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The Sandpit’s Goal of the Season 2019: Suarez Cashes In Chip

 

Sergio Suarez’ nonchalant chipped finish against Trat has earned him his second Sandpit award in as many years, following up his Player of the Year award in 2018 with the Goal of the Season gong in 2019.

 

 

1st Place – Sergio Suarez (38%)

 

 

It may not have been one of the more important goals, but boy was it stylish. The Spaniard is well known for being one of the most talented foreign stars in the league, and he showed off his incredible vision and technique with a high, looping finish which 38% of Sandpit voters chose as their pick of a very competitive bunch. The Trat ‘keeper was about as close to keeping it out as any of the other goals on our list were to catching Suarez’ strike: nowhere near.

 

2nd Place – Bodin Phala (14%)

 

 

There’s an understandable history of Port goals against Muangthong faring well in our polls, so it is perhaps unsurprising that Bodin’s wonderful long-range strike in the away fixture against Muangthong picked up 14% of the vote, which was good enough for second place. It was a goal of great import in that it gave Port the lead against their bitter rivals in a game we would go on to win, but it has to settle for second best in our poll.

 

3rd Place – Sumanya Purisay (12%)

 

 

Taking the final spot on the podium with 12% of the vote was the best goal from Port’s memorable FA Cup run. Scored in the 3-2 victory against Chiang Rai by a player who didn’t stand out all that often in 2019, but put in an absolutely outstanding performance on the day: Sumanya. Picking the ball up in the centre circle, Sumanya bamboozled Chiang Rai’s midfield and defence, scything straight through them before wrong-footing the ‘keeper with a calm right-footed finish. It ended up being a crucial strike, with Port almost letting a 3-0 lead slip, but doing just enough to hang on for the win, thanks in large part to Sumanya.

 

Port Stamp Out Beetles to Give Their Fans a Semi: Port FC 3-2 Chiang Rai

Arriving at the PAT this evening with the drab 1-1 draw at Prachuap fresh in the memory, my expectations for the evening were somewhat low. They were lowered even more when Chiang Rai announced a full strength side, followed by Port’s team sheet showing no out and out striker, plus the continued selection of Sumanya. I was itching for a more simple time when the “gaffer” would just hand in the team sheet on the back of a fag packet and we’d just play 4-4-f**king-2! …At least El Capitan was restored to the team, for what could potentially be his last match at Port.

 

 

With Port now a few games into the Choke experiment, I still wasn’t sure what was actually changing and what his master plan is in terms of the teams tactics and style, the system was still very similar to Jadet’s with the only real difference being Josimar round pegged into a very square hole on the right flank. After all the out and out fuckery during the transfer window to bring in a striker and ditch the one we already had, Roland “Tony” Blackburn (99) was again to be sitting on the bench.

 

First Half

Port were very quick out of the starting blocks with Suarez (5) forcing a save from the Chiang Rai keeper in the first minute of the match after a neat pass from Sumanya (11) allowed Sergio to unleash a low drive towards the bottom corner. This intense opening from Port would continue with Steuble (15) hanging in a nice low cross on his right foot (does he even have a left?) which Go (8) stooped in to head off the post. Ports early pressure finally paid off in the fifteenth minute when the much maligned Sumanya finally put in a decent corner that wrong-footed the Chiang Rai defence and deflected into the net with Dolah (4) in hot pursuit of a final touch.

Five minutes later, Sumanya produced his finest moment in a Port shirt this season, although to be fair, his highlight reel for 2019 prior to tonight could have easily fitted on a Vine clip (if that platform was still going…). He picked the ball up just inside the Chiang Rai half and charged through the centre into the penalty area, shaking off pursuing Chiang Rai defenders before calmly slotting it into the corner past the onrushing keeper. It was certainly the first time this season I can recall seeing this image on the Port scoreboard…

 

 

A couple of minutes later and Suarez almost killed the contest dead, latching onto a stray pass from the Chiang Rai keeper and unleashed a rasping thunderbastard of a shot from 25 yards that hit the underside of the crossbar and came out again. Port kept this tempo up for the rest of the first half and Chiang Rai didn’t know whether they were coming or going. Every time Bodin (10) had the ball, the Beetles’ back line had no real answers except to foul him. The Chiang Rai defence were being pressed in their own half and given no time on the ball. “Friend” of the Sandpit and full-time pantomime villain (fat) Bill (9) was being kept very quiet, especially after an early challenge from Dolah….”a reducer” as Big Ron used to call them.

As the half-time whistle went, it was still hard to take in what had just happened. A Port team that have looked out of sorts ever since the Buriram game had just played the current 2nd place team off the park with Sumanya actually having a big impact on the game.

 

Second Half

Attacking Zone B, Port continued with the same pace as the first half. Pakorn (7) had a free-kick right at the start of the second half which whistled just wide of the post. A few minutes later and Port went up to a 3-0 lead. A free kick was worked out to the wing where Martin Steuble floated in an absolute beaut of a cross for Suarez to leap up and head into the bottom corner. A quick look around the terrace confirmed the goal had indeed come in Toby Time ©. This was getting almost too easy, but this is Port after all… Chiang Rai went straight up the other end with a quick counter attack, A bouncer of a cross evaded the Port defence and Worawut (36), leaving Big Bill with a tap in at the back post.

Back up the other end and Pakorn had a free-kick cleared off the line but Chiang Rai were starting to work their way into the game, the shithousery was beginning to dial up with their entire bench seemingly up off their seats and in the linesman’s ear in front of Zone A, joined by Big Bill who at one point, seemed more interested in protesting on the touchline than actually running around on the pitch. As Chiang Rai began turning the screw more, a handball was awarded against Dolah in the penalty area and up stepped Bill with the penalty to move us into squeaky-bum time. The onset of nerves were not helped by the substitutions, the excellent Bodin was withdrawn for Tanaboon (71) with Pakorn making way for Nurul (31). While Pakorn had redeemed himself somewhat this evening, his replacement Nurul went on to have somewhat of a stinker, blowing chances for Port to put the tie beyond doubt. With just over ten minutes to go, Worawut produced a great save after a free-kick took a wicked deflection on the way through that could so easily have wrong-footed him, yet he produced a great save to keep Port in the lead.

Just as fears of operation f**k-up were creeping in, Chiang Rai’s shithousery finally caught up with them. William (11) was given his second yellow for taking out Go right in front of zone C. With Chiang Rai down to ten, Port were able to get back to doing what they did so well in the first half. Quick passes, neat one-twos and stretching the play. But… as we’d withdrawn Pakorn, Bodin and then Suarez (for Rolando), the replacement attack wasn’t quite up to the task of adding a fourth goal.

There was a sight to behold on injury time as Steuble ran the ball out of defence, pursued by Bill, who soon ended up flat on his face and probably blew a couple of arteries in the process of trying to chase down Steuble in the first place.

The full-time whistle signaled the end of a fantastic performance from Port, who now go into the semi-final draw with Buriram, Bangkok Utd and Ratchaburi.

 

 

The Sandpit’s Man of the Match

My heart says Bodin, who was unplayable in the time he was allowed on the pitch tonight, but I will have to go with Sumanya. I never thought I’d be saying that at all this season! His performances all year have ranged from ref shoving, to anonymous, to flat out awful….tonight he actually looked the part as Ports attack dominated the first half. A key assist in the first goal and a stunning second goal, it goes without saying he needs to turn in more than one of these performances a season.

 

It’s Bodin Well For A Title Challenge: Port FC 3-2 Suphanburi FC

Games like that win titles”, Tommie Duncan and I agreed, managing to conduct a relatively calm discourse, panting breath restored, after the absorbing drama we had just witnessed. Port have made a few statements of intent over the past few weeks: 14 goals in 4 consecutive wins, including an assured away victory over bitter, ailing rivals, Muangthong, but perhaps none more so than this: a comeback (twice) victory over a resolute Suphanburi team, won, gloriously, with a thrilling breakaway goal from Boskovic in the 87th minute. It was significant that last year, in a game that Port had dominated for an hour, Supahanburi struck twice to establish a lead that was then never threatened. This Port team is made of sterner stuff.

I have to admit that this game did concern me. Suphanburi, in spite of their lowly position, still carried a threat; their twin, Brazilian strike force of Jonatan Reis (7) and Cleiton Silva (23) one of the best in the League. Goalkeeper and Captain, Sinthaweechai Hathairattanakul (18), who defied Port so frustratingly last season, was restored to the team after injury. The War Elephants would also have been buoyed by their 3-1 win over Nakhon Ratchasima last week. Port, not for the first time, were missing key players, and, once again, this was largely self-inflicted. Pakorn had been injured needlessly in a mid-week friendly while both Nitipong and Go were suspended after receiving 4 yellow cards in 7 matches. 4 in 7 – that is some going and this indiscipline has and could continue to lose Port points. Rochela is still not fully match-fit while Nurul was on the bench.

 

 

This meant, of course, that the mercurial Bodin, quite rightly, kept his place. It will be interesting to see what Jadet’s first XI is when all players are fit but for the moment the ‘Fresh Prince’ is undroppable.  Arthit made his first start of the season, Suarez was restored to the midfield and Adisorn replaced Nitipong. We have a strength in depth this year that I can never previously recall and a team that has grown together with the just the odd tweak or two to strengthen. Certainly, a solid base upon which to build a title challenge, but first Suphanburi had to be swept aside.

Suarez was to be a major influence in this game and, on 7 minutes, taking a lofted cross from Bodin, he cut inside from the left to force a De Gea style, foot-save from Sinthaweechai (Sintha from here on). On 22 minutes, the silky Spaniard set off on a mazy run into the heart of the Suphan defence before setting up Sumanya, whose left foot shot was brilliantly turned around the post by Sintha. With the ex-National keeper in this form, Port fans worst fears were confirmed when, 5 minutes later, Reis worked his way onto the edge of the box following some sloppy defending down the line, and turned inside Kevin to smash an angled drive past a despairing Watchara.  A goal very much against the run of play but the War Elephants were on the rampage now and spurned two golden chances to increase their lead before half-time; Reis firing over the bar from inside the box and Silva shooting wide from an even better angle after slipping between a static Dolah and Todsapol, like a hare, long ears flapping in the wind, dashing for cover between two hesitant hounds. Two goals down at half-time would have left even this Port with a mountain to climb.

It was clear that Port needed an early second half goal and the Lions did not disappoint. After Siwakorn had tried his luck with a speculative long-range lob, fairly comfortably dealt with by Sintha, Port got the break they needed on 48 minutes; Bodin scoring with a towering, powerful header from a measured Suarez cross.

The lead was to be short-lived. In the 56th minute Reis got behind Kevin in the box to put in a driven cross which Watchara could only parry for Silva to smash home. The deadly duo had struck.  Port’s nerve was to be put to the test, or ‘bottle’ as they put it nowadays.

But, bottle they had in crates. Within a minute, Bodin calmly brought down Adisorn’s cross, 10 yards out, only for his carefully aimed, side-foot shot to be headed off the line. In the 63rd minute, another Adisorn cross was headed over by an unmarked Arthit, waiting inside the 6-yard box. He should have done better. It was his final contribution to the action, instantly replaced by Nurul. ‘Pele’ has worked wonders as an impact sub this season when teams are tired and stretched by his energy and tireless running but he maybe lacks the guile to be a starter. This had been the only real chance he had got on the end of.

Ten minutes later came the game-turning goal, setting up the grandstand finish. Suarez, once again cleverly finding space on the right hand side of the box, popped over another delightful, left-footed cross for the imperious Bodin to calmly side-foot into the corner with his left foot. That is three goals in a week from Bodin and a perfect goal-scoring trinity: right foot, left foot, head. There is a kind of mystical serenity around Bodin when he receives the ball, even in a crowded box. He seems to have the ability, that all really good players possess, of ignoring all the distractions around him to calmly deliver, as if he is on his own down a back alley knocking the ball into a circle chalked on the wall, headphones on, listening to Ed Sheeran, while his mum is calling him in for his tea.  His first touch doesn’t just kill the ball, it subjugates it, bending it to his will, before he proceeds to caress, almost fondle it, lavishing the ball with protective devotion, like Gollum and his ‘precious’ ring. At times like this, he is an absolute joy to watch. Oh, and that scoop!

2-2 and the stadium was on the boil, matching the temperatures earlier in the day. On 82 minutes Athibordee replaced Sumanya and five minutes later came the destiny defining (we hope) moment. Suarez, on the half-way line, picked up a loose ball, looked up, before threading a slide-rule pass between two flailing Suphanburi defenders to set an on-side Boskovic free. Bosko advanced into the box while the crowd held its breath; the Montenegrin had not scored a goal from open play all season and had been especially profligate when one-on-one. Sintha advanced, arms and legs spread-eagled to narrow the angle, but Bosko’s aim was unerring, side-footing the ball to nestle just inside the post.  A volcanic roar resounded throughout the stadium as grown men, women and children (we’re a community club) hugged each other in unbridled joy.

There was still enough time for Bosko, Kevin and Bodin to interchange passes by the touchline to the exultant sound of ‘Ole, Ole’ from the crowd before the referee’s whistle brought this compelling football match to a close.

Port still top the League, at present, 4 points clear of Buriram who have a game in hand. It is all building up nicely for an epic encounter at the PAT on June 16th. After the FA Cup tie against Samut Sakhon on Wednesday, there is a break for the Coronation and then we face a tricky away fixture at Chainat on Sunday, May 12th.

 

The Sandpit’s Men Of The Match

 

 

This just has to be shared between 2-goal Bodin and 3-assist Suarez, both at the top of their game. Suarez, at times, was unplayable, while Bodin is confirming every week the originality and drive he brings to the team. A special word also for Siwakorn, who is becoming more and more influential as the season progresses. He truly is back to his best, constantly dropping back, demanding the ball, linking and changing play, whilst offering his trademark ‘challenges’, for which, sadly, he was booked again. Dolah also received a yellow card.

The Future is Orange and Blue.

 

Wasps Extinct: Port FC 5-0 Prachuap FC

 

Challenge accepted.

Port put in the performance of the season so far to denudate 2nd place Prachuap and send Port – for the time being at least – to the top of the T1 table. Port’s play was paradisiac at times, with the all too earthly Prachuap defence unable to keep control of the chimerical Bodin, the domineering Go and the messianic Arthit. It was a display that had it all: prodigious goalkeeping, tenacious defending, sagacious midfield play and implacable finishing. It also capped an anaspectic week for Port, who will now be phrasmotic at the prospect of the upcoming break, after which they will look to cause their compunctuous rivals across town the most severe of pericombobulations.

N.B some of the above words may or may not be real.

Challenge failed.

On to the action though, and despite the eventually decisive scoreline, Port were having a tough time breaking down Prachuap’s defence for the majority of the first half. Bodin (10) wowed the crowd within the first 90 seconds, trapping a long diagonal ball from Dolah (4) with an outrageous one touch control, but his cross could only find the goalkeeper. A Dolah header from a Kevin (97) corner was the next close shave, with Orahovac (22) just about doing enough to put the big man off. In the 40th minute, Port finally broke through. A mazy Pakorn (7) run was halted by the Prachuap rearguard, but Port kept possession before Go (8) found a precise through ball to Bodin who, in a show of confidence we likely would not have seen last season, wasted no time in drilling a low shot in to the bottom corner with his weaker left foot. He’s absolutely on fire this season, playing with a poise and nonchalance that really brings something different to the team.

While the Port faithful, expecting a hard-fought game, would have been happy to go in at half time a goal to the good, the players had different ideas. Their opponents were under the cosh, and now was the time to punish them. Just three minutes later it was another smooth first touch from Bodin which started the attack. The Fresh Prince played in to Boskovic (23) who, with his back to goal, played a perfectly disguised and weighted pass to the marauding Kevin who showed excellent composure to side-foot home from close range. Right, phew. 2-0 at half time it is.

Wrong!

With most of the PAT faithful exhausted from celebrating their quick-fire brace and the clock winding down, bodies started to file out of the stadium and towards the Leo hawkers, but it was the wrong time to Go! Pakorn’s outswinging corner was allowed to bounce in the area, where it fell invitingly to just the right man. Go has shown an eye for goal and, more importantly, a technical ability which is unmatched by Port’s other midfielders. His left-footed volley absolutely flew off his boot, practically decapitating the Prachuap defender who bravely put his head between it and the back of the net, and to just about everyone’s disbelief, it was 3-0 before half time.

Port started to slow things down a little after the break. On the hour mark Bodin and Kevin once again combined down the left to create a chance for Boskovic, but unfortunately the Monenegrin was the only man in Port colours misfiring on the night. His left footed shot was the first of a few which were hopelessly misguided. No matter, we’re up 3-0!

Five minutes later you’d better make that 4-0. Pakorn originally showed little interest in a freekick which looked a little out of his range. He’d walloped on in to the Loxley car park from a similar distance in the first half, but with Suarez having placed the ball and readied himself for the strike, the Midfield Monk trotted over and whispered something to Suarez which I think was something along the lines of “I’m going to whack it really hard. Watch this.” Whack it he did, and Matheus Alves (7) in the Prachuap wall wanted absolutely nothing to do with it. He performed a similar function that Go did last week, blocking the goalie’s view and getting out the way to allow Pakorn’s freekick to sail in to the bottom corner unimpeded. Cheers, fella. Goal of the night, and Pakorn’s third from dead balls in three games. Is it too soon to say I told you so?

You may have noticed my lack of commentary on Prachuap’s chances up until now. Well, it’s not my fault they didn’t create any. Watchara could have put his feet up and finished off Dom’s large coke and it wouldn’t have made the slightest bit of difference. Sandwiched between two more Boskovic mishits they did finally have a chance from a freekick, but Caion (10) headed wide. Relax and pick up your drink Watchara, the excitement’s over.

Jadet wasn’t done with us yet, though. After both Kevin and Pakorn were stretchered off (we would suggest they might be injured, but we all know that’s almost certainly not true) he brought on Panpanpong (19) and Arthit (29), and the two cousins, who combined for Port’s fourth against Trat, soon repeated the trick for Port’s fifth. Panpanpong did his best Kevin impression, galloping down the left flank and sticking his cross right on to the boot of a grateful Pele, who sidefooted home from point blank range. That’s 3 goals now for Port’s only real striker, who still hasn’t started a game yet this season. With Bosko unable to hit a barn door and Pele knocking them in from all over the place, Jadet needs his head examining if he doesn’t give the crowd favourite the chance from the start that he has earned many times over.

 

 

Pele wasn’t done entertaining us yet, though. He burst through the middle, beating the offside trap and with only the goalkeeper in his way he hit a comically poor lob which barely made it to the goalkeeper. Todsapol then outdid his teammate for miss of the game, somehow not finding the target with a free header smack in front of the goal from 8 yards out.

The final whistle soon followed, with Port fans still a little disoriented. Yes, we played well on Wednesday, but that performance was something else. The quality was just oozing from all over the place. I could list the players who had a good game, but here’s the full lineup instead. It’s more or less the same.

 

 

The Sandpit’s Man of the Match

 

 

In a performance like this you’d think there would be some competition, but there isn’t. Bodin has been on another level these last couple of games, with his fluid, serene skills bamboozling opposition defenders, while the fresh prince has also regularly managed to convert his fancy footwork in to goals and assists. Arthit again made my night with his late goal, Pakorn overcame a poor start to once again make a telling contribution or two and Kevin is looking absolutely deadly coming forward at the moment.

 

2018 King’s Cup Roundup

 

Thailand’s King’s Cup Campaign ended in disappointment with a final defeat against a strong, experienced Slovakia side. After playing out a pretty poor 0-0 draw with Gabon, Kawin helped Thailand triumph in the semi-final shoot-out, before – despite a spirited display – they were relatively comfortably dispatched 3-2 by Martin Skrtel and co.

In keeping with my usual national team coverage on The Sandpit, I’ll be looking at each of Thailand’s players and giving my thoughts on their performances. Hey, there are even some Port players to talk about this year!

 

Kawin Thamsatchanan (1, goalkeeper)

Not only is he a great shot-stopper and very comfortable under the high ball, Kawin is a penalty specialist. His last few shoot-out performances have all resulted in victories for Thailand, with captain Kawin starring each and every time. The semi-final was no exception. In the final there wasn’t a great deal Kawin could have done with the 3 goals, particularly the third which was an absolute peach of a finish.

 

 

Philip Roller (13, right back)

One of Thailand’s weakest link in this tournament. Rajevac likes his full-backs to stay back, and you could tell that Roller was constantly fighting the urge to bomb forward down the right. This made him pretty ineffectual in the semi-final, when miserable Mongkol struggled to get any joy down the flank in front of him. Then in the final, when up against a winger much bigger and stronger than him, Roller really had a torrid time. Slovakia’s first goal pretty much summed it up, with Roller being comprehensively out-muscled as Slovakia’s winger broke in to the box and pulled the ball back for a simple goal. His one redeeming moment was his well-taken penalty in the semi-final.

 

Pansa Hemviboon (6, centre back)

This guy just keeps getting better. Not only is he the best Thai centre back by a country mile, on his form over the last season and a bit I would have him over most of the foreign defenders, too. Aside from his fine defending, the Buriram man almost broke the Gabon keeper’s wrists with a powerful strike in the semi final, netted the winning penalty with aplomb and scored from a set-piece in the final.

My player of the tournament for Thailand, narrowly beating out Kawin and Thitipan.

 

 

 

Chalermpong Kerdkaew (4, centre back)

I thought the Korat centre half was good in the semi-final, and didn’t do much wrong in the final either. He doesn’t do anything spectacular, he’s not great on the ball but he doesn’t make mistakes either, and that’s why Rajevac likes him.

 

Peerapat Notechaiya (2, left back)

With Tanaboon still out injured, Peerapat must take his place as the most overrated Thai player in the national team. Whoever allowed him to take another penalty this year needs a good slap. In last year’s King’s Cup, he smashed his effort a mile over the bar, and this year he passed it straight down the middle. Similar to Siwakorn in the Leo Cup for Port, everyone knew he was going to miss, except apparently him. Kevin can feel pretty aggrieved not to have played at all over the 2 games.

 

Thitipan Puangchan (8, centre midfield)

My player of the tournament in last year’s King’s Cup, and once again one of the best players on the park across both games. As well as his driving runs forward he must have made as many tackles as the rest of his teammates combined in the semi-final. In the final he had a compelling running battle with Slovakia’s bigger, stronger number 8, but such was his determination that he by no means came off second best. I’ll keep saying it: he is one of very few players in Thailand’s team with the guts to stand up and be counted when heads start to drop around him. He always puts in the work, he always wants the ball and he will put his body on the line like no one else.

 

 

Jakkaphan Kaewprom (7, centre midfield)

Largely anonymous across the two games, until he popped up with a tap-in in the final. His performances throughout the last season at Buriram have rightly earned him this opportunity, but I didn’t see anything to convince me that he will contribute much at international level.

 

Mongkol Tossakrai (11, right wing)

Probably Thailand’s worst performer, although Teerasil ran him close. As ever, Mongkol played with no creativity, and was unusually poor when he got himself in to the threatening positions that he has scored a decent number of international goals from. Rajevac gave him barely an hour in the first game, before rightly hooking him at half time in the final.

 

 

Theeraton Bunmathan (3, left wing)

Well, he didn’t really play on the left wing. Theeraton was all over the place throughout both games, and once again I just don’t think he contributes as much when he has the freedom to go wherever he wants. Drop Peerapat, stick Theeraton at left back, let him get forward as much as possible so he can deliver those wonderful left-footed crosses to Teerasil. How many goals has this formula provided over the years? I rest my case. Theeraton was also typically reliable form the spot, with his stutter-step technique continuing to prove successful.

 

Chanathip Songkrasin (18, attacking midfield)

What a superbly talented player. His first half performance in the final was absolutely vintage Messi-Jay, and the way he was doubled-up on and fouled in the second half showed just how scared of him Slovakia were. With Thailand chasing an equaliser late on he nearly had the shirt ripped off his back, much to the chagrin of the home support. Still needs to add more goals in order to really take his game to the next level, though.

 

 

Teerasil Dangda (10, striker)

What a let-down. The striker who has done well since arriving in Japan this season certainly didn’t show much of that promise over the two games. His touch was heavy, he wasn’t strong enough and was just frustrating for a player who has the ability to do so much better. Thankfully he did manage to keep his head when the goalkeeper passed the ball to him in the area, playing an intelligent pass to Jakkaphan who converted the chance easily. Also made no mistake from the spot, although if the ‘keeper had gone the right way he would almost certainly have saved it.

 


 

Bodin Phala (15, left wing)

Played about an hour in total, and looked pretty darn good. He was outshone by Nurul in the semi final, but still had quite a few threatening moments in both games. Bodin’s season so far has consisted of 8 substitute appearances in 8 games. If only he could get a start for Port every now and then!

 

Nurul Sriyankem (14, right wing)

Also used twice from the bench, where he was threatening and dynamic at times in both games. Was unlucky not to score with a chip in the semi-final, but came through with an assist for Thailand’s second goal in the final. If I’m honest it looked like an awfully miss-hit cross that made it’s way through to Pansa at the far post, but we’ll take it!

 

 

Siroch Chatthong (22)

Typical Pipo, really. Used his physique to create a promising break in the final, then booted the ball way too far in front of him, allowing the ‘keeper to gather comfortably. The promising Pipo of a couple of seasons ago is becoming a more and more distant memory, I’m afraid.

 


 

All photos by Umim Supatchana

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk: Bodin Well

 

Port returned to training on Wednesday, which means we can now definitively confirm a few more transfers.

Bodin Phala has become the third winger to sign for Port in this transfer window, meaning that competition for places is really going to be heating up in pre-season between Pakorn and new boys Bodin, Nurul and Chakrit. Bodin signs from champions Buriram, but has a surprising Port connection from his youth. Bodin played for Port Futsal Club as a teenager in 2013, and from there made the switch to football with Rangsit. He was quickly spotted by Bangkok Glass where he soon became a regular, after which he was signed by Chiang Rai and then Buriram. Port are believed to have paid about 7 million baht for Bodin, who broke in to the national team alongside fellow new signing Nurul in the last couple of years.

 

 

Kim Sung-Hwan – whose signing we were first to announce what seems like ages ago – has also been seen at training, and taken his obligatory photo with Madame Pang. We were starting to worry that no one else seemed to be mentioning Port’s new Korean defensive midfielder, but they caught up with us eventually and reported his free transfer from Ulsan Hyundei in the last few days.

 

 

Port have also finally been linked with an ASEAN player, suggesting that they may intend to bring in a player to fill the newest part of the 3+1+1 quota. An 18 year old Burmese player was been spotted wearing the number 15 shirt at training, although he is as yet nameless and we’re not sure what position he plays. We will let you know more about this when we do!

 

 

We also have a couple of confirmed departures, neither of which are at all surprising. Central defender Anisong Chareantham, whose number 15 shirt our new Burmese friend is wearing, has moved to Nong Bua Pitchaya, where he will play alongside former Port left back Suchon next season. Lost boy and reported central midfielder Siwapong Jarernsin has also moved on after an unsuccessful spell in Khlong Toei where he did a pretty poor job impersonating a professional footballer.

 

Anisong Chareantham (l) and Siwpong Jarernsin (r)

 

When it comes to gossip, not much has changed in the hunt for a foreign striker since Monday’s Transfer Talk, although we have seen one very optimistic addition to Port’s star-studded wish-list. It seems very much like Port are still in the frame to sign superstars Jaja Coelho and Dragan Boskovic, and the most recent addition is former Muangthong striker Cleiton Silva, who has being banging in goals for fun in Thailand for years. His success earned him a big move to China, where he has continued to perform well, netting 17 times in 26 games for Shanghai Shenxin. File this one under ‘speculative’. No progress appears to have been made with Jaja or Boskovic, who are the targets Port are really working on bringing in.

On the exit front there are a couple of new rumours, such as promising talk linking Tana with Khonkaen FC, who have just been promoted to T2. Last year they spent big on foreign players Romain Gasmi and Darko Tasevski, so it seems within the realms of possibility that they are willing to pay Tana’s substantial wage demands to bring him back to a level more suited to his abilities.

 

 

Elias Dolah has also been linked with a move to Bangkok Glass, who tried to sign him when he came to Port. Our source says that Port have received several offers for Dolah, but he will be staying where he is. With their lack of depth at the back, Port should certainly be loath to consider letting Dolah go, as he was first choice centre half for the vast majority of 2017.

Finally, Wuttichai and Piyachart have repeatedly been linked with moves away from PAT Stadium, and it seems likely that both will be moving on before too long. Piyachart may be holding out for a T1 offer, as he had a successful loan spell with Ubon in the second half of 2017, but Wuttichai will likely settle for a T2 berth at his hometown club Sisaket. The Sandpit will be eagerly anticipating the 0-0 draw that is virtually guaranteed when striking legends Wuttichai and Tana face off in T2 next season. That’s if either of them can get a game in T2.

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk: Essombe Signed By Port; Nabbed by Police

 

Port’s annual striker search is well and truly in overdrive, with rummy rumours about huge names all over the shop in the most recent round of gossip. The four names currently in the frame to replace Josimar are Bajram Nebihi, Dellatorre, Marcel Essombe and the big prize Jaja Coelho. Prepare yourself, because this story could well have a real sting in the tail! In other rumours, Port are in for two top Thai wingers, both of which would be excellent if pricey signings, and a couple of Port’s old guard are rumoured to be heading to Isaan.

 

The Foreign Strikers

 

Let’s start with the strikers. In ascending order of excitingness…

 

 

We covered the rumours linking Bajram Nebihi to Port in the last Transfer Talk and the conclusion was that as a replacement for Suarez he would be a good acquisition, but as an out-and-out striker he certainly isn’t what we are after. With the all-star cast on our radar, Nebihi is certainly the runt of the litter. Pass…

 

 

Dellatorre is a big, strong Brazilian forward who has been at Suphanburi for the last 2 seasons. He had a bit of an underwhelming campaign in 2016, notching just 10 times in 26 starts, but really clicked in to gear at the start of 2017, scoring 8 goals and making a further 5 in his first 13 games. Dellatorre struggled with injuries in the second half of the campaign, but still managed to net 14 goals in his 22 appearances, including 3 in 2 games against Port. If Dellatorre shows the form he usually displays against Port in the orange and blue next season, we will most certainly have one of the better forwards in the league.

 

 

Rumours have been going around about Ratchaburi’s Cameroonian forward Marcel Essombe for a while now, and the story has really heated up in the last few hours. I’m not going to lie, this is going to get wierd. Essombe was one of the stars of the first half of 2017, scoring 13 goals in his first 14 starts, and although he fell out of favour towards the end of the season, he still finished with 19 goals. Now, the latest news, which we have seen on both Goal.com and SMM Sport is that Essombe has already signed with Port, but has been loaned straight out to Police Tero for 2018. All together now… WHAT THE F*CK?! Are we about to see Maranhao-level tomfoolery rear its’ ugly head again? If this story is true, it would suggest that Port have either signed a bigger name already, in which case I’m not sure why they see the need to sign Essombe and then loan him out, OR they are playing a very risky game indeed by putting their eggs in what is most likely a Jaja shaped basket. Speaking of which…

 

 

The man who’s name just won’t go away, and undoubtedly Port’s main target for the last few months has been Buriram’s Brazilian battering ram Jaja Coelho. Yes, the man who bent time and space to convince the linesman that he was onside when Port visited the Thunder Castle has confirmed that he will not be at Buriram next season, whilst Muangthong will reportedly be sticking with Heberty and Assumpcao as their Brazilian forward line in 2018, meaning that the race for the 34-goal strikers’ signature is legitimately wide open. With Port having thrown away the chance for a top signing already, they’d better pray that they are in the box seat for Jaja’s coveted signature.

 

The Thai Wingers

Port To Sign Dom? Things Bodin Well…

 

In Thai transfers, Port are apparently in the frame for two potentially major signings. Youngster Nurul Sriyankem had an absolutely blistering year in 2017, scoring 8 goals and assisting an outrageous 18 for Chonburi, but has a 30 million baht price on his head, which apparently Buriram and Chiang Rai are both willing to stump up. Port can consider themselves well and truly in third place in the hunt to sign the pint-sized superstar.

 

 

In an interesting twist, though, if Buriram get their man then Port’s chances of landing 22 year old Buriram winger Bodin Phala could well get a huge boost. Port are apparently interested in the cultured attacking player – nicknamed Dom – who ran rings around Port defenders in a Bangkok Glass shirt back in 2015, and he could be available for a much more affordable 7 million baht. Interestingly, Bodin represented Port Futsal Club back in 2013 as a teenager. His excellent close control and short, sharp passing at speed is clearly a product of his futsal background. Bodin could also be a more sensible signing as he has more experience of playing on the left – where Port are in desperate need of an upgrade – than Nurul. There are srong rumours that this deal is close to being completed if it hasn’t been already. Exciting times…

 

The Dead Wood

 

Of course there are also rumours about outgoings too, and mercifully Wuttichai appears to be at the front of the exit queue. Behind him, waiting patiently for a permanent Port exit is left back Piyachart Tamaphan, who was on loan at Ubon in the second half of 2017. Both are apparently on Sisaket’s radar, and it would make a lot of sense for all involved for these moves to get done.