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Stampeding Towards the Champions League: Suphanburi FC vs. Port FC Preview

 

Last time out against the War Elephants was the 3-2 thriller at home, courtesy of a late Boskovic winner, sending us 4 points clear of Buriram at the top of the table. Much has changed since then with Boskovic being dropped from the T1 squad and replaced by the returning Josimar. Our title challenge had seemingly slipped away after a string of poor performances and results in key games during June and July, including heavy defeats at home to fellow title challengers Chiangrai United and Buriram, but Port are still currently 3rd in the table, 4 points behind current champions and pack leaders Buriram United, and are in need of a win on Sunday in Suphanburi to keep up the pressure on the top 2.

 

Suphanburi FC

Form

 

Despite having impressively held league champions Buriram United to a 0-0 draw away, and then going on an unbeaten run for the next 5 games (albeit 4 with draws along the way) Suphanburi approach this fixture still sat in the dreaded relegation zone. However, with a game in hand on other relegation rivals, this is a big opportunity for them to secure some points and to keep them afloat in the top division of Thai football.

Key Players

 

Cleiton Silva (23), a name probably familiar to Port supporters as a former Muangthong striker, has been Suphanburi’s leading scorer this season with the Brazilian bagging 7 goals in 21 appearances during the 2019 season, and is a couple of strikes away from making it to 100 goals in T1. The 32 year old has made quite a habit of scoring against Port, with a goal at the PAT back in September of 2018, and another goal (again at the PAT) during the 3-2 match earlier in the season, so fingers crossed he remains off the scoresheet come the end of the weekend.

 

 

Fellow countryman Jonatan Reis also joined in on the scoring in our aforementioned victory, and, further back, got a brace against Port in the 2018 season while playing for Prachaup, but he has now been replaced by Dellatorre (10), who his back for his second stint with the War Elephants. Dellatorre also has a history when it comes to getting on the scoresheet against Port, but hasn’t had a very productive start to the second leg. 

 

 

Port

Form and News

 

While perhaps not in the form shown earlier in the season, Port are now picking themselves back up from the ground and dusting themselves off after their poor performances in July. Confidence should be on a high after being 5 games unbeaten in all competitions including a 2-0 win over our rivals in red (the 3rd of the season!) and a marvelous win in the FA Cup against Chiang Rai United to send us into the semis. This game is a great opportunity to continue our winning ways against poor opposition, and enabling us to continue to apply pressure on Chiang Rai and Buriram, with the top 2 both facing less than difficult fixtures at home this week.

 

Starting Lineup

 

With Suphanburi being strong at the back recently, having gone 7 games without conceding 2 or more goals, I believe Port must have a proper goal scorer leading the line, and after a great performance off the bench against Muangthong, surely Josimar (30) should be the one to start and hopefully continue scoring.

 

 

Score Prediction

 

Should be a comfortable result for Port. 3-1 with Josimar finding the back of the net again.

 


 

The match will be shown live on True Sports HD2 at 18:00 on Sunday 18 August, 2019. For those who can’t make it to Suphanburi Provincial Stadium, 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.

 

Port End 10 Years of Hurt, Turning the Sandpit in to a Moshpit

 

What a result!

Indulge me if you will as I attempt to see through the fog of beers and cheers and try to remember what was a truly enjoyable once upon a (life)-time experience.

If memory serves me correctly, an evenly balanced relatively non-eventful first half sparked into life around the 30 minute mark as Port began to exploit ‘Tongs weakness on the left-side of their midfield and defense. 4 clear cut chances came and went as Port peppered coaches’ favourite ‘danger area’ in and around the apex of the six yard box. (More of this later.)

As is always the case, first touch football tore ‘Tongs defence to shreds time and again only for Port to graciously fail to take advantage, the worst culprit being Josimar who came on as a replacement for Pakorn who got all carried away with the occasion and uncharacteristically tracked back, injuring himself in the process. Admittedly playing out of position on the right side of midfield, somehow the Brazilian striker contrived to scoop a ‘sitter’ over the bar when passing the ball into an empty net seemed the easier option. Cue hands in heads all round and seeds were sown in the back of Port minds that, ‘please god it’s not going to be one of those nights is it?” sprouted around the stadium as half-time arrived with Port in the ascendancy but profligate and still level.

 

 

All the half-time chat was whether Port could maintain their dominance or would ‘Tong, having surely been on the end of a rocket from their management team during the break, come out guns-a-blazing determined to make Port pay for their generosity.

Ten, or was it twelve, or fifteen beer-befuddled minutes into the second half and Port and Josimar finally made amends and sent the sell-out crowd into paroxysms of delirium as a flowing one-touch move (funny how that works eh?) down ‘Tongs right this time ended with an overlapping Suarez pulling the ball back into the perfect place at the apex of the near six-yard box for Sumanya to gleefully pass-smash the ball into the net at the keepers near post. Cue pandemonium in the stands and on the touchline as even the owner, un-missable in her fetching candy-striped pants, joined in the players’ celebration and relief.

 

 

Could they do it?

A brief period of Port ascendancy ensued as they sought the second killer goal, but soon they were visibly tiring, especially Sumanya who had also clearly decided that having scored he could now spend the rest of the game showboating and basking in the glory of his goal.

As Port retreated closer and closer to their own goal allowing ‘Tong to push on dominating possession and territory, supporters hearts crept closer and closer to their mouths. Would they hang on or would ‘Tong fashion a largely undeserved equalizer?

A couple of astute substitutions allowed Port to start threatening on the break and in turn the defence grew in stature, confidence and self-belief as time and again different Port players stepped up to the plate and snuffed out ‘Tongs attacks before they could develop into truly heart-stopping chances.

As the 90th minute approached Port swept forward on the counter-attack and just when it looked like a fast-flowing one-touch move (yet again) had ended with Port losing the ball, the impressively hard-working Josimar nipped in at the perfect time at the edge of the penalty area to calmly curl the ball past an unsighted keeper into the inside of the same near post as the first goal and round off of a truly splendid copy-book counter-attack.

 

 

Krakatoa couldn’t have competed with the eruption from the stands as older fans suffered pulled groins and tweaked hamstrings celebrating the second sweet goal of the game which guaranteed a thoroughly deserved victory and meant the 3 minutes of added time were simply 3 minutes of singing and basking in the glory of a first home win against the hated ‘Tong in 10 years as well as becoming a prelude to several hours of post-match moshing, quaffing and even talking pleasantly to plain-clothesed farang ‘Tong fans who’d had the balls to brave the potentially hostile Port terraces only to witness their team handed a comprehensive footballing lesson and a thoroughly comprehensive defeat.

Yes friends this was one of ‘those’ games, one of those ‘you should have been there’ nights. One that will live long in the memories of those 8,000 or so fortunate fans who went mental from minute one to minute 90 and beyond. Well, for those that can remember it of course.  I think I was there, wasn’t I?

Until the next time.

Now, bring on Bangkok United!

 

Toothless Sharks: Port FC vs. Chonburi FC Preview

 

Port take on Chonburi in a big clash for both teams, which also represents a hilarious role reversal from the first half of the season. Chonburi, in possession of one of the most prolific strikers in the league in Lukian (91), had already upgraded their second string Brazilian, bringing in Prachuap’s Caion (7) for the less than impressive Patrick Cruz, and looked set to have one of the stronger forward lines in the league.

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Playing Ratch-up: Ratchaburi FC vs. Port FC Preview

 

Port face their worst crisis this season, having suffered their third loss on the trot last Sunday. Before we get too down on ourselves though, it’s also worth pointing out that it’s our only crisis this season. Port had enjoyed the best start to a season in recent memory, and until just three matches ago, were top of T1. Having been beaten by champs Buriram – predictably if you weren’t getting swept away with the unlikely predictions that we would be champions – the next loss against high-flying Samut Prakan hurt more, and the third against a particularly objectionable Chiang Rai side more still. But remember, all three of these sides are currently in the top 4. Yes, we lost 3 consecutive games, but it’s not the end of the world. We’re not going to be champions, but an AFC place is very much still within our reach.

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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.

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Everybody Loves Rayong: Port FC vs. PTT Rayong, 4 July 2018

 

After the comfortable 5-1 win over amateur minnows Thamuang FC in Port’s first FA Cup game of 2018, Port face a rather trickier assignment in the last 32. PTT Rayong sit atop T2, and have just signed a Brazilian striker who has knocked in 2 goals in his first month with the club. You might remember him, he’s called Josimar! Whilst Josi and The Oil Millionaires are looking pretty slick at the moment, having eased past Ubon Kids City (yes, really) 2-0, there are a couple of reasons they will not be relishing their trip to PAT Stadium.

Firstly, they may top T2, but securing promotion is far from a formality. Both Nongbua Pitchaya and Trat are level on points with them, with Chiang Mai just one back. For a team like PTT Rayong who have been knocking on the promotion door for years, it would seem like the cups really ought to take second priority, particularly when they’re facing one of the form teams in the country on Wednesday, while promotion rivals Trat FC pay them a visit on Saturday. Secondly, Port are at home. No one wants to play Port at home.

 

PTT Rayong

Players to Watch

 

It’s usually pretty tricky to come by good information on teams outside T1, but PTT have got a few players worthy of note.

Top of the list is of course Port’s top scorer in 2017, Josimar (77). The Brazilian who led Port’s attack last season was not without his critics, but there can be little doubt that he is a T1-standard striker. Fortunately, Port’s back line know very well what they’re up against and will be prepared for their teammate’s fired-up return to PAT Stadium. They will know a lot less about his striking partner, though. Dennis Murrillo (11) has spent some time in T1 with Chiang Rai and Osotspa, scoring 9 goals in 27 games, but has really found his feet in T2. He top-scored for The Oil Millionaires in 2017 and has 11 so far this season, and is another one Port would do well not to take lightly.

 

 

The midfield looks rather less threatening. Journeymen thirty-somethings’ to a man, including third Brazilian Wellington Bruno (86) who is the stand-out man. Wellington had one excellent season in T1 with Chiang Rai, but with just a single goal to his name in 2018, it appears his best days are behind him.

 

 

The Oil Millionaires have a useful looking ASEAN player, though. Ryuji Utomo (5) is an Indonesian-Japanese defender, and seems to be the resident hard man, having picked up 4 yellow cards and currently being suspended from league action for a straight red. Then again his Wikipedia page says he likes to read books, so you never know. Along with Koravit Namwiset (27), who was a Thai national team regular under Zico, and former Buriram full-back Anawin Jujeen (6), PTT have a defence that wouldn’t be at all out of place in T1.

 

 

Form

Including their 2-0 win over Ubon Kids City, PTT have won three, drawn two and lost one in their last six. Rather more interesting than their last 6 games, though, is who they face next. Co-leaders Trat FC travel to PTT Stadium on Saturday. It certainly isn’t outside the realms of possibility that key men could be rested with this clash in mind.

 

Port FC

Suarez Injured

 

Port, however, are expected to field another strong lineup. Top-scoring Sergio Suarez (5) is unfortunately unavailable having picked up a knock last week, but Kim Sung Hwan (8), who will miss the T1 visit of Sukhothai having picked up his eighth yellow card against Ubon, will be available for the cup tie. Looking at the surely unnecessary caution that was taken to secure victory against Thamuang, I expect that Port will field a near full-strength XI.

The search for a system that works without Suarez goes on, with the most recent attempt – sticking Nurul (31) up front – being very unconvincing indeed. Whilst Nurul’s pace does undoubtedly cause problems for the opposition, he would be of much more use out wide, while Bodin (10) looks better suited to playing through the middle. In the last round of the cup Arthit (29) started alongside Boskovic (23) up top and notched two assists, although his all-around performance didn’t impress Port’s traveling support. Option three is bringing in Adisorn (13) and pushing Kim further forward. Against a pretty mediocre looking midfield this is certainly an idea worth considering.

Whatever Jadet goes with, Port will be heavy favourites to advance to the last 16. Let’s just make sure we go in to this clash thinking that that’s the case!

 

Predicted Starting XI

 

 

 


 

As with most cup games we’re not quite sure which ones will be on TV, but you can be sure that if it’s on and you can’t make it to PAT Stadium for 19:00, 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.

 

Brazilian Back on Ball After Bangkok Bike Bash

 

Some good news for Port fans today as we head into a short burst of footballing activity before the next mid-season break: top scorer Josimar Rodrigues, who was recently sidelined after picking up a leg injury as the result of a motorbike accident, is now back in training:

Josi was with the rest of the squad at their training camp in Nakhon Ratchasima, and should be in contention for a place in the Port squad to face Ayutthaya Utd in the League Cup on 26 July – the first of four games in eleven days. In his absence, Kaludjerovic has deputised pretty well scoring two goals in three games; however Kalu is a goal poacher, not a lone striker, and if Zico intends to persist with Port’s tried & tested 4-5-1 formation, Josi is the only striker at the club capable of spearheading the attack.

Personally, for the cup games at least, I’d like to see a 4-4-2 with Josi & Kalu playing together as I think the two would make a very effective partnership, but thus far Zico has shown little appetite for changing the formation that has worked pretty well most of the season.

Anyway, welcome back Josi, and hope to see you pulling on the hallowed orange & blue/black & grey/yellow & blue shirt at Ayutthaya next Wednesday.

 

 

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Spit in the Sandpit: Josimar Rodrigues – An Apology

 

Eating crow is a colloquial idiom, used in English-speaking countries that means humiliation by admitting having been proven wrong after taking a strong position. Crow is presumably foul-tasting in the same way that being proven wrong might be emotionally hard to swallow.”

The following is an official note of apology to Mr. Josimar Rodrigues…or you could call it an unofficial love letter to Josi…

Dear Mr. Josimar Rodrigues

It has come to my attention that you have been chosen overwhelmingly as Port FC Sandpit player for the month of May. Congratulations. But I’m not surprised. Ever since your performance against Police Tero, my dining menu has consisted of a heaping helping of thick black crow.

 

 

How could I ever doubt your ability, skill and determination?

At the beginning of the season I called you lazy, aloof, disinterested. I claimed the only way your forehead would ever meet a football was if it bounced off your noggin.

Then you scored 5 goals in 5 matches. With every goal more and more steam was taken out of my lazy, aloof, disinterested, “no headers please” arguments.

Um, do you mind if I now call you Josi?

So, Josi, being proven wrong about you has been an absolute joy for me. Port FC is in seventh place in a very tough Thai League T-One. Seventh place! Some long time Thai Port Importz say these are heady times for the club. Oh, tee hee, sorry for using the word heady. I am now ready to lead the Chuck Berry inspired refrain of “Go, go, go Josi go. Go, go, go Josi go, Josi be good tonight”

May I ask you just one final question? Remember when you raised your arms up in the air in celebrating one of your many goals at PAT stadium? Remember looking directly at the crowd and saying something? Uh, were you looking at me and was that something “How do you like your Crow, diced, whipped, or as is?”

Signed a new-found Josi supporter

 

99 Voters but Muangthong aint One: Player of the Month for May

If you havin’ goal problems I feel bad for you son, he got 99 voters but Muangthong aint one…

 

Josimar Rodrigues – 62%

 

 

Josimar bagged his second consecutive Player of the Month award in a landslide vote. He hit 3 goals in 6 games this May, but it was the two spectacular volleys he hit in the space of 4 minutes against Muangthong that will have prompted most of his 99 voters to plump for him this time out. Scoring the goals that secured Port’s first victory for 8 years against their fiercest rivals will write Josimar permanently in to Port folklore, so it’s no surprise that it has carried him to a record margin of victory in our poll.

 

Worawut Srisupha & Siwakorn Jakkuprasat – 15%

In second place were two players for whom consistency was the name of the game in May. Worawut has been in top shot-stopping form ever since being brought in to the side for the injured Rattanai, and his saves were particularly vital as Port hung on to their slender lead at the SCG. It may be surprising to say that a player who has finished third and second in our last two Player of the Month competitions is almost guaranteed to be back on the bench once Rattanai is fully fit, but until Worawut learns to deal with crosses more convincingly, he will always be the bridesmaid, never the bride.

Siwakorn also had a very solid month in May, capping it off with a fine Man of the Match display against Sisaket. You know what you’re going to get from the skinny wizard: a high work-rate, consistent passing, tenacious tackling and more than likely a yellow card to top it off.

 

Elias Dolah – 6%

Elias Dolah may have only received 6% of the vote, but getting on to the ballot ahead of previously ever-present Rochela is vindication enough for his vastly improved displays. Dolah is barely recognizable from the bambi-on-ice defender that started the season, and his confidence and ability on the ball really started to shine through this month. We always knew he could win headers and tackles, but Dolah has been adding more strings to his bow as the season has progressed, and we hope this continues throughout the year.

Thanks to everyone who voted in our much more secure cheat-proof poll. We’ll be back next month to see if Josi can make it a hattrick!

 

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Sandpit April Player of the Month: Josimar Wins But UN Observers Claim Irregularities

 

Voting closed last night in our April Player of the Month poll, and as Tuesday wore on it became apparent to the Sandpit’s admins that shenanigans were afoot. Normally our POTM polls get around 2-300 voters; this month we had over 1800 (that’s more than many T1 teams get at home games) and our hit count went through the roof.

Initially Josimar, deservedly so as he scored 5 goals in April, took the lead, only to be pegged back by perennial favourite and commander of a loyal social media army, El Capitan himself David Rochela. At which point the voting went into overdrive with a suspicious spike in traffic from, of all places, Brazil. Then Worawut and Sivakorn suddenly shot up in the voting too.

By 9pm, I was sitting at my desk waiting for the brown envelopes to show up and planning to buy a new house, but sadly it seems any skullduggery was of the purely digital kind, with tech-savvy voters using all manner of hacking skills to support their favourite players. Rest assured that we at the Sandpit take a dim view of such things, especially when we aren’t benefiting from them financially in any way, and so next month’s poll will be tightened up and there will be a heavy military presence at the booths to defend our integrity.

Anyway, the people have spoken, and I suspect the result is the same as it would’ve been before the hackers showed up, so here are April’s top 3:

 

Josimar Rodrigues – 39% (733 votes)

With 5 goals in April – and a memorable interview with the Sandpit – Josi was favourite to win April’s POTM and he didn’t disappoint. After a promising but goal-free start to his Port career, the likeable Brazilian got his season rolling with the winner against Ubon and hasn’t looked back since, scoring 5 in 5 games. Port finally have the Scary Foreign Striker we’ve been craving for the last 3 years.

 

Siwakorn – 25% (477 votes)

It was very tight for 2nd place with only a handful of votes in it, but the Skinny Genius just shaded it. Whenever we meet Port players and ask them who their best teammate is, they invariably reply “Siwakorn”, and the tiny midfielder is really coming of age this season with a string of dynamic, creative and destructive performances.

 

Worawut – 25% (472 votes)

The recent injury to Rattanai means Worawut has regained his place between the sticks and has taken the chance with both hands (rather than punching it away like he usually does). His penalty save at Chiang Rai particularly sticks in the memory – not only was it a great save in itself, but it arguably turned the game. At 2-0 down Port would’ve been dead; instead it was 1-1 a few minutes later and the momentum completely changed in Port’s favour.

 

Here are the final results in full:

 

Thanks to all who voted, and look out for May’s POTM vote!