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The Sandpit 2021/22 Big Guess Up – Port

On many levels, it was a closed season much like the majority in the Pang era for Port. As the club went out and purchased the league’s best available attacking option. Once again failing to address the fact that it’s an out and out goalscorer we needed and not another attacking midfielder/winger/second striker to add to an already overstocked squad.  So, in came John Baggio from Sukhothai, perhaps they didn’t realise the diminutive Malagasy preferred role, as we went into the ACL campaign with him as our main attacking option and Nelson Bonilla (9) dropped from the squad. And who knows if he’d found the net rather than the crossbar when presented with a golden opportunity two minutes into his debut against Hong Kong’s Kitchee, perhaps his Port career and the ACL campaign would have worked out differently. As it was, it would prove to be the end of the “Oud” era as Sarawut Treephan paid with his job for failing to grasp possible the best chance we’ll get to advance to the knock out stage of the continental competition anytime soon.  I liked Oud and though there were moments where we showed signs of trying to play some more cerebral football but it’s hard to defend a guy when his tactics, as they were by the latter stages of that Kitchee game, are reduced to firing long balls up to a bloke who’s a mere 5ft2 tall. Besides for once when presented with a golden opportunity, the Port board took advantage and made a shrewd move. As in came Dusit Charlermsan.

 

John Baggio Port’s short time star

 

 

Head Coach – Dusit Charlermsan

 

There’s been plenty written about what happened at BG Pathum United leading up to Dusit’s departure but when a manager wins you the league for the first time, to send him packing to one of your minion clubs, rather than just making him step aside in the short term, due to the licencing requirements of the ACL group stage, it should come as no shock he takes it as a bit of a slight.  BG’s loss is Port’s gain, as rather than having to still turn up at Leo stadium, to managing the Bunnies cast off, kids etc of Rajpracha in T2, Dusit moves into central Bangkok to take charge of Port.

Under him BG won the league last season looking untroubled. They were unbeaten while the competition was still alive and conceded just 13 goals and kept 18 clean sheets over the season. Playing a system built on a rock solid back five. Added to that goals regularly came from set pieces, an area where Port has been sub par in recent years, so hopefully, we see an improvement there.

It’ll be interesting to see how Dusit sets up his Port team. The defence at BG was fairly fixed, will he again settle on one preferred lineup and use it when available or mix things up? In the middle of the defence, the el capitán Wheel of fortune has landed on “in” twice in a row, for the first time in a while, so David Rochela (22), keeps his place for the league campaign. I can see him playing in the middle of the three CBs. There are a multitude of options to play alongside him, the physical presence of Elias Dolah (4), the effortless libero stylings of Worawut “Baresi” Namvech (24), Tanaboon Kesaret (17) offers more going forward and could get plenty of times against lesser teams, then there’s Adisorn Pomrak (20) and twins Thitawee (2) and Thitathorn (3) Aksornsri who will be looking to establish themselves at the club beyond their advertising work.

 

Dusit in his first spell managing Port

 

 

The wingback/fullback role presents two distinct and different options on each side. Nitipong Selanon (34) and Jaturapat (15) offer more defensive stability, however, in Kevin Deeromram (23) and Philip Roller(33) we have two great wingback options who will trouble anyone in the league going forward. Roller arrived from Rathaburi over the closed season, having finished last season as the top scoring Thai, all the more impressive as he did whilst playing wingback. Sadly Kevin starts the season recovering from surgery but ultimately when everyone is available, I hope we play the more attacking options.

The keeper situation still hasn’t been addressed and we go into the campaign with Watchara Buathong (1), Rattanai Songsangchan(18) and Worawut Srisupha (36) still vying for the starting spot. All three are decent and you’d suspect walk into a starting role at more clubs in the division than not. Yet all are flawed and you’d hope we’d at some point see one kick on or sign a top keeper.

The midfield pair of Ko/Go Seul-Ki (8) and Siwakorn (16) are firmly established and l don’t see them being displaced come the start of the season. They are ably supported by understudies Charyl Chappuis (6) and Kannarin Thawornsak (31), who again in a sign of the depth of the squad at Port would be a starting pair at most clubs outside the “big 5”. The attacking options at Port are somewhat more bohemian that fits the image of a Dusit team. I’ve got no idea how he fitting the plethora of talent at his disposal into a team. You imagine that Sergio Suarez (5) will be a starter, having developed into one of the league’s star performers in the years he’s spent in Klong Toei. The Bordin (10) Kevin combination down the left is always enjoyable to watch and get the better of the vast majority of teams. There’s also Pakorn Prempak (7) who appears in the best shape of his time with the club and scored one of the goals of the ACL group stage. All supplemented by a battalion of flair in Tanasith Siripala (11), Nurul Sriyankem (13), Nattawut Sombatyotha (45) and the returning Sansarn Limwattana (69).

Not often you get a Port preview with no mention of the fans or PAT atmosphere

 

Key Player – Nelson Bonilla

The one area where Port are light on numbers is in the striker department. Adisak Kraisorn has had to return to Legoland (thoughts and prayers fella) and Yannick Boli has moved on to Chiangmai United. In comes experience Thai league performer Javier Patiño (30) another of our annual raids on Ratchaburi. I expect him to be primarily used as a backup. As it will be Nelson Bonilla having been resurrected to the squad who starts most games. At his best Bonilla is deadly, the kind of cold blooded finisher seldom seen in Thailand. Sadly the last couple of seasons have been beset by injuries. Whilst there have been flashes of return to the levels seen for Sukhothai, they’ve not lasted for a run of games. If the El Salvadoran hitman finds his way back to that form for a prolonged period, combined with Dusits nous, this after all is a manager who topped the league at the midpoint last season relying solely on the attacking prowess of Chenrop Samphaodi and Siroch Chatthong, then Port are well on route to a successful season.

 

 

One of the best goals in recent years at Port, captured in a great shot by Allie Suwanrumpha

 

My Prediction – I’m the party pooper as Port aren’t.

 

 

I’d love to be writing that we’ll end up champions here but I just can’t. That said l still think there will be massive progress this season. Especially if certain outside forces at the club focus their attention on more international matters and let Dusit get on with the job he knows how to do and they don’t. Its not impossible we surpass the more fancied BG and Buriram but l think its more likely we ended up third, edging out Chiangrai and Bangkok United in the battle for the ACL spots.

 

 

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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