Farewell to the Fallen: Port FC 1-1 Bangkok Utd


This is a report you would never wish to write. Yesterday, we came to mourn the fallen five; Thai and foreigner alike, heads bowed, black-bedecked, unified in a singular outpouring of grief for lost members of our footballing family. Whether it is one game or a hundred, we, strangers in a foreign land, have been touched by the warmth and humanity of this wonderful club and its supporters, its most stellar members no longer with us. And, today, the Port family did not let them down.



From the flower-strewn, memento-laden shrine outside the stadium, to the heartfelt, sometimes choked, renderings of our tribal anthems; from the moving, tear-jerking, tribute videos to Madame Pang’s emotional, gut-wrenching speech, lovingly rescued by the crowd when it seemed the occasion had overcome even her. The two minutes silence was impeccably observed, the only sound the muted rustling of the Thai Port flags in the breeze, and then, there was a game to be played. It seemed almost an irrelevance but our sadly departed heroes would have demanded nothing less.

In keeping with the occasion, Mano and some Bangkok Utd officials and players presented bunches of flowers to fan representatives in Zone C before the game. Bangkok Utd was, in many ways, the perfect opponent for this day. Mano Polking, their Brazilian/German manager, had expressed enormous admiration for the club and its fans earlier in the week; one gets the feeling that Mano, the Jurgen Klopp of the Thai League, would love to manage here. They would be respectful but resilient opponents, prompting Port to be at their very best to get anything out of the game. Some of that respect went a little wayward in the final ten minutes but this was a truly fitting, marvelous contest to match the heavy weight of the day.



Port’s only major changes was Adisorn replacing the injured Kevin at left back while Sumanya continued on the right wing, much to the consternation of the Sandpit faithful. The ground was almost full to capacity with many still outside, queuing to get in. The atmosphere was tense and, for a while, strangely subdued, the drums silenced for the first 12 minutes as a mark of respect. After that point, bedlam reigned, as events on the pitch took a dramatic turn.

Port went on the offensive from the off, Bodin found by Go’s exquisite through pass, but his shot on the turn lacked the power to trouble Utd’s Danish-Filipino goal-keeper, Michael Falkesgaard (1) who was to have another inspired afternoon between the sticks. Two minutes later, Nitipong’s arrowed long-distance strike was spectacularly turned over the bar by the keeper. A minute later, Utd’s Salvadorean striker, Nelson Bonilla (11), was put through by Sanrawat (29) to be thwarted first by an onrushing Watchara and then a recovering Dolah.
On 11 minutes Dolah was to have a massive impact at the other end, his glancing header from Sumanya’s corner, perfectly placed to elude even Falkesgaard’s outstretched fingers. A minute later the drums opened up and we had a tumultuous, fevered contest on our hands.

Sadly, for Port, the contest was evened almost immediately by, who else, Bonilla, set through, by Sanrawat again, between a static Todsaporn and Adisorn to beat Watchara with a chipped finish. That is 5 goals in 3 games for Bonilla at the Port. The boy is a bit special. A clumsy goal all round for the Port defence; Todsaporn again caught ball-watching and Watchara possibly too eager to come off his line. But, Bonilla is a class finisher and you would bank on him to score in those situations. Honours even.

In the 24th minute Bonilla caught Port napping again from a Sanrawat pass but his lob cleared the onrushing Watchara and, thankfully, the crossbar. A few minutes later Port had their best chance of the half. Nitipong won a challenge on the right wing and, storming forward, found Suarez, unmarked and onside in the middle. He brought the ball down superbly but elected to shoot high rather than low, giving the athletic Falkesgaard the opportunity to bring off another finger-tip save. We were really not to have another chance like that again. Suarez may not have been aware but he had the time to take another touch and a step to pick his spot, perhaps low rather than high. But the moment had gone.

The start of the second half was what one might call ‘cagey’, both sides testing each other out, probing for an opening. They were to be few and far between. After a sliced clearance, Boskovic laid the ball off for Suarez to fire wide with the outside of his boot – the Spanish striker was a few shrimps short of a paella today.

As the game reached its closing stages, Nurul replaced Sumanya (finally) and Bodin gave way for Pakorn and the hope of a free-kick redemption.


Pic by Nig Dammusig


The time of madness began in the 82nd minute. Suarez took a pass from Adisorn, headed into the box, only to be clipped by Wisarut (37). In live time from Zone D, it looked like Suarez had taken a dive but replays clearly show the trip took place, although Suarez’s fall was a tad exaggerated. The referee, possibly thinking he had awarded a foul in error, gave a free kick outside the box when it was clear to anybody in the immediate vicinity, not to mention a few casual passers-by, that it was a yard inside. In the unseemly melee that followed (Thai fans love a good melee), Suarez gently lobbed the ball into the back of Peerapat’s (31) head, who went down as if he had been hit by a sledgehammer, which, at that point, would have been Zone D’s weapon of choice to deal with the insidious, cheating bastard. The inevitable red card was issued to Suarez and from that point what had been a wonderful game of jolly hockey-sticks got rather toxic.

Boskovic started picking fights with anybody in a white (or lime green) shirt, more melees ensued, while, almost as an after-thought, there was actually some football played, including an incredible Schmeichel-like point-blank save by Watchara from Peerapat’s header (which he wouldn’t have been able to attempt had there been a sledge-hammer handy).

The Bangkok Angels, halos rapidly slipping, seemed determined to join in with the red-card fun and after a slalom run of Bonilla’s, leaping over several desperate Port challenges (with no foul given), Utd felt aggrieved enough, after a foul given against them, to mount another final melee, during which any number of players could have been sent off for bodily assault on the hapless referee. In the end, only Sanrawat walked, seemingly for a spot of verbals (video clearly shows him punching the ref in the stomach – Ed).

A minute later, whether for his own safety or sanity, the referee blew the whistle to end what was, the Sandpit agreed, one of the finest games ever seen at Port. Bangkok Utd were forgiven and their players, along with Port’s, given a rousing and much deserved ovation.

It had been a match of the highest class and drama and a fitting end to this most difficult of days.

The Sandpit Man of the Match: Elias Dolah

This is a tight one but as I can’t really have another shared accolade, I will go for the resolute Dolah over the imperious Go. Dolah held it all together at the back during Utd’s spells of control and his goal brought the game to life. His celebration, heading straight to kneel in front of Zone C, was pure class.

Can I also give a special, slightly begrudging mention to Michael Falkesgaard, another brilliant display of goalkeeping – surely, the best in the League.



Crystal Balls 2019: Bangkok Utd


After finishing second last season, and having probably the most impressive transfer window of any T1 club, hopes are high that Mano Polking can finally guide Bangkok Utd to silverware this season. We spoke to not one but TWO Angels fans – Matt Jenkins and Svein Falk Lorentzen – to get their thoughts on what should be an exciting season for the Rangsit-based club…

Read more

Hark the Herald Angels Sing: Port FC 0-3 Bangkok Utd



We’re definitely not the newborn king…

After the embarrassing debacle in North Bangkok last week against bottom side Police, the Port faithful were hoping for a bit of a bounceback against Bangkok United who have been a thorn in our side for some time.

Port came out in a 4-3-3 with Bodin (10) finally getting a well-deserved start. With Todsapol (6) back it looked as if the defence might be a bit more solid.

After a tentative start Port had a nice flurry of two corners, but like so many times in the last few matches, the opportunities went to waste. The game was soon to jump to life, getting its legs when Boskovic (23) was carded for an elbow to the face of Manuel. The crack on the big German awakened the Angels who began a physical onslaught against which Port cowered like Mary to the Angel Gabriel in Simone Martini’s Annunciation. Another two yellows were to follow – one to Anthony A and another for a very silly challenge by Siwakorn (16). Moments after Rattanai (17) was forced to make an excellent save and the groans from the crowd could be heard. BU had come to play football.

Mere minutes later while Port defenders were slapping their hands calling for handball off a corner; BU decided to continue playing and were rewarded with a goal by Everton, Port again showing just how not to defend and BU playing disciplined, organised, physical football.
Port’s run of abysmal finishing continued with Nurul (31) and Bosk missing what should have been fairly easy goals, and they were then again punished for poor defending when Robson broke free for a one-on-one with Rattanai and made it 0-2.

Nurul again took a spill in the box and was given a well-deserved card for diving. Ekapoom still holds the Port “Sack o’ Potatoes” trophy for going to ground easily, but at this rate Nurul will surpass him in one season.

Just a few minutes from half-time Jadet decided to make a double substitution with Bodin out and Arthit (29) in, and Siwakorn out and Athibodee (35) in. Very perplexing moves so close to the break.

The second half saw BU let up a bit, and Port took some decent shots all stopped by BU’s keeper Falkesgaard, who might be staking a claim as the top keeper in the league. The final nail came from a beautiful long-range strike from Sumanya. 0-3, Port crucified, no heavenly ascension. With Port done, Terens (28) was brought on and actually provided a bit of a spark, but again that did not translate into a goal. I was glad to hear the final whistle.

My Observations

Port’s level of play is no better two months into the season than it was in the first match. While other teams are coming together, we are still a collection of very talented individuals who do not play as an organised unit. There appears to be no real system and there is only one tactic employed; play the ball wide, cross it, and hope the one or maybe on occasion two in the box can fight off the four opposing players and get a chance. This of course is not working. Our squad is talented. If every player were instructed in their role and executed it, knowing exactly where they needed to be and making sure they were there, we’d be very hard to beat. Instead we pass, hesitate, look for someone, and then play on. We’ve always played this way under the current regime, and I really don’t see that changing. If Port are serious about wanting to win a title the entire culture surrounding the team needs to change. It needs to become more professional and more serious. I don’t think it’s ever been that way at Port. At least it hasn’t during my time as a supporter. The team is underachieving. Players with proven track records at other teams are not excelling and long-term Port players are not developing. Truthfully I think we need a wholesale cleanout of all coaches. There are still some folks hanging on that have been there since I started supporting 6 years ago. We need to update from tip to toe: dietician, statistician, fitness coach, scouts, etc. In addition the new regime needs to stress team play above individual play and sit players that won’t adapt. There are a few models in Thai football we could follow, BU being one of them.

Yes, we had some shots, yes their keeper was great, but the bottom line is we lost 0-3. Was it the worst Port performance? No, it wasn’t. We’d beat a mid to low level T1 team if we play like that every week, but we are supposed to be entering the realm of the elite and we are most certainly not there yet.

The Sandpit Man of the Match: Michael Falkesgaard

We might have actually had a goal or two if it were not for this man. Best keeping display I have seen in a long time. Perhaps the second coming?


Sandpit Songs of the Season: Week 9


Bangkok Utd are the visitors to the PAT this evening in the first Bangkok derby of the season, and whilst many of us quite admire the Angels, for being one of the best-run clubs in Thailand, for sticking with the same coach for 4 years and for playing some cracking football last season, it has to be said that we don’t really enjoy playing them – I’ve been following Port for 4 years and I’ve never seen us beat them, and last season they put 15 goals past us in 3 games.

As the legendary Mark E Smith (RIP) put it, “They are waiting for you, bitterly, for you to fall over…it’s a curse.” It is indeed, and let’s hope Port can finally lift it tonight…




Crystal Balls 2018: Bangkok Utd


In our latest Crystal Balls, we hear from Svein Falk Lorentzen about Bangkok Utd. The Angels had another good season in 2017, finishing 3rd in T1 and making it to the FA Cup final, where they lost to Chiang Rai Utd. Since then they’ve lost star forwards Dragan Boskovic (to Port), Mario Gjurovski and Jaycee John, replacing them with players new to Thai football, so the jury’s out on their chances in 2018. But with excellent coach Mano Polking still in the dugout, they’re sure to remain a strong side…



What was your highlight of the 2017 season?

Winning the semifinal in the FA-cup (and Udon Thani getting promoted)

How will your team fare in 2018?

Hopefully top-3, but with all the major changes in the squad, it`s hard to predict where they will end.

Who is your most exciting new signing?

Don`t know anything about the 3 Brazilians as I don`t follow players at other clubs, but if the club signs Michael Falkesgaard, I will say him, as we really, really need a new goalkeeper.

Which departed players from 2017 will you miss the most? Who are you glad to see the back of?

Will really miss Boskovic. I`m sure nobody will get even close to scoring 38 goals this season. Also disappointed to see Mario go. Nobody I`m happy to see leave.

What changes would you like to see at your club? Or are you happy with the way things are going?

Only change I want is for them to move back to Bangkok. It was my local team when I started following them in 2009, but now there are many teams located closer to my home than Thammasat.

Which teams will be in contention for the T1 title, and who will win?

Buriram and Muangthong. 1 of them will most likely win.

Which 5 – yes 5 – teams will go down to T2, and which 3 will come up to T1?

Navy, Prachuap, Sukhothai, Ubon UMT and Chainat will go down, and Udon Thani, Chiang Mai and PTT Rayong up.

Which fixtures are you most looking forward to in 2018?

Home against Buriram. They bring many fans and great if we beat them.

Thai football crowds are declining year on year. Why do you think this is, and what can be done to make the game more popular?

Reducing the number of breaks, and the length of them. Less mid-week games. Have sale of food and drinks (incl alcohol) at all stadiums. Leg 1 to end with league cup final.

Finally, give us your three wishes for the 2018 season.

1: Bangkok United to win a trophy.
2: Less changes to the fixtures than previous seasons.
3: Decision to keep T1 with 18 clubs for many more seasons.



Many thanks Svein! Want to preview your team’s 2018 season? Fill out our questionnaire!


Say Hello to the Angels: Port to Face Bangkok Utd in FA Cup


The draw for round 3 of the 2017 Chang FA Cup was made just a few minutes ago, with Port being handed a very tough test – away at high flying Bangkok Utd. Tough for the fans, facing a midweek trek out to Rangsit to endure one of the worst views in Thai football; and tough on the players, facing opponents who have already handed out two spankings this season, scoring 9 goals in the process.

That said, with Port’s T1 season limping to a fairly miserable conclusion, coach Zico seems to be taking the cups seriously as his only chance of glory this campaign, and with BUFC’s recent stellar winning run having come to an end at Pattaya over the weekend, a cheeky win isn’t entirely out of the question. With Port also still in the League Cup, there are still a few reasons for excitement in what remains of this stop-start season.

The game will be played on Wednesday 27 September, KO time 18:00. To whet your appetite for what should be a pulsating Bangkok derby, check out my interview with BUFC coach Mano Polking from earlier this season.

Here are the other fixtures, with Glass v Buriram standing out…






Fallen Angels: Port FC 3-3 Bangkok Utd (Friendly)


Port recovered from a 1-3 half time deficit to secure a 3-3 draw against a strong Bangkok Utd team. As usual, Jadet stuck to his non-serious approach to friendlies, picking his Second XI for the first half, and his First XI for the second half. Port were outclassed in a one-way first half, but played a storming second 45 minutes to rescue a draw, with Meechok the stand-out performer.

Port started with their second string. Weera (1) was in goal, with Suchon (11), Dolah (4), Anisong (15) and Prakasit (2) making up the defence. Just back from injury, Piyachat (88) partnered Ittipol (7) in central midfield, with Piyachart (23) out of position on the left wing and Maranhao (92) on the right. Stand-in captain Wuttichai (14) supported Kaludjerovic (10) up front, as Port looked to continue with the 4-4-2 formation that worked so well against Buriram.

Port started off on the back foot, with Bangkok Utd’s foreign attacking trio of Jaycee John (22), Mario Gjurovski (20) and Dragan Boskovic (7) causing all sort of problems going forward. It was no surprise then when Prakasit was beaten for pace and strength by Boskovic, who was clear through on goal when Prakasit hauled him down inside the area for a clear penalty. Boskovic himself converted the spot-kick, although Weera guessed right, but didn’t quite get a strong enough hand on it to prevent it going in. Prakasit went off injured to be replaced by youngster Niran Hansson (33), who was given his first chance to impress at right-back. Port 0-1 Bangkok Utd

In the 19th minute Port drew level against the run of play. Maranhao (92) – industrious as ever – dispossessed a Bangkok Utd defender and squared the ball to Kaludjerovic (10), who rounded the keeper and slotted the ball past a covering defender the give Port an unexpected life-line. Port 1-1 Bangkok Utd

Port’s recovery lasted just two minutes though, as Jaycee John (22) restored The Angels’ lead with a stunning piece of skill that was applauded by all in PAT Stadium. John received the ball with his back to goal, but in one motion flicked, turned and fired the ball in to the top right hand corner, in a similar vein to this this outrageous effort from Thierry Henry. Port 1-2 Bangkok Utd

Bangkok Utd were enjoying all sorts of space down their right, with a combination of Piyachart (23) – out of position at left wing – and Suchon (11) at left back hapless against their constant attacks. It was a cross from the right that led to their third goal, with John (22) beating Weera (1) – who looked a touch slow off his line – to prod home a simple goal. Port went in to the break 1-3 down, but this was to be game of two very different halves. Port 1-3 Bangkok Utd

Port’s second half line-up was what looked like Jadet’s first choice XI, minus Rattanai (17) who is on international duty with the Thai under 23 team. Weera (1) was the only player to complete the 90 minutes, surely meaning that Worawut (36) was suffering from an injury. We didn’t see him on the bench, but have to assume that he was unavailable for selection. Meechok (20) returned at right back, with Rochela (22), Todsapol (6) and Panpanpong (19) completing the back four. Adisorn (13) continued alongside Siwakorn (16) in midfield, after his man of the match performance against Buriram. Pakorn (9) and Genki (18) were on the wings, with Suarez (5) behind Josimar (30) up front.

Port’s changed line-up immediately took control of the game; creating chances at will. A dynamic passing move put Suarez clear through on goal, but the Spaniard wasted the chance with a frivolous attempted chip which drew groans from the fans behind the goal. Those groans soon turned to cheers though, as Josimar (30) notched a well-deserved first goal for Port. Meechok (20) – who was outstanding down the right – did well to reach a through ball, and pulled back an excellent cross which Josimar bundled in to the bottom corner. It wasn’t particularly pretty, but Josimar won’t care. He’s off the mark now, and will look to carry his goal-scoring form in to the upcoming competitive games. Port 2-3 Bangkok Utd

Port continued to press, with a Suarez (5) cross from the left being flicked over the bar from close range by Josimar. Soon after, Pakorn (9) rattled the post with a clever free-kick which caught-out the Bangkok Utd keeper, then when Rochela (22) knocked the rebound back in to the danger zone Todsapol (6) looked certain to score, but couldn’t keep his header down. Port’s non-stop pressure eventually paid dividends though, with Meechok (20) getting the goal that his second half performance deserved. His forward run was picked out by Josimar, and the young right-back finished like a seasoned striker, steadying himself and shooting with power and precision into the bottom corner from a narrow angle. Port 3-3 Bangkok Utd

Port comfortable held on to draw 3-3 draw, maintaining their unbeaten run in Fortress PAT and showing that they can be a match for absolutely anyone at home.

Port FC Man of the Match

Meechok (20), replacing the injured Nitipong (34), was outstanding at right back. With Port largely controlling the game in the second half he managed to get forward and cause all sorts of problems down the right, assisting Josimar for the first goal, and scoring the second one himself. We’re certainly happy to see the youngster back in the team, and on top form to boot!


Bangkok Dangerous: Bangkok Utd vs. Port FC, 25 Feb 2017


Port travel to Bangkok Utd on Saturday for their first away trip of the T1 season. An unbeaten start for Port sees them sitting pretty in 5th place, while the ambitious Angels languish in 10th after a surprise loss to newly-promoted Thai Honda. Nevertheless, the 2016 TPL runners up go in to Saturday’s clash as heavy favourites to rediscover their form and take all three points at Thammasat Stadium.

As well as bringing you this preview, The Sandpit also caught up with Bangkok Utd coach Mano Polking, who was kind enough to share with us his thoughts about his team, and the upcoming clash with Port. You can see the full interview here.


Bangkok Utd

Players to Watch


Mario Gjurovski (20) has been consistently one of the best players in Thailand for about 5 years. The Macedonian attacking midfielder netted 59 goals in 121 games for Muangthong between 2012 and 2015, before he shocked everyone by choosing not to renew his contract and move across the city to Bangkok Utd. Mario scored 12 in 30 last season, and is showing no signs of slowing down. He also really knows how to celebrate a goal, as this classic shorts-on-the-head machine-gun maneuver demonstrates. He got a red card for his troubles, but in his defence, who among us wouldn’t take a sending off for a chance to strip down and mow down a few rows of ‘Yamaha Ultras?’

Dragan Boskovic (7) is Bangkok Utd’s other free-scoring attacking midfielder. The powerful Montenegrin has scored 33 in 61 since 2015, and his direct physical style on the left flank is sure to present a tough challenge for either Meechok (20) or Nitipong (34) at right back, neither of whom is particularly robust.

Jaycee John (22) is a quick striker with a frankly outrageous goal-scoring record at some of his former clubs, and 29 goals in 41 games for Bangkok Utd. Born in Nigeria, John moved to Bahrain aged 19 and has gone on to represent his adopted country 47 times, meaning he counts as Bangkok Utd’s AFC foreigner. Dolah (4) and Rochela (22) will have their hands full with John, who can both hold the ball up and play on the shoulder of defenders to great effect.

Sanrawat Dechmitr (29) is a skillful central midfielder who seems to play much better for his club than his country. When I’ve seen him play for Thailand he has been pretty poor, but coach Mano Polking seems to know how to get the best out of him when he plays for the Angels. Bangkok Utd’s captain will attempt to provide the all-foreign attacking foursome with the ammo they will need to rediscover their scoring form.

Gjurovski, Boskovic, John and Sanrawat


Mano’s Formerly Awesome Foursome


It will be interesting to see if Bangkok Utd manager Mano Polking continues to keep faith in Gjurovski, Boskovic, John and Brazilian forward Gilberto Macena as an attacking quartet.

The Angels must be the only team in T1 who don’t regularly opt to use one of their foreigners in either central defence or central midfield, and so far with only one goal in their first three competitive matches, the gamble is not paying off. Still, the team that finished second in 2016 must not be underestimated. They undoubtedly have the ability, and – as Mano ominously warned us – a point to prove.



Bangkok Utd’s poor early season form has probably been the surprise of the season so far. They were stunned in their AFC Champions League Qualifier by unfancied Malaysian outfit Johor Darul Ta’zim, who held the Angels to a 1-1 draw and then triumphed on penalties. Then, on the first week of the season, they secured a hard-fought 1-0 victory against habitual strugglers Siam Navy. After 25 minutes, Jaycee John (22) used his power to shrug off a defender, then showed excellent composure to give his side the lead, and in the second half Bangkok Utd held on for the win, despite sustained pressure and a couple of near misses from Navy. Unconvincing. In week 2, a late goal by a typically well-organized Thai Honda ended Bangkok Utd’s unbeaten league record which – remarkably – had stretched all the way back to May 2016.

Having scored just 2 goals in 270 minutes of competitive football so far in 2017, Bangkok United’s greatest strength in their memorable 2016 campaign has so far been their greatest weakness. They just can’t find the back of the net with the regularity we are used to seeing. Port’s chances of getting a surprise result at Thammasat Stadium will likely rest on this trend continuing.


Port FC

The Starting XI – The Old Over The New


We have started to notice a trend in manager Jadet’s team selections this term. Experience is being preferred to youth.

Nitipong (34) has been preferred to Meechok (20) in both games so far, although there is still a possibility that Meechok isn’t fit enough to play the full 90 minutes after picking up a knock in pre-season. Could Nitipong now be picked over Meechok on merit after being awarded the official Man of the Match award in last week’s 3-2 victory over Suphanburi? We don’t think so. Nitipong has been excellent going forward in both of the first two games, but has never looked completely comfortable defending. With Dragan Boskovic (7) on the left wing for Bangkok Utd, we’re going to continue to stick to our guns and say that Meechok – if fit – has to be picked.

Rattanai (17) is the exception to the youth over experience trend. The young ‘keeper had a great game against Ratchaburi in week 1, but made his first mistake in a Port shirt to gift Suphanburi an open goal in week 2, failing to hold on to the ball after a collision with Rochela. Rattanai didn’t let the error effect the rest of his game though, making an excellent stop early in the second half and looking comfortable for the rest of the game.

Ahead of Rattanai, Rochela (22) and Dolah (4) are set to continue in the heart of defence, whilst Panpanpong (19) must now be considered first choice left back after a solid defensive display and an assist for the opening goal, whereas Piyachart’s (23) only contribution after being brought off the bench was to almost gift Suphanburi a late penalty. We expect Piyachart to be warming the bench for the full 90 this Saturday.

Midfield is once again the big question mark. 30 year old Adisorn (13) was picked over a host of new younger signings who most observers think outperformed him in pre-season. 20 year old Tatchanon (39) has been particularly impressive since his move from Army, but he didn’t make the squad in week 1 and was an unused substitute in week 2. 23 year old Wanchalerm (40) also looked good, but veteran Ittipol (7) has so far kept him out of the match-day squad.

Adisorn certainly didn’t disappoint with his work-rate against Suphanburi, even making T1 team-of-the-week on one website, but surely a stronger, more technical Tatchanon is the right option in the long run? We will have to wait and see, but it seems likely that Jadet will keep faith in Adisorn to partner Siwakorn (16) in midfield, with The Sandpit’s Man of the Match against Suphanburi Suarez (5) in the attacking midfield role.

On the wings, Pakorn (9) and Genki (18) will surely continue in the side. The skillful Pakorn and the hard-working Genki perform very different roles for the team, but both made hugely important contributions in Sunday’s win.

Up front, Kaludjerovic (10) did what he does best, pouncing on a goalkeeping error to score his first league goal for Port. His goal-poaching is undoubtedly an asset to the side, but Tana (99) looked impressive coming off the bench, scoring a swashbuckling equalizer and giving Jadet a tricky decision to make. Perhaps the biggest threat to Kalu’s starting place, though, is new signing Josimar (30). With the transfer window now closed and Josimar confirmed as Port’s fifth foreign player, Josimar is available for selection, and will surely be in the match-day squad, if not the starting XI. It seems most likely, however, that Kaludjerovic will be preferred against Bangkok Utd, with Tana and Josimar set to come off the bench if Port need a goal. To most Port fans’ and referees’ relief, Josimar’s inclusion should also mean that Wuttichai ‘The Card’ Tathong (14) does not make the subs bench for a while. Phew!

Predicted Starting XI



The Key Battle

Dolah vs. John



Elias Dolah, who is only playing his first season in a strong T1, is going to have to be at his best to keep Bangkok Utd’s Jaycee John quiet. Whilst Dolah will be expected to dominate John in the air, Bangkok Utd like to play the ball on the floor, and John’s dribbling as well as his runs in behind the defence will make for a testing day for the Thai-Swede. If he and the rest of the Port defence are up to the challenge, Port have every chance of coming away from Thammasat Stadium with a result, but if John is at his unplayable best, Port may find themselves just trying to keep the score respectable.


The match will be shown live on True Sports 2 and True Sports 2 HD at 20:00 on Saturday 25 February, 2017.


This Charming Mano: The Sandpit Talks to Mano Polking


On Saturday 25 February, Port face their toughest test of the new season so far when they travel to Thammasat Stadium to face 2016 runners-up Bangkok Utd. BUFC are one of those rare Thai football clubs who value stability and steady development, and their progress over the last 3 years, from mid-table to top 3, has been most impressive – due in no small part to their affable and passionate coach, Mano Polking.

To set the scene for Saturday’s clash, we chatted to Mano about life as a coach at one of Thailand’s top clubs…


Begin by telling us how you came to work in Thailand…
I came to Thailand almost 5 years ago as the assistant coach of Winnie Schaefer with the Thailand national team. I was his assistant already before in UAE and Azerbaijan. He also supported me to be the head coach of Thai under 21s. It was then my first experience as a head coach.

What were your first impressions of Thai football? What are the biggest differences between Thai football and football in Germany, and what were the biggest culture shocks you encountered?
The first impression was positive because Thailand is a nice place to live and you can feel this also in the football pitch. People generally are easy going and that makes you have a good first impression. But at the same time of course it’s where the small problems starts, cause being so relax and playing competitive football are two completely different things. It’s definitely a culture issue. Players don’t like conflicts, don’t like to be exposed and still have a too relax attitude for this job. I must say that I’m trying hard to change this with my teams now. At least to make it clear that in this business the gap betweeen losing and winning must be huge and that we cannot take it too easy when we lose. We need a winning mentality at least for this 90 minutes, after I will be with them again and we can be sabai sabai! I could never be the same coach I am here in Germany. Impossible. Here we have to adapt, accept some different things, close our eyes and step by step move forward.


You’re in a fairly unique position for a Thai league coach, in that you have been working at a stable club for almost 3 years and appear to have a considerable amount of autonomy. How would you describe the Bangkok Utd approach to running a football club?
Bangkok United is the best club in this country because they realize that the football business must be different than the “normal” business or the political business. I found with Khun Kachorn a president that is a huge business man but a very straight and honest person. We take all the decisions together and we have a lot of respect for each other. I know that as a coach I always need results and in this almost three years we are having the results, what obviously makes the work together much easier. I think that the way the president is running the club is the key for this success cause he let me chose the players that I think will fit in the way I play, actually very simple. And he never interferes in my daily work or game decisions. When we want to buy a player I always give him 6, 7 options each position and we decide together. We still have a long way to go and a lot of things to improve as a club but we are definitely in the right way.
Do you think some Thai club owners (naming no names, *cough*) try to exert too much influence on footballing matters?
I don’t think, we all know that! But again, I respect all of them, the are the owners, they are paying the money, so as a coach it’s your choice to do or not to do! I just believe that the way we are doing it’s easier to get the results. At the same time we also know for example how Newin is running Buriram and he just won everything in this country! So, there are many ways to achieve success. I just can tell you that this would never happen in Europe! But we are here because we like to be here, so adapt yourself and try to do your best!
BUFC have made impressive progress since you took over, culminating in second place last season. Do you think you can win the title in 2017? Who will be your main rivals?
We had a fantastic season 2016 and it’s almost impossible to repeat an year losing just two games again. But what I can only hope is that this season no team will be so strong like Muangthong was last year and then we have a chance. I could almost bet with you that if after 31 games we would have again 75 points like last season we probably will be champion. The main rivals are almost the same ones. MTU with 80% of the national team is favourite number one but then I expect a much stronger Buriram this season. Those two clubs will always be strong, since the Thai league is a professional league are the only two champions here! Then we have in my opinion 6 teams that can be able to surprise them. We, the new rich Chiangrai, Bangkok Glass, Chonburi, Ratchaburi and Suphanburi.


What about your personal ambitions – if/when your time at BUFC comes to an end, where do you see yourself? Staying in Thailand or coaching elsewhere?
I like Thailand. For a young coach is actually a very good place to be now. I’m still learning a lot every year, adding a lot of experience. First I hope to stay till the end of my contract with BU, which finish December 2018. It’s difficult for a coach to make so much plans cause we have normally a short “life” at the clubs but I have a lot of ambitions and really love my job and the challenges of this job. The football here is growing very fast and I would love to win a title with BU. After that maybe a new challenge should be the right step.


Who is the best player you’ve managed during your time in Thailand? Who do you think are the best players in T1 right now?
With the U21s I coached all this new wonderful generation of Thailand with Messi Jay, Sarach, Pokkao, Adisak and its very difficult to say who is the best one. Also I had many foreigner players with great quality, difficult to chose one. But at the moment for me the best Thai players are Kawin, Teerasil and Theraton and I’m sure soon we will have some BU players in this list!
As a foreign coach, do you think Thailand’s strict 5 foreign player quota is an advantage or a disadvantage? Would you like to be able to sign more foreign players, and do you think they help Thai players improve or restrict their opportunities? What can Thai players learn from foreigners and what can foreigners learn from playing in Thailand?
I think it’s good how it is now. Thai players can learn how to be more professional and how to improve the winning mentality and foreigners players can learn that life should not be always stressful and we should not always put ourselves under pressure. Being a little bit more relaxed can help you sometimes to be a better player.
What’s the difference in managing Thai and foreign players?
Huge difference. Thais don’t like conflicts so you have to find another way to make them better. In Thailand you always have max 5 foreigner players and they normally can handle the pressure because they are earning more money than the others so you can be harder on them. And it always depends which nationality. South Americans are also different from Africans and Europeans for example.


You’re Brazilian-German. Which footballing philosophy do you most identify with – Brazilian flair or German efficiency and organisation? And how did you feel when Germany beat Brazil 7-1 in WC2014? 
I really like to mix both. It’s actually a perfect combination. German discipline and work attitude with Brazilian creativity. The 7-1 is still painful!
Bangkok Utd are a big club with very small crowds. Does this frustrate you? What can the club do to attract more fans?
I’m proud of the small crowd that we have but every coach or player wishes to see the stadium full. It’s a difficult theme to talk about as it involves a lot of things to improve this department and it needs time. But we are much more than three years ago and I hope we will continue to increase the number of the fans. We have clear plan to build a new stadium and training ground and that should be the next step.
Port visit BUFC on 25 February. How do you rate the current Port side and how do you think they will perform this season?
Port is always a dangerous and strong team especially at home, alone because of the fantastic atmosphere and fantastic fans. The president is also investing a lot of money and my friend Jadet is an experienced coach. The new foreigner players must first prove how good they are, they all have good CVs and that will be important to see how strong Port can be. The squad is good and played some very good games last season. I think they will play a very good role this year.



Big, big thanks to Mano for taking the time to answer our questions (and for allowing me to nick images off his Facebook page!), during what must’ve been a very busy first week of the 2017 season. The Sandpit would like to wish you and Bangkok Utd good luck for the season – apart from on Saturday 25 February of course!