Port V Buriram FA Cup Preview

Forgive me what will sound like excessive hype but this evening’s match against Buriram in the FA Cup might be the most defining match of the season so far. Let me explain why. Firstly the winner of the FA Cup not only gets the glory of winning some silverware but also one of Thailand’s two direct entry spots to the 2022 AFC Champions League group stage. There will be those who are thinking at this point that the extra cup games might be best avoided. Better we push for a title challenge. However, that won’t be the case due to the way the season has been scheduled from this restart, with the three rounds of the cup that remain to be played after the season finishes and before Port travel to take part in the group stage of the 2021 Champions League, there are no more cup games in the time frame of the league season. While with BG Pathum United already out there is nobody we wouldn’t be favorites to beat left in the competition, especially as we will have to beat arguably the strongest other team left in the competition to make the next round.

After this evening’s match up, we have three league games before a trip to the Leo Stadium to face the current leaders, who are 7 points clear at this point. Win that and assuming we have matched or bettered them in the run up and we are very much in the title race. Which we can then focus on.  Come out of it defeated and still in the cup and we can look to stay ahead of the pack chasing 3rd, a gap which currently stands at 11 points. A cushion that will allow us to rotate over the following six weeks to maintain a top 3 finish and the safety net of a place in the Champions League qualifying rounds and arrive at those cup games in better shape than teams who have been pushing in every game.

 

Of course, the situation is not massively dissimilar for tonight’s opposition, while making up an 18 point gap on BG Pathum United, seems beyond the realms of possibility, a top three finish and a FA Cup win would go along way to redeeming what has generally been a disappointing season for the team many tipped to be champions before the season started.

 

Buriram

Firstly lets mention they are again managed by Thailand’s master of tactical shithousery Gama, whatever you think of him and his style he gets results.

The Thai spine of the team remains greatly unchanged over recent years, with keeper Siwarak Tedsungneon (1) still turning in performances into his mid-30s. In front of him is ever dependable center back Pansa Hemviboon (3) and Sasalak Haiprakhon (2). Then there is Supachai (9) and Suphanat (19) the bright young things of Thai football.   You know what you are getting from this lot and its all been said before in past previews of Buriram games.

 

Of far more interest is that Buriram are on yet another collection of foreigners, for having never managed to replace one of the two best foreigners in Thai footballs recent history when Diogo moved on, they decided again earlier this season that they could do without the service of the other and defensive steward Tunez was allowed to leave.  Attempting to fill the gap left by the Venezuelan is Brazilian Diago (26), (l guess if he’s good with that name, he nearly covers both the departed). A solid player in the Brazilian Serie A, where he’s been turned out regularly year on year for Fluminese bar a spell in the middle east. Fellow Brazilian Rosa (91) made his Buriram debut on boxing day v Chonburi and turned in an impressive display scoring one and creating another, whilst looking busy and more on the pace than most debutants to Thai football, if he produces a similar performance he’ll be one the Port defence need to watch. While Maicon (7) is a winger who also has links to Fluminese and has spent time in Russia and Portugal. The Asian contingent is made of the mercurial Burmese wideman Aung Thu who struggled to get game time under Gama at Munagthong last season, after a flying start to his time in Thailand the season before at Police Tero. However that didn’t put the pair off linking up again. Finally, they have Australian midfielder Brandon O’Neill (13) as a bit of an A-League tragic, l rate him and expect him to make a decent go of his move to Korea with Pohang Steelers at the start of last season but after one a season and 16 appearances he was moved on, considered a bit of a disappointment. That said l think he’ll be a cut above most in Thailand so expect a feisty battle in the middle tomorrow.

 

Port

As l said at the outset there no reason not to take the FA Cup seriously. Expect Rochela to be involved with it being the cup. Boli didn’t play in either of Ratchiburi’s cup games so l believe is available. In our two previous cup outings, we’ve rotated giving squad players game time but with two games a week for the foreseeable future rotation is going to be unavoidable. Adisak(9) failed to impress on the wing and assuming Boli(94) isn’t cup-tied I’d start him.

The game is live at 1800 Thai time on AIS Play and T Sports.

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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