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Weeping Angels: Port FC vs. Bangkok United Preview

 

I can’t very well start this preview without first addressing the tragic events that unfolded on Wednesday morning. A bus carrying a group of Port fans to the away cup fixture with Nongbua Pitchaya was involved in a deadly accident, killing 5 people and injuring 3 more. Among those in the Port bus were fans that will be familiar to any regular visitor to PAT Stadium. The tireless leader of Port’s fan club who we all know as Spiderming has passed away. Saman, who carries his Pakorn banners with him home and away week in week out is in critical condition. Doubtless other fans will have seen or had personal relationships with others in that bus, and their absence will touch each and every one of us. Every Port fan contributes in his or her own way to the community that all of us know and love, and after this terrible accident that community will never be the same.

Rest in peace to those who passed away. Condolences to their loved ones, and the Port community as a whole. Those still in hospital, we wish you a speedy recovery.

There will be a service before the game on Saturday to commemorate those who have passed, starting at 17:00. Port fans are asked to wear black as a sign of respect. There will be a collection to support the grieving families.

 


 

With all that said, what follows is obviously very trivial. It’s never felt more trivial. Nevertheless, we go on with our previews and our match reports because it doesn’t feel right that we should stop what we’re doing in response to this horrific event. Did Spiderming ever stop?

 


 

Port have come through a succession of tests so far this season, and in most we’ve passed with flying colours. The ill-disciplined fiasco at Sukhothai is the only real black mark against us; we’ve shown incredible fortitude in securing a late goal to nick the 3 points away at Chonburi, we’ve gone to the SCG and beaten our biggest rivals, we’ve recovered from a goal down with 15 minutes to play to overcome Suphanburi, and we’ve won comfortably on a wet Sunday night in Chainat. The draws against Chiang Rai and PTT Rayong are the only other games we haven’t won, and in both cases the opposition employed negative, roughhouse tactics to grind out a draw. It happens.

With that said, the latest test Port face is the biggest yet this season. Bangkok United may not be among the top dogs in the table just yet, but in the last two seasons they suffered from a slow start before surging up the table at around this point in the season. They’re also a team with a habit of doing well against Port (our last league win came in 2010), and in recent seasons have come up with some really outstanding performances in doing so. Whether its luck, coincidence, or coach Mano Polking having the edge on Jadet tactically, something needs to change if Port are going to defy the spell The Angels seem to have us under. Maybe it already has.

 

Bangkok United

Players To Watch

 

I’m getting stuck in to this preview with plenty of time to spare, so rather than pick out a few of Bangkok’s top talents, I’ll just go through the team I think Mano is going to pick.

 

The Goalie

He needs no introduction, having produced one of the best goalkeeping performances I’ve ever seen last season at PAT Stadium. Michael Falkesgaard (1) is the top stopper in T1. Just wait ‘til he gets a load of Pakorn’s corners, though!

 

 

The Back 3

This season Bangkok United have gone out and brought in the players they feel like they need to make a back 3 work. Interestingly though, none of those players are themselves part of that back 3. One of the outstanding defenders of 2018, Everton (3) is a key man for The Angels, and one of the best foreign defenders in the league. No problem there, then. His partner is no-nonsense Thai-German Manuel Bihr (4) who, similarly to his counterpart at Port Elias Dolah, adds that extra physical presence without violating the foreign player quota. Bihr is a little more prone to error than Everton, but he’s worked his way in to the Thai national team set-up with a couple of years of solid defending. The third man is where Bangkok have had to experiment to find the right fit. After losing first choice Mika Chunuonsee (16) to injury early in the season, Mano first tried Puttinan Wannasri (5) in that position, before temporarily switching back to a back 4. Most recently Wisarut Imura (37) has been dropped back from midfield to fill in, but the youngster isn’t a natural there, nor does he have a lot of experience under his belt. Whichever formula Mano goes with on Saturday, it’s not ideal. Maybe going with a back 4 and using the system that Bangkok have used to such devastating effect in previous seasons is the way to go. Over to you, Mano.

 

The Wing Backs

Two of the players that Mano did bring in to make his system work are right wing back Tristan Do (7) and left wing back Peerapat Notechaiya (31). Tristan Do is of course a national team stalwart, and on his day he’s probably the best wing back in the league, although he’s not very popular among the Port faithful. Expect him to get plenty of stick on Saturday. Fellow ex-Muangthong full back Peerapat similarly has plenty of national team experience, although I’ve made it no secret before that I think he’s one of the most overrated players in the league. Naturally he must be compared to Kevin. So far in 2019… Kevin (LB): 2 goals, 2 assists; Peerapat (LWB) – 0 goals, 0 assists. Is it too soon to say I told you so?

 

 

The Midfield

I’d be lying if I said I could reliably guess who Mano is going to pick in his midfield. Thai-American holding midfielder Anthony Ampaipitakwong (6) has been wearing the captain’s armband recently, so he’s a dead cert, but alongside him either Pokklaw Anan (10) or Sanrawat Dechmitr (29) could equally get the nod. Both are excellent players, but Port fans will more likely remember Sanrawat for some devastating performances he’s put in against us in the past. I’ve always thought that he’s not a big game player though, so don’t be surprised if he reacts to a tough game by curling up in to a ball and crying. He does it for the Thai national team all the time.

 

The Forwards

Another area where injury has deprived The Angels of a key man in Vander Luiz (8). Anon Amornlerdsak (27) has stepped up in the creative role with some promising performances to help ease the loss, but the youngster still only has a goal and an assist to his name. Not great. Then there’s star man Nelson Bonilla (9). The Salvadorian striker has been impervious to his teammates struggles this season, netting 8 times in 8 starts, and he also stuck more goals than I care to remember past Port for Sukhothai last season. Mano’s biggest dilemma has been who to put up top with Bonilla, or whether to go with an extra creative player. Big new signing Mike Havenaar (9) seems to be the perfect foil for the main man, but the two have not been used together much yet this season, with the big Dutch-Japanese forward struggling for fitness early in the season and scoring twice in 5 appearances since his return. Mano also has many more options at his disposal, like using Sanrawat Dechmitr in a more advanced role, or bringing in one of their wingers Jakkapan Pornsai (13) or Rungrath Poomchanturk (17). Supersub Teeratep Winothai (14) will likely be brought off the bench if Bangkok United are in need of a goal, too.

 

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 

Form

It’s not been good enough so far. Bangkok haven’t won back-to-back since the third gameweek. Since then they’ve lost to Buriram, drew with Korat, lost to Chonburi, beat Suphanburi, lost to Chainat, beat Prachuap then drew with Chiang Mai. That’s 3 losses in 10 games, which is too much for a team with title ambitions. Bangkok have to find consistency, and a couple of injuries is not a good enough excuse. After all, Port have had to deal with the loss of their captain in week 1, and have missed several key men through injury and suspension for various games since. Our squad has coped, and so far Bangkok’s hasn’t.

 

Port FC

Trying To Keep It Together

 

Until Port reserves, who understandably may not have really had their heads in the game, slumped to a 2-3 defeat away at Nongbua Pitchaya in the League Cup, things were going rather well on the field. Jadet still has selection dilemmas to deal with, but his problems are the best kind of problems.

Newly minted national team member Watchara (1) will keep goal once again. He has kept clean sheets in 50% of his games since coming back in to the picture in the tail end of last season. Solid.

Rochela (22), despite nearing full fitness last week, has suffered a setback and will not be available, so Dolah (4) and Todsapol (6) will continue in the heart of defence. With both Kevin (97) and Panpanpong (19) unavailable, third choice Yossawat (32) seems to be in line for his first start of the season (he came off the bench against Chainat) unless Jadet opts to play Adisorn in the position he played a large chunk of Port’s last T2 campaign in. I’ve always been a fan of Yossawat; he’s got an absolutely wicked left foot, and I’ve always thought that he’s a better all-round player than Panpanpong. Here’s his chance to prove it. Nitipong (34) starts at right back. Duh.

Go (8) and Siwakorn (16), who is lucky to be available after narrowly avoiding his fourth yellow card last time out, will continue in the engine room, but ahead of them is where Thai League Manager of the Month Jadet will have to earn his money this week. Thai League Player of the Month Bodin (10) is a no-brainer on the left, but whether or not Jadet opts for Sumanya (11) or Nurul (31) on the right is the big question. Sumanya is a quality player, but he’s not a natural wide man, and this throws Port off balance, with the team so used to having Pakorn (7) hug the right touchline. Nurul, as he showed with his stunning chipped finish after being brought off the bench, is the man for the job on Saturday. Come on Jadet, let the penguin at ‘em!

Up front Boskovic (23) is well and truly in the groove now, and will fancy adding to his recent flurry of goals against his former team, while Suarez (5) will continue providing the ammunition. There’s not a player in Port’s team who isn’t worth their place right now.

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True4U And True Sports HD2 at 19:00 on Saturday 18 May, 2019. For those who can’t make it, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound. Don’t forget to wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.

 

News Update: Joy for Jadet, Junk Sails In

 

Following Saturday’s Futsal triumph, Port’s golden shower of trophies continued this week when the Spherical Supremo himself, Jadet, was presented with the T1 Coach of the Year award after guiding Port to an impressive third-place finish. Not only does the award recognise Jadet’s achievement of being the highest-ranked coach in T1, it also recognises the even more impressive feat of being the first ever coach to last a whole season under the notoriously trigger-happy Madame Pang. Well done Sir Det!

Also, Port have announced another pre-season friendly, against perennial pre-season opponents Samut Sakhon FC, AKA The Proud Junk Ship. They finished 6th in T2 last season so should provide solid opposition to what we expect will be a Port second string. As per usual, KO is 17:00 at the PAT and entrance is free.

 

 

 

Farewell Jadet? Be Careful What You Wish For

 

Despite flying as high as third for the majority of the season, the inevitable ramifications of the no-tactics, no-training and no-fitness regime at the PAT Stadium have seen Port regress as low as fourth, in what has been called the “first crisis of the Jadet Era.”

 

All jokes aside, Port – and more specifically owner Madame Pang – are in a position where they must choose whether or not to stick with their current boss come next season. The 2019 campaign is likely to have high stakes for the Klongtoey side, as it is expected to be Pang’s last in charge of the club, and she will be in the hunt for some silverware to show for her vast investment.

 

Firstly, it is important to recognize what Jadet has managed to achieve. To string together a disparate group of newly acquired stars into a team that plays fluid, attacking football is no mean feat. He has lifted the club after Zico’s disastrous tenure with what appears to be a far more laid-back regime has taken the club very far, which deserves to be respected.

 

However, many people are of the (seemingly correct) belief that Jadet is holding Port back. The development of many bright young prospects has slowed, the side tends to lack a Plan B, and complacency has begun to settle in as many of the players have become undroppable at the behest of the owner.

 

However, the most troubling aspect of this Port regime seems to be the lack of improvement of individual players within the system. The side is run by players who are already at their peak, and have been signed as “finished articles” from their clubs at very high prices. Players such as Nurul, Boskovic, Suarez or Kim Sung-Hwan are excellent, but they were already excellent when they first stepped foot into Klongtoey.

 

None of these players have improved or developed new facets of their game under Jadet Even Kevin Deeromram, who should be improving rapidly as a 21-year-old, has not been helped to correct the defensive aspect of his game since arriving at the PAT Stadium. This strikes a stark contrast to some of the players who have been turning out for Buriram, Bangkok United and Muangthong – the three sides that currently sit above Port in the league.

 

Stagnating players lead to a stagnating team, and Jadet’s seemingly laissez-faire approach to man-management has finally caught up with the side.

 

However, calls for a change on the touchline should be met with caution.

 

The failed “Zico Experiment” continues to weigh of fans minds, and should serve as a reminder of how attempting to enforce stricter tactical constraints on this team can backfire. Any attempt to overhaul the team at the behest of an ambitious new manager would put the groundwork laid down this season to waste, and wouldn’t be possible due to the limited time remaining under the current ownership.

 

In short, the Klongtoey Lions are looking for a coach that can work within Port’s highly restrictive management system with a set of players that are unlikely to respond well to being pushed or transformed to meet the needs of a more developed system. When looking at these search criteria, only one name springs to mind – Jadet himself.

 

While his methods and management may not be ideal, his departure could risk upsetting the extremely precarious balance Port currently find themselves in. The question is not about whether or not change is needed, but more so about whether or not Port’s contrived hierarchical setup is capable of handling the change.

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Jadet Keeps Window Closed

 

Whilst one imagines that “OPEN A WINDOW, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD” must be a common refrain in the Meelarp household, there’s one window that Jadet is keeping firmly closed – the transfer window. Speaking to the Thai press, Sir Det announced that there would be no new arrivals in the mid-season window. With Port boasting their strongest ever squad and sitting pretty in third place, the Spherical Supremo (c Tom Earls) is happy with his existing resources.

“We have no plans to add new players in the second leg” he said (well, he said it in Thai, then I ran it through Google Translate and reworded it). “Everyone is playing well and helping the team, and we have no serious injuries”. One hopes he was touching wood when he said that last bit.

He continued: “We already have a strong team and lots of reserves waiting to come in, who are also good players. We will not add anyone.”

The Sandpit would quite like to see a decent back-up right-back come in, and possibly a big nasty central defender. Whilst the imminent start of both cup competitions will mean more action for the likes of Terens, Bodin, Arthit and others, it’ll also mean more potential injuries, and whilst Sir Det seems confident of Port’s strength in depth, there are several players – notably Nitipong, Kevin and Boskovic – who don’t have any quality cover.

Nevertheless, these are exciting times to be a Port fan, and with no managerial or playing changes likely to be made at the halfway point, unusual ones as well.

 

Port Accrue Big ‘Det: Coach Signs New Contract for 2018

 

Prior to the club’s final game of the 2017 season on Saturday, Mme Pang has announced that coach Jadet’s services have been retained for 2018. Since taking back his place on the bench following the bizarre and unsuccessful Zico experiment, Jadet’s league record reads played 5, won 4, drawn 1, with that draw coming against Muangthong, and a season that looked like fizzling out or worse, turning into a relegation battle, has been turned around, with Port only needing a point in their last game to guarantee a top half finish.

In an interview with Goal, La Pang revealed that she is, and this is from Google Translate lest you think I’m being naughty, “glad to be able to make a happy end to the fans.” Bet those of you who left early on Saturday are regretting it now eh? She also stated that next season will be tough with 5 clubs going down, and that the club are already planning for next season.

As for Jadet, whilst I still don’t think he’s the guy to take Port up to the next level, it’s hard to argue with his achievements since taking over midway through 2016. Promotion back to T1, a League Cup semi-final, THAT win over Muangthong and a top 10 T1 finish for a club who cannot compete financially with most of the teams around them, is a pretty damned impressive record. But with 5 teams facing the drop next season and Pang likely to splash more cash than usual during the close season, the pressure will be on the big fella from day 1 and a slow start could well see our fragrant chairwoman wield the axe. Whatever happens, you’ll read about it on The Sandpit!

 

Kiatisacked! Jadet Makes Way for Zico

 

When the Sandpit speculated a couple of weeks ago on the possible arrival of former Thailand coach Kiatisak “Zico” Senamuang as Port’s new coach, it was merely idle banter based on a picture of him hangin’ out with Madame Pang, and published mainly for cheap clicks.

3 weeks later, the club have formally announced that Zico has indeed replaced Jadet as Port’s head coach with immediate effect, and will we presume be taking charge of the team for Sunday’s game against Bangkok Utd.

Given the club’s shambolic handling of the June transfer window, it’s clear some changes had to be made, and at last night’s press conference, Jadet admitted he had no clue which players were going & which were staying. It’s a little harsh on Jadet – since he took over he’s guided Port to a League Cup semi, promotion from the second division, and a top half place in T1. A pretty good achievement given the club’s resources. And let’s face it, lasting almost a year as coach under Mme Pang is an achievement in itself.

But as we’ve said before, it’s been clear all season that if the club really want to aim higher, Jadet probably isn’t the man, which explains today’s move. Kiatisak brings a very high profile, having recently guided Thailand to the second round of AFC World Cup qualifying, and an excellent managerial record with a win rate of 49.45% over 11 years and 273 games. His career as Thailand manager suggests he’s one to favour younger players over old lags, which is exactly what Port need right now, and his status should help attract talented younger Thai players to the club. It’s just a shame the move wasn’t made at the start of the transfer window…but at least we got there before Muangthong or Buriram.

So firstly, The Sandpit would like to say a big thank you to Jadet for all he’s done as coach, and wish him well in his new role as Technical Director. And secondly, we’d like to give Zico a warm welcome to Port, and wish him every success in his new role!

Port FC eh? Never a dull moment…

 

 

The Sandpit Predicts… 2017 Starting XI

 

We’ve seen all sorts of experimentation so far in pre-season, but with just two weeks to go until the 2017 season gets underway, we think we have a pretty good idea of who will be taking the field to face Rachaburi on February 11th.
We’re going to show you predicted starting XIs from Sandpitters Dom and Tom, as well as goal.com. All three take the 4-2-3-1 formation that has been used throughout pre-season as their template.

 

 

Dom has gone for Worawut (36) in goal, backing the ‘keeper who has played the majority of games over the last two seasons to hold on to his place in the side. He likes Rattanai (17) as a quality back-up option but says he will be cowering behind the Zone B drums if Weera gets anywhere near the pitch.

In defence, Rochela (22), Dolah (40) and Meechok (20) are almost certainties, whilst Dom thinks that Panpanpong (19) will edge out Piyachart (23) for the left back spot due to his more solid defending.

In central midfield, Siwakorn (16) partners Wanchalerm Yingyong, who Dom thinks could be preferred to youngster Tatchanon (27). An attacking trio of Genki (18), Suarez (4) and Pakorn (9) will provide ammunition for Kaluderovic (10), who Dom backs to edge out Asdrubal (24) as first choice striker.

 

 

Tom thinks that Rattanai (17) has done enough to earn himself a starting spot in 2017. The ‘keeper who played in the crucial cup games against Muangthong last season as well as the key league game against Ubon UMT has looked more comfortable with his feet this pre-season, which Tom thinks makes him slightly preferable to Worawut (36). He also thinks that Weera will be back-up to the back-up.

Rochela (22), Dolah (40), and Meechok (20) are again the obvious choices in defence, although Tom fancies that the more attacking left back – Piyachart (23) – will be preferred to Panpanpong (19) as he thinks Port have looked short of attacking ideas when Panpanpong and Genki (18) have played together on the left.

In midfield Siwakorn (16) is partnered by young newcomer Tatchanon (27), who Tom thinks has played his way in to Jadet’s plans since his arrival from Army. He has looked disciplined and consistent, even earning the praise of David Rochela in The Sandpit’s recent interview with the Port skipper.

Genki (18) will be selected ahead of Ekkapoom (8) on the left wing, although Tom thinks that against weaker opposition the more attacking Ekkapoom could well be favoured. Suarez (4) and Pakorn (9) will complete the attacking midfield, while Kaluderovic (10) will be tasked with scoring the goals to fire Port up the table.

 

 

goal.com have made the surprising choice of Weera in goal. Whilst he has played plenty of pre-season minutes, we would be surprised if he was on the bench, let alone on the pitch in two weeks time. Maybe the guys at goal.com know something we don’t!

In defence, it’s once again Rochela (22), Dolah (40), Meechok (20), with Panpanpong (19) getting the nod at left back.

Siwakorn (16) partners Tatchanon (27), with the usual trio of Genki (18), Suarez (4) and Pakorn (9) ahead of them. Up front, Kaluderovic (10) is expected to be Jadet’s favoured option.

The Certainties

Putting the possibility of injuries to one side, there are 7 pretty-much nailed on starters in 2017. Rochela and Dolah will start in central defence, and Meechok will retain his place at right back. Siwakorn will fill one of the two central midfield roles, while Suarez will be used either as an attacking midfielder or a more withdrawn role. Wherever he plays, he will be starting. Pakorn will be right-winger, and we’re pretty sure that Genki will hold off Ekkapoom to start on the left wing, although perhaps this should be in its’ own ‘not-quite certainty’ category.

The Question Marks

It’s a three way battle in goal, as illustrated by our choices. Either Worawut, Rattanai or Weera could be selected, although The Sandpit thinks that Worawut and Rattanai are far more likely options.

Panpanpong is probably a slight favourite to Piyachart at left back. He has been picked for most of the friendlies, although his performances have been less than inspiring. Piyachart, on the other hand, has been playing with the second string, but putting himself in to contention with some excellent displays.

In central midfield, there are many options for Jadet to choose from. We think that Tatchanon might be a slight favourite to start, but Piyachat (28), Wanchalerm and Siwapong are all realistic alternatives.

Up front, all three XIs chose Kaluderovic, but it could well still be Astrubal who is preferred. The Spaniard looked lively and technically very good on his brief debut appearance, but the reason we give Kaluderovic a slight edge is the ease with which he scored his two debut goals. He looked like a natural goal-poacher, and that is likely to be what Jadet is after from his lone forward.

Let us know if you agree or disagree with our selections in the comments section below!