An Underdog Story: Muangthong Utd vs. Port FC Preview

 

A rather quaint old feeling surrounds today’s trip to the SCG. With MTU currently on top form and Port in a slump, we almost feel like the underdogs we used to be in this tie. For once, the fact that Port fans will be forced to watch on the tele is not that annoying, as we probably wouldn’t be allowed in to Legoland regardless of the current situation.

Taking on the mentality of underdogs may be a bit tricky considering the supposed calibre of players at our disposal, but I’m going to take on the task of motivating the boys myself by giving them my absolutely honest assessment on tonight’s opposition. With this brutally frank dissection of the favourites, the lads are going to be scared straight, and put in the kind of performance that saw us deliver shock Slum vs. Scum defeats in… well, just about every match-up in recent memory.

 

 

Muangthong Utd

The Redvolution

 

Starting out with between the sticks, Port will be devastated that Dang Van Lam is no longer between the sticks, as future first choice Thai national team goalkeeper Somporn Yos (29) replaces him. This young man towers above opposition forwards, with his 1.78m (5ft 10) frame making him as imposing at claiming crosses as he is in one-on-one situations. The 5 times he has been sent out on loan by his parent clubs are yet further evidence of the high regard he has been held in by both BEC Tero and now Muangthong, who even went as far as turning down the chance to sign Kawin Thamsatchanan from Leuven, such was their faith in Somporn’s ability.

 

 

At the back there are an embarrassment of riches to choose from. Should I start with Wattanakorn Sawatlakhorn (30), whose ratio of assists per game is bettered only by his ratio of tattoos to… non tattoos? Future first choice Thai national team left back Wattanakorn seems to have modelled himself on Port star Charyl Chappuis, with the prominent tattoos and IG model girlfriend jut two of the many weapons at his disposal.

 

 

Speaking of weapons, we move straight on to another towering defensive unit. Future first choice Thai national team centre back Saringkan Promsupa (15) makes Nurul look small. At 1.75m (5ft 10) Saringkan assures that Port centre back Dolah (4) will have no chance of getting his head on any set-piece deliveries in to Muangthong’s impenetrable box.

In midfield, Muangthong also have more options than they know what to do with. Future first choice Thai national team ludisto Weerathep Pomphan (18) is arguably the main threat. Specializing in the key pass to the key pass, Weerathep plays the pass that leads to the pass which leads to an assist as well if not better than anyone in the league. Coach Oud would be well advised to stick two players, if not three, on Weerathep, just to be safe. It’s the respect the signing from Chamchuri United deserves.

 

 

Up top is where it really gets ugly. For Port. With 19 strikes to date (according to Wikipedia), Derley (87) has scored more goals for Muangthong than any other club in his illustrious career, and at 33 years old he probably still has time to get in to the twenties for the very first time. A classic centre forward, future first choice Brazil national team striker Derley excels at holding the ball up, bringing others in to play and let’s not forget: scoring goals. Derley has notched 11 to date this season, just 8 behind top scorer Barros Tardelli, while he has even scored almost as many as centre back Victor Cardozo.

 

 

In charge is a manager whose achievements really speak for themselves. Mario’s demure pitch-side demeanour, combined with an incredibly sharp eye for set-piece preparation, has led to a remarkable uptick in free kick goals. The future Thai national team boss has earned the respect of both his own players and the opposition too, with the calm exchange of views with Bonilla after the final whistle in the sides’ last encounter exemplifying just how far Mario is above the fray. Any manager who is so focused on his job that he forgets to get fully dressed is a man fully committed to learning his craft, that’s for sure.

 

 

Form

Theirs is better than ours. Obviously. Further details are not required.

 

Port FC

The Underdogs

 

Port boss Oud has had a good run in the hot-seat, but the wheels have fallen off in recent times. After an enforced break in T1 action, Port returned with a side that was barely recognizable from the one Oud had been so successful with. Players who had performed so well to put Port in a strong position in the league were left out, while bigger names who have proven less in a Port shirt were preferred. I could name names, but you’re probably all bored of me laying in to Tanaboon (71) and Chappuis (17) anyway.

With the decline in form clear to see, Port are reportedly already looking for a replacement, so it’s anyone’s guess who will be picking the team for today’s big game.

Here’s what I’d do.

Rattanai (18) keeps his place, after an outstanding performance last time out. Nitipong (34) gets a right telling off for repeatedly poor performances, but still gets to play because there’s no one better. Worawut (24) and Dolah (4) continue in central defence, and Jaturapat (21) gets a chance to impress on the left until Kevin is fit. He’s hungry, and whilst Steuble is a decent option, I like a natural leftie with Bordin usually cutting inside on to his right.

Kannarin (31) anchors the midfield, giving Go (8) a bit more freedom to get forward and score excellent volleys. Siwakorn misses out, as he needs to be reminded that he doesn’t start by default.

Nattawut (45) gets a well-deserved go on the right wing. His end product is far better than Nurul’s, and he’s more than deserving of a start in a position where we really don’t seem to have a better idea. The less said about Adisak on the right wing the better. Bordin (10) continues on the left, as does Suarez (5) through the middle. I trust both will return to form in due course.

Up top is a tough one, but I’m going to give Boli (94) an hour to bully the Muangthong defence, and bring Boni (99) on when they’re a bit tired.

 


 

We’re the underdogs, remember? It’s not about picking the best players, but keeping things fresh and having players on the pitch who are going to do whatever it takes to deliver us a massive derby win. Come on, boys!

 


 

The match will be shown live on NBT 2HD and the AIS Play app. Kick off is at 18:30.

 

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.

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