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Midfield General Mediocrity: Port’s Foreign Midfielders Since 2012

 

Wikipedia, Transfermarkt, Soccerway, Facebook, Instagram… I shudder to think just how much time I’ve spent on some of these sites while compiling the second in my series of looks back at Port’s foreign players since 2012.

My look at former Port strikers featured rather more of the Thierry Fidgeu than the Leandro; the ridiculous far outweighing the sublime in Port’s perennial problem position. Port’s former midfielders aren’t nearly as bad, although there are some comically poor players to go along with the cult-hero legends. Walking contradiction and certified Spanish omelette Gorka is the perfect example. Occasionally woeful, rarely brilliant, mostly mediocre. Here are Port’s foreign midfielders since 2012.

 


 

Chilean-Palestinian attacking midfielder Matias Jadue was an utterly ridiculous addition to Port’s 2017 squad, which at the time already had more foreigners than could be registered to play in T1. Surprise surprise, Jadue failed to register a single competitive minute in a Port shirt, although he came close when he was named in the starting XI for a cup game against Royal Thai Fleet, before he got himself injured in the warm-up. He had previously played in the top two Chilean leagues, although he didn’t manage to make more than 17 appearances for any one club in his six years there. Next it was PKNS in Malaysia, for whom Jadue netted an impressive 16 goals in 34 games. The move to Port came as a surprise to all, but ended in predictable fashion, with his departure to T2 side Krabi being announced in 2018. Jadue had a thoroughly underwhelming spell at Krabi, who were second bottom of the table when he departed mid-season for Ho Chi Minh City in the Vietnamese top tier. Here’s where things get wild. At the time of writing, Jadue has 6 goals in 8 games, and has absolutely taken V1 by storm. Who saw that coming?

 

 

Japanese left winger Genki Nagasato is a player well-liked by fans and team-mates alike for his enthusiasm and work-rate. He joined Port in 2016 from Ratchaburi, having played for 6 Japanese teams before that, and helped Port gain promotion back to the top flight. In 2017 he found it a little tougher back in the top tier, but once again made an important contribution to Port’s mid-table finish and left with tears in his eyes and his name ringing out among the Port faithful. Genki was never the most technically gifted footballer, but what he lacks in tricks and flicks he makes up for with graft. In 2018, Genki joined recently-founded but ambitious Tokyo United, who are still playing in Tokyo’s regional leagues, but have achieved 3 successive promotions. You won’t find a single Port fan who doesn’t wish Genki the very best in the twilight of his football career.

 

 

This was a strange one. Rennan Oliveira came to Port via Qatar, Greece and his native Brazil, but was the odd man out for most of his time at Port, joining during the 2016 season and never really justifying a place in the squad. As a creative force he was far less useful than Maranhao, and as a defensive force far less solid that Wagner, hence why his time with Port was really just a waste of everyone’s time. As Tim wrote on Facebook at the time: “He brings great hair but nothing more.” Rennan played a few games in the cups, made little impact and was not heard of again until some bizarre rumours suggested that he would be re-signed for the 2017 season. Fortunately that didn’t happen, and Rennan moved back to the Brazilian regional leagues with Sao Bento. After a sideways move to Luverdense, Rennan then secured a move back to Asia with Al -Ain. Wait, what? The same Al-Ain who have dominated Emirati football for decades and reached three AFC Champions League finals? No, a completely different Al-Ain who play in the second tier of Saudi football.

 

 

Wagner Carioca is a strong, combative Brazilian midfielder who spent a tumultuous 2016 season with Port. Brought in at the last minute after the Serginho Incident, Wagner is a player who, besides his brief and unsuccessful dalliance with Port, has spent his whole career in the second to fourth tiers of Brazilian football. When he arrived he looked very impressive, adding strength and guile to Port’s weak midfield, but he found it tough to nail down a regular place in the team with Rochela, Maranhao and Thiago routinely preferred. Wagner was then involved in a very unsavoury incident against Songkhla where, after an insane Thiago Cunha tackle, Wagner appears to have directed racial abuse at Diogo Rangel, who their goalkeeper then restrained with seemingly super-human strength, saving Wagner and Thiago from the batterings they probably deserved. The video can be found here.

Anyway, Wagner was dropped from the squad in the second half of the season, before returning briefly for the last few games after the Thiago Incident (the one where he smashed the door after being subbed off – we appreciate that there were a few) and being released at the end of the season, with mixed feelings from Port fans. Yes, the team did look better with him in defensive midfield, but after his antics against Songkhla, good riddance. After leaving Port, Wagner returned to Macae for a third stint in the Brazilian third tier.

 

 

Serginho’s time at Port consisted of a few friendlies, a suspicious death and possibly an Anelka-esque ride to the airport in the boot of a car. Serginho looked like a promising signing, coming from Daegu FC in the Korean top tier, but looked off the pace in the pre-season friendlies he played for Port after signing at the start of the 2016 season. He was a defensive midfielder who was also tried in central defence, but he didn’t look ideal in either position before a bizarre incident ended his Port career before he had played a competitive game. We don’t know all the details, but apparently there was a tragic fatal accident involving Serginho’s car and a motorcycle. Before we even knew what had happened, Serginho’s contract was cancelled and he left the country in a serious hurry, with Wagner coming in as his replacement. Serginho ended up at Gangwon FC in Korea in 2016, but as far as I can tell has been without a club since the start of the 2017 season, despite being just 29 years old. His Instagram suggests that he plays an awful lot of beach football, although I’m not sure if he is playing competitively.

 

 

Gorka Unda is a talented attacking midfielder, who was a Port player during the 2015 relegation season. Gorka started in the third tier of Spanish football with CF Rayo Majadahonda, but his talent was recognized by a certain Real Madrid (yes, really) who put him in their B team. Unfortunately rather than challenge for a spot in the first team, Gorka was relegated to the C team and eventually released. He went on to play in Spain and Austria, before moving to Thailand in 2014, where he has been ever since. Gorka had a successful season playing alongside one Brent McGrath with Sisaket, before both were snapped up by Port in 2015. In Port’s pretty disastrous squad in that season, Gorka was actually one of Port’s more effective attacking players, despite having the mobility of a large bowl of paella – incidentally, something that the bulky Spaniard looked to have been enjoying a little too much of. His touch and passing could be superb on his day, but it certainly didn’t help the mercurial Madridista that he generally ran out of steam midway through the first half, and that his forwards that season were McGrath, Vincent and Wuttichai. Gorka left Port after they were relegated with some staunch supporters still lauding his creative talents, while others were more than happy to see the back of him. He moved to Khon Kaen in 2016, then after their dissolution he has had short stints with Songkhla, Chainat and now Angthong, who, despite consistently registering top-half T2 placings in recent seasons, Gorka has inspired to a current position of 15th. Out of 15. Gorka can still be seen in PAT Stadium every now and then, as he occasionally pops in to visit fellow Spaniards Rochela and Suarez during mid-season breaks.

 

 

His name is still emblazoned across the shirts of many Port fans to this day. One of the most popular foreign players in recent Port history, Hironori Saruta was a breathtaking winger who on his day could dance through TPL defences at will. He used his speed, balance and low centre of gravity to bamboozle defenders with lightning-fast changes of direction, and as a fan you just knew that when Saruta got the ball anything was possible. Saruta spent the first 3 years of his career in Japan, before moving to Sriracha in 2009, and then spending a very successful 4 years at Bangkok Glass where he notched 30 goals. He joined Port in 2014 and really lit up PAT Stadium, but in the following season he suffered some niggling injuries and didn’t quite find his best form. He moved on to Chiang Rai in 2016, before surprisingly making the step down to Udon Thani in the third tier, who won promotion with former Port trio Saruta, Ali Diarra and Valci Junior all featuring. In 2018, Saruta announced his retirement from football after 9 years in Thailand.

 

 

Ali Diarra is a central midfielder who had 2 stints at Port, firstly on loan from Muangthong in 2013 and then as a permanent signing in 2015. Diarra was a tall, leggy enforcer who was adept at the physical side of the game as well as being a good passer of the ball. In Diarra’s first spell he really earned the adoration of the Khlong Toei faithful, providing a solid platform from which the creative talents of Leandro could be fully utilized. In an anecdote typical of Diarra’s commitment to the cause, Dom tells me about the Ivorian putting in a particularly hard-working shift away at Trat, helping Port secure a crucial win in the push for promotion. When Dom spoke to Ali after the game, it turned out that he had been suffering from diarrhea and really shouldn’t have been on the pitch at all. And so Ali Diarrhea was born! In Ali’s second stint with Port in 2015 he was ludicrously underused, being kept out of the team for the most part by Lee Ho and Gorka. In Gary Stevens’ brief stint in charge Ali was employed as a centre back to pretty good effect, but ultimately it wasn’t to work out for him that season at Port, and he was loaned to Thai Tobacco Monopoly, then BBCU before finally finding a permanent home at Udon Thani in 2017, and moving back to Bangkok FC in 2018.

 

 

Kim Geun-chul was a midfielder who was well-regarded during his stint with Port in 2014. He was a solid, technically sound midfielder who would always give his all for the team, but his impact was limited by fellow Korean Lee Sang-Ho and Saruta, who were often preferred as Port’s Asian foreigners. When he did play he impressed, and when he left at the end of the season the consensus among Port fans was that they would have much preferred to keep hold of him. Alas, he apparently moved on to PTT Rayong, although there is no record of him in their 2015 squad. Kim’s Facebook page tells me that he did in fact play for PTT Rayong and then PT Prachuap, both in the second tier, but the trail then goes cold, suggesting that he probably ended his career at the age of 32 or 33.

 

 

Patrick Reichelt is a German-Filipino winger who played for Port in 2013-14. His career began in the regional leagues of the German fourth tier, but at the age of 24 Reichelt moved to Global FC in the Philippines, and was immediately called up to the Filipino national team. From there he made the move to Port, where he did well in the second tier, although the general feeling was that he was probably not a TPL-calibre player. He showed some impressive skills and trickery during his half-season with Port, but ultimately it was not a huge surprise to anyone when he moved back to the Philippines with Ceros-Negros. At his new club he scored just under a goal a game, which would be a very impressive rate if it wasn’t for the fact that they were winning games 10-0, 11-0 and even 16-0 at the time. Unfortunately, Reichelt suffered a cruciate ligament injury in 2016 and was out of action for more than a year, but is now back in action and playing regular football.

 

 

Ivan Petrovic was an attacking midfielder who spent 6 months of his 20 year career with Port in 2013. Based on what little I can find about his career he seems to be one of the higher-caliber players Port have signed, although that didn’t translate to much success in Khlong Toei. Petrovic began his career in his native Serbia, where his record looked pretty impressive, before moving to Iran, where his career really took off. Wikipedia has Petrovic playing over 200 games, scoring 23 goals and scooping awards such as ‘Foreign Player of the Year’ and ‘Top Assister’. Iranian football clearly saw the best of Petrovic, but at the age of 33 he joined Port and never really got going. From what little is written and remembered about the Serb, he was a decent player with a good pass on him, but he played just 12 games, scoring 3 goals, and no one was particularly bothered to see him move on. His next clubs were Nakhon Ratchasima, Thai Honda and Bangkok FC, after which he moved to Global FC in the Philippines. Much like Reichelt, Petrovic was notching up more than a goal or an assist per game, although his team were regularly sticking double figures past their opponents. In 2017, Petrovic finally called time on a long and successful career at the age of 37.

 

 

Kim Ba-We was a Port midfielder between 2011 and 2013. In stark contrast to Petrovic, this stint with Port may well represent the entirety of Kim’s professional footballing career. This is based on the fact that I can find nothing at all about the man online, except a few social media accounts in which there are hundreds of pictures of his time with Port and no reference whatsoever to any other clubs he has played for. The closest thing we have to news about his departure is speculation on Facebook about him moving to Ayutthaya in June 2013. In the end he did leave Port mid-season, but there is no record of him joining Ayutthaya. For more on Kim’s ability as a player, I direct you to this excellent article by Sandpit contributor Andy Hailstone, who we assume was in possession of a stress-ball while trying to put a positive spin on a man that some have described as the worst foreign player to play for Port in recent memory.

 

 


 

If there are some players you think I’ve missed, first check out my piece on strikers, as some of them played both positions, then leave a comment and let me know who!

 

Pitiful Port Punished by Poor Pattaya: Port FC 0-2 Pattaya Utd

 

The Dolphins swam into Khlong Thoey this evening, no doubt expecting a tough game, only to be pleasantly surprised when an out-of-sorts Port side not only handed them 3 points on a plate, but also threw in brandy, mints and a taxi home.

 

The Lineup

Jadet – or whoever picks the team – stuck largely with Port’s regular starting XI in a game they would’ve expected to win fairly comfortably. The only changes from Wednesday’s narrow defeat at Chonburi were Elsie Tana (99) coming back in for Genki (18), thus replacing a guy who can run for hours and sweat blood for the shirt with a bloke who visibly does not give a shit; and LB Pinkong (19) dropped in favour of Piyachart (23), for reasons best known to Jadet himself.

 

The Siwakorn Fanclub

 

The Game

When we interviewed Josimar a few weeks ago, he made the telling observation that whilst Port play well against better teams, when they can soak up pressure and attack on the break, they struggle when they’re required to take the game to inferior opponents, and tonight’s performance bore that out. Right from the start it was obvious that Port had no gameplan – they were even struggling to take goal kicks in the first 5 minutes. Pattaya’s strategy seemed to be to confuse Port by playing a high line to prevent them from calmly beginning attacks from their own half, and it worked like a dream for the first 20 minutes, with Port unable to retain the ball for longer than a few seconds and the Dolphins’ big midfielder Wellington providing the kind of calm head in the middle of the park that Port lack.

From the 20-minute mark Port started to impose themselves on the game, with Josimar (30) coming closest to scoring when fed in by Suarez (5) down the left, but chances were few & far between. Piyachart and the typically lethargic Tana offered little threat down the left, and the absence of the suspended Nitipong (34) deprived Port of the usual dynamism down the right, meaning Port were more often than not going down the middle, where Suarez was ineffectual yet again. When he’s on his game he’s unplayable, but his problem is he’s not on it nearly as often as Port need him to be and once again I found myself pining for Maranhao.

The half finished 0-0 and I hoped that the break would see the most obvious change, ie Tana replaced by Genki; however the same XI emerged from the tunnel for the second half, as did the same shortcomings.

 

Nothing to see here

 

The game changed during a 5-minute period near the hour mark. Firstly, Suarez fed Josimar (30) on the edge of the box and the big Brazilian decided not to shoot but to check back and play a marvellous ball to Tana, who only had to sidefoot it over the line to give Port the lead. So why he decided to chip the keeper, and spoon it into Zone B, only he knows. I apologise to those around me for the torrent of abuse that flowed from my mouth at that point (the kind of Russell meltdown not seen since the dark days of Brent McGrath in 2015) but I’ve been saying since early last season that Tana is a waste of space, and once again tonight he proved it. There are limbless beggars on Sukhumvit Road who would’ve stuck that chance away.

Minutes later Pattaya caught Port on the break and a cross from the right found Picha who, unchallenged, slotted it past Worawut to give the Dolphins the lead.

Port belatedly introduced Genki but for Pakorn (9) who went down with a knock just as Tana’s number appeared on the board, and the Japanese winger’s energy livened up Port’s attack considerably, but there was simply no invention, no creativity, and no gameplan for dealing with highly mediocre opponents who had found themselves a goal up and intended to stay there. But it would be unfair to say that Pattaya simply parked the bus; they were dangerous on the break and hit the crossbar twice in a matter of minutes, whilst Port could’ve played for another hour without creating a scoring chance.

On 92 minutes, another Pattaya break led to another cross, from the left this time, which found that man Picha on the far post where, once again unchallenged, he nodded it easily into the Port net. Whether anything of note happened after this I cannot say, for I was out of there and heading for the taxi home.

A sobering defeat – against one of the poorest sides we’ve played this season – after the euphoria of recent weeks, and one which, following the defeats to Bangkok Glass and Chonburi, suggests that Port aren’t quite as good as we – or they – think. Good players – Hansson and Tachanon, to name but two – are being left on the bench, whilst players who simply aren’t good enough for this level – Tana, Piyachart – are starting games. Playing with a lone striker is fair enough when you’re playing Buriram, but not at home against the likes of Pattaya, where attacking should mean more than leaving Josimar to feed off scraps. And what Port really miss in games like this is a calm head in midfield – Siwakorn and Adisorn’s bustling style is great when you’re up against it, but not required when the opposition are clearly there for the taking. And Port’s “big” players, such as Suarez and Pakorn, just aren’t consistent enough. Yes, 8th after 13 games is a fantastic start but we should be building on it, rather than – as looked to be the case tonight – stepping back and admiring our handiwork.

With two tough away games coming up – Nakhon Ratchasima and Muangthong – Port’s season is in danger of fizzling out into mid-table obscurity or worse. One can only hope that the mid-season break will see Port’s somewhat unimaginative midfield and attack given a bit of spark. Maranhao and Asdrubal are both waiting in the wings and one – or both – are sorely needed right now.

 

Man of the Match – Genki Nagasato

Not many contenders for the MOTM award tonight – even Rochela was out of sorts. But at least the Genk livened things up when he came on and tried to make things happen. It must kill a player with his commitment and workrate to be sitting on the bench watching a player like Tana play in his position, and when Genki came on, he straight away showed what Port had missed in the first hour of the game. No, he didn’t set the game alight, create any good chances or score, but he was the best of a very bad bunch.

 

Photos by Tim & Linny Russell

 

The Season So Far: The Pit Pundits’ Picks

 

Following my recent review of the season so far, the Sandpit team got together and selected our highlights of the first six games – best player, best match, best goal. Here are our choices – feel free to share yours in the comments or on Facebook.

 

Dominick Cartwright

 

Best Player: Rattanai (17)

Not my first choice for keeper at the start of the season. I would have gone with Worawut (36). But Rattanai has proved me wrong, and Tom right. Even in our dismal away games he has offered a sterling last line of defence. Those dismal defeats could have been even worse. He’s really shown his mettle not letting his head drop in defeat, and being there to shore up the points when we have a chance at some.

Also Keith has come up with a song for him, so I want him starting every game to give us a chance to sing a new song:

Rattanai’s in the goal, what is he gonna do?

Rattanai’s in the goal, what is he gonna do?

He’s gonna save that shot, That’s what he’s gonna do

He’s gonna save that shot

 

(To the tune of Rat in me Kitchen by UB40)

 

Best Match: Suphanburi Home (3-2)

Why do I love football? It’s unscripted drama. If you wrote this game as a script, it would not be convincing at all, just not realistic enough. 1-0 up and the Port faithful are celebrating 3 points already. Then the home crowd are stunned by 2 Suphan goals. Then Tana’s great equaliser. (See best goal pick for a description). Then my favourite moment of the game – all the other players were celebrating the excellent equaliser, meanwhile Suarez was running to the net, he picked up the ball and brought it back to the centre circle for the restart. He wasn’t happy with 1 point; he wanted the win. Then the man who has shown he wants it most, steps up and gets the winner. You couldn’t write a better ending.
 
 

 
 

Best Goal: Tana vs Suphanburi

Tana (99) is not everyone’s favourite striker; he has his faults. But for me I’d give him 45 minutes of any game – he can create chances when there’s not much on, and he always seems to be in the right place. Against Suphanburi he was loitering outside the area, Genki (18) saw him and teed him up well. Tana deftly curled the ball into the top corner, giving us a chance of 3 points in that game. I’m biased on this one, because I was standing right behind the top corner of the goal in Zone D. I genuinely had a moment of disbelief as the ball sailed in. Was that in or just over? Oh it’s in, lets go fucking mental!

 

Tom Earls

 

Best Player: Rattanai (17)

This is a tricky one, but I’m going with the man who I voted for in February’s Player of the Month competition. I was in the minority then, and expect I’ll be in the minority again here, but I just can’t get enough of Port’s baby-faced boy wonder Rattanai. Yes Rochela has been excellent, and yes he brings more to the team with his leadership and guidance than anyone else, but Rattanai has come up with some outstanding performances which have undoubtedly been worth a few points to Port already this season. One mistake against Suphanburi (which fortunately ended up not costing Port) aside, Rattanai has caught everything that has come anywhere near him, shown excellent decision making and has made some lightning-fast reactions stops.
 
Probably the best example of Rattanai’s importance to the team came when he was dropped for the 5-1 drubbing at Honda. Whilst comparing him to Weera would be about as useful about comparing him to a boiled egg, it gave Port fans a glimpse of what it would be like not to have a reliable keeper between the sticks. Scary stuff. Please don’t leave him out again!

 

Best Match: Buriram Home (0-0)

It may not have had the twists and turns of the epic 3-2 win over Suphanburi, or the last minute drama of the 1-1 draw with Ratchaburi, but this was a high intensity, high quality game where Port proved they can compete with anyone on their day. It was Roy of the Rovers stuff. Man of the Match Adisorn couldn’t get a game in central midfield in Division 1 last season, yet had probably the best game of his career, coming out on top against Buriram’s star-studded midfield. Todsapol came in to the side having not played a minute of competitive football in 2017, and looked outstanding against two of the most dangerous forwards in T1. Port, who flopped to a 5-1 defeat at Thai Honda just 4 days earlier and got thumped by the same scoreline last time they hosted Champions Buriram in 2015 were not expected to even be competitive, but defied the odds with a performance full of heart. Port could even have won if not for a miraculous point-blank save from the Buriram keeper. All in front of a sell-out crowd of *ahem* 6,900 people who turned PAT Stadium in to a cauldron where Port just refuse to lose in 2017!
 
 

 
 

Best Goal: Siwakhorn vs Bangkok Utd

For me, there can only really be two candidates here. Siwakorn vs. Bangkok Utd and Tana vs. Suphanburi. Siwakorn’s screamer came at 3-0 down in a 6-2 mauling whereas Tana’s thunderbastard drew Port level in a game they ended up winning 3-2. The skinny wizard’s moment of magic may have been to no avail, but I’m giving it to him for the way he glided past the defender before curling it over the keeper’s head. Tana’s was an outstanding goal, but I think he had slightly less to do when he picked the ball up.
 
 

 
 

Tim Russell

 

Best Player: David Rochela

When Spit claimed in a pre-season article that Rochela was underrated, we scoffed. How could the guy who’d won the 2016 Player of the Year award with a landslide possibly be underrated? But now I think I know what he meant. Rochela is so good, week in week out, that we take his excellence for granted and barely notice it any more. So far this season he’s been as consistent as ever, mopping up at the back, reading the game well and intercepting header after header, and his performances against Ratchaburi and Buriram in particular were little short of heroic. God help us if he ever gets injured or moves on.

 

Best Match: Suphanburi Home (3-2)

If Ratchaburi was a relatively gentle reintroduction to the delights of T1, Suphanburi was a classic all-action balls-out thriller, the kind of game we missed during our brief sojourn into the lower leagues last season. Yes, Port rode their luck at times and benefitted from Adul, who had been Suphan’s star player up to that point, getting a red card; but the intensity and workrate of the Port players was something to behold, particularly Suarez, who grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck in the later stages and scored the winner in what was his best performance so far in a Port shirt. Simply one of the most exciting games I’ve seen at the PAT.

 

Best Goal: Genki vs Ratchaburi

OK, technically and aesthetically it may not be Port’s best goal of the season, but in terms of determination and timing it was perfect. 0-1 down after 94 minutes in their first game back in the TPL – and their first home game for nearly 6 months – Port won a free kick to the right of the Ratchaburi box. Pakorn swung it into the box and Genki threw himself at it Keith Houchen-style to head it in, sparking scenes of utter delirium on the terraces and the first ever airing of the Human League “Genki Nagasato” chant. Best moment of the season so far.
 
 

 

MATCH REPORT: Port FC 3-1 Pattaya United

 

Port secured a comfortable 3 – 1 win against Pattaya United, thanks to a clinical first half performance. New signing Kaluderovic looked the business, notching his first two goals on his debut. Pattaya struck back, before Genki added a third goal late in the first half to seal Port’s second consecutive friendly victory against T1 opponents.

Port started with Worawut (36) in goal, and the same back four that has started the last few friendlies: Rochela (22), Dolah (4), Meechok (20) and Panpanpong (19). Suarez (15) played in an advanced role just behind striker Kaluderovic (10), with Siwakorn (16) and Tatchanon (27) anchoring the midfield. Pakorn (9) played on the right wing, and Genki (18) on the left.

Pattaya looked lively in the early going, but had no real bite to their attack. Rochela and Dolah were fairly busy, but did what was asked of them with relative ease.

20 year old new signing Tatchanon had his best game to date at the base of the midfield, keeping the ball moving without ever looking like losing possession, and spreading the play with a couple of excellent long balls out to the flanks.

The even younger Meechok was also a revelation down the right. At times in the first half, the right back seemed to be playing a more advanced role than right winger Pakorn, so it was no surprise when his good work led to the opening goal. Meechok’s run down the right was expertly picked out by a lofted Siwakorn pass, and the right back played the ball across the six yard box where Kaluderovic swept home with ease from close range.

Spot the scoreboard #fail

Just a few minutes later, the same three combined to score a second. Meechok, pressing high up the pitch, intercepted a pass in midfield and the ball broke to Siwakorn who played a well-weighted through-ball for Kaluderovic to run on to. The Serbian made no mistake with a classy outside-of-the-boot finish to make it 2 debut goals and 2-0 to Port. Whilst neither goal was particularly special, the way they were taken seemed effortless. We don’t want to jinx it, but this might be the first time since the legendary Leandro that Port have had a foreign striker who makes scoring goals look easy!

Pattaya soon got themselves back in to the game, though. After a fortuitous richochet on the edge of the area, a Pattaya forward reacted quicker than the Port defence and managed to force the ball past an onrushing Worawut to bring Pattaya back within a goal.

Port were still playing the better football of the two sides, though, so it was probably a fair reflection of the first half that they went in 3-1 up. Kaluderovic was once again involved, this time turning well under pressure in the middle of the park before releasing Suarez down the left with a pinpoint pass. Suarez could easily have gone for goal himself, but unselfishly squared the ball to Genki who got ahead of his marker to score the tap-in.

It was an important goal for the Japanese player, who few have been expecting to stay with Port in 2017. Nevertheless, with less than a month to go he finds himself starting with Jadet’s first choice side, whilst no rumours of an AFC replacement are anywhere to be seen. It’s looking increasingly likely that Genki could retain his place in the squad, although there is of course still time for that to change.

The liveliest player of an otherwise pretty dour second half was Port’s other left winger, Ekkapoom (8). Port, once again, brought out an almost entirely different XI. Rattanai (17) came on in goal, and Nitipong (34), Anisong (31) and Piyachart (23) joined Dolah – the only player to stay out – in defence. Wanchalerm (35) and Piyachat (28) played in central midfield, with Ekkapoom wide left and Maranhao (29) wide right. Wuttichai (14) partnered (5) Tana, playing his first game after a lengthy spell out injured, in a conventional front two.

Whilst the two strikers both looked a little off the pace, the wingers looked busy and dangerous. Ekkapoom and Maranhao both hit the post after creating excellent chances for themselves, but neither could add to Port’s lead.

Midway trough the second period, left back Piyachart picked up a knock and was replaced by Suchon (11), but the substitution that got everyone talking was the introduction of Pinyo (21) late on in the half. Pinyo was injured for almost the whole of last season, but now finally seems to be getting an opportunity to prove his fitness. He came on for Ekkapoom in the 80th minute, and looked enthusiastic, although understandably short of match-sharpness.

Little else of interest happened in the second half, meaning Port claimed another confidence boosting victory against top-tier opposition. If they can secure another victory against Nakhon Ratchasima on Sunday, Port will be heading in to their opening game of the season against Rachaburi full of belief that they can cause an upset.

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk – 7 Jan 2017

 

The big news is that former La Liga forward Asdrubal has become Port’s third Spanish signing, as regular readers of The Sandpit will already know.

A lot else has happened since the last Transfer Talk though, so we’ve got a lot to cover here. Let’s start with what didn’t happen.

Bernardo Cuesta, 28

As we suspected a couple of weeks ago, Frenchman Saer Sene didn’t do enough to earn himself a contract, meaning that attention turned to the ‘mystery Argentine’ – the subject of our last Transfer Talk – who was expected to be unveiled after new year. It was eventually revealed that the forward in question was Bernardo Cuesta, but he ultimately decided to stay with FBC Melgar in Peru. With no potential signings on the horizon and the start of the season getting closer, eyebrows were starting to be raised.

Then came Asdrubal. The relatively short but stocky 25 year old forward has been at Las Palmas since the age of 6, but decided to join the ever-growing Spanish contingent at Port as he was stuck on the fringes of the squad, unable to force his way in to the First XI. We’re absolutely delighted that we’ve managed to bring in a player of his calibre with La Liga experience, and somehow we don’t think he’ll have the same problem here!

In other news, Transfer Talk favourite Panpanpong Pinkong’s move to Khlong Toei is now confirmed, meaning he will battle it out with Piyachart (23) and Suchon (11) for a regular starting berth at left back, The Sandpit are already sharpening our puncils.

Watchara, 23

The battle to be next season’s starting goalkeeper has also claimed it’s first victim. Watchara (1), who was loaned to BBCU last season, will once again make the temporary move to The Pink Panthers, leaving Worawut (36) and youngster Rattanai (17) to slug it out for a starting place.

Now after all of that confirmed news, we finish with our bread and butter: good old fashioned gossip.

As we reported earlier in the closed season, all of last season’s foreign players from 2016 besides talisman David Rochela are likely to be replaced. With Rochela already being joined by countrymen Sergio Suarez and Asdrubal, two foreign spots remain; one for any nationality, and one for an Asian player (Dolah is not included as he is half Thai). We are hearing whispers that the final two foreign players will be announced next week on January 11th, the day before the team go for a 6 day training camp to Hua Hin. Once again there is no word on who the new signings might be, but it seems likely that the club will be going after a left winger to replace Genki, and either another striker or an attacking midfielder.

Tom’s Transfer Talk will be back to be discuss the results – or lack thereof – of the January 11th announcement. We hope to be reporting more good news!

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk – 7 Dec 2016

Port could be keeping hold of just one or two of their foreign players from last season, if Thai news reports are to be believed.

Thiago Cunha (10) left under a cloud with five weeks of the season still remaining. His final kick – perhaps his most accurate of the season – was aimed at the dressing room door rather than the goal, which incidentally he had struggled to find all season.

He was followed out of the door by Wagner Carioca (35), a player who many hoped would remain at PAT Stadium after a string of impressive displays in the second half of the season.

Now there are rumours that Rodrigo Maranhao (29) and Genki Nagasato (18) have also not made the cut.

Genki Nagasato

Genki Nagasato

Maranhao made an electric start to the 2016 season, scoring at will and looking every inch a TPL player, but his form faded markedly throughout the year and he found himself in and out of the starting XI in the final weeks of the season.

Genki, on the other hand, was not known for his match-winning displays but for his high workrate and consistent 7/10 performances. He featured in many positions across the midfield and attack without ever really making any of them his own.

It would seem that Jadet Meelarp – or perhaps an even higher power – are demanding more from their foreign contingent, and will be looking to the transfer market to add more firepower to the squad in their bid to secure TPL survival in 2017.

In a surprise twist, it is also being suggested that Renan Oliveira (25), who made just a couple of appearances last season, could remain at the club along with Captain and star player David Rochela (22). As Oliveira has not been seen at training of late, The Sandpit would be shocked if he was kept on, but stranger things have happened in the unpredictable world of Thai football!

Wanchalerm Yingyong, 23

Wanchalerm Yingyong, 23

In confirmed transfer news, 23 year old midfielder Wanchalerm Yingyong has joined on loan from big-spenders Chiang Rai, and in not-quite-confirmed-yet-but-pretty-close news Spanish playmaker Sergio Suarez will likely sign on the dotted line any day now, making him the first foreign signing of the season.

Thai attacking midfielder Pakin Kaikaew, who boasts an impressive record of 13 goals in 96 games over the last four seasons for TPL rivals Bangkok Glass, is also believed to be on the verge of joining, although as always The Sandpit will wait patiently and keep refreshing Madam Pang’s Instagram page until there is real confirmation.

Thanks to Sven from Thai-Fussball for some of the gossip, as without his work I would have almost nothing to steal and pass off as my own!