Posts

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.

,

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…

Read more

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…

Read more

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!

 

Read more

This Is The End: Bangkok United 2-1 Port FC, Port FC 1-3 Buriram United

 

It’s the hope that kills you isn’t it? I mean I’m a simple man with simple, everyday hopes; I hope the weather’s decent today, I hope there isn’t a hair in my takeaway, I hope they have proper toilets and not one of those squat jobs… But when it comes to football those hopes are elevated to something much, much bigger; glory and the sweet taste of victory against all comers. Maybe it’s the adrenaline mixed with testosterone and alcohol but pragmatism and rationality are quickly discarded when it comes to footy.

Last Sunday the Spider Ming Express, sponsored by Blend 285, zipped up to The Thammasat University Stadium with a group of supporters buoyant that maybe, just maybe, we can get a result against our bogey team which would take us level on points and keep the impossible dream alive. Jadet shuffled the pack and went for a back 3 with Adisorn (13) at RB, kept new boy Anon (20) in the XI and dropped the seemingly undroppable Pakorn (7); clearly he had a game plan in mind.

 

 

The game plan worked a charm in the first half and in the opening minutes Port took the lead; a well worked corner was flicked on by Suarez (5) and found Boskovic (23) unmarked at the far post for a simple header. Cue pandemonium in the away end followed by a nerve-shredding, backs-to-the-wall 40 minutes with Port continually on the defensive and rarely pressing forward. Things got better as we purchased cans of Leo in the car park when Bangkok were reduced to 10 men with Wanchai (24) receiving his marching orders for bringing down Kim (8). The Leo tasted even sweeter now so surely this was our time?

 

 

WRONG. Port held on like a boxer taking a Tyson-level beating against the ropes until the 82nd minute when Sumanya (11) drove into the box and his shot got a slight deflection off Rochela (2). Then, as the minutes ran down, we had a rare attack and worked the ball well into the box for Kim to lay the ball off to Chakrit (9). The ball was asking to be spanked into the net but what followed was the turning point of everything; a shot so woeful you would pull clumps of hair out of your head and smash your pint glass on the floor (don’t worry, it’s plastic and only backwash left). Then the gut punch; United snatched a winner with the final kick of the game; a screamer from Pokklaw (10). It’s a rare moment when the Port faithful are silenced but as I watched the players lie dejected on the ground there was no sound from the away end, just the distant cheering of United supporters, then out poured the screaming and frustration and finally the final whistle. There is no feeling quite like it as you walk out of the stadium covered in drizzle and disappointment.

Although it felt sickening I personally couldn’t complain that much about the performance; Jadet gave them a game plan that they stuck to for 80 minutes but then the substitutions altered the team shape and fatigue really set in while chasing a winner. The better team won with their quality and perseverance, and anyway we’ve got a cup tie against the champions on Wednesday and we’re going to give them hell and propel ourselves into the semi-finals right?

 

 

WRONG. DEAD WRONG. The first half at The PAT was Chainat, Air Force and Police all rolled into one at home. It was the constant errors and mistakes we talk about in The Sandpit and on Facebook week in week out. It was the fucking pits so let’s get this over with. After the opening exchanges Buriram won a corner in the 15th minute and their tactic was to crowd the goal line to cause confusion amongst our defenders. The corner was whipped in and Rattanai (17) scrambled to push it against the crossbar for another. The second was deadly; Pansa (3) darted off the line to steer a header into the far side of the goal unmarked. Less than a minute later Buriram had doubled their led; Todsapol (6) was robbed by the Brazilian Osvaldo (17) who sprinted into the box and squared it to Supachai (9) for an easy tap in. 2 minutes and 2 goals but worse was to come before half time; a long ball from Tunez (5) reached Diogo (40) with Dolah (4) struggling to keep up. Rochela came across to clear but inexplicably sent the ball into his own net. I really don’t want to write any more about this.

There was a brief fightback in the second half and Port grabbed a goal back by playing some decent football, ending with Nitipong (34) playing a great through ball to Pakorn who finished past Siwarak (1). Port then had a sustained 10 minute period of attacking pressure with the substitute Artit (29) showing some endeavour and Boskovic continually testing the Buriram defense, as well as geeing up the crowd, but there was no end product and our opponents regained control and closed out the game. Let’s face facts; we were never really in the game and we shot ourselves in the foot. Twice.

So now there needs to be questions asked. Why did this go so badly wrong? What exactly were the tactics and were the players aware of their roles? Why didn’t some of you turn up (Siwakorn (16), Rochela, Kevin (97) – I’m looking at you)? An hour after the match I had already received my first “Jadet out” text but looking at the squad it’s clear some of the players aren’t good enough and there is no strength in depth. Training, fitness and tactics certainly need to improve as well. Buriram set a very high standard and we are currently a distant 3rd from them in the league but will Madame Pang and her underlings execute a real plan for next season and just carry on as we are?

Yes, it sucks to be a Port fan today and maybe as fans we have been too naive about the real prospects of our team but guess what? There’s another game against the champions on Sunday and mathematically we can still win the league (stop sniggering at the back) or at least affect the championship race. There’s also pride to play for and the chance to finish above The Scum so I guess there’s always hope right?

 

Man of the Matches – Kim Sung-Hwan

 

 

Not many candidates here so I’m giving it to someone whose form has improved, gave maximum effort in both games and, most importantly, cared. Dolah and Bosko showed signs as well but Kim was the one who showed it most. This photo of him after the United game speaks volumes about what it meant to him, If only he spoke Thai; he would be handing out a few red hot bollockings right now.

 

Jadet’s Big Bogey: Bangkok Utd vs Port FC Match Preview

 

After getting their season back on track against Police Tero last Saturday (albeit slightly fortuitously), Port travel to Rangsit this Sunday to face bogey team Bangkok Utd in a game with potentially huge ramifications in the race for the second AFC spot. Mano Polking’s side sit in second, just 3 points above Port after a recent dip in form. Not that form really matters in this one – Port habitually get battered by Mano’s team, having lost the home game this season 3-0 and having shipped 15 goals in 3 games against the Angels last season. My first away Port away game was at Bangkok Utd in 2015; we lost 1-0, and little did I know that that would be as good as it got.

 

The Form Guide (Last 5 T1 Games)

BANGKOK UTD: WDLLD

PORT FC: WLDWW

After a slow start, BU hit a purple patch of form and stormed up the table, topping it at one point. But their recent form has not been great, with defeats against Pattaya in the league and minnows Ranong in the League Cup proving particularly disappointing. However, they got back in the groove on Saturday with an impressive win against Chiang Rai, and on their day they’re by far the best footballing side in the division. Port, wracked by injuries & suspensions and no doubt mindful of their recent appalling record against the Angels, will not be looking forward to this one at all.

 

The Opposition

To get the lowdown on Port’s opponents this Sunday, I had a chat to one of BUFC’s few farang followers, Matt Jenkins…

How did you become a Bangkok Utd fan?

When I arrived in Bangkok 5 years ago, I was getting a fix of EPL on Saturday nights at a great time, in a good bar somewhere. But I missed the buzz of the buildup on the day, travelling to the ground, discussing with mates team selections and possible outcomes , a dodgy burger somewhere, and a read of the programme, and sticking a couple of bets on etc. I just missed ‘going’ to the football.

A mate suggested going to a game in Bangkok and I jumped at the chance – he’d been to watch Bangkok United FC play before (when they were playing at Thai Japan), so I joined him and another pal for the match… he rest is history!If I had done a bit more research, I’d have realised that Port FC was 10 mins from my home and had a big expat following. In fact even Dave Barraclough was trying to tempt me down early days. Though I’ve come to enjoy being only one of a small number of farangs that go to Bangkok United.

Tell us about Bangkok Utd’s season so far. Are you unhappy or unhappy with the way it’s gone? What would you consider to be a successful season?

Absolutely – Impossible not to be unhappy with the start to the season, breaking records for winning streaks, and playing some great football. The last few weeks have been tough, but was to be expected once the run had come to an end. Frustrating thing is, that we haven’t been ‘well beaten’ in games since then. We have just played poorly with an unbalanced / non settled side due to injuries. I think during our winning streak we made about 3 changes only to the starting line up. A successful for season for us will be holding second place now – it does feel funny that 3 weeks ago we were top of the league and in both cups, and that small blip has hurt morale. We hopefully turned the corner after the weekend, with one of the best team performances I have seen from us in a while. New players seem to be finding their feet.

Like Port, you’ve hit a bit of a slump recently. How do you account for this?

Injuries , not getting decisions our way, the week in Buriram where we went out on pens in the cup, and then lost 2-1 in the league game, in what was possibly the most biased refereeing display I have ever seen, a couple of our more creative players seemingly downing tools for a bit, playing needless passes, and pointing at others when they are the ones that need to create a bit of magic for us. Our back 4 changed more than a Nana short time hotel’s bedsheets in the last month, injuries to Mika, then suspensions for Everton, and trying to get the balance with Puttinan/Ekkachai on the left.

Which Bangkok Utd players should we be worried about?

For me , Everton has probably been our player of the season so far. Vander Luis is still very dangerous on the ball and can go past players in a flash. And depending which Dechmitr turns up, there is also a threat there. He probably put the best performance of any BUFC player I have seen this season in again Port at your place, but he’s way too inconsistent and doesn’t decide to control enough games.

Hoping our back 4 starts to get settled again soon, we looked so good and in control when they are all fit and available. We also have a keeper that will be pumped from his last game against you guys.

…and who are your weak links, if any?

Can’t tell you guys that 🙂 What I do like is that Mano brought in some good players mid season, and 100% will provide competition and cover for our weaker areas.

Most fans of other clubs have a bit of manager envy when it comes to Mano Polking. Do BU fans feel the love too?

Yup 100%. Settled, honest, communicative on Twitter with fans. His new contract couldn’t have come soon enough for me, and the club have done well to sign him on for a long term contract. For me also, the back room staff deserve a lot of credit, his team behind him are absolutely superb and engaging, and it’s that unity I think that allows Mano to focus on the team.

On the reverse, you mentioned on Twitter once that you have a bit of stadium envy when you visit Port. How hard is it to watch your team in a largely empty Thammasat? What more can your club do to get bigger crowds?

Ha…I remember writing that. That envy still applies (from a getting to the ground perspective, and the actual ground itself). Look I was probably a bit hard on Thammasat when I wrote that, we moved seats a few times, and tried different areas, and the view is better (but by no means great).
Its just too big for our fan base. I’m baffled why they open all 4 sides of the ground…putting the away fans in one of the sides (segregated) would create a better atmosphere.

I’ve been to a fair few away games this season (with some huge ground envy! Bangkok Glass & Ubon Ratchathani in particular) and we have some of the best and most loyal fans I have ever seen anywhere…we just dont have many of them. For an area the size of Rangsit/Thammasat I’m baffled as to why more people don’t attend to be honest. We do a good job on social media to promote the games and update news in both English and Thai.
The natural thing to want is a return the city, and a new ground, but we have to be realistic, attendances of 3000-4000 aren’t going to justify that.

Maybe if the club could scoop a decent EPL pre season friendly opponent it would raise some overseas following/awareness, that would hopefully trickle down to the locals.

How do you rate Port’s 2018 side? Which players are you most worried about?

You’ve crept up out of nowhere in the last few weeks, with some solid results.
I’ll be honest when we played you at your place, I wasn’t that blown away with your side, I though Terens looked good when he came on, and Nurul was clearly a good player.

But now Sergio is finding goals, and Boskovic is up against his old side, we will have some worry with your front line for sure. Will be a very different story from the last game.

Ex-BU striker Dragan Boskovic hasn’t scored as many goals for Port as he did for you guys last season. Why do you think we’re not quite getting the best out of him?

I was gutted and surprised when Boskovic left BUFC to be honest – he was so brilliant for us. He was a target man with good service, but could also create goals from nothing. He was the number 9 up there alone almost. I think he’s sharing that front line now at Port FC, and that’s become a little more difficult to adapt to perhaps? He’s always a threat, and I can 99% guarantee he’ll pop up with a goal on Sunday!

First half of the season , I looked back and thought – We got good money for him, and maybe it was his time to leave. The last few games we have played, I’ve reconsidered and actually feel he may have thrived in this current BUFC team.

Please share your recommendations for visiting fans on Sunday – pre-match food, drinks etc.

University area – so beers are limited (BYO) , the area out the front of the stadium (opposite side to the away fans) , is always good pre-game, with some decent food vendors, and drink sellers willing to sell some ice for those carried-in beers. I’ll be there on Sunday, so 100% come and say hello.

And finally, score prediction please?

Predicting a game full of goals as you try to chase us down, and we try to cement that second place. (Also depends on which colour shirt we go with)

Bangkok United. (Vander Luis, Everton, Pokklaw) 3-2 Port FC (Boskovic (no celebration) & Nurul) (Nurul’s injured, so guess that makes it 3-1! Ed)

 

Port Lineup

Injuries, suspensions and cup-related fixture congestion are forcing Jadet, never normally one to fiddle with his players (as it were), to dig deep into his squad at the moment. Saturday’s win over Police Tero saw three players making their Port debuts, and Sunday’s game could see a similarly unfamiliar lineup with Nitipong suspended, and Nurul (and possibly Dolah) still injured. Luckily though Port came through the tricky trip to Trat unscathed. Top league scorer Suarez limped off in the latter stages of the Tero win but played the full 90 minutes at Trat so will almost certainly start. Having recovered from his exhaustion (and has there ever been a less likely candidate for exhaustion at Port?) Pakorn should take his place on the right, meaning Bodin can move to the left and the Panpanpong/Kevin experiment can be consigned to the dustbin of footballing history where it belongs. The only uncertainty is in midfield – with Siwakorn and Adisorn available, will Jadet bring one or both of them back, or will he stick with Anon, who made a very impressive debut on Saturday? Adisorn started the cup win at Trat but was replaced in the second half with Anon, which proved the spark to Port’s spectacular comeback, so I suspect the youngster will keep his place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sandpit Predicts

Port are just not playing well at the moment and so, given our missing stars and our history against Bangkok Utd, I can only see more of the same this Sunday. 3-1 to BU.

 

Bangkok Utd vs Port FC, Sunday 29 July 19:00. If you can’t go to the game, or prefer watching football without the aid of a telescope, it’ll be shown on True, or you can join us at The Sportsman to watch on a big screen with beer discounts for anyone wearing a Port shirt.

 

Arbeitsverweigerung: Bangkok United 5-1 Port FC, FA Cup

 

No, the Sandpit is not now doing match reports in German, we’ve just run out of English words to describe the ineptitude of most of our players. The German word arbeitsverweigerung is translated by online dictionaries as ‘refusal to work’, but our resident Brummie Hun, Achim, offers a slightly more colourful translation: ‘lazy c*nts’. Quite.

 

Rochela was one of a few who put in a spirited performance

 

Port went for some slightly off-beat team selection, with Nitipong (34) playing out of position at left-back with Jetjinn (51) on the bench and Yossawat (28) not even in the squad. We once again started spectacularly, with a 9th minute Tana (99) freekick being toed past slow-reacting Kittipong (1) by a stretching Genki (18).

Port’s lead was to last all of 3 minutes though, as a cut-back from Mario (20) was clumsily diverted goalwards by Todsapol (6). Worawut (36) was wrong-footed and stood no chance as the ball rolled past him in to the bottom corner.

It wasn’t long before Boskovic (7) put the home side in the lead. Mario was once again the creator. His smart throughball found Jaycee John (22) in far too much space in front of goal. His simple square ball to Boskovic took Worawut out of the game, leaving the clinical Montenegrin with a tap-in. He could have walked it in the goal sipping a glass of champagne had he wished, so lax was Port’s defending.

Port never looked like keeping Bangkok’s advantage at just one goal, though, and it was sadly inevitable when Jaycee John got on the scoresheet. John is one of the finest forwards in Thai football, but remarkably is not even in The Angels’ T1 squad. I assumed he had already left Bangkok, but the Nigerian with a Bahraini passport has actually stuck around just to play in the cup. He looked suitably hungry for goals on this rare return to action, but once again he was helped by some less-than-enthusiastic defending. A cross to the far post by Mika (16) found John un-marked by a ball-watching Todsapol (6) who turned in a particularly wretched all-around display after his man of the match performance against Pattaya. Arbeitsverweigerung!

Port went in at half-time 2 goals down, but it could have been much more. Ten minutes after the restart, number four came courtesy of Thai-Welshman Mika (16), who had been putting it about quite a bit on the right hand side. Never one to shirk a tackle, he had irked the away support a couple of times with strong challenges, but the Port defence made no challenge on him at all as he headed home from a corner. It looked like Genki was supposed to be marking him, but was nowhere to be found as Mika powered home from 10 yards.

Bangkok really took their foot off the gas, content to maintain their healthy lead and save energy for their weekend clash with Muangthong. There was still time for Port to give away their obligatory penalty, though, and it was once again Dolah (4) who was the culprit. This has happened so many times now, it has to be addressed. Dolah is quite often beaten for pace, and decides the best thing to do is bring down whoever is going past him before he gets in to the area. Not a bad idea necessarily, but Dolah overestimates the ability of referees to adjudge that he is in fact fouling them outside the area. I can think of three occasions (against Muangthong on Teerasil, against Pattaya on Stojanovic and against Bangkok on Ede) where Dolah has deliberately fouled players right on the edge of the area, but they have fallen inside the area and the referee has pointed to the spot. Dolah has to re-evaluate his strategy, as it’s clearly not working. In an ideal world the referees would get it right every time, but in reality this is Thailand and they are rubbish. John did the honours from the spot in the 93rd minute to cap a fine man of the match display and condemn Port to a 14-2 aggregate loss over three games in 2017.

 

He’s outside the area, ref…

 

With these away trips to Thammasat stadium in far-away Rangsit the trip back can be a pain in arse after a heavy defeat. Well, not this time. Myself and a few others hitched a ride on the fan bus and let me tell you, this is something you absolutely have to experience! Even after a hopeless four goal defeat, music blared, fans sang raucous karaoke and Spiderming made sure everyone had enough beer to drown their sorrows. Forty baht per can from a massive cooler full of the stuff downstairs. Fantastic. A trip that would otherwise have been spent ranting about substitutions, penalties and rubbish defending was instead spent playing air guitar, bellowing out ‘Sing Jow Tha’ at full volume and having a whale of a time with fans literally dancing up and down the aisles. Imagine what it would have been like if we’d won!

 

All photos from the Bangkok United FC Facebook page.