A Change Is Gonna Come: Port FC V Buriram United Preview

 

 

First the big news. We’re going back in. Late on Friday it was announced that The PAT would be open to fans, with the capacity limited to 25%. From the pictures and reports of those who headed down to the ground on Saturday morning, it appears we could be heading for a sold out (quarter filled) stadium. And rightly so, when the fixtures for the season were announced back to back home games against that mob from Nonthaburi, that like to pretend they matter as a footballing and Bangkok entity and Buriram jumped out as the standout early season dates.  That Sunday’s second instalment of those, is also the league’s biggest game of the season so far, as the top two in the table meet, only adds to it. Come the conclusion of the game we’ll be just shy of a quarter of the way though the season and a win will put Port top*.

Even with a defeat, we’ll be where we realistically expected to be for the season. It’s just with the quality of football we’re producing going forward and the evolution of the defence into a Dusity unit, you can really believe for the first time in years that we can beat Buriram.  The quick to judge were very eager to talk down a Port defence that conceded 4 in its first 2 games, but they haven’t conceded with 11 men on the field since. Things are still not perfect and really, we were lucky to leave Chiangmai without conceding (they hit the woodwork twice in a scrabble from a corner) but things are progressing week on week.

We might as well get it out the way early, there can be few better examples of a team having the hex over another than Buriram over Port. We haven’t beaten them since April 2014 – (On that day the Buriram matchday squad featured the dashingly handsome young trio of Charyl Chappuis (6), David Rochela (22) and Javier Patino (30), all of whom would move on to bigger and better things from the little Isan club next to a go kart track).  Since then, it’s been pretty grim for Port, 11 league meetings, zero wins, 3 draws and an aggregate score of 24 to 8 in favour of the awfully nicked named Thundercastle. You can throw in a couple of FA cup meetings, a 3-1 loss at the quarter final stage in 2018 along with being dumped out on penalties last year and make it look even worse.  Not great but year on year we’ve got closer, the inferiority complex has gone, no longer would we celebrate a 0-0 draw like it was a famous victory. The Pang era has seen us rise up to an equal footing.

More of this again soon. Pic Humans of Thai Port

 

Where once Buriram looked at a trip to Klong Toei as a chance to pad their goal difference, don’t be shocked to see them arrive looking to first and foremost avoid defeat. This is a Gama team. We know Gama’s a planner, when required a stifler of teams and with Port’s line up overloaded with attackers, you feel the wiley Brazilian tactician will have something up his sleeve. Would he take a draw right now, probably, will he be planning to suffocate Port’s flair players and nick the game on the break, almost certainly.

I could go on with the nicely nicely approach of telling you how good Buriram are and that they were rightly almost universally favourites to win the league preseason. However, we’re getting back in, the products of mineral water advertising companies will be flowing and frankly right now going forward Port can take anyone. So let’s take them apart bit by bit and explain why Port can beat them.

Getting a read on where Buriram are this season isn’t easy, four of their opening six fixtures have been against teams expected to be towards the bottom of the table, in Suphanburi, Police Tero, Chiangmai and Prachuap. With only the Prachuap match being played away from their upcountry stronghold. They’ve beaten all of them bar an opening day draw with Suphanburi (and if you’ve seen the handball by Digão (26) VAR decided wasn’t a penalty, you’ll know why Suphanburi were disappointed with a point).

 

Still a penalty.

They’ve faced Bangkok United and Samut Prakan Dons in their other games and these give a far more realistic line of form (and mean l can ignore games l didn’t see). The fixture in Rangsit was a tough watch. Perhaps indicative of Gama’s plans when travelling to the divisions better teams to strangle games. Ultimately it was decided by two defensive blunders that swung the game in the favour of Bangkok United. For the first, it’s hard to know who’s more to blame. However, l’ll award the lions share to Pansa (3) who stands ball watching rather than picking up the run of Pokklaw, giving him free rein to bare down on goal and score. Some of the blame also must lay with Robin Sulaka (22) who is stood on the far side of the pitch a couple of yards behind the rest of his defensive line, if he’d held the line then the goal would have been disallowed for offside. Hardly the well drilled Gama defensive unit on that one lads. Not to be outdone Digão, will no doubt have been on the receiving of a few choice words in Portuguese from his manager for the second goal. He has the chance to deal with the ball but is outmuscled by his little surly compatriot Heberty and then doesn’t really put in much effort to stop him from getting a shot off. Keeper Siwark (1) gets the supporting role of blame this time, getting beaten at his near post. Never a good look for a keeper.

While they took all three points from a midweek encounter with Sumat Prakan Dons. Running out 2-1 winners at the smaller city stadium in Buriram. Taking the lead when Peeradon’s (5) free kick struck Chayawat on the arm, with a little over half an hour gone. Samual Rosa (91) stepped up to fire the resulting spot kick home. SPD were giving a good account of themselves and pulled level just before halftime as Eliandro muscled past Piyaphon (4) and blasted home. However, it was sub Suphanet (54) who would have the final say, getting on to a loose ball on the edge of the 6 yard box in the 79th minute and firing home. It was a harsh result on SPD on a night where they had the greater share of possession and made more passes than their hosts but equally probably one they deserved from some frankly offensive dayglo green away shirts.

Defensively Buriram appears to have been very solid so far this season allowing just 4 goals in their 6 games. However, 3 from the two games mentioned above.  Combined with the nature of the Bangkok United goals and the way that SPD were repeatedly cutting through them in midweek, is more than enough to counter the first impression. Added to that they are without Digão and Sulaka out injured, while Sasalak is on loan in Korea, what will line up on Sunday will be the weakest Buriram back line seen in years.

Then we have probably the most divisive player amongst sandpit writers in Peeradon, (for me) at his best and given space to exploit, he can use it wonderfully, as we saw in the hammering Port took at SPD last season, equally get on top of him early and he’ll often disappear, as we saw when Port hammered SPD at the start of last season. And it was very much the latter type of performance in midweek, as observed by SPD blogger (and major Peeradon fan) Phil who noted “Dropping deeper and deeper as the game wore on…. [he] had a bit of a shocker tonight and was unsurprisingly hauled off late in the game.” The plan must be for Go (8) and Siwakorn (16) to shut him down early and watch him fade from the game.

The main attacking duties are taken by Samula Rosa, who looks like a decent striker for Thailand, the problem with that is, this is Buriram and he isn’t Diogo, a major step down in class. He’s far better than some that have come and gone since Diogo and will be a major threat on Sunday, it’s just not quite what you expect from Buriram. He’ll likely be supported Supachai (9) and Supachok (19), with youngest brother and midweek score Suphanat on the bench. Along with their third foreigner Maicón (7), if Rosa isn’t quite top draw, this guy is rather mediocre on the evidence I’ve seen, very run of the mill Thai league Brazilian import.

While for Port all is looking rather rosy. With plenty of positives from recent performances. If I’m underwhelmed by Buriram’s attacking options, l couldn’t be happier with ours. Currently, there isn’t a striker in this division you’d swap for Nelson Bonilla (9). The fox in the fox is back on fire, with 5 goals in 6 games. Combined with the wide play of Pakorn (7) and Bordin (10) this is a front 3 that works and should keep those second string Buriram defenders up tonight worrying.

Nelson Bonilla, he scores goals…lots of goals.

While Go seems to love playing against Buriram, l have no idea what happened up there in the time the Korean was a Burriam player but there’s clearly something that inspires him to be at his best whenever the clubs meet and you love to see him up for it, going at 110% and bringing out all the dark arts.  At the back, Rochela has silenced all the knockers with some commanding performances this season and Pang’s decision to overstock centrebacks has looked wise as the fate of Tanaboon (17), who was subbed off in the derby injured, befell replacement Worawut  Baresi (24) up in Chiangmai, that we had a replacement of the quality of Dolah (4) to bring on, with Adisorn (20) still yet to be seen this season, speaks volumes. Compare it to the opposition on Sunday and BG Pathum’s current struggles and it’s clear who has the advantage on squad depth. Whoever lines up alongside El capitán is more than capable.

 

Prediction.

Whatever happens, it’s going to be great to get the matchday experience back. Football without the process of going and social side just hasn’t been the same and I’m looking forward to it. While for the first time we go into a match with Buriram feeling that we might not just be in it but possible should be favourite to get the result. Dusit got the better of Burriam 1-0 last season in both games with BG, so lets go one better. 2-0 Port.

 

Fans can attend the game, with capacity limited to 25%. Season ticket holders can collect their tickets from 1300 -1815 on matchday. The match will be shown live on AISPLAY (possibly limited to AIS network users) at 1830 on Sunday 9th October 2021. If you don’t have a ticket, the best way to watch with fellow Port fans is to head to The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 who will show the match on a big screen.

 

*Chinagrai United can usurp us by winning at Nongbua by a bigger margin but nobody wants to see that happen.

ooooh you wonderful things.

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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