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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.

 

The Wasp Killer: Port FC vs. Prachuap Preview

 

Having bounced back from the disappointing 1-3 defeat against Sukhothai, Port will try to make it a perfect week by securing their second home win in a row against second placed Prachuap. The relatively straightforward 4-1 victory over Trat will likely not be replicated on Saturday though, with Prachuap (one mental game against Chonburi aside) having one of the stingiest defences in the league thus far, as well as one of the most prolific forward lines.

 

Prachuap FC

Players to Watch

 

Having weathered the African storm against Trat, Port will be back to facing the more familiar sight of a Brazilian duo up top against Prachuap. I’m struggling with which one of the two is more dangerous, as both Caion (10) and Matheus Alves (7) have been superb in their own ways so far this season. Alves is the more creative of the pair, with his jinking forward runs frequently causing mayhem in opposition penalty areas, but he also has a dangerous shot on him, which Port will really have to watch out for when he drops off his striking partner Caion. Caion is the big goal threat though. He’s one of those strikers who isn’t especially big, strong or quick but seems to constantly get himself in the right positions and find a way to score. Dolah (4) and Todsapol (6) must be weary of giving him any room at all in the box, as one way or another he’ll find a way to score.

 

 

Prachuap were underestimated last season because of an assumed reliance on a different but also excellent forward line of Doumbouya and Reis, but this season it’s been clear there’s much more to this squad. New signing Artyom Filiposyan (16) was a very creative signing who has made a huge impact for them. Whereas just about every team in the league has signed a Korean midfielder or centre back this season, Prachuap opted to look to central Asia and sign Filiposyan, who is an absolute man mountain, and stick him in front of the defence. Such was his physical dominance in week 2 of the season that I picked him out as my player of the week, whilst also noticing an uncanny resemblance, both in aesthetics and temperament, to fellow loud-mouth rule-breaker Alex Jones.

 

 

 

Then at the back there’s Montenegrin centre back Adnan Orahovac (22), who has quietly become one of the best centre backs in Thai football in the last two seasons. He’s been partnered with new Buriram loanee Nattapon Malapun (27) who has impressed so much this season that was a surprise pick to start in Thailand’s upset victory over China a few weeks back. Solid.

 

 

The other top Thai threats are Amorn Thammanarn (17) on the left flank, Chitpanya Tisud (11) through the middle, and even two national team strikers Siroch (35) and Supot (9) on the bench. This side has a lot going for it, and Port are going to have to match or surpass their attacking form against Trat to break through this much more stubborn rearguard.

 

 

Form

 

Second in the table. They’ve put Muangthong, PTT Rayong, Chainat and Most recently Korat to the sword, and been beaten by Buriram and Chonburi. The one thing that Port fans can be encouraged by is that in their three away games so far, they’ve lost two and won one, although in fairness their opponents have been Muangthong, Buriram and Chonburi.

 

Port FC

Learning From Mistakes

 

I dished it out to Port’s players after their immature reaction to adversity in the Sukhothai game, but the worst offenders in the team really looked like they’d learned their lesson on Wednesday. The referee was an absolute disaster, particularly when it came to Boskovic (23), but the Montenegrin showed rare restraint, routinely laughing off the ridiculous decisions given against him. The result was relative calm throughout the team, who responded to the comedy refereeing, as well as Trat’s fortunate equalizer, with a collective coolness we haven’t seen from Port so far in 2019. Full marks, boys.

In terms of personnel, we saw Kevin (97) subbed off early with what looked like a niggling muscle injury, so Kevin must be a doubt for Saturday, but Sumanya (11) will return after serving his one game ban for his red card against Sukhothai. Also pushing for a chance in the starting XI is a Sandpit favourite Arthit (29), who once again not only inspired a flood of Port chances after his introduction, but also had the ball in the net twice (one, which would have would have been a goal of the season contender, was ruled out for offside) in yet another fantastic cameo appearance. The only natural striker in Port’s squad is long overdue a real chance in the league. Come on, Jadet, don’t just wait for the cups.

Who to drop in case of the return of Sumanya or the inclusion of Arthit is the real question though. Bodin seems like the obvious answer to accommodate Sumanya, but The Fresh Prince’s performance on Wednesday was among the best in the team. Leaving Siwakorn (16) out is another option, but one which Jadet has showed absolutely no interest in so far this season.

For Arthit there are also several options, but there were also several top performances from starting players, who would be hard done by being left out. I have found a solution, though. Boskovic has started every game and returned one goal (from the spot) and one assist so far this season. Arthit has plundered two goals from a handful of substitute appearances. Port need to reward good performances to maintain a competitive attitude throughout the squad. It has to be possible to play your way in to the team, and picking Pele for his first start of the season would really show that. Do it Jadet, DO IT!

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 


 

As always, those who like to support our sponsor The Sportsman are welcome to watch the game there on Saturday 6th with the usual big screen, sound and 99 baht Tiger pints on tap. There is also a 10% VIP discount on drinks for those who wear a Port short or mention The Sandpit. Kickoff is at 17:45 on True4U.

 

Pussycats Swatted in Second Half Clawing: Port FC 4-0 Nakhon Ratchasima FC

 

 

“Well, that was good, that was good” – a post match mantra I seemed to have repeated ad nauseam, according to Tim: on the terraces, in the Sandpit and probably while going for a piss. After not witnessing a Port win since I flew off to East Timor on July 3rd, it was certainly, for want of a better word, good. Mind you, my repetitive endorsement didn’t quite match that of the English translated, official Port FC website headline, “The Dock back to form a cataclysm, cataclysm, cataclysm.”

Port went into this game knowing that they would probably need to win all of their remaining 5 matches and hope that Muangthong dropped points against, most likely, Buriram and Bangkok United to secure that third place. With Dolah suspended and Pakorn (7) returning, Port lined up with what, for once, was a reasonably discernible formation: 4-3-3 with emerging Sandpit cult hero Arthit (29) leading the line. And lead it he did, doing the things a centre forward should be doing, that is, occupying a forward position, mostly in the centre. Bosko (23)take note.

Having previously compared him to a poor man’s Wuttichai, I am warming to Arthit. I grew up next to a farm and the lambing season was a highlight of the agricultural year. It was charmingly endearing to see the lambs emerge bleating from the womb, staring dazed and bleary eyed, not quite sure where they were, then suddenly discovering that they had legs, but unsure what to do with them. They would then gambol off, albeit unsteadily, and seemingly in several directions at once. It was this image that always came to mind when I watched Arthit. His 1980’s short shorts only exaggerated his enthusiastic, but barely co-ordinated leg pumping. I was prepared to give him a second chance.

Although the little lamb failed to score he didn’t disappoint. In a one-sided first half, Port laboured to break down a stubborn SwatCat defence. I’m not sure how many numbers Dominick was able to cross off on his Korat absentee bingo card but they certainly seemed to have their midweek cup-tie on their minds, displaying very little attacking ambition, with their only shot comfortably clearing Zone B.

At the other end, Suarez (5) and Boskovic had shots blocked from close range while Nitipong (34) tested goalkeeper Cunningham with a rare left foot shot after a good run across the box. On 31 minutes Arthit, who had linked up well with Pakorn and Bosko, made a smart turn in the box, skipped past the next defender only to place his shot straight at Cunningham. This was the perfect chance to achieve hero status and he slightly blew it. However, this did not seem to deter him as minutes later he met a Suarez cross with a clever, outside foot bender, again well saved by Cunningham with an athletic tip over the bar.

Scoring goals has been a struggle in recent matches and Port fans would have pondered over their half-time Leos whether or not this was going to be another frustrating evening. Then Nitipong, spotting that Toby had failed to return to the terraces after his half-time beer, burst into the box to chase a lofted clearance and was brought down by a lunging Chanatphon. It was a clear penalty in spite of the shameful, pathetic protestations by a few Korat defenders, led by soon to become arch-villain American/Thai Cunningham. Why referees cannot, in these instances, book the very first protester to send a strong message is beyond me.

The only debate now on Zone B was, Bosko or Rochela (22)? Bosko’s last attempt was pathetic but he is bigger than Rochela so it was a question as to whether the armband topped the arm-wrestle. There was a brief and seemingly amicable discussion on the edge of the box before El Capitan placed the ball on the spot and dispatched it into the corner with the minimum of fuss, as he always used to.

On 62 minutes, the spurned Montenegrin worked the ball cleverly on the left hand side of the box before sending over an inch perfect cross to an unmarked Suarez who elected to side-foot volley rather than attempt a simple, stooping header. It was an unfortunate choice as the volley inexplicably cleared the crossbar to send Zone B into gasps of exasperation. A minute later the fragility of Port’s single goal lead was exposed when a Swat Cat free kick into the box just eluded the flailing leg of marauding defender Kantapot.

Port continued to attack; Nurul (31) replaced Boskovic on 70 minutes before the first of three stunning goals lit up the night. Siwakorn (16) played a forward pass, Kim (8) dummied, being fouled in the process, to allow the ball through to Suarez who turned and worked his way past a bevy of retreating defenders before hammering a right-foot screamer past a hapless Cunningham.

Bodin (10) replaced Arthit, whose first half promise had faded, and then it all got a bit silly. My beloved Siwakorn, whose shooting prowess had been ridiculed at every wide and scuffed goal attempt, picked up the ball to the left of the box, worked himself into a shooting position and sent a beautiful curler inside the keeper’s left hand post. His look of disbelief mirrored our own.

There was still time for the game to slip into the realms of childhood fantasy with the insertion of Sammy Slot (11). Just twenty-one, Sammy is a Danish Thai with a proper surname as well – Christensen. Sammy, whose name is reminiscent of a character from children’s cartoons Trumpton, Camberwick Green or Captain Pugwash, is a headline writer’s dream and Sandpit correspondents will be preparing their puns as I type. ‘Sammy Slots In Seamlessly’ can kick you off.

He was not on for long enough to affect the game (he provided the assist for Siwakorn’s goal actually – Ed). That was left to Bodin, who finished a glorious sequence of one-twos with Nurul to cap a fine second half performance by Port.

Four goals, a clean sheet – just what we needed. In fact, that was good.

 

The Sandpit Man of the Match: Arthit

There were no real stand-out players, but several decent performances against a poor Nakhon Ratchasima team. Port play well when Suarez plays well and he had one of his better games today. Siwakorn worked himself back into a bit of form, capped off with a superb goal. However, I started with him so I’ll stick with him. My Man of the Match – Arthit, for turning me into a Believer.

 

Editor’s Note: This result marked an historic moment for Port, as it took them to 52 points – their highest ever total in the top flight of Thai football.

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk: Training Day

 

Port returned to training on Thursday, giving fans the opportunity to see some new arrivals for the first time, as well as bid farewell to some of the old guard.

Among those spotted in action at PAT Stadium for the first time were attacking midfielder Bajram Nebihi, wingers Chakrit Rawanprakone and Terens Puhiri and defensive midfielders Athibordee Atirat and Kim Sung-Hwan. It seems that fellow new arrival Dragan Boskovic has not yet returned from his holidays, but is expected back soon.

 

We think Jadet probably prefers standing next to Terens Puhiri (r) rather than Bajram Nebihi (l)

 

The super-fans from Facebook group เกรียนสิงห์ท่าเรือ also caught up with Port’s latest signing around the back of Zone A. The man in question is 23 year old forward Arthit Butjinda, who joins from Buriram and will add depth to Port’s striking options, although his rather underwhelming record in lower divisions suggests that depth is about all he will be adding. Well, that’s the current state of Thai strikers for you! If Arthit doesn’t whet your appetite, bear in mind that Muangthong have just brought in Chenrop Sampaodi from Police Tero, who has netted just 3 times in 61 T1 appearances.

 

Arthiti Butjinda. Photo by เกรียนสิงห์ท่าเรือ

 

For those player-spotting in the coming days, Nebihi was seen wearing number 18, Chakrit number 8, Puhiri number 88, Athibordee number 92, Kim number 39, Nurul number 31, and Bodin number 15, although these could well change. Additionally, Pakorn has switched to wearing number 7, and two players from the youth team are taking part in first team training. Forward Chanayut Jejue ha been seen wearing number 29 and 99 shirts, while Sarawin Phakdeekan is wearing Pravinwat’s number 55 shirt (his loan from Bangkok Glass was only 6 months, and is now finished.)

 

Chanayut and Sarawin

 

There were also some players in plain-clothes who were bidding farewell to their teammates, namely Pakasit Sansook (2), Ekkapoom Potharungroj (8), Wuttichai Tathong (14) and Piyachart Tamaphan (23). These four, all over the age of thirty, were very unlikely to see any significant action in Port’s much-improved 2018 squad, and have been sensibly released. Pakasit, who has been running a coaching school with former national team star Datsakorn Thonglao, may well decide to hang up his boots, but Piyachart will return to Ubon UMT, where he spent the second half of 2017 on loan. He will be joined in Isaan by Wuttichai, and both will be coached by former Port boss Gary Stevens next season. Whilst we’re largely glad to see fat being trimmed from the squad, it’s always sad to see a fan-favourite like Ekkapoom move on. He has yet to find a new club, but we hope he finds himself playing regularly in either T1 or T2 next season!

An additional departure which was announced on Wednesday was Narakorn Khana, who along with Ekkapoom fell victim to the influx of new wingers. Narakorn was scooped up from BBCU after their liquidation last season, but failed to make an appearance in the league, and will be playing for Navy in 2018. It can also now be confirmed that defender Pravinwat Boonyong, who came in on loan after Hansson’s exit last season, has returned to parent club Bangkok Glass.

 


 

Phew! There’s of course a lot going on, with more arrivals and departures expected over the coming days, so we will do out best to keep you posted. Happy New Year from Transfer Talk!