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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.

 

Angels and Alcohol: Bangkok United vs. Port FC, FA Cup Round of 16

 

Port face the former, and traveling fans will most certainly be in need of the latter.

Port can’t be said to have had the luck of the draw in the FA Cup this year. Getting Bangkok United away is about as tough as it gets, although after Sunday’s five goal romp in Pattaya Port finally look to be regaining their confidence. The first half of the season under new-old manager Jadet saw Port score some stunning upset victories away from home at Muangthong and Chiang Rai, so with team spirit once again lifted following the departure of Zico Bangkok United will have to be wary of a re-invigorated Port.

 

Bangkok United

Players to Watch

 

With this being a cup game, it’s very hard to know who Mano Polking will pick against Port. United will certainly need a strong team – Port are not expected to be push-overs – but he will probably not employ all of the resources at his disposal. I have had a look at the team Mano picked on the weekend against Super Power, and am choosing my Players to Watch based on those who didn’t feature in that 4-0 win.

After getting a rest on the weekend, Teeratep Winothai (14) looks set to replace top goalscorer Dragan Boskovic (7) in the forward line against Port. No surprise really, considering that Teeratep, widely known as Leesaw, banged in 4 goals last time Port visited Thammasat Stadium, and was still popular enough among the traveling support to take selfies with the entire away stand. Cheeky beggar. Leesaw isn’t quite in his prime anymore, but Mano has the former national team superstar working harder than ever, and making an excellent all-round contribution. He’s notched up 8 goals and 4 assists too, which is pretty tidy for a player who has spent as much time on the bench as on the pitch.

Bangkok United’s captain Sanrawat Dechmitr (29) is one of the classiest Thai footballers in the game. He plays between midfield and attack, and has supplied much of the ammunition – 13 assists if you’re counting – that Boskovic (7) has used to fire himself to the top of the goalscoring charts this season. He is at the heart of Bangkok’s cultured attacking style, as Port fans may remember after he helped himself to an assist in both of their league encounters in 2017. If Port are lucky, the man who he shares the creative burden with – Mario Gjurovski (20) – could well be given a rest after starting against Super Power on Saturday. Nevertheless, Sanrawat is more than enough to deal with on his own.

 

Teeratep and Sanrawat

 

Never try to say Anthony Ampaipitakwong’s (6) name after you’ve had a couple of beers. This Thai-American holding midfielder made his name in the MLS for the San Jose Earthquakes, before moving to Buriram and then Bangkok United. He doesn’t do anything fancy – seriously, he doesn’t have a goal or an assist to his name in 2017 – but does a disciplined job in front of the back 4 and has a good range of passing. His willingness to do the hard yards, stay disciplined (just 1 yellow card this season) and play the simple passes makes him a rare and valuable commodity in Thai football.

Do try to say this Thai-German’s name after you’ve had a couple of beers. With any luck, you’ll get a top-up! Manuel Bihr (40) is a Thai-German central defender who played in the second and third tier of German football before being signed by Bangkok United in 2016. He struggled for game-time in 2016, but has earned the right to partner Yohan Tavares (32) with some solid displays in 2017.

 

Anthony Ampaipitakwong and Manuel Bihr

 

Form

 

Bangkok enjoyed a stonking run of 8 consecutive wins from the start of the second leg of the season, but a shock 1-0 defeat to Pattaya United put a dent in their top-2 ambitions, before a crushing 4-0 loss to Muangthong effectively wrote them off. Bangkok United now have 6 points to make up on second place Muangthong, but they also enjoy a 7 point cushion over Chiang Rai who are in fourth. Bangkok will still likely continue to focus their efforts in the league, where another Muangthong collapse is not beyond the realms of possibility, and staying above Chiang Rai in the table to secure the coveted play-off spot for the Asian Champions League is also of paramount importance to the ambitious Angels.

 

Port FC

Starting XI

 

Last week’s hero with his sensational dead-ball deliveries, Panpanpong (19), is unavailable for selection against his parent club, but right back Nitipong (34) returns after his league suspension, which is handy as his understudy Meechok (20) is a doubt after getting the shit kicked out of him for 80 minutes by Pattaya. Pravinwat (55) is suspended after picking up yellow cards in the previous two rounds, and Pakorn (9) is out of action for a month with the injury he picked up against Chonburi.

It seems likely that Jadet will continue with the 4-1-4-1 shape that served Port so well against Pattaya, which will mean Rochela (22) continuing in defensive midfield and Todsapol (6) replacing him in the back line. Todsapol made his long overdue return to action with a man of the match display last weekend, where he was magnificent in both defence and attack, and should once again partner Dolah (4), who was unfortunate to give away two penalties against Pattaya’s crafty Serbs. He deserves his share of the blame for having a handful of Stojanovic’s shirt, although that infringement was outside the area, but there was nothing he could done about Jevtic, who was intent on throwing himself to the ground regardless of what was going on around him. At full back, Yossawat (28) should replace Panpanpong on the left, whilst Nitipong (34) should return in place of Meechok on the right.

In front of Rochela will be Siwakorn (16) and Suarez (5), and out wide will be Genki (18) and possibly Tana (99) again. Alternatively, Ekkapoom (8), Jetjinn (51) or Narakorn (29) could be picked in place of the warbling winger, whilst if Meechok is passed fit, he could play at right back with Nitipong on the wing. Up top will be back-in-form Josimar (30), who has bagged 3 goals in his last 2 games, and is once again looking dangerous in front of goal.

 

Predicted Lineup

 

This is not quite the formation I wanted, but unfortunately Eurosport’s otherwise excellent Best XI lineup generator doesn’t offer the 4-1-4-1 formation that Jadet used on Sunday. Just imagine Rochela playing a bit deeper than Siwakorn.

 

 

The match will be shown live on True4U at 19:00 on Wednesday 27 September, 2017. For those who can’t make it to Thammasat Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will be showing the match on a big screen with sound.

 

Bangkok United; Port Divided: Port FC 0-3 Bangkok United

 

A very large contingent of Port fans – officially about 6,500 (Ed – LOL) – welcomed Zico to PAT this Sunday as Bangkok United paid a visit.

 

 

Taking my usual perch at the top of Zone A to watch the teams warm up the first thing that struck me was how fit the United players look in comparison to our squad. I must admit a fondness for Bangkok United, partially because one of their players, Anthony, is from my hometown and because the club has been built with a plan from the day they entered the top flight. Each season has seen a better squad and for the most part better results.

United started with their most formidable offensive lineup of Mario (20), Boskovic (7) and Leesaw (14). Also starting was their new Iranian midfielder Pooladi (9). Interestingly enough their other foreign acquisition Ede (17) was not in the matchday squad.

With the exception of Ittipol (7) in the midfield, Worawut (36) in goal, and Nitipong (34) at fullback, the Port lineup was as Tom predicted

As soon as the first whistle blew to begin the match it was obvious that Port were going to play differently in the Zico era. Wider passing lanes were created, passes were quicker, and the opposition was being pressured in their half. Modern football arrives at PAT. Some good early pressure from Port led to a Josi header that missed, but showed promise. Tough play in the opening half led to a slew of “Pakcorners” one of which resulted in a cross that Josi failed to make contact with. Port’s pressure continued to result in possession, but no real quality chances. BU’s Persian, a nasty piece of work, obviously frustrated by Port’s pesky players finally received a yellow after several warnings. One thought for sure if his antics continued he would be sent off. The last minutes of the first half brought BU’s first real chances of the match. First off, a Boskovic free kick that just missed the target and the second when the woodwork was rattled and Port struggled to clear. Port were the better side in the first half, but just as in Suphan the week before, the failure to capitalize was to come back and haunt them.

The second half began with Port in a less aggressive posture. Two quick yellows, one from Pakorn (9) and one from Ittipol (7) seemed to prod the team on a bit. Perhaps our best chance of the night came soon after the yellows when Josi was hit with a pass that saw him in front of the defender. Sadly as we have seen so many times this season, he was unable to convert this into a credible shot. However, Port’s play picked back up and things were looking good until the first substitution, Wuttichai (14) for Ittipol. At this point the game changed dramatically and swung in BU’s favor. No longer were Port the aggressors as Port gifted United the ball several times with a slew of unforced errors. Realizing his big Iranian was riding a yellow, United manager Mano Polking brought in Pokklaw (39) and BU began pushing forward. Pakorn who still does not appear fit after his extended absence from the team was subbed off for Tana (99), who has far from excelled on the wing this year. Mika (16) was removed in favor of Ekkachai (2) and BU were rolling and pushing the ball up at will. Finally it paid off with Nitipong committing a reckless foul in the box and Boskovic converting from the spot. Realizing that Port needed some speed Ekkapoom (8) was brought in for Genki (18), but the speed on the left could not make up for the lack of it on the right and in the middle. Another giveaway led to a Mario goal and Port were done. Just a few minutes later Boskovic scored on the break after heading a pass down to his feet. Zico’s first match ends 0-3.

 

Thoughts on the Match

 

It was great to see Port playing high-tempo modern football. After boring Jadet-ball, if nothing else, Zico will bring some pizzazz to the PAT. It also seems the players like him and will listen to him. With the right squad he could lead us far.

We are not fit enough to play this style for 90 min. One look at our team in comparison to BU tells you quite a bit. The BU players are all lean, ripped, and very well conditioned. I am sure their training methods are state of the art. I would bet they even have a dietician on staff as well. If we are going to compete we need to up the fitness a few notches.

Our offensive players are not producing. The last two matches we have conceded five and scored none. Last week the chances were there; we should have been home and dry by the half, but instead lost 2-0. We just don’t have the quality up front that we need in T1.

The foreign contingent will be the same for the second leg as it was for the first. Honestly, we needed an upgrade and were allowed two moves to do it. Instead we moved Maranhao (29) into the squad for Kalu (10) and then Kalu back into the squad for Maranhao. (Ed – waiting for confirmation on this absolutely damning rumour) To the best of my knowledge this completes our transfer window foreign quota. Just astonishing. How did this happen? One wonders where the goals are going to come from.

Why not bring in Kalu? I certainly expected the first substitution to be Kalu for Josi, not Wuttichai for Ittipol. Perhaps he could have found the target. Why not use him?

One hopes are that Zico saw some of the same things we did tonight and makes adjustments accordingly. There are some personnel issues to be dealt with on the squad.

 

Port FC Man of the Match

 

 

Honorable mentions to Prawinwat (55) and Jetjin (51), but my MOTM goes to Ittipol (7), whose hard-nosed play and passes kept us the better side in the first half. After he was subbed off, it was all downhill.

In closing it was a mixed debut for Zico, A first half filled with promise and a second to forget. I like the style; I just hope we have the men to play it. Goals are going to be tough to come by this leg. That’s obvious. As long as we stay up, that’s all that matters.

It does not get much easier as we are off on Wednesday to play an in-form Navy team at a stadium we have never done well in. We need the three points.

 

Zico Promises Hell For Angels: Port FC vs. Bangkok Utd, 25 June 2017

 

New Port manager Zico will take charge of his first game on Sunday as Bangkok United travel to PAT Stadium, and he has promised to make Port’s home patch hell for the visiting Angels. The side who put six past Port in the first half of the season are formidable opponents, but Port have made a habit of saving some of their best performances for the toughest opponents this season. With the fabled new manager effect also in play, what we have on Sunday is a highly unpredictable encounter between two sides who have shown both brilliant and dire performances in up-and-down seasons.

 

Bangkok United

Key Players

 

In the first half of the season I highlighted Mario Gjurovski (20), Dragan Boskovic (7), Jaycee John (22) and Sanrawat (29) as my key players, but in a shock move by manager Mano Polking Mario, Boskovic and John were dropped, and it was Thai National Team striker Teeratep (14) who took centre stage, netting four goals, and Brazilian trickster Gilberto Macena (10) who provided most of the ammunition.

Of the key protagonists in the tragedy at Thammasat Stadium, Mario and Boskovic have gone on to net a truly outrageous combined tally of 29 goals, whereas John and Macena have not made the cut for the second half of the season. Replacing them are German winger Chinedu Ede (17) and Iranian midfielder Mehrdad Pooladi (9).

 

 

Ede (17) is a former German Under 21 player who has spent his career to date in Europe, most recently scoring 6 goals in 48 games for Dutch club FC Twente. He has not yet played for The Angels, with his signing only being confirmed last week, but it seems likely that the German will make his debut on Sunday, whether he starts or comes off the bench.

Pooladi (9) is an Iranian centre midfielder who has been capped 28 times by his country. He started in The Angels last two games, but with Ede now in contention for a place, it would seem that Pooladi is most likely of the foreigners to drop out of the starting XI.

Teeratep Winothai (14) was Bangkok United’s star as he put four goals past Port in the 6-2 thrashing, although he has only managed one other league goal in the rest of the season. Fresh off putting another hattrick past Chiang Rai city in the FA Cup on Wednesday, many fans are calling for Teeratep to regain his starting spot against Port, although I think it’s more likely that he will start on the bench.

For my views on Mario – including a rather raunchy picture – Boskovic and Sanrawat check out my preview from the first half of the season.

 

Form

The Angels are on fire at the moment, winning 5 of their last 6 games and scoring a pretty scary total of 22 goals. They had an outrageous 9 goal thriller against Honda last week where despite leading 5-2 they almost managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, conceding 2 late goals and just about hanging on for a 5-4 win. Their only loss in the last 6 games came away at Buriram, where they succumbed to a 2-1 defeat. Impressive home wins against and Suphanburi and Sisaket, and a hard-fought 2-1 away win at Ratchaburi are the rest of The Angels’ recent results. All things considered, if there’s one thing we can say with relative certainty, it’s that there are likely to be goals in this one!

 

Port FC

Starting XI

 

Zico has a tricky first game on his hands, with suspensions ruling out Dolah (4) and Siwakorn (16), whilst Panpanpong (19) is unavailable due to the terms of his loan agreement with United. It seems that Pravinwat (55) is a straightforward replacement for Dolah at the back. With Zico having picked him in numerous national team squads, we know that he rates Port’s new centre half. In centre midfield, Piyachat (88) seems to be first in line to replace Siwakorn, although Zico could also go with Ittipol (7) or Tatchanon (39) if he decides to take a more defensive approach. At left back, Yossawat (28) may be unavailable after a family tragedy, so fellow new left back Jetjinn (51) could make his debut filling in for Panpanpong.

The truth is, though, that we have no idea what Zico plans to do with this team. Players who unexpectedly found themselves in the starting XI this season like Adisorn (13) and Nitipong (34) could well find less favour from Port’s new manager, with younger players like Tatchanon (39) and Meechok (20) possible replacements. With Zico only having had a couple of days training with his new players, it really is mystery what he will do.

In terms of Port’s foreigners, it really has been a messy affair. Just as Port announced the arrival of their new much-heralded manager, news of Maranhao’s departure was quietly making the rounds. The Brazilian forward, who had finally fought his way back in to the reckoning with an excellent performance in Port’s 0-2 defeat at Suphanburi, has been allowed to go to Sukhothai in a bizarre move which could see Suarez (5) and Kaludjerovic (10) hang on to their places in the squad, whilst new arrival Jadue (32) will likely only be available for cup action. The status of Spanish winger Asdrubal (27) is also unknown, both in terms of his fitness and his contract. We can only hope that Zico acts decisively, ending the period of uncertainty which can’t be much good for the players and looks very much like a farce to the fans. One way or another, a decision has to be made.

 

Predicted Starting XI

 

 

Key Battle

 

 

It’s 18 goals and 4 assists in 17 games so far for Boskovic (7). Bloody hell. Rochela (22) is sure going to have his hands full with the Montenegrin forward, and can only hope that the rest of the defence isn’t too busy being bamboozled by Mario (20), Teeratep (14), Ede (17), Jakkapan (77) et al. and have time to give him a hand.

 

The match will be shown live on True Sports 2 HD at 19:00 on Sunday 25 June, 2017.

 

Hells Angels Take Port for a Ride: Bangkok Utd 6-2 Port FC

 

Port’s first away game of the season ended in a crushing 6-2 defeat at the hands of last year’s runners-up Bangkok United. Port never looked competitive, suffering from poor team selection and a slew of under-par performances. Whilst Port were not expected to get a result at Thammasat Stadium, the manner in which we lost was discouraging to say the least.

 

Team Selection

Firstly, team selection was once again baffling. In a bizarre and totally unexpected move, 34 year old Suchon (11) made a rare start at left back. Whilst left back had been a problem position all throughout pre-season, defensive-minded Panpanpong (19) had his best game in a Port shirt last week against Suphanburi and looked certain to retain his place against an attacking Bangkok Utd. Suchon, who to my memory has barely started a game since 2015, looked completely off the pace, and never got close to holding his own against a quick, fluid Bangkok Utd attack.

Nitipong (34) at right back was perhaps even worse. Normally a right-winger, Nitipong has been shoe-horned in to the side at right back, with Jadet apparently being a big fan of his marauding runs forward down the right flank. Did the thought never cross Jadet’s mind that – against the side who finished second last season – picking a defender in defence might be prudent?

In midfield, it was more of the same. Adisorn (13) was once again preferred to Tatchanon (39) and Wanchalerm (40), despite all the evidence seeming to suggest that either of the youngsters would do a far better job at shielding the defence. Adisorn played an energetic but largely ineffectual 35 minutes before being withdrawn to make way for an attacking change with the team already 3 goals down.

Up front, Tana (99) was preferred to Kaludjerovic (10) and Josimar (30). After an impressive cameo last week, scoring a stunning goal and looking dangerous, this was not a complete shock. Tana, as he so often does, found the back of the net, and provided a bit of spark going forward, although he had relatively few chances to shine with Port largely preoccupied in defence.

 

The Action

As soon as the match started, Bangkok Utd showed why they finished second last season, creating chance after chance and looking by far the better team. In the 13th minute, Suchon (11) misjudged a pass which looped right over his head, but Rattanai (17) did well to get out quickly and block Macena’s (10) finish. Just 2 minutes later, Bangkok exploited a gaping hole in the Port defence, playing a well-weighted through-ball between Rochela (22) and Suchon (11) to find Macena (10), who was once again denied by a fantastic reaction stop by Rattanai.

 

Photo by Patikamol Sukcharoen

 

In the 19th minute, Bangkok Utd finally made their dominance count. Nitipong (34) was at fault for Port, trying to play tiki taka football inside his own penalty area and giving the ball away. Rochela tried to intervene with a desperate sliding tackle, but he missed the ball and sent Macena flying, giving the referee the easiest penalty decision he will make all season. Former national team star Leesaw (14) sent Rattanai the wrong way to open his account for the season, and make it Bangkok Utd 1-0 Port.

5 minutes later, Port once again sought to make their opponents lives as easy as possible. Suchon (11) was late on Ekkachai (2) in a position where he didn’t even really need to make the tackle, and although it was slightly less clear that the first penalty, the referee rightly pointed to the spot for a second time. Leesaw again buried his penalty in the bottom left corner, and after 25 minutes it was Bangkok Utd 2-0 Port.

Just after the half hour mark, things went from bad to worse for Port. A mishit shot from Sanrawat (29) found Pokklaw (39) in acres of space inside the Port box, and the Thai national team midfielder had time to take a touch, set himself and pass the ball past a defenseless Rattanai. Bangkok Utd 3-0 Port.

Three goals down and looking dejected, Jadet changed things up, bringing on Kaludjerovic (10) for Adisorn (13) and switching to a 4-4-2. It paid immediate dividends, although the goal was an individual masterpiece rather than a result of the switch. Siwakorn (16) glided past a couple of defenders and curled a beautiful shot over the keeper in to the top right hand corner from the edge of the box. The man who has kick-started Port comebacks in the past had given us some hope, and Port finally started to pick up their game for the remainder of the half. Bangkok Utd 3-1 Port.

Port started the second half brightly, threatening to get right back in to the game in the 57th minute when Siwakorn combined well with Genki (18) on the edge of the area, but Tana (99) sliced the resulting shot wide and soon enough normal service was resumed. Just a minute later Bangkok Utd hit the post after a well-worked move, and just after the hour mark they made it four. Macena (10) juggled the ball past Rochela (22), who could only make a weak mistimed challenge which the Brazilian easily evaded, before pulling the ball back to Leesaw (14) who passed the ball in to the net from 8 yards out. Bangkok Utd 4-1 Port.  

With the game effectively killed off, Port scored a consolation goal through Tana (99). Pakorn (9) played a deep cross which deceived Warut (34) in the Bangkok utd goal, and with the ‘keeper flailing around in no-man’s land Tana slotted the ball in to an empty net to make it Bangkok Utd 4-2 Port.

With nothing else for it, Port brought on Ekkapoom (8) and Wuttichai (14) and bombed forward for the rest of the game in search of another goal. Inevitably, Bangkok Utd exploited the gaps left in the defence to add two more goals, both created by substitute Mario Gjurovski (20). Firstly he played an exquisite outside of the boot pass to give Leesaw (14) his fourth, then crossed from the left for Macena (10) to score the goal that his superb performance merited. Bangkok Utd 6-2 Port

Rattanai in the Port goal looked dejected. Rarely can you say that a ‘keeper who conceded 6 goals played well, but he could not have done better with any of the 6 goals, and he made some smart stops in the first half. The blame has to go to the coach – whose team selection once again raised eyebrows – and most of the players, who simply did not perform.

 

Port FC Man of the Match

Photo by Patikamol Sukcharoen

 

The award has to go to Siwakorn (16), who fought manfully and tried to give his team a chance with his combative play in midfield. The skinny wizard even capped his display off with a Goal of the Season contender, although his fine individual performance had no impact on the outcome of the match.

 

Final Thoughts

Port have a lot of work to do before their crucial home game against Navy on March 4th. Coach Jadet has to start bringing in the players who looked so promising in pre-season, and the team need to perform to their potential week in week out if they are to have a decent season in T1.