Posts

Tom’s Transfer Talk – Dropskovic

 

Port have continued to shake things up in the mid-season transfer window, making some bold and shocking decisions on both players that have arrived, and players who have been let go.

Read more

Chiang Mai Hole, I’ll Have Another Ordinary Port Please: Port FC 3-1 Chiang Mai FC

Let me take you back a little. The cup final last year. Thai Port had completed the best season in the league I’d ever seen. We’d spent a record amount of money in pre-season and elbowed our way in amongst the consistent clubs of Thailand. You know, the big 2 and a half. The ones with all the money and shite fans. The league in Thailand has been dominated for a decade. I could be forgiven for thinking this might be a peak.

Read more

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.

 

The Wasp Killer: Port FC vs. Prachuap Preview

 

Having bounced back from the disappointing 1-3 defeat against Sukhothai, Port will try to make it a perfect week by securing their second home win in a row against second placed Prachuap. The relatively straightforward 4-1 victory over Trat will likely not be replicated on Saturday though, with Prachuap (one mental game against Chonburi aside) having one of the stingiest defences in the league thus far, as well as one of the most prolific forward lines.

 

Prachuap FC

Players to Watch

 

Having weathered the African storm against Trat, Port will be back to facing the more familiar sight of a Brazilian duo up top against Prachuap. I’m struggling with which one of the two is more dangerous, as both Caion (10) and Matheus Alves (7) have been superb in their own ways so far this season. Alves is the more creative of the pair, with his jinking forward runs frequently causing mayhem in opposition penalty areas, but he also has a dangerous shot on him, which Port will really have to watch out for when he drops off his striking partner Caion. Caion is the big goal threat though. He’s one of those strikers who isn’t especially big, strong or quick but seems to constantly get himself in the right positions and find a way to score. Dolah (4) and Todsapol (6) must be weary of giving him any room at all in the box, as one way or another he’ll find a way to score.

 

 

Prachuap were underestimated last season because of an assumed reliance on a different but also excellent forward line of Doumbouya and Reis, but this season it’s been clear there’s much more to this squad. New signing Artyom Filiposyan (16) was a very creative signing who has made a huge impact for them. Whereas just about every team in the league has signed a Korean midfielder or centre back this season, Prachuap opted to look to central Asia and sign Filiposyan, who is an absolute man mountain, and stick him in front of the defence. Such was his physical dominance in week 2 of the season that I picked him out as my player of the week, whilst also noticing an uncanny resemblance, both in aesthetics and temperament, to fellow loud-mouth rule-breaker Alex Jones.

 

 

 

Then at the back there’s Montenegrin centre back Adnan Orahovac (22), who has quietly become one of the best centre backs in Thai football in the last two seasons. He’s been partnered with new Buriram loanee Nattapon Malapun (27) who has impressed so much this season that was a surprise pick to start in Thailand’s upset victory over China a few weeks back. Solid.

 

 

The other top Thai threats are Amorn Thammanarn (17) on the left flank, Chitpanya Tisud (11) through the middle, and even two national team strikers Siroch (35) and Supot (9) on the bench. This side has a lot going for it, and Port are going to have to match or surpass their attacking form against Trat to break through this much more stubborn rearguard.

 

 

Form

 

Second in the table. They’ve put Muangthong, PTT Rayong, Chainat and Most recently Korat to the sword, and been beaten by Buriram and Chonburi. The one thing that Port fans can be encouraged by is that in their three away games so far, they’ve lost two and won one, although in fairness their opponents have been Muangthong, Buriram and Chonburi.

 

Port FC

Learning From Mistakes

 

I dished it out to Port’s players after their immature reaction to adversity in the Sukhothai game, but the worst offenders in the team really looked like they’d learned their lesson on Wednesday. The referee was an absolute disaster, particularly when it came to Boskovic (23), but the Montenegrin showed rare restraint, routinely laughing off the ridiculous decisions given against him. The result was relative calm throughout the team, who responded to the comedy refereeing, as well as Trat’s fortunate equalizer, with a collective coolness we haven’t seen from Port so far in 2019. Full marks, boys.

In terms of personnel, we saw Kevin (97) subbed off early with what looked like a niggling muscle injury, so Kevin must be a doubt for Saturday, but Sumanya (11) will return after serving his one game ban for his red card against Sukhothai. Also pushing for a chance in the starting XI is a Sandpit favourite Arthit (29), who once again not only inspired a flood of Port chances after his introduction, but also had the ball in the net twice (one, which would have would have been a goal of the season contender, was ruled out for offside) in yet another fantastic cameo appearance. The only natural striker in Port’s squad is long overdue a real chance in the league. Come on, Jadet, don’t just wait for the cups.

Who to drop in case of the return of Sumanya or the inclusion of Arthit is the real question though. Bodin seems like the obvious answer to accommodate Sumanya, but The Fresh Prince’s performance on Wednesday was among the best in the team. Leaving Siwakorn (16) out is another option, but one which Jadet has showed absolutely no interest in so far this season.

For Arthit there are also several options, but there were also several top performances from starting players, who would be hard done by being left out. I have found a solution, though. Boskovic has started every game and returned one goal (from the spot) and one assist so far this season. Arthit has plundered two goals from a handful of substitute appearances. Port need to reward good performances to maintain a competitive attitude throughout the squad. It has to be possible to play your way in to the team, and picking Pele for his first start of the season would really show that. Do it Jadet, DO IT!

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 


 

As always, those who like to support our sponsor The Sportsman are welcome to watch the game there on Saturday 6th with the usual big screen, sound and 99 baht Tiger pints on tap. There is also a 10% VIP discount on drinks for those who wear a Port short or mention The Sandpit. Kickoff is at 17:45 on True4U.

 

I Smell A Trat: Port FC vs. Trat FC Preview

 

What was shaping up to be the most straightforward of home fixtures for Port this Wednesday has, after the weekend’s results, taken on a rather different complexion. Whereas Port’s lack of discipline led to a surprising 1-3 surrender against a Sukhothai side they were expected to beat, winless Trat absolutely hammered undefeated Suphanburi 4-0 in one of the shock results of the season so far. With two coaches having already claimed gold and silver in this season’s sack race, Jadet will be uncomfortably aware that if at least one positive result is not delivered in the first week of April, then he could well find himself the final man on the podium.

Read more

Boskovictory! Dragan Wins 2018 Goal of the Season Award

 

2016: Star striker Thiago Cunha took the Inaugural Sandpit Goal of the Season prize – presumably smashing it on the dressing room door in a fit of rage – with the winning goal being a sublime lob in Port’s memorable cup encounter with Muangthong.

2017: Star striker Josimar didn’t win a fan vote – none was held after we decided pickings were rather too slim – but a plurality of our season reviewers picked his stunning volley in the behind-closed-doors upset of… yes, you guessed it, Muangthong.

2018: …

 

Winner: Dragan Boskovic (27%)

Yes, once again Port’s star striker takes the Goal of the Season prize, but which of his 3 shortlisted efforts persuaded 27% of voters to award him the gong?

Well, it took him less than forty five minutes of his Port career to register. Boskovic received a pass from Suarez down the left flank, cut inside – nutmegging an unsuspecting defender in the process – before curling a sublime finish in to the top right hand corner. I’m talking of course about his effort in Port’s 3-0 home victory against Pattaya. Boskovic would go on to find the net a further 27 times in all competitions, but none would equal his very first.

 

 

2nd: Pakorn Prempak (21%)

A scorer of spectacular goals, there’s no doubt about that. 3 of Pakorn’s finest efforts in 2018 made our shortlist and, remarkably, we didn’t include any of his freekicks. Pakorn thrilled the crowd twice in the home fixture against Air Force, first driving the ball in to the top corner from the corner of the penalty box, and secondly launching home from close range after receiving a delightful through ball from Nurul. Neither of these efforts wooed more than 4% of voters though, with his standout goal adjudged to be his speculative, spectacular long range screamer in the 7-1 triumph over Navy.

 

 

3rd: Dragan Boskovic (15%)

Edging out Kim’s only entry, which finished 4th, Boskovic’s first goal in the final game of the season rounds out our podium finishers. Apparently Dragan really likes playing against Pattaya. Suarez was once again provider, with Boskovic turning on the style to rifle an unstoppable volley in to his favourite corner of the net. He would go on to score a further 3, guaranteeing Port’s 3rd place finish in T1, along with bagging 3rd place in our Goal of the Season poll.

 

 


 

 

The Portlist 3: Ranking The Heroes

 

Port’s perfect start to the 2018 season, featuring a 3-0 victory against Pattaya and a stunning 2-0 away victory against fierce rivals Muangthong, has seen one player gain 6 places in the Portlist. Port B also got off to a winning start, overcoming Dome FC 3-1, meaning a few of their key players make their Portlist debuts.

 


 

1 (1) Dragan Boskovic

Coming with such a hefty price tag, Boskovic went in to his competitive Port debut with a point to prove. One cheeky nutmeg and a stunning top-corner finish later, point proven. Dragan had a bit of a tougher time against Muangthong, but although he didn’t get on the scoresheet, his hard work led to opportunities for his teammates. So far so good for the 50 million baht man.

2 (3) Kim Sung Hwan

Kim had to wait a little longer for his debut, but when the time came the Korean showed just what he can bring to this team. Just as valuable as Kim’s own considerable abilities on the ball are what he does off the ball, directing proceedings in the middle of the park and demanding the best out of his teammates.

3 (2) David Rochela

Yes, it’s a bit mental that after 2 clean sheets and 2 superb performances Rochela has slipped a place in the Portlist. Besides his rather tame penalty against Pattaya he certainly hasn’t done much wrong, but if credit is going to be given for Port’s improved defensive performances, I’m more inclined to give it to the newer arrivals, who seem to have upped the ante and inspired the older heads to raise their game.

4 (4) Sergio Suarez

He played well against Pattaya, not so well against Muangthong, but most importantly he scored against both. With defenses focusing more of their energy on keeping Boskovic quiet, Suarez is taking full advantage by popping up unmarked in the box and scoring simple goals. Long may it continue!

5 (5) Pakorn Prempak

Pakorn was upstaged a little by Nurul on the opening day, but he held on to his spot on the right wing. The Midfield Monk then more than vindicated Jadet’s faith with a superb performance against Muangthong. An assist for the first goal and several dangerous raids forward indicate that Pakorn’s superb form has carried through to 2018.

6 (6) Siwakorn Jakkuprasart

Two games and two feisty, effective performances from Siwakorn in the middle of the park. Still up there as one of Port’s most important players.

7 (9) Kevin Deeromram

Kevin must get a sizable chunk of the credit for Port’s improved defensive displays, but it was his raids down the left wing that really caught the eye against Muangthong. With right-footed Nurul often opting to drift inside, Kevin has been hugging the touchline and finding plenty of space from which to deliver dangerous balls in to the box.

8 (8) Nitipong Selanon

I’m the one who writes this list, and I’m still not sure why Nitipong is only at number eight. He put in another couple of solid displays and provided a composed assist for Port’s second goal against Muangthong.

9 (7) Nurul Sriyankem

Nurul was outstanding against Pattaya when given a chance on the right hand side, but he hasn’t really taken to his new role on the left. He struggled to get in to the game against Muangthong, and his final ball was found wanting on numerous occasions. Given time Nurul will surely shine, but he’s slipping a couple of places on the Portlist for now.

10 (16) Worawut Srisupha

The big climber on the Portlist after a penalty save against Pattaya and an official Man of the Match award against Muangthong. If Worawut continues to stop everything that comes his way ans the defence start to feel comfortable with him dealing with crosses then Rattanai could find himself spending a lot of time on the bench. What an improvement!

11 (11) Todsapol Lated

Todsapol’s performances probably merit a higher placing than number 11, but his injury on Saturday reminded us how fragile he is. Fortunately his injury is not serious, and he is apparently in contention to start against Ratchaburi next week.

12 (12) Bodin Phala

Bodin may not have started a game yet, but his performance off the bench against Pattaya put him firmly in contention for starts in the future. Also, apparently the lad can take a free kick…

13 (15) Elias Dolah

Called on to replace the injured Todsapol against Muangthong, Dolah didn’t put in a mistake-free performance but he did enough to keep the extremely dangerous Jaja quiet in a tough physical contest. That’s what he’s there for.

14 (13) Adisorn Daeng-rueng

Against Pattaya, Adisorn showed why he is still a good option in defensive midfield with a typically high-energy, combative performance. He may not challenge Kim for his place, but he will prove useful this season, as he showed by coming off the bench to shore up the midfield against Muangthong.

15 (10) Rattanai Songsangchan

Despite returning to fitness and getting a place on the bench for the first time against Muangthong, Worawut’s performances must have made him undroppable for now.

16 (14) Arthit Butjinda

Played a few minutes against Pattaya but was not called on against Muangthong.

17 (17) Terens Puhiri

Came on against Pattaya but didn’t get a touch of the ball. Flash must wait patiently, and take his chance when it comes.

18 (18) Meechok Marhasarunukun

With Nitipong performing so consistently, Meechok is a distant second choice at right back.

19 (19) Panpanpong Pinkong

As is Panpanpong at left back.

20 (21) Athibordee Atirat

Athibordee has made it on to the new nine man bench for both of the opening games. Just.

21 (20) Worawut Namvech

The young centre back got a place on the bench against Pattaya but was in the stands against Muangthong.

22 (22) Pummared Kladkleep

Very much a squad player this season, although he is probably only one injury from the bench.

23 (23) Chakrit Rawanprakone

As is Chakrit.

24 (24) Jetjinn Sriprach

And Jetjinn.

25 (25) Watchara Buathong

And Watchara.

26 (NE) Chaowala Sriarwut

Announced his arrival at Port B with a brace and an assist from midfield against Dome FC. One of the goals was a peach as well! On top of that, Chaowala was named one of the ‘Top 5 Rising Stars of the Thai League 2018‘ by Siam Sport. Watch out for this lad!

27 (NE) Partchya Katethip

The other goalscorer, getting on the end of Chaowala’s cross to head home from close range. Partchya impressed me in the 2017 Coke Cup, and seems to be carrying on his good form for Port B.

28 (NE) Danudet Treemongkonchok

Trained with the Port first team in 2017 pre-season, and captained Port B in their opening day victory.

29 (27) Chanayut Jejue

Started for Port B, but will need to rack up some goals to stay on the Portlist much longer.

99 (99) Tana Chanabut

You know what, mate? If you fancy extending your police training a little longer I don’t think any of us would mind…

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk: The Christmas Special

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk has been rather busy of late, what with the festive season in full swing and visitors from the motherland forcing us to spend our time decorating trees, eating dangerous amounts of chocolate and missing irrelevant friendlies. The shame!

That’s my excuse for being an awfully long way behind with transfer happenings, anyway. In true Christmas spirit, though, my gift to you all is a full roundup on what has happened so far, including a quick word about a couple of big signings that have been brought in since the last Transfer Talk.

 

 

Obviously the biggest signing, not just for Port but arguably whole league, is The Beast himself, Dragan Boskovic. The scorer of an all-time Thai football record 38 goals last season, the fearless wearer of cravats and the man of Transfer Talk’s dreams, Dragan is set to light up T1 next season in the blue and orange shirt that isn’t accustomed to sitting on the broad shoulders of a true Scary Foreign Striker. Transfer Talk sincerely hopes not to have to mention your name again for the duration of your 2 year contract, Dragan!

 

 

Weirdly enough, the second signing since our last Transfer Talk is perhaps more well-known to the internet than any other Port player. Terens Puhiri is that bloke who you might have seen making like Usain Bolt after giving an unfortunate Indonesian defence a ridiculous headstart and still leaving them looking like absolute plums on his way to scoring this viral goal. He will fill Port’s ASEAN quota in 2018 after signing on a one year loan from Borneo FC, and is expected to be used largely as an impact sub unless he impresses Jadet as much in pre-season as he did the internet in 2017!

Finally, here’s the rest of Port’s transfer business to date. Click on any of Port’s new signings to see their profile, or here for the full squad list.

 

Ins

 

Panpanpong Pinkong (loan from Bangkok Utd made permanent)

Chakrit Rawanprakone (Nakhon Ratchasima FC)

Athibordee Atirat (Nakhon Ratchasima FC)

Bajram Nebihi (Ubon UMT)

Kim Sung-Hwan (Ulsan Hyundei)

Nurul Sriyankem (Chonburi FC)

Bodin Phala (Buriram Utd)

Dragan Boskovic (Bangkok Utd)

Terens Puhiri (one year loan from Borneo FC)

Marcel Essombe (Ratchaburi FC)

 

Outs

 

Genki Nagasato (released)

Josimar Rodrigues (released)

Anisong Chareantham (Nong Bua Pitchaya)

Pravinwat Boonyong (loan from Bangkok Glass ended)

Siwapong Jarenrsin (released)

Marcel Essombe (loaned to Police Tero)

 


 

As the Outs column is rather shorter than the Ins you can expect that a few more players will be heading towards the exit in the near future, especially those like Tana who are rumoured to be on the outs and who haven’t been spotted at training. Come on everyone, let’s all wish for a Christmas Miracle!

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk: Nuru and the Montenegrin Coat of Arms

 

So, this isn’t exactly the most punctual Transfer Talk ever. To be fair though, when the news broke about Port’s marquee Thai signing, The Sandpit was eyeball deep in craft beer and couldn’t have told you whether ‘Nurul’ was a Thai footballer or a style of Japanese erotic massage.

 

Port’s new signing?

 

Then, just as our social media accounts started to be bombarded with news about the pint-size winger – that in our inebriated state we probably mistook for an actual pint of beer – we discovered a Thai Port bar not far away on Udom Suk and proceeded to celebrate by swilling Leo like thirsty privateers celebrating the capture of a Spanish treasure ship. Somewhere between taking on the ‘buy 5 get 1 free’ promotion as a repeat challenge and engaging in an extremely intense debate about the objective value of music, we eventually called it a night, and resolved to report on the good news in the morning.

 

 

Come the morning however, we discovered that it was not a Spanish treasure ship that we had captured, but a Moby Dick of a headache so savage that between us we would have probably offered to pay Nurul’s 20 million baht transfer fee just to make it stop. But stop it didn’t, hence why we bring you news of Port’s excellent new signing rather later than we would have liked.

 

Nurul Sriyankem

For the basic details on Port’s new superstar winger, check out his player profile here. Whilst Nurul is an excellent signing, his acquisition certainly raises a tricky issue for coach Jadet. He now has two of the best right wingers in the country at his disposal, and has to figure out what to do with them. The simplest way I can think of to explain his conundrum is to relate Nurul and Pakorn to the rather better known Giggs and Beckham. Nurul is our Giggsy, with his electric pace and lightning changes of direction, while Pakorn is our Becks, with his pinpoint crossing and dead-ball expertise. So, if Giggsy was right-footed, what would you do? For me the answer is to stick him on the left anyway, because if you put Becks out there you lose the whole point of having him in the team in the first place, whereas Giggsy can still do a job even if his performance from that side of the pitch is likely to be a bit sub-optimal. Alternative ideas have also been proposed, such as putting Nurul on the right, using Pakorn through the middle and starting with new leftie Chakrit on his natural wing.

 

Bajram Nebihi

Another now confirmed signing is that of German attacking midfielder Bajram Nebihi. He scores his hattrick of transfer-talk references today, and we are still none the wiser on what Port intend to do with him. As we’ve said before, if he’s replacing Suarez then we’re over the moon, but if he’s going to be used as a centre forward then we think Port could most certainly do better. With rumours still flying around left, right and centre about strikers, it seems likely that Nebihi is indeed being rightly seen as an attacking midfielder, which could mean that Suarez will be finding a new club and Port will continue to try to secure a big-name goalscorer. Speaking of which…

 

Bangkok Untied

The latest superstar to be linked with PAT Stadium is an absolute corker. It’s based on a story about Bangkok United’s foreign players, which says that they will be keeping hold of just 2 of their current 6. That means that only 2 of the superstar trio Dragan Boskovic, Mario Gjurovski and Jaycee John will remain at Thammasat stadium, assuming that Yohan Tavares, Mehrdad Pooladi and Chinedu Ede all move on as expected.

Bangkok United’s – and indeed T1’s – leading scorer in 2017 was Montenegrin scoring ace Dragan Boskovic, and reports have emerged in the last couple of days suggesting that with Jaycee John holding an Asian passport, Boskovic is the forward most likely to give way. Now, let’s be very clear, this is a very suspect story indeed and I’m not saying that I think there is even a grain of truth in it, but if nothing else it is Exhibit 87 so far of the transfer window of Port being linked to exactly the right kind of players. At the risk of getting too many hopes up, we know from a less-than-sober chat we had with Dragan earlier in the season that he is a big, big fan of the PAT Stadium atmosphere and already a Khlong Toei local, and that the Montenegrin Coat of Arms features a lion. Up next, how Port are being linked with David De Gea, who they plan to loan to Samut Prakarn FC, and how Mezut Ozil is set to be named team optician.

 


 

Additionally, it just so happens that The Sandpit’s very first Birthday coincides with my 100th Sandpit contribution, so here’s a massive thank you to everyone who helps me churn out the untimely, error-ridden ramblings that I offer up on this fantastic website. Thanks to Editor-in-chief Tim for providing this awesome platform and pointing out my constant spelling mistakes, Dom in his unofficial capacities as Port historian, chief news-spotter and reports/previews editor, and all those who send me rumours and news. Thanks also to all the guests who have appeared on Zone F podcasts and the players who have participated in our interviews. Most of all though, thank you to all of the Port fans who continue to make going to games the highlight of my week. Here’s to doing it all over again in 2018!