – or less prejudiced expat volunteers.

As an amateur photographer I visit the area several times a month, and whilst ‘slum’ is possibly a bit harsh – this definitely isn’t Mumbai – there’s no denying Khlong Toey provides a massive contrast to the shopping malls and high-rise condos of Sukhumvit, visible on the horizon. There is terrible poverty here, there are people living in conditions that genuinely shock visitors more used to Paragon or Em Quartier, there are drug problems, there are piles of garbage. But what touches me on every visit is the friendliness of the locals. People ask me why I’m there, and happily let me photograph them when I tell them why. Kids stop and pull faces for the camera. Soi dogs bound up for a hug. People proudly show me their tiny houses and share food and drink. On a recent visit on New Year’s Eve I was dragged into so many parties I was drunk by lunchtime. And it’s this character – rough-edged and rundown but friendly and generous at the same time – that makes the crowds at PAT something unique.

 

 

To those who do understand football, there is nowhere better to watch football in Thailand. Get used to Port and you will find the fans at other Thai stadiums somewhat standoffish. Why aren’t they saying hello to me? Why aren’t they sharing their drinks? Indeed, why are they not drinking at all? A Port game is a party, with the area behind Zone C starting to fill up hours before the game with orange-&-blue clad fans eating, drinking, singing and generally letting off steam before, during and after the game. Many don’t even bother to go inside the stadium; it’s enough to wear the shirt, to be there. And anyway, since the Pang era began you can’t drink inside the stadium, and where’s the fun in that?

It’s often said that it’s this atmosphere, in a stadium reminiscent of the grounds we know from home, and which is easy to get to (the PAT is the only stadium in Bangkok accessible via the BTS or MRT), that attracts so many foreign fans to Port, which probably boasts more farang supporters than any other club in the country. And there’s some truth in that – no other stadium in Bangkok ticks all, or in some cases any, of those boxes. But for me it goes much deeper than that.

Whilst Bangkok is a very liveable city for foreigners, it’s a very difficult place to feel at home. It’s too spread out, there’s no centre, it’s not always easy to get around, and the expat community is large and atomised. The Thais are polite and civil, which makes living here agreeable; yet they can be standoffish with foreigners and genuine friendships are rare. After a decade amongst the somewhat less courteous but much friendlier Vietnamese, Bangkok was a struggle. In short, it’s a difficult city to feel a part of, to be part of a community, to have something to hang your hat on and say, this is my Bangkok.

 

 

And for many of us, that is where Port FC comes in. To become a regular at the PAT is to be drawn into a community of like minded fans, a mix of hardcore football geeks, supporters of lower division English clubs, groundhoppers, shirt collectors, and those who just want, or need, a few beers on a Saturday night. Stand in Zone B and you’ll rub shoulders with people from the UK, Australia, Japan, Vietnam, the US, Sweden, Germany and beyond. Some of my closest friendships in Bangkok have been forged here, as has my unlikely role as fan website editor.

But what really makes us feel at home is the welcome we receive from the local fans. Yes, there are occasional mutterings in Facebook groups that there are too many of us, that we’re not real Port fans, that we’ll be gone in a few months, but they are rare. The Khlong Toey fans see us at home games every week, they see us follow Port all over the country – to Chiang Rai, to Ubon, to Songkhla – they see our joy, they see our pain, they see our anger. They see it means as much to us as it does to them, and they see us drink as much beer as they do. And, just possibly, they see it as significant that we chose their club – that we didn’t follow the trophies to Muangthong or Buriram, that we didn’t pick a safe, middle-class club like Bangkok Utd or Bangkok Glass, but that we chose to be here, at a club on the wrong side of the tracks. For they are seen as outsiders in their own city, as are we, and at Port, both of us can find a true home.

 

Head Coach: Where Should Port Go Next?

 

Disclaimer: this is an opinion piece. It is purely my thoughts, and may not be how other Port fans are feeling, or the way they wish the club to operate in the future. The latest report is that we’ll be hiring a foreign coach, but how accurate that report is, I don’t know.

So after listening to the latest Portcast featuring Tom and Tim, and then listening to another podcast that Tom spoke on briefly [I missed the final 15 mins due to not having a Spotify account], it got me thinking as to how I would like the club to move on from the drama that has gone on since the departure of Choke. Whilst I’m fine with Jadet coming in for now, as he usually has us playing a much more attractive brand of football, it seems the spherical supremo is only being considered a short-term option whilst we cast a wider net to attract our next coach.

Regardless of what people say: the Port job is an attractive one, and there’ll be a lot of applications for the vacancy. You’d inherit an extremely talented squad already, the financial package that can be offered would be enticing, and more importantly: you play in front of the best fans in the country every time you line up at home. The downside is obvious: the backroom politics. It’s something that probably goes on at every Thai club in all honesty, and unfortunately… I don’t think that it’ll go away any time soon.

The way I’d like us to head moving forwards is this: I’d like us to appoint an older coach with a lot of experience, with him having a Thai assistant-manager who he will mentor into eventually taking the reins at the club in future years. It’s something that’s been done in football before [Marcelo Lippi did this with Fabio Cannavaro in China] and it’s been done countless times in other sports too. The reason I’d like us to head this way is due to there not really being a Thai manager at the moment that I feel is available, and so I’d prefer us to develop someone rather than pay over the odds. It seems we’re not used to making financially sensible decisions though…

Below are the 6 coaches [3 experienced, 3 prospects] that I feel should be considered if we were to head down this route. I personally have no idea if they’d be interested in being a part of a management model like this, but I do think that if they were: they’d be a good hire, and they’d be a good mentor too.

 

The Experience

Robert Procureur

 

Thai FA Cup Final 2019 – Ratchaburi FC vs Port FC on 02.11.2019 at the LEO Stadium

 

I’ve gone a seemingly safe candidate as one of my options, although it’d be a change of role for the 60-year old Belgian. He’s always operated as a director at clubs, with him having great relationships all over the world that sees his clubs sign talented players from all over the world.

There’s no doubting that his time at Muangthong was incredibly successful, although one could argue that his time at BEC-Tero wasn’t as successful: although they did finish 3rd twice during that time too! Since arriving at Ratchaburi in 2017, he’s seen 9 head coaches depart the club, although how much say he had in those decisions: your guess is as good as mine. 2020 has seen Ratchaburi come out of the blocks well, having retained 4 of their foreigners from last season. They look like they’re finally ready to shake things up in the league again, which is good for the league at the end of the day.

The reason I’d hire Robert Procureur is this: he knows Thai football, he’s dealt with a difficult owner already, and he has great contacts within the game. He’d have a great amount of knowledge to pass on to a younger coach.

 

Arjhan Srong-ngamsub

 

 

Next up on the list would be coach Kongbeng, who hasn’t been a head coach since he left Siam Navy in 2015. The 68-year old has close to 40-years coaching experience, during which he has won 12 trophies, whilst he’s also held numerous positions with the Thai national team during that time too.

“The best coach I ever played for during my career” was what one of his former players said about him when I asked what it was like to play under him. The thing that I like about Arjhan Srong-ngamsub is this: he’s been in charge of some incredibly successful teams [Bangkok Bank and Hoang Anh Gia Lai for instance] and he’s also been in charge of some teams that have had to battle too [Nakhon Ratchasima and Siam Navy]. So he has that versatility, and I’d like to think that he’d be able to instil a mentality where our players don’t fold when they’re faced with any form of adversity.

Arjhan Srong-ngamsub was the only Thai coach who I felt could do a job like this, although having been out of the game since 2015: he may be happily retired.

 

Philippe Troussier

 

 

I went a bit left-field with the final person that I’d consider an option. Philippe Troussier is currently the head coach of the Vietnamese Under 19 national team, whilst he’s also the technical direct of PVF: a Vietnamese academy that plays in the V.League 2 that consists of players that are considered the best talents in Vietnam.

He’s another option with a lot of experience, having begun his coaching career in 1983. Management has taken him all over the world, and he’s coached on three continents: Europe, Africa and Asia. He’s coached international teams at the World Cup, and he’s coached big club sides ASEC Mimosas, Kaizer Chiefs and even Olympique Marseille. Going by Wikipedia: his time in China with Shenzhen Ruby was controversial to say the least. That was a long time ago though, and having been involved in an academy set-up of sorts, he’s already begun to take on that mentorship role of sorts.

I think Philippe Troussier has great pedigree, and if we couldn’t get either of the other options I’ve listed: he’d be a good appointment.

 

The Prospects

Sarayuth Chaikamdee

 

 

I couldn’t go past Sarayuth as one of the candidates to be mentored, as not only is he highly regarded by the fans already: he’s had a moderate amount of success during his brief time as a head coach. He finished 2nd [1 point behind 1st] in the 2018 Thai League 4 North-eastern Region during his first season at Khon Kaen United, which got them into the Champions League stage of the T4 competition, where they won their group and clinched promotion to Thai League 3. I’m not sure what happened in 2019, but he left the club at some stage, and they were then promoted to Thai League 2 at the end of that season.

In 2020 he’s been appointed as the head coach at Bankhai United, who play in the Thai League 4 Eastern region. He won both of his games before the league was suspended. Bankhai is traditionally a team that qualifies for the Champions League stage of the competition, although they haven’t had any luck yet in going on to clinch promotion.

Sarayuth would be my top pick if we were to go down this road, and I’d like to think that he’d be extremely excited to come back to a club where he’s so popular with the fans already.

 

Sutee Suksomkit

 

 

There’s no doubting Sutee was a fantastic player, who enjoyed a tremendous amount of success on the pitch. Off the pitch… he’s had a mixed bag really. He coached Bangkok FC in 2016 in the Thai League 2, and Lampang for the second-leg of the Thai League 2 season in 2017. Now I don’t know why he left either club, so I won’t speculate on it. What I can see is the league table, and for Bangkok FC in 2016: he finished 14th [out of 16 teams], and the foreign players he had on the books were: Douglas Cardozo, David Silva, William Gros, Nebojša Bastajić and Junki Yokono. Hardly an inspiring lot if we’re honest, bar Douglas and David Silva. 2017 at Lampang saw him secure the club a 6th place finish in Thai League 2, before he depart at seasons end.

This is where it gets quite interesting: at least for me anyway. After having two head coach roles in Thai League 2, he then popped up at Chiangrai United as an assistant-manager. There’s no denying that Chiangrai were hugely successful in 2018 and 2019, although I’d have no idea how much of a role that Sutee played in that success. He must’ve been well liked, as he was hired or kept on by Alexandre Gama and Ailton Silva, and I have no idea whether or not he is still there under Masami Taki or not. Wikipedia says he isn’t: Transfermarkt say he is!

Having done a proper apprenticeship with Chiangrai United since his spells in Thai League 2 with Bangkok FC and Lampang, I feel that if he was mentored properly: there’s a good chance he could be a Thai League 1 head coach in the future.

 

Fodé Bangaly Diakité

 

 

Honestly: I struggled to find a third person from within Thailand that I’d consider an option. I looked all over Wikipedia, I looked through previous foreign players from years gone by, and it was when I was looking through Chonburi’s current squad [Dad’s Army as I call it] that I then remembered a player that had played for them in previous years who I’d considered a good defender and a bit underrated almost. Enter Fodé Bangaly Diakité.

Now I have no idea as to whether he’s looking to enter management, but if he were: he’s someone I’d give consideration. He was a smart player defensively, he has great longevity in the region, and because of that… he’d understand what goes behind the scenes and not be too put off by it. He spent the majority of his time in Thailand at Chonburi [3 separate spells], but he also had spells at Pattaya United, BEC-Tero Sasana, Phan Thong and finally Bankhai United in 2018.

This would be the riskiest option of the 3 that I’ve put on this list, but if he were to take the guidance of one of the 3 mentors that I’ve listed: that makes it considerably less of a risk.

Now I know it’s incredibly unlikely that we’ll go down this path, but with a serious lack of football to watch at the moment: I’m beyond bored right now. Knowing us, we’ll look worldwide for 6-months for somebody only to appoint Jadet permanently, who we’ll then sack after a winless spell of 6 or so games. And then the cycle will begin again!

I do hope that we can make a move in the near future that’ll see the club being talked about in a positive light rather than a negative one, and I hope that moving forward there’ll be a bit less drama coming out of Port FC. Again… something that’s unlikely.

In the meantime, I hope everyone stays safe during this troubling time, and I look forward to seeing more content on the site whilst we wait for league action to resume.

 

My All-Time Port XI: James

 

After reading Andy’s all-time Port XI, and then hearing Tim and Tom’s teams on the most recent Portcast, it got me thinking as to who would make my team. With no live football to watch at the moment [unless you can get a stream for the games in Belarus] it’s a case of either watching old live streams on YouTube or not watching any football at all.

I’ve only been watching Port since the 2016 season that we spent in T2, so my team may lack variety in a sense, although there’s one player that I just couldn’t not include in my team: he had to be in it regardless, purely due to the stories I’ve had told about him from either Port fans or players that have personally played against him.

I’ll be sticking with the 4-4-2 system that the others have used, and this is my team:

 

GK – Watchara Buathong

 

 

Arguably the best goalkeeper we have on our books at the moment, so it’s no surprise that he’s third choice and not getting a look in. Probably the only goalkeeper that we have that is comfortable catching the ball, and I thought he did quite well for a while last season before a couple of mistakes cost him his place in the side.

 

RB – Nitipong Selanon

One of the easiest selections to make. His consistency is pretty much unrivalled across the entire league, and I’m glad that he’s finally getting a look in on the international stage. Whilst he may not be as good as an attacker as Tristan, he’s ten times the defender, and that should count more on the bigger stage. I imagine he’ll be in most peoples team to be honest.

 

CB – Elias Dolah

 

 

Tough as nails, and puts his body on the line to keep the opposition from scoring. He’s an absolute handful at set-pieces, and if he can add more goals to his locker: an argument could be made for him going to an even higher stage. Has improved a hell of a lot since signing, and I look forward to more games with him in the line-up.

 

CB – David Rochela

It’s no secret that I feel as though we will need to replace Rochela sooner rather than later, but I’ll also admit that he’s a talented player whose done well for the club in the past. I have nothing but respect for the way he conducts himself and goes about his business, and his calmness helps the rest of the squad to settle down too.

 

LB – Kevin Deeromran

This is a position where we have incredible depth at the moment, and the likes of Steuble, Jaturapat and Yossawat can all count themselves unlucky to be at a club with the best Thai left-back to be playing in Thailand at the moment. Kevin’s solid defensively, and there’s always that feeling that he could produce something memorable in the attacking-third too. Brownie points for the way he trolled Muangthong and signed for us instead.

 

RM – Pakorn Prempak

 

 

I missed the spell of Saruta unfortunately, and I can’t remember Ekkapoom playing too much during the 2016-17 seasons unfortunately. What I do remember of 2016-17 is seeing Tana suit up on the right at times, and it’s for that reason that I ended up going with Pakorn. There’s no doubting that he can be the source of incredible frustration, but there’s also no doubting that he has the ability to deliver some fantastic set-pieces that we score from, or score himself.

 

CM – Siwakorn Jakkuprasat

Another easy selection to make: he’s my favourite player at the club. I actually thought he was going to lose his spot last season with the abundance of central-midfielders we went out and purchased, but it actually had the opposite effect. He’s somewhat mellowed out and isn’t constantly getting unnecessary bookings, whilst he’s still the first player that’ll dive into a 50-50 and come out with the ball and leave the opposition player requiring treatment. He’s the only former Muangthong player we have that I like, and I’d prefer it if we didn’t go about signing our biggest rivals players personally.

 

CM – Go Seul-Ki

Probably the most important player at the club at the moment. Go oozes class with almost everything he does, but his ability to attack doesn’t affect his ability to defend. He can do it all, and at a high level too, which makes it crazy that Buriram let him sign for us considering the Korean players that they have had since his departure: not that that I’m complaining..! If he can play until he’s 40 like he says he thinks he can, I’d love it to be with us, as I’d love to see him retire as a Port player.

 

LM – Genki Nagasato

I really enjoyed watching Genki play, because I knew that I’d get a fully committed performance from him every time he stepped onto the pitch. Whilst he may not have had the same level of technical ability of some of the wingers that have played for the club, he was incredibly consistent [I thought] and for that reason alone he became someone that I enjoyed having in the line-up during his spell at the club.

 

ST – Leandro de Oliveira da Luz

I missed his spell at the club, but ever since my first trip to PAT Stadium in 2016: I’ve been told stories involving him. A former club of his in Vietnam has been posting nostalgic clips of him during the virus-induced break, and the level of his talents is clear as day. Watching videos of someone online and seeing them live cannot be compared, and I’m somewhat disappointed that I never got to see the Brazilian play in person.

 

ST – Arthit Boodjinda

 

 

It’d be quite funny watching ‘Pele’ play alongside Leandro to be honest, with it either being completely awesome or something that would have the Brazilian ripping his hair out. Arthit is underrated in my opinion [bar by Tom!] and I’d love to have him back at the club instead of some of our current attackers [I’m looking at you Chenrop and Adisak]. Honorable mentions would go to Josimar and Rodrigo Maranhão too, with both of them providing some moments of jubilation.

 


 

We are open to more ‘All-Time XI’ submissions, so feel free to send us your team and we’ll publish it.

 

Caged Lions: Port Stars on Life in Lockdown

 

We miss football. We miss that first view of the floodlights as we cross over Sunton Khosa, we miss the smell of sausages, we miss the taste of a cold Leo, we miss our friends. But if we’re missing football, have you wondered what it’s like for the players? Deprived of the exertion of training, the camaraderie of the dressing room, the buzz of matchday, the thrill of scoring a goal or winning a game, they’re stuck at home like the rest of us. Intrigued as to how they’re handling it, I asked a few Port players about life in isolation…

 

ELIAS DOLAH

How do you feel about the long break?

It’s a really unfortunate situation we all are facing but nobody would be comfortable playing football during this time anyway. And just like all other kind of professions you have to adapt and find other ways to do your work day by day. If the league starts in May (hopefully) it will be a hectic schedule so it’s more important now than ever to be well prepared.

What are the club doing to keep you all fit & positive?

We have our day to day fitness schedule and have to send in time lapse videos to show we are doing it properly. Madame is very up to date with the situation and keeps reminding us to be careful and stay home.

Apart from keeping fit, how are you spending your time?

Me and my girlfriend are obviously having more time to cook at home now which I like. So a lot more time spent cooking, doing the dishes, cleaning the condo and getting the laundry done. I’m currently reading Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami (excellent choice! – Ed). Our current Netflix binge is Ozark (season 3 just released). And I might have just bought a racing sim-rig for my PS4… Boardgames are also great fun. Latest buy is Scrabble and Othello.

When do you think the season will restart – or do you think it will be cancelled?

I really hope it can be restarted in May. And I’m preparing for that so everything else would be a disappointment.

Any message to Port fans who are also stuck at home bored?

To all Port fans, we are all in the same boat and I hope this crisis isn’t hitting you too hard. It would be very interesting to hear some stories from our local Klongtoey area and how covid-19 has affected people and small businesses here. We need to support our local community now more than ever!

 

SERGIO SUAREZ

How do you feel about the long break?

I feel worried about the situation of Covid19 because Spain is one of the countries where there are more people infected. Wishing this didn’t happen in Thailand, but they should make strict rules as soon as possible.

What are the club doing to keep you all fit & positive?

Our fitness coach , Rafael, sent us a trainning programme to keep all players fit. We must train at home if possible and send him video.

Apart from keeping fit, how are you spending your time?

I spend most of the time watching movies and playing games, and I start to learn Thai by myself! Soooo difficult but I will try…

 

 

 

When do you think the season will restart – or do you think it will be cancelled?

Now, the most important thing is to avoid to spread the virus and the situation will be OK soon. Not easy but if we follow the rules and people stay home, it would be better. I hope we can start on 2 May, as the Thai federation inform, as it will mean that the situation in the country is becoming better.

Any message to Port fans who are also stuck at home bored?

To Port fans, thanks to follow rules and stay home. We have to fight together now and we will back to enjoy at PAT Stadium soon!

 

DAVID ROCHELA

How do you feel about the long break?

It is completely necessary if we want to control the spread of the virus. Health is above everything else so we must be smart during this time and stay home.

What are the club doing to keep you all fit & positive?

They gave us a plan and we have to follow it strictly. We have to try to stay as fit as possible.

Apart from keeping fit, how are you spending your time?

Mostly talking with my family and friends in Spain. The situation there now is really bad so trying to show them support and make them feel that they are not alone even when I’m 10,500km away.

When do you think the season will restart – or do you think it will be cancelled?

I cannot know it… I’m not an expert talking about virus but I just hope we can restart it as soon as possible but before that, the virus must be controlled.

Any message to Port fans who are also stuck at home bored?

I just want to tell them to be patient, that the better we follow the rules of the health specialists, the sooner we can return to normality. Thanks for all the support and stay safe!

 

NITIPONG SELANON

How do you feel about the long break?

I’m very bored and want to go training!

What are the club doing to keep you all fit & positive?

Everyone trained according to the coach’s programme and sent a video report every day.

 

 

Apart from keeping fit, how are you spending your time?

Playing games and watching TV.

When do you think the season will restart – or do you think it will be cancelled?

I don’t know but I want to come back to the race as soon as possible.

Any message to Port fans who are also stuck at home bored?

Right now, I want fans to take care of their health. As we know our team is having a problem right now. Better to encourage each other to handle the problem better.

 

JOSIMAR RODRIGUES

How do you feel about the long break?

The long break isn’t good either for players or fans. But we know that’s important to control the pandemic. Health comes first!

What are the club doing to keep you all fit & positive?

Since we stopped we got programmes to do at home and must report to the club with videos daily!

Apart from keeping fit, how are you spending your time?

We are a lot of time at home. We can do everything and there are still 5 hours until time to sleep. 😂😂😂
But I like spending my time with books, playing with my daughter, playing guitar, video games etc!

 

 

When do you think the season will restart – or do you think it will be cancelled?

I don’t know what to think. Honestly. But I hope the league restarts on 2 May!

Any message to Port fans who are also stuck at home bored?

The message to Port fans is: “stay home“.

 

MARTIN STEUBLE

How do you feel about the long break?

I think the biggest issue is the uncertainty! Its a situation noone ever had to face before. As a football player you want to be out there training and working towards the weekend when it’s showtime. As an athlete you need the daily training session, they tire you out and give you peace of mind that you’ve done your job for the day. A big piece of the daily routine is missing. I struggle sleeping if I don’t work out. I hope this will end rather sooner than later.

What are the club doing to keep you all fit & positive?

The club has done a tremendous job in following the rules and regulations of the government. Also we players are updated about the latest news. They inform us about what to do or more like what not to do. As players we have a huge responsibility to operate as role models in a crisis like that.

We got training plans from our fitness coach Rafa who is doing an outstanding job in motivating the players or adjusting training plans for injured players. He is always available for us if we have questions. We have to record ourselves and send it in. In the beginning I wasn’t a big fan of it but I start enjoying it. Just to see that everybody follows through and to see how and in what environment they work out gives you a feeling of teamwork.

We have great characters in the team, I think everybody is fully aware that you have to motivate yourself. Everybody is responsible for himself to be in the best shape he can possibly get with the circumstances given at the moment.

Apart from keeping fit, how are you spending your time?

The main thing is keeping in touch with your family and friends. Funny enough a crisis like that brings back old friends or people who are not really close to you start checking in on you. It’s a lovely feeling; I think thats one way to lift each other up to spread love and show appreciation.

I’m pretty sure I’m done with Netflix! I need like Netflix 2.0! Standup comedy is my favourite thing to watch, Sebastian Maniscalco for example.

When do you think the season will restart – or do you think it will be cancelled?

Since this is not in my hands I don’t waste any thoughts on that. I try to stay fit and sane and wait for further announcements.

Any message to Port fans who are also stuck at home bored?

Even tho the official numbers of infected people is not as high as in other countries PLEASE stay at home as it saves lives. You don’t want to be rocking up at the PAT Stadium and the guy that’s usually next to you is not there anymore! We all have a social responsibility – let’s make sure we all pass this crisis together.

Cant wait to see all of you at PAT Stadium hopefully very very soon. Stay safe and sane!

 

Thanks guys for answering our questions! Hope we see you in action again soon!