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Worawut Saves! : True Bangkok United 1 – 1 Port FC

The latest Bangkok derby was an edgy affair, played out in a raucous Thammasat Stadium, with Port running off into the night with a point earned by a late penalty save by Worawut Srisupha. In season’s past, this was normally a fixture where Port would capitulate but they stood toe to toe for much of the game and gave a better account of themselves than last week’s draw with Police Tero.

 

Much of the improved football was due to coach Dusit’s insightful team selection. Clearly, he had worked out from last week that he didn’t have the personnel to play the formation that won him the championship at Bangkok Glass. ‘Baresi’ Namvech was the fall guy in defence, dropped for left back Jaturapat, which helped pair up Dolah and Rochela more closely as 2 traditional centre backs, and in came Siwakorn for the much maligned Tanaboon to add a little more guile in the midfield. This reshaping of the defensive line and holding midfielders was key in helping the attacking quartet of Bordin, Suarez, Pakorn and Bonilla play more direct and effective football.

 

Port started the brighter team and in the fourth minute, Pakorn played an early long ball down the right channel for Bonilla, who drove into the box with intent and fired a deflected shot off Thai ‘international’ Bihr that hit the crossbar. At the other end, ex-Port bête noire Heberty flashed a free kick past the Worawut’s post, then headed over from close range. 36 minutes in and Port snached the first goal; Bordin played a searching ball along the left wing for Suarez to chase but the smart money would be on Bihr to see the ball out. The tricky Spaniard tenaciously wrestled Bihr off the ball and raced into the box to square to Freeeeeeeeeee Nelson Bonilla to slot home his first goal of the season from close range.

 

Nelson Bonilla celebrating his opener.

 

A deserved lead but United didn’t take long to equalize. Roared on by the famous Thammasat atmosphere in their next attack, they worked a long ball into the box to midfielder Thossawat who squared the ball to our old friend Heberty but was denied by a swift intervention from Siwakorn. The ball remained in play on the left and Vander Luiz, a constant threat all match, took possession just on the edge of the box. He then preceded to pull Siwakorn’s pants down with a simple turn and fired the ball into the far top corner. For all the quality of the finish, questions must be asked as to why Siwakorn didn’t hoof the ball into touch in the first place and then allow Vander to go past him with a simple yet deadly piece of skill.

 

The niggly football in the first half was replaced with a much more expansive style of play in the second with both teams happy to attack. Port had several chances with little end product, the closest a corner in the 63rd minute which Dolah met but couldn’t direct towards the goal. Then United took control of proceedings, regularly bearing down on the Port goal but thankfully most chances were wasted by their new striker Anthony Carter. If I was the owner of Bangkok United I would be scrambling around for the receipt from his transfer because I would definitely want a refund after his poor showing.

 

Always a bit of spice to BKKU V Port. Wisarut goes in on Bordin.

 

Then the match defining moment; the 85th minute saw yet another United attack and Carter managed to nudge the ball back to the advancing Heberty. He took a touch and then fired the shot at goal, only for Dolah to block it with his left arm. Cruel on the defender who was having an excellent game up until then but it was a clear penalty and to his credit he didn’t complain to the referee and disconsolately accepted his fate. Heberty, who let’s be honest didn’t make many friends during his time as a Port player to put it mildly, stepped up against Worawut, a goalkeeper who hasn’t had a solid start to the season to put it very mildly as well. The crowd, hushed but expectant for the winning goal, watched Heberty run up to the ball and crack a powerful shot to his right but not out of range for the save. Worawut guessed correctly and dived left, punching the ball away with both hands. The punch was good enough for the onrushing Anon to spoon the rebound over the goal. The crowd was truly silenced but it cued pandemonium from our redeemed keeper, who is known to enjoy an on pitch celebration of his own saving prowess. Both sides huffed and puffed for the remaining minutes but to no avail and the referee called time on an entertaining second half.

The save and moment of the match as Worawut denies Heberty

With 24 hours to reflect on Port’s performance the only way to view it is positive; a much improved team selection prompted more effective football which, granted it wasn’t perfect, showed what the team is capable of. We displayed grit and determination during some of the tougher moments of the match and held our own in the on pitch battles. I’ve seen Port battered for 90 minutes in this fixture previously and although we couldn’t replicate the smash and grab victory of last season I feel there are better things to come after this match. 2 draws from our first 2 matches is hardly breathtaking stuff but we’ll take it and search for a victory in the next match.

Missing penalties in successive matches would put quite a dent in any normal ego, we suspect Heberty however will be fine.

MOTM: Worawut Srisupha

 

He bloody saved a late penalty from Heberty! Who else was it going to be?

 

“Look at his face, just look at his face”. Worawut with another classic reacion.

 

 

 

 

Siv-a Me Timbers – More aggression required in midfield Bangkok United v Port Preview

 

Another weekend: another game! Thai football is back, and all fans will be hoping for a much improved performance on matchday two. Personally, I was left with mixed emotions after the opening game of the season, largely due to the fact that I was quite proud of how we’d recovered after finding ourselves 2-goals down. My annoyance: the fact that we’d been 2-goals down in the first place. Considering that the club had the advantage of a somewhat competitive pre-season due to the Asian Champions League, there should be no excuses for some of the performances that we were forced to endure.

There were close to a handful of players who let us down on the weekend, and although I’d like to name them, I think it’ll be quite noticeable who I was less than impressed with when selecting my preferred team for the weekend.

 

Coach Dusit with issues to address in training.

 

For a moment though, let’s travel back for the ‘key moments’ of our game against Police Tero:

5’ – A sloppy pass from Tanaboon results in a cheap turnover, with Evandro receiving a penetrating pass from Honey. Port players jog casually in their attempts to close him down, nobody actually moves towards him to block his route to goal, and the Brazilian lets rip from range. 1-0, and whilst it was a good strike: Worawut should’ve done better. It went straight over his hand!

22’- After Bordin was unable to connect with a Pakorn cross/shot a little bit earlier, a lovely cross from Bonilla is met by the head of Sergio Suarez. It wasn’t the most powerful header that you’ll ever see, but it was placed perfectly, and it was a deserved equalizer for us. This would be the only moment of the game that you’d notice Bonilla actually on the pitch for us, apart from him appearing to almost cause the Tero players to erupt later in the game.

24’ – He’s done it once already: surely he won’t do it again..? Every time I watch this back, it just makes me angrier. The tracking of him from Tanaboon when Evandro received the ball was… pathetic. He’s not even sprinting, trying to catch him, and simply put: it was unacceptable. Again, I think that a defender should’ve broken the line to try and shut him down, but this was an even better strike than the first. Nothing Worawut could do about this one, it was a cracker.

29’ – VAR is called upon for the first time. Personally: I didn’t think it was a penalty. Firstly, I’m not sure about the contact, but more importantly: Sergio was never reclaiming possession of the ball. The right decision was made, so all the “Port get dodgy pen, after dodgy pen” conspiracy theorists can put away their tinfoil hats.

32’ – Hands down some of the worst goalkeeping that I’ve seen in the past 5-years, and it enables Tero to double their lead. I won’t talk about this too much, as it just makes me want to throw my laptop out the window. At least my decision to call Honey a key player for Tero in my season previews was vindicated! 3-1.

40’ – A decent ball in from Roller eventually ends up at the feet of Bordin, who has an effort on goal. Ekkachai attempts to block the ball, and in my opinion, his arms are far enough away from his body for it to be a penalty. Let me be clear: 5-years ago this wasn’t a penalty. The rule changes, interpretations, and all the other nonsense that has crept into the game have made this a penalty, and although I’m glad we got it… it’s still somewhat farcical to me.

44’ – So the VAR and subsequent protestations took 4’: what a great addition to the game it is! Anyway, the pen from Rochela was bang average, and the ‘keeper knocks it into the post. Cue a goalmouth scramble, and we’ve got ourselves back into the game at 3-2.

54’ – Bordin forces a good save out of the Tero ‘keeper, Roller gets the scraps, cuts it back to Sergio, who places the ball brilliantly into the back of the net. 3-3, game on, and if the fans were in the stadium: an atmosphere that would’ve made the Tero players crumble.

 

That’s the end of the goalscoring action, and though there were other moments worth noting, I probably delved too much into the game already. My apologies! I only hope that Dusit had a fair few stern words for the players in the change-room after the game, because although we came back to draw: those are the games we need to be winning if we’re to have any chance of silverware this season. Do I think silverware is likely? Not really, no, bar maybe a cup competition. Do I hope we win the league: of course! I’m just trying to be realistic, and although we now have a good coach in the dugout, there’s still the issues that we’ve been speaking of on the terraces since I began going to games in 2016.

Let’s touch upon Bangkok United in their game against Chiangmai United for a moment. Firstly: their away jersey looks horrendous. Secondly: the goal they conceded was as comical as the 3rd goal we conceded to Tero. Thirdly; Heberty might’ve scored a nice equalizer, but he took the ball off his teammate’s foot in order to do it: meaning he’s still extremely selfish. Fourthly: his penalty miss was a delight, so thanks Nont! Fifthly: Heberty scored the winner, which gets a major BOOO from me. He’s shown more emotion for Bangkok United in 1 game this season than he ever did for us. My memories of him in a Port jersey, are just of him sulking, shooting from 40-yards at least 4-5 times a game, and popping up with a few goals… he still looks like he’s sulking for Bangkok United.

 

 

Nont saves!

 

 

WHAT I WOULD LIKE TO SEE FROM US AGAINST BANGKOK UNITED

Simply put: better organization. I’m hoping that the majority of our work on the training pitch this week is focused on our defensive shape, as we all know how capable we are in front of goal. The goalscoring potential in this team isn’t an issue in the slightest, and on another day… we score more than 3 against Tero. We hit the woodwork, forced a few saves, and so on. Our attack isn’t our weakness at all. It’s what we’re doing at the back that’s the main concern for me, and I’m confident that over time… it’ll be fixed. I do think that we’ll need to make some changes mid-season to fix it properly, and I’m of the opinion that Dusit will be looking forward to the mid-season transfer window very much.

All I ask of the lads against Bangkok United is they just look competent defensively. Track your runners, shut the opposition players down before they’ll shoot, and my god: PLEASE don’t concede from a set-piece for a little while.

Oh, and if we can give Heberty a bit of stick over the 90’, that’d be great too!

 

HOW I’D LIKE US TO LINE-UP

 

GK – Watchara or Rattanai. Basically: anyone but Worawut. Let him sit on the pine for a few weeks.

 

RCB – “Baresi” [Worawut]. Shift him over to the right side.

CB – Dolah. Charge him with organizing the backline, and allow him to break the line if someone is going to shoot from range.

LCB – Thitathorn. Natural left-sided player, get him in the XI, and place some trust in him.

 

RM – Roller. No complaints about his performance at all.

CM – Siwakorn or Kannarin. Never start Tanaboon again, hopefully, that performance was enough to convince Dusit to sell him again.

CM – Go. Whilst it wasn’t his best performance, he was much better in the second half in my opinion. He’s still a quality player, and if we don’t ask him to babysit his midfield partner: we’ll be better off.

LM – Bordin. He was a delight, but PLEASE OH PLEASE, NEVER SUB HIM FOR NURUL AGAIN. In my opinion, it’s time to ship Nurul out: he’s finished.

 

AM – Pakorn. HOW GOOD WAS HE!? I’ve never seen him in such good shape… EVER. I thought he was great in the ACL, and I thought he was good on the weekend too. His set-piece delivery and crosses were threatening most of the time.

AM – Suarez. The amount of times he’s gotten us out of a mess is remarkable. A great performance, he’s the first name on the team sheet.

ST – Nelson [begrudgingly]. His assist was nice, but if he could actually be a menace for 90’, that’d be great. He’s [probably] auditioning for his spot in the second leg, and his performance against Tero wouldn’t have helped his cause.

 

IN CONCLUSION

With the game to be played at Thammasat Stadium with no fans in attendance, I’m assuming that the best port of call to watch the game will either be at home, or at The Sportsman. I apologize for the long write-up, the somewhat “rant-iness” [yes, I made up a word] of it all, and I hope to see us get 3-points on the weekend! It should be a good game to watch, and I only hope that Thitiphan doesn’t make us regret not getting a deal over the line for him during the transfer window with an imperial performance against us. Regardless: susu Tarua!

The match will be shown live on AISPLAY (possibly limited to AIS network users) and NNU-5 at 18:00 on Sunday 12 Septermber, 2021. Fans are not allowed to attend the game, so 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.

you all knew it was coming

 

 

 

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The Sandpit 2021/22 Big Guess Up -Bangkok United

The Thai league’s eternal bridesmaids head into another season, like every other recent one, hoping that this is the year they get over the line and bag some silverware. This season marks a new era for the Rangsit club. Mano Polking departed the club all the way back in October last year, as a flying start of five straight wins was followed by four straight defeats. While this summer has seen Sanrawat Dechmitr and Anthony Ampaipitakwong depart meaning there’s now very little of what would be termed the core Polking era players, left at the club.  The addition of Thitiphan Puangchan, means they still have some stellar performers on the books. Make no mistake the signing of Thitiphan was a huge coup, this was the captain and driving force that powered BG to the title last season. If there’s a power shift out in the Rangsit countryside this transfer will have played a major part. He is about as good as a Thai midfielder gets in our book. Could he be the cliché missing piece that United have been hunting for the past few years?

 

Thitiphan Puangchan, enjoying the Bangkok United matchday experience

 

Head Coach – Totchtawan Sripan

The Sandpit jury is still very much out on Totchtawan. He won the title at Muangthong in 2016 having inherited by far the best squad in the league, before seeing it surpassed by Buriram and ultimately departing as the gap widened. Thereafter there hasn’t been a whole heap to get excited about in his ventures back into club management. Since taking over, in mid-October, at the excessively large Thammasat Stadium, there have been times when the football has been scintillated (the 5-1 win over Chonburi springs to mind). Whilst with the new regime firmly established, the February restart saw the Angels flying, winning nine of the remaining fourteen games and losing just twice.

However, worrying since the change of manager they are yet to win against any of their fellow “big 5” in the league with a record of three draws and three defeats. Chiangrai adding a further defeat in FA Cup semi final, the same stage they exited at in 2019 (who could forget that one).

 

Totchtawan Sripan, no idea what’s going on but it beats another manager pic in a nice polo pointing at something

 

Key Players  – Michael Falkesgaard.

 

Arriving from Midtjylland in 2017, for his first two seasons the Philippines international was the best keeper in the league by some distance. Last season saw a major dip in form. There was still the occasional flash of what he is capable of, for example, two world class saves at the PAT kept his side in the game as they trailed 2-1 and allowed them to go on and rescue a point. Given the standard of keeping generally seen in Thailand if he gets back to his best, we are looking at a player who’s worth is as much as a twenty goals a season striker.

 

 

Michael Falkesgaard. BKKU generally have nice kits, unless you’re a keeper.

 

My Prediction – Good luck in the cup.

There’s a core of a really good side here. Falkesgaard is worth a 5/10-point swing over any other keeper in the league if he can return to his past levels. The centre back pair of Manual Bihr and Everton are a great double act, who dovetail into somewhat more than their individual parts (as anyone who’s seen Bihr play for the national team will know). Throw in Thitiphan and the creativity of Vander. While upfront they have Nattawut Suksum who was joint seconds top Thai scorer in the league. Joining him is one of the more interesting arrivals of the transfer window, Anthony Carter; a 6ft 3 Aussie target man from Académico de Viseu in Portugal’s second tier, who could cause all sorts of havoc for Thai defences.

On the flipside is the eternal issue of Heberty who looks every bit the ego player for BU he was for Port. Killing breaks and ensuring he’s the centre of everything, to the detriment of the team. A squad that doesn’t quite get up to the levels of the top two contenders and the worry that that pool of strikers is a bit light if Nattawut can’t kick on to be a 20 goals a season man and/or Carter doesn’t hit the ground running.  Meaning it’s going to be a league campaign that’s more about battling for ACL qualification than the title, as third place is achievable and they have the quality to put together a decent cup run.

 

Heberty: You Can’t Always Get What You Want

 

 

So farewell, Heberty Fernandes de Andrade. Another foreign player disappears (up to Pathum Thani) and, among the foreign contingent of Port fans, it seems to be a cause for celebration. I was hardly his biggest fan but I’m also slightly disappointed to see him leave after so short a contribution. After an anonymous writer’s critique was published on this fine website recently, I decided to break cover and write a counter argument but if I’m honest I will spend a lot of my time deconstructing the negative aspects of his short time at Port as much as talking up the positives.

 

Leaving at the same time as cult hero Josimar, it’s clear to see two very different levels of appreciation. Josi’s dedication to the club was true and, over two periods he applied himself and his efforts and goals garnered the fan’s love. Herberty’s loan period has been a victim of COVID but this is hardly an excuse to base the article around. The transfer wasn’t his ideal choice and the only thing that interested him was an extortionate salary the club chose to give him and subsequently realised was a ridiculous figure. He did turn up for matches and I won’t just rely on his stats (played 9, 7 goals & 2 assists) which are more decent than most. His contribution helped us to bag vital points in the title race in matches such as Trat and Buriram away. He also can’t be blamed for the lights going out against BEC Police Tero and he wasn’t on the pitch for the defeat at home to Bangkok Glass. We have just qualified for the ACL group stages for the first time and he is one of the players responsible for achieving this.

 

Let’s analyze the makings of a poorly thought out transfer and start with the club’s recruitment policy. Heberty was this season’s Sumanya or Kaluderovic; a signing who was disinterested or a poor fit for the club. Port has very little clue when it comes to the acquisition of players; basically an agent bends Madame’s ear or we buy someone totally unnecessary (the Aksornsri twins spring to mind currently). Muangthong needed to unload a raft of players due to financial instability and Port saw an opportunity to acquire talent. Adisak was required; Heberty, Adisorn and Chappuis weren’t. Returning to my original point, both Sumanya and Kaluderovic didn’t last long so it’s no surprise Heberty was moved on once his loan contract expired.

 

The annual this glamour signing will be different photo-shoot

 

Lets also touch on his former club; they’re our biggest rivals and originally this felt like a transfer coup similar to Sol Campbell to Arsenal but very quickly became clear it was far from that. To make matters worse he returned to watch his teammates not long after making the switch. Maybe for Thai fans this is acceptable but not for foreign fans; your allegiances are with your new club. And it’s perhaps this attitude which translated itself onto the pitch and supplanted his undoubted ability. A speculative 40 yarder instead of a short ball to a better positioned player, a mazy dribble with no end product instead of an early cross. Heberty’s play was hampered by his selfishness and over-confidence, and although he formed a good understanding with Suarez it was clear they were too similar to be in the same team. He’s been one of best players in the Thai league in recent years but he certainly isn’t a player who brings balance to a team. Who knows, maybe Oud could have gotten more out of him over time?

 

Most football fans are fickle and their opinions at the end of the day count for very little, and sadly also amplified in this social media age. Players come to teams from time to time and you wonder what’s the point of them or why are they even there? Many will soon struggle to remember the pedestrian Panamanian striker Rolando “Tony” Blackburn who also joined us on loan, and those who do are quick to criticise his contribution, but in his short time he scored crucial goals and helped us on our winning FA Cup run. Part of football are these fleeting cameos and sure they might not do exactly what you want in every game but they do contribute something to the bigger picture. I know many of you won’t change your opinion but that’s fine, it’s part of football, and the post-match debate can be just as enthralling as the actual match, but there have been much worse players to put on the hallowed Port shirt and someone else will be in the firing line for our criticism soon enough.

 

So cheers for what you helped us achieve Heberty, but don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

 

All smiles, the peak of his time with Port.

 

Next Week: Tanaboon – A Modern Day Matthias Sammer

 

Bizarre Love(less) Triangle – Port, Heberty and The Sandpit

 

It was a move that generated a lot of buzz in the pre-season, and I’m not going to lie: I was quite excited initially when Brazilian attacker Heberty was signed. That being said, my initial excitement then became “wait, how will we fit him in!?” to “oh, for goodness sake, he’s killing our attacking movement.” The early signs courtesy of the Leo Pre-season Cup weren’t too good, but despite us not looking all that convincing, we still managed to pick up a [completely pointless] piece of silverware. More silverware beckoned surely!?

What I saw during pre-season from Heberty wasn’t good. He looked moody, somewhat disinterested, and to me, he was disruptive to the team. The incessant shots from 40-yards that didn’t stand a chance of hitting the back of the net, his unwillingness to make a simple 5-yard pass to a teammate in favour of spraying a 40-yard pass that was intercepted or lacked direction: he frustrated me to no end. It’s been blatantly obvious for years that we’d needed a ‘scary foreign striker’ and let’s be honest: Heberty isn’t that. He’s an attacking midfielder, and we already had a brilliant attacking-midfielder in the form of one Sergio Suarez. Whilst it’s probably fair (to some) to say that Heberty is a better player, there’s something that Suarez is far better at: working with his teammates! Shock, horror, exactly the thing you’d expect from someone playing that position.

Don’t get me wrong, the statistics attached to Heberty’s time in Thailand are impressive prior to arriving in Klong Toei:

 

 

 

When you factor in the 29 assists that he’s credited with for the 2018 and 2019 seasons for Muangthong, it’s obvious that his [statistical] output was phenomenal.

During his two 2 spells in Thailand, he won a solitary Thai League Cup in 2017 with Muangthong, as well as the Mekong Club Championship in 2017: a moment that would surely be the pinnacle of any player’s career.

 

A surly celebration after scoring away at Trat. Presumably shhhhing some home fans.

 

It goes to show how statistics don’t show the whole truth. For all of his stat-padding, he’s never truly achieved any measure of success in his career, and the way he plays (for himself, not for his team) is the very reason that he’s stuck playing in Thailand, and not still playing in Japan or the Middle-East.

 

Heberty looking miserable playing for Ratchaburi

 

During his time at the club, Heberty scored 7 goals in 11 appearances, in his latest showing of blatant stat-padding. He was a part of our disastrous Asian Champions League campaign that ended before it was able to start, and he was also credited with 2 assists on Transfermarkt, so I’ll mention that too.

What I felt of his performances for the club was this:

The goals and assists may suggest he had a huge role for the team, but our attack was disjointed, and it was 100% because of him. His insistence that everything had to go through him meant we missed out on plenty of goal-scoring opportunities. That said, there was moments against Trat and Rayong where I thought he was quite fantastic, possibly even turning things around, before being disappointed by him the next time he stepped onto the pitch for us.

 

I thought he liked them? Seemingly forlorn at signing for Muangthong.

 

It’s no secret that we’ve looked a much better side without him in the line-up, with it appearing that we’re now much more balanced. Bordin is now giving every fullback in Thailand nightmares, and is certainly benefiting from receiving the ball a bit more often. Every member of the squad is pulling their weight during the game, nobody is shirking their defensive duties, and our performances can almost be described as ‘workmanlike’ at times under Coach Oink.

I don’t think for a single second that this would’ve been possible with Heberty still at the club. You know what they say, though: one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. After departing Port, there was supposed interest from China (I’m calling bollocks on that one), before perennial under-achievers Bangkok United decided to sign him. Considering he looked miserable to be playing for a club with a stadium atmosphere that’s almost unrivaled in Thailand, at least there’ll be no fans at the Thammasat Stadium to be disappointed with his apparent lack of enthusiasm to be at their club.

Also, with the way that their players behave on matchday, he should fit right in, but in a completely different way, which I guess will make a nice change for neutral viewers that are searching for new reasons to not like Bangkok United. Just watch the way they attempt to intimidate the referee, scream bloody murder when they dive and don’t receive a penalty: you’ll be given plenty of reasons to not like them within the first 30-minutes.

 

This one I can understand. I’d have a bit of a strop on too, if I’d just had to take a big pay cut.

 

Shopping Boli

With the departure confirmed, a foreign spot has opened up, and the rumours say practically unanimously that it will be filled by Ivorian striker Yannick Boli. If Boli is to arrive it’ll be interesting to see what happens with Nelson Bonilla, who has looked incredible since his return from injury. If we’re to sign Boli, and keep Bonilla, I’m honestly excited by the goal-scoring options that we’d have on our books. Throw Adisak into the equation (sorry Tom) and there’s depth that is probably unrivaled league-wide.

Also departing the club, as mentioned in a previous article, is the incredibly likeable and all round good guy Josimar. I’ll never forget his goal last season against the Scum, as I was on an eight hour ferry ride back home. I’m surprised that I didn’t wake anyone with my celebrations of the goal, and I envy every person that was in Zone B for that special moment. I hope he’s picked up by a fellow T1 side, so that we can give him a proper send-off and express our gratitude.

 

Dolah In The Bank

In much brighter news: Elias has re-signed with the club! I was quite concerned that we were going to lose him, and I’m pleased that we’ve locked him in for the next two-and-a-half years. That goal-line save in the derby on Wednesday was a nice reminder of just how important he is to us and may be the catalyst for inspiring a big second-leg for him. If Nishino wants to win a few things with Thailand, he’d be wise to drop the ticking time-bomb Manuel Bihr and start Dolah ahead of him. Just my two cents!

With the mid-season window ahead of us, I’m sure there’s plenty of excitement [and possibly a cluster-youknowwhat] around the corner that will have us all scratching our heads. With the team looking fantastic at the moment, I’d like to see minimal changes, though I expect we may see a few of the fringe players depart on loan-deals at the very least.

With vendors allowed back at PAT for the recent FA Cup game, and performances on the pitch consistently good: there’s plenty of reasons to be excited.

 

Note From The Editor

We know plenty of you liked Heberty, so if you’d like to write a riposte with a different opinion on his time at Port, get in touch. If you like you can do it without your name appearing, as this author did.

 

see ya grumpy

 

Wut a Performance!: Port FC 3-1 Bangkok Utd (Friendly)

 

It may have only been a pre-season friendly, but for me this was a hugely significant result – in over six years of following Port, I had never seen them beat Bangkok Utd, and whilst the result means nothing in terms of points or prizes, the ease with which Jadet’s side eventually dispatched their perennial bogey team certainly bodes well for the coming season.

Not that we were there to see it of course – due to the ongoing virus situation the stadium was surrounded by a cordon sanitaire, with only players, club staff and match officials allowed in. Even the hallowed Thai FA media pass, which would normally get you into Fort Knox, the Vatican and Area 51 without any questions being asked, was cutting no ice with the PAT officials on this occasion, so we decided to watch the game in the fashionable and upcoming district of Bang Chak, in Buddy’s Bar & Grill, a bar run by a Port fan who was more than happy to stick the game on his big screen and watch with us.

Bangkok Utd began the game ominously, despite missing several of their big cheeses, looking sharper, fitter and simply readier than Port, who looked laboured and were giving the ball away with frustrating regularity. And it was no surprise when they took the lead on 23 minutes, albeit with a huge helping hand from some calamitous Port defending, Kevin (23) nodding past an onrushing Rattanai (18) into his own net.

However, somewhat against the run of play, Port levelled ten minutes later. A lovely pass from the impressive Adisak (9) put Suarez through on goal and the Spaniard seized his chance, chipping over Falkesgaard to make it 1-1. At which point Port arose from their slumber and started bossing the game, with only some iffy finishing preventing them enjoying their half-time KFC in the lead.

The second half began in the same vein, with Port’s tails up and BU shrinking into defensive mode. Early in the half Jadet brought on the excellent Kannarin (31) for the lethargic Chappuis (17), and immediately Port’s energy levels shot up, increasing even further with the introduction of the livewire Nattawut (45), one of the most exciting young players we’ve seen at Port in a long time. Five minutes into the half Port took the lead, with a deep Suarez cross to the far post being turned in by Kevin, thus atoning for his earlier OG. And 18 minutes later the game was put beyond doubt when the excellent Nattawut skipped past several BU defenders before firing home a powerful shot past Falkesgaard, who made some excellent saves to keep the scoreline respectable.

A phoney war perhaps, but that fact that Port beat one of T1’s most fancied sides (and the current table-toppers of course) without getting out of third gear should give them considerable optimism as the league restarts. They will struggle to accommodate their wealth of talent, particularly in attack where Heberty again looked like a great player in the wrong team, and in midfield, where several quality young players are competing with a few older lags for places (no prizes, sadly, for guessing who will win that particular contest); but the fact that most of the squad have been playing together for a long time, and their familiarity with the ways and tactics of Sir Det, suggests that Port will have another bright season. The blind spot over signing a decent goalkeeper remains, but otherwise Port have assembled a squad that is more than capable of competing with the best and if they are ever going to win the title, this is the season.

The Sandpit Man of the Match – Sergio Suarez

The silky Spaniard picked right up where he left off in March, and was at the heart of everything good that Port did.

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2020 Vision: Bangkok Utd

 

Once again, the much-fancied Angels flattered to deceive in 2019, coming up trophyless once more despite having arguably the strongest squad in T1. But with Mano Polking still in charge of a squad that has been together for a long time, could 2020 finally be their year? Here’s Svein Falk Lorentzen with his thoughts…

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Weeping Angels: Port FC vs. Bangkok United Preview

 

I can’t very well start this preview without first addressing the tragic events that unfolded on Wednesday morning. A bus carrying a group of Port fans to the away cup fixture with Nongbua Pitchaya was involved in a deadly accident, killing 5 people and injuring 3 more. Among those in the Port bus were fans that will be familiar to any regular visitor to PAT Stadium. The tireless leader of Port’s fan club who we all know as Spiderming has passed away. Saman, who carries his Pakorn banners with him home and away week in week out is in critical condition. Doubtless other fans will have seen or had personal relationships with others in that bus, and their absence will touch each and every one of us. Every Port fan contributes in his or her own way to the community that all of us know and love, and after this terrible accident that community will never be the same.

Rest in peace to those who passed away. Condolences to their loved ones, and the Port community as a whole. Those still in hospital, we wish you a speedy recovery.

There will be a service before the game on Saturday to commemorate those who have passed, starting at 17:00. Port fans are asked to wear black as a sign of respect. There will be a collection to support the grieving families.

 


 

With all that said, what follows is obviously very trivial. It’s never felt more trivial. Nevertheless, we go on with our previews and our match reports because it doesn’t feel right that we should stop what we’re doing in response to this horrific event. Did Spiderming ever stop?

 


 

Port have come through a succession of tests so far this season, and in most we’ve passed with flying colours. The ill-disciplined fiasco at Sukhothai is the only real black mark against us; we’ve shown incredible fortitude in securing a late goal to nick the 3 points away at Chonburi, we’ve gone to the SCG and beaten our biggest rivals, we’ve recovered from a goal down with 15 minutes to play to overcome Suphanburi, and we’ve won comfortably on a wet Sunday night in Chainat. The draws against Chiang Rai and PTT Rayong are the only other games we haven’t won, and in both cases the opposition employed negative, roughhouse tactics to grind out a draw. It happens.

With that said, the latest test Port face is the biggest yet this season. Bangkok United may not be among the top dogs in the table just yet, but in the last two seasons they suffered from a slow start before surging up the table at around this point in the season. They’re also a team with a habit of doing well against Port (our last league win came in 2010), and in recent seasons have come up with some really outstanding performances in doing so. Whether its luck, coincidence, or coach Mano Polking having the edge on Jadet tactically, something needs to change if Port are going to defy the spell The Angels seem to have us under. Maybe it already has.

 

Bangkok United

Players To Watch

 

I’m getting stuck in to this preview with plenty of time to spare, so rather than pick out a few of Bangkok’s top talents, I’ll just go through the team I think Mano is going to pick.

 

The Goalie

He needs no introduction, having produced one of the best goalkeeping performances I’ve ever seen last season at PAT Stadium. Michael Falkesgaard (1) is the top stopper in T1. Just wait ‘til he gets a load of Pakorn’s corners, though!

 

 

The Back 3

This season Bangkok United have gone out and brought in the players they feel like they need to make a back 3 work. Interestingly though, none of those players are themselves part of that back 3. One of the outstanding defenders of 2018, Everton (3) is a key man for The Angels, and one of the best foreign defenders in the league. No problem there, then. His partner is no-nonsense Thai-German Manuel Bihr (4) who, similarly to his counterpart at Port Elias Dolah, adds that extra physical presence without violating the foreign player quota. Bihr is a little more prone to error than Everton, but he’s worked his way in to the Thai national team set-up with a couple of years of solid defending. The third man is where Bangkok have had to experiment to find the right fit. After losing first choice Mika Chunuonsee (16) to injury early in the season, Mano first tried Puttinan Wannasri (5) in that position, before temporarily switching back to a back 4. Most recently Wisarut Imura (37) has been dropped back from midfield to fill in, but the youngster isn’t a natural there, nor does he have a lot of experience under his belt. Whichever formula Mano goes with on Saturday, it’s not ideal. Maybe going with a back 4 and using the system that Bangkok have used to such devastating effect in previous seasons is the way to go. Over to you, Mano.

 

The Wing Backs

Two of the players that Mano did bring in to make his system work are right wing back Tristan Do (7) and left wing back Peerapat Notechaiya (31). Tristan Do is of course a national team stalwart, and on his day he’s probably the best wing back in the league, although he’s not very popular among the Port faithful. Expect him to get plenty of stick on Saturday. Fellow ex-Muangthong full back Peerapat similarly has plenty of national team experience, although I’ve made it no secret before that I think he’s one of the most overrated players in the league. Naturally he must be compared to Kevin. So far in 2019… Kevin (LB): 2 goals, 2 assists; Peerapat (LWB) – 0 goals, 0 assists. Is it too soon to say I told you so?

 

 

The Midfield

I’d be lying if I said I could reliably guess who Mano is going to pick in his midfield. Thai-American holding midfielder Anthony Ampaipitakwong (6) has been wearing the captain’s armband recently, so he’s a dead cert, but alongside him either Pokklaw Anan (10) or Sanrawat Dechmitr (29) could equally get the nod. Both are excellent players, but Port fans will more likely remember Sanrawat for some devastating performances he’s put in against us in the past. I’ve always thought that he’s not a big game player though, so don’t be surprised if he reacts to a tough game by curling up in to a ball and crying. He does it for the Thai national team all the time.

 

The Forwards

Another area where injury has deprived The Angels of a key man in Vander Luiz (8). Anon Amornlerdsak (27) has stepped up in the creative role with some promising performances to help ease the loss, but the youngster still only has a goal and an assist to his name. Not great. Then there’s star man Nelson Bonilla (9). The Salvadorian striker has been impervious to his teammates struggles this season, netting 8 times in 8 starts, and he also stuck more goals than I care to remember past Port for Sukhothai last season. Mano’s biggest dilemma has been who to put up top with Bonilla, or whether to go with an extra creative player. Big new signing Mike Havenaar (9) seems to be the perfect foil for the main man, but the two have not been used together much yet this season, with the big Dutch-Japanese forward struggling for fitness early in the season and scoring twice in 5 appearances since his return. Mano also has many more options at his disposal, like using Sanrawat Dechmitr in a more advanced role, or bringing in one of their wingers Jakkapan Pornsai (13) or Rungrath Poomchanturk (17). Supersub Teeratep Winothai (14) will likely be brought off the bench if Bangkok United are in need of a goal, too.

 

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 

Form

It’s not been good enough so far. Bangkok haven’t won back-to-back since the third gameweek. Since then they’ve lost to Buriram, drew with Korat, lost to Chonburi, beat Suphanburi, lost to Chainat, beat Prachuap then drew with Chiang Mai. That’s 3 losses in 10 games, which is too much for a team with title ambitions. Bangkok have to find consistency, and a couple of injuries is not a good enough excuse. After all, Port have had to deal with the loss of their captain in week 1, and have missed several key men through injury and suspension for various games since. Our squad has coped, and so far Bangkok’s hasn’t.

 

Port FC

Trying To Keep It Together

 

Until Port reserves, who understandably may not have really had their heads in the game, slumped to a 2-3 defeat away at Nongbua Pitchaya in the League Cup, things were going rather well on the field. Jadet still has selection dilemmas to deal with, but his problems are the best kind of problems.

Newly minted national team member Watchara (1) will keep goal once again. He has kept clean sheets in 50% of his games since coming back in to the picture in the tail end of last season. Solid.

Rochela (22), despite nearing full fitness last week, has suffered a setback and will not be available, so Dolah (4) and Todsapol (6) will continue in the heart of defence. With both Kevin (97) and Panpanpong (19) unavailable, third choice Yossawat (32) seems to be in line for his first start of the season (he came off the bench against Chainat) unless Jadet opts to play Adisorn in the position he played a large chunk of Port’s last T2 campaign in. I’ve always been a fan of Yossawat; he’s got an absolutely wicked left foot, and I’ve always thought that he’s a better all-round player than Panpanpong. Here’s his chance to prove it. Nitipong (34) starts at right back. Duh.

Go (8) and Siwakorn (16), who is lucky to be available after narrowly avoiding his fourth yellow card last time out, will continue in the engine room, but ahead of them is where Thai League Manager of the Month Jadet will have to earn his money this week. Thai League Player of the Month Bodin (10) is a no-brainer on the left, but whether or not Jadet opts for Sumanya (11) or Nurul (31) on the right is the big question. Sumanya is a quality player, but he’s not a natural wide man, and this throws Port off balance, with the team so used to having Pakorn (7) hug the right touchline. Nurul, as he showed with his stunning chipped finish after being brought off the bench, is the man for the job on Saturday. Come on Jadet, let the penguin at ‘em!

Up front Boskovic (23) is well and truly in the groove now, and will fancy adding to his recent flurry of goals against his former team, while Suarez (5) will continue providing the ammunition. There’s not a player in Port’s team who isn’t worth their place right now.

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True4U And True Sports HD2 at 19:00 on Saturday 18 May, 2019. For those who can’t make it, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound. Don’t forget to wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.

 

Mano Polking: “Port & Buriram Are the Strongest Teams”

 

Port take on 2018 runners-up Bangkok Utd in an absolutely HUGE clash at the PAT this Saturday (19:00). We’re excited, you’re excited, and so is BU coach Mano Polking! We had a chat to Mano to get his thoughts on what is a crucial game for both teams’ title ambitions…

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Know Your Enemy: Ariel Strikes

 

With a catch-up game between Chiang Mai and Chainat scheduled for Wednesday, I decided to delay my run-down of gameweek 9’s results. Unfortunately that means my memory of almost two-week old games is less than crystal clear, but I’ll do my best!

 

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