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Tchau Tchau Maranhao

 

Amidst all the excitement over the arrival of new Port coach Zico yesterday, one bit of bad news crept out almost unnoticed. For several weeks now many of us at the Sandpit have been calling for the return of Brazilian forward Rodrigo Maranhao to liven up Port’s somewhat moribund attack, and last Saturday at Suphanburi we got our wish. Maranhao started the game like a greyhound let out of the traps and was a constant menace to Suphan’s defenders, creating plenty of chances for his fellow Brazilian Josimar, and generally giving Port’s frontline a big boost of energy and skill.

So, this being Port, it seems only logical that yesterday he was moved on to T1 strugglers Sukhothai FC on what we believe is a permanent rather than a loan deal, thus bringing his 18-month spell at Port – during which he finished as the club’s top scorer in 2016 – to a somewhat abrupt and shabby end.

Following on from the ridiculous Niran Hansson situation, it’s further evidence that Port – or at least the pre-Zico regime at Port – don’t seem to place much value on young players (Maranhao is only 24), and also don’t seem to have any kind of recruitment strategy for foreigners. Meanwhile, as Tom Earls pointed out yesterday, we have a bloated 40-man squad stuffed with ageing players who will almost certainly never pay for the club again, and a distinct lack of attacking talent. So why on earth has a player like Maranhao been allowed to leave?

We can only hope that, in the remaining week of the transfer window, Zico manages to bring in some more attacking quality because Josi is looking pretty lonely up there, and as we saw last week, he’s the kind of player who thrives on through balls rather than the hopeful crosses he’s been presented with all season.

Anyway, all of us at The Sandpit would like to wish Rodrigo all the best in his new career at Sukhothai. We hope he gets the regular football he deserves and bangs in plenty of goals (apart from on 10 September of course!) Boa sorte amigo!

Damn it’s hard being a Port fan sometimes…

 

Lions Overpower Tigers: Port FC 3-0 Nakhon Pathom (Friendly)

 

Maranhao starred as Port eased to a 3-0 victory in Wednesday’s friendly with T2 side Nakhon Pathom. The Brazilian, as he so often has been in friendlies, was Port’s best player, scoring twice and gift-wrapping a third for Spaniard Asdrubal, who made another step towards recovering from his long-term knee injury. The game was played out over three thirds, allowing Jadet to experiment with lots of different combinations throughout the side.

 

The First Third

 

 

The first third saw a combination of the second and third string getting some much-needed action. Goalkeeper Watchara (37) has now returned to Port as his loan spell at BBCU ended with the dissolution of the club. He was not required to make a single save as Port dominated possession, but on one of the few occasions a cross came in to his area, he flapped at it rather unconvincingly. In front of him Hansson (33) was the most impressive defender, but he was also largely untested.

Wanchalerm (40) looked tidy in defensive midfield, but it was on the right wing where Port were really making an impression. Maranhao (92) had the beating of his defender time and time again, although with Siwapong (97) not doing much to support Kaludjerovic (10), there was little for him to aim for in the middle. When Port did finally make a breakthrough, Kalu bungled his chance. Clear through on the keeper, Kalu’s side-footed effort was saved, but the ball fell to Maranhao who blasted in the rebound from the edge of the area. Port 1-0 Nakhon Pathom

On the left hand side Port weren’t making as much progress. Asdrubal (27) – returning from an injury that was expected to keep him out for the full season – looked a long way off full fitness. The Spaniard did show some nice touches, but wasn’t able to get past his defender or contribute tellingly in the attack. Maranhao, on the other hand, continued to make his case for inclusion in Port’s second leg T1 squad. In a textbook Maranhao move, he beat his defender with a stepover, moved the ball inside and rifled a shot – this time with his left foot – into the near post bottom corner. Ahh, how we’ve missed that Brazilian spark. Unstoppable. Port 2-0 Nakhon Pathom

 

The Second Third

 

 

The second third saw some more established players coming in, as well as youngster Techin (25), who got his first outing since the very first friendly in pre-season. Techin played alongside Tatchanon (39) in midfield, while Jadet experimented with a front two of Tana (99) and Kalu.

Play continued in the same vein, with Port pouring forward and Nakhon Pathom offering nothing but desperate defending. Tana and Kalu were both off the pace, leaving it once again for to the wingers to create and convert the chances. Meechok (20) linked up well with Maranhao on the right, overlapping the Brazilian and then finding him in the box with a pinpoint cross, before Maranhao unselfishly squared to Asdrubal, who celebrated his return to the action by beating the keeper from close range to score his first Port goal. Port 3-0 Nakhon Pathom

 

The Final Third

 

 

Jadet used the final third to trial what will be very close to his Starting XI in Korat on Sunday. With Adisorn (13) and Suarez (5) suspended, Jadet looks like he will turn to Tatchanon (39) as cover for Adisorn, and Kalu (10) as a replacement for Suarez. The absence of both Worawut (36) and Siwakorn (16) from training is hopefully not an indication that either is not fit for the upcoming game!

The final third, which you would expect Port to dominate with their first choice players, was bizarrely the most even period of the match. The rain that came down midway through the period did nothing to inspire the players to attack, and indeed despite a couple of nice touches from Pakorn (9) there was little of note to talk about.

 

Man of the Match

 

 

Undoubtedly, the man of the match was Maranhao. The skillful, energetic Brazilian was involved in everything that Port created. Now back to full fitness, Maranhao must be playing himself into serious contention for a place in the Port’s squad for the second leg of the season. The spark he provided was in stark contrast to Kalu, who as usual looked sluggish and was unable to convert the chances that came his way.

 

Photos by Alisa Suwanrumpha

 

MaranhaOUT – Transfer Window Closes; Squad List Announced

 

Official squad lists have appeared on the official Thai League website, and the transfer window will tonight be slammed shut, meaning that months of speculation and rumours can finally be put to bed.

Port’s top scorer in 2016 – Rodrigo Maranhao – has not made the cut, but will be staying with Port in 2017 after a deadline day move to Navy fell through. We can also now say with certainty that a couple of rumoured moves have not panned out. Armenian forward Edgar Manucharyan has not joined Port, despite reports in the Armenian media claiming that he had, and former Ratchaburi star Heberty Fernandes has also failed to agree terms. His reported wage demand of $800,000 per year was never likely to be met by Port, and it is now definite that Port have missed out on one of the top players in the TPL in 2016.

The man Port have chosen to fill the fifth foreign player spot is Brazilian forward Josimar Rodrigues, who signed last month having banged in 16 goals in 30 games for Army last year. It is thought that Josimar was not included in Port’s first two match-day squads because the club was still holding out hope of making a late deal with Heberty, but now that the deal is dead, Josimar should at least be on the bench for the trip to Bangkok Utd.

In other late transfer news, Port’s loan move for Chainat player Surachet Ngamtip has fallen through, reportedly because of injury concerns, and Surachet has instead joined T1 rivals Pattaya Utd. Other players to have missed out on a place in the squad are youngsters Patrick Bentley, Techin Muktarakosa and Danudech Trimongkolchok. The trio were in and around the squad in pre-season, but featured either very little or not at all, making it pretty unsurprising that they have not been included. They may continue training with the first team squad, or perhaps be loaned out to gain experience in a lower division.

Port’s complete 2017 Squad can be viewed here. We have included players who have not made the T1 squad but are still at the club, and marked them with an asterisk*.

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk – The Manucharyan Mystery

 

Armenian forward Edgar Manucharyan was a Ratchaburi player until just couple of days before the season opening clash with Port FC, when he was spotted at PAT Stadium training with the Khlong Toei Army. Rumours about what on earth happened – and what could still happen – have been numerous and confusing. Bear with us, here.

ESPN asked Ratchaburi’s head coach, Pacheta, what was going on.

“You have to speak with Fluke [team manager Tanawat Nitikarnchana]. It’s a decision of the club. I don’t buy and sell the players.”

Ratchaburi’s Director of Football Robert Procureur shed a bit more light on the situation.

“Edgar is a good player, but there is a problem with his behaviour. He has been fighting with the club president, and he has created some other problems already, so it is more of a discipline problem than a quality problem. He has had problems with many people already, so it was difficult to keep him.”

So, we can be pretty sure that Manucharyan has left Ratchaburi.

Then comes the Port situation. The same day that Manucharyan was spotted training with Port, Brazilian forward Josimar completed his medical and confirmed to The Sandpit that he had signed. With Josimar’s arrival confirmed that meant that Port had 6 foreign players on the books, despite the fact that only 5 can be in the T1 squad at any given time. Last season, Port kept Wagner Carioca at the club in similar circumstances and only used him in Cup competitions, so there is precedent for Port choosing to go in to the season with an extra foreign player. Given this, we can just about understand Josimar’s transfer.

 

Josimar at training

 

Then the following day came apparent confirmation from Armenpress that Manucharyan too had signed.

“Forward of the national team Edgar Manucharyan has signed with a new club. Just a day after leaving Thailand’s Ratchaburi, Manucharyan was signed by the Port F.C. of Thailand.”

Manucharyan at training

What?! It’s worth pointing out at this stage that the Armenpress piece doesn’t include any quotes or details from the player or the teams involved, and we have no idea where they got their information from.

If they are right and Port are planning to go in to the season with 7 foreign players, then we will be truly flabbergasted. That would mean at least one of the new signings would have been signed just to be played in the cups or loaned out, as well as the underappreciated Maranhao. What sense would that make? Could there still be doubts about Kaludjerovic’s ability to adapt to T1 football? If that is the case, can Port replace a player who has already played in the league before the end of the transfer window, and if they can would that player be eligible to play in the first leg of the season?

Unfortunately we have more questions than answers, and are so utterly dazed and confused by all of this tomfoolery that all we can be sure about is the Cartesian fact that we know we exist. All else is an illusion.

 

Adios! Injured Asdrubal Returns to Spain

 

Sad news from Port today as the club announced that big name Spanish signing Asdrubal Padron has had his contract terminated after picking up a serious injury in training. It seems that the player, who hasn’t looked fully fit since joining Port in January, broke down in training with an injury that could keep him out for up to a year, so the club had no option but to let him go, given his rumoured salary.

From what little we saw of him in a Port shirt, and on Youtube, he looked like he would have been a very useful player at T1 level, but now we will never know. So it seems like Maranhao, who has been on fire during the pre-season friendlies, will get his chance after all. Rumours that he is helping Asdrubal with his packing before driving him to Suvarnabhumi are as yet unconfirmed.

 

MATCH REPORT: Port FC 2-0 Nakhon Ratchasima

Port overcame Nakhon Ratchasima 2-0 on Sunday to extend their pre-season winning streak to three games. Port endured a tough first half, suffering numerous injury scares, but came back strongly in the second half to win the game with two goals from a red-hot Maranhao.

Port lined up with Rattanai (17) in goal and a back four of Rochela (22), Dolah (40), Meechok (20) and Suchon (11). Piyachat (28) was given a start alongside Siwakorn (16) in central midfield, with Suarez (4) once again playing a more advanced role just behind striker Kaluderovic (10). Pakorn (9) and Genki (18) took their usual places on the wings.

Korat started brightly, with Ghanaian international forward Dominic Adiyiah (10) causing Port all sorts of problems with his pace and skill. Port’s defence held firm, but the midfield was caught out a few times trying to do too much with the ball and losing possession in dangerous areas.

Siwakorn Is Carried Off

Korat couldn’t find a way through, with Rochela and Dolah martialling a strong back line, but after 9 minutes of sustained pressure Port suffered a blow potentially much more serious than conceding a goal. Midfield maestro Siwakorn picked up a nasty-looking injury to his right leg and was piggy-backed off the pitch, unable to even limp. Young midfielder Tatchanon (27) came on in his place. Port will be hoping the injury isn’t as serious as it looked, as Siwakorn is set to play a key role in Port’s starting XI this season.

Just 10 minutes later, disaster seemed to have struck again. Rochela went for a brave header just as Adiyiah was attempting a bicycle kick, but beating Adiyiah to the ball came at the price of taking a brutal boot full to the face. Rochela seemed to be out cold for a few moments, but with the help of both the Port and Korat physios, he regained consciousness and walked gingerly off the pitch, being replaced by Todsapol (6). Port’s captain should be back to full fitness for the opening game of the season, but he will be carrying a battle scar with him when he meets The Sandpit on Monday for our very first exclusive interview!

Rochel-Ouch!

Port still weren’t done with injuries yet, though. Both Meechok and Kaluderovic were replaced before half time, although neither looked to be particularly serious. Nitipong (34) came on for Meechok at right back, while Maranhao (29) replaced Kaluderovic up front.

The one bright spot in an otherwise disappointing first half was goalkeeper Rattanai. The youngster made some good saves, claimed a couple of tricky crosses and looked more comfortable with the ball at his feet than he did last season.

Port held out to go in 0-0 at half time, but they probably deserved to be a goal or two down against an impressive-looking Korat.

The second half brought with it another round of substitutions, and the tide began to turn in Port’s favour. Pakorn was inches away from the top corner with a sweetly-struck free kick, and Ekkapoom (8), who has had a bright pre-season, once again looked lively after replacing Genki. Maranhao was to be the one who really made the difference, though

His first goal came in the 66th minute after a long spell of possession. Port worked the ball out to the right hand side, where Pakorn laid the ball back to Nitipong, who fizzed in a dangerous cross. Maranhao got ahead of his marker and glanced his header past the Korat ‘keeper in to the far corner. He received a booking for his hilarious celebration – taking his shirt off and showing Zone B some choice dance moves – but Maranhao didn’t care.

Minutes later he added a second goal, this time of his own making. Maranhao ran at the Korat left-back, who tried to stop him with a desperate lunge. The referee pointed to the spot, and the confident Brazilian took the penalty himself, calmly sending the ‘keeper the wrong way.

Maranhao – not for the first time this pre-season – looked like Port’s best player when was brought on, prompting questions as to why he hasn’t yet found another club. Surely a player of his ability should be in high demand if not in T1 then at least in T2. Is there another reason he’s still here? With new striker Asdrubal on the bench but not featuring at all for the last two games, some fans have been speculating that the door could could still be open for Maranhao to make a shock return, but at this stage with the foreign player quota filled, that is just speculation.

Port continued to look dangerous throughout the final 20 minutes, but Maranhao could not complete his hattrick with a tricky half-chance from the edge of the area.

Port can be happy with the 2 – 0 win and their first clean sheet of the year, although the first half performance and the injuries were both causes for concern. They will continue their preparation with an away game on Saturday 28th January at PTT Rayong, where Port will hope to extend their winning streak to four games and avoid further injuries.

MATCH REPORT: Port FC 3 – 1 Sukhothai

 

Port ran out 3-1 winners against Sukhothai in Thursday’s friendly at PAT Stadium. Port went 1-0 down early on, but equalized before half time and put in an excellent second half performance to secure a comfortable win.

Port started with Weera (1) in goal, Rochela (22) and Dolah (40) in central defence and Meechok (20) and Panpanpong (19) as full backs. Siwakorn (16) and Piyachat (28) operated in central midfield, with Suarez (4) tucking in behind striker Asdrubal(24). Both Genki (18) and Nitipong (34) were surprise selections on the wing, although Jadet is of course still experimenting with his team.

Sukhothai looked lively going forward in the early stages, but new signing Elias Dolah showed that he will be a force to be reckoned with this season with with some strong, fearless challenges in the air and on the ground. It was surprising, then, when Sukothai took the lead from a corner. Dolah was beaten – for the only time in the half – to a near post header, and the ball flashed past Weera into the Port goal.

Port responded with a sustained assault on the Sukothai goal. Genki, who is rumoured to be leaving the club when a suitable replacement can be found, missed three chances that he would have expected to do better with. If we was trying to convince Jadet to keep hold of him in 2017, he wasn’t going about it the right way.

Asdrubal, making his first appearance for Port, looked strong on the ball despite his diminutive stature. He turned a hopeful punt up the right wing in to an attack by out-muscling the opposing defenders and playing a smart pass inside when it looked like he had nowhere to go. He didn’t make the most of a good shooting chance from the edge of the area, but we’ll let him off as the playing surface was problematic for everyone.

Port looked a little lop-sided at times, with most of the good play coming through the middle of the park or the right hand side. Meechok got forward well from right back and made some dangerous overlapping runs past Nitipong, but on the left hand side Panpanpong and Genki showed little in the way of attacking intent.

Port’s equalizer came just before half time from a set-piece. Piyachat whipped a dangerous ball in, and Dolah stuck out a long leg to divert the ball goalwards. The ‘keeper managed to block the shot,but Dolah was on hand to bundle the ball in to the net and draw Port level.

 

An auspicious full moon over the PAT

 

As we’re used to seeing in friendlies, there were several changes made at half time, from both Port and Sukhothai. Worawut (36) came on for Weera in goal, and in defence Todsapol (6) and Piyachart (23) replaced Dolah and Panpanpong. New young signing Tatchanon (27) replaced Piyachat in the centre of midfield, while Pakorn (9) and Ekkapoom (8) took over from Nitipong and Genki on the wings. Maranhao (29), no longer a Port player but still training with the club, came on for Asdrubal in attack. Rochela, Meechok, Siwakorn and Suarez stayed out for the second period, but were all substituted later in the half.

Port’s left hand side looked much improved in the second period. Piyachart offered much more going forward than the more defensively-minded Panpanpong, and Ekkapoom played in his usual energetic and direct style.

It was to be Maranhao and Pakorn who would really turn the game in Port’s favour, though. Pakorn, looking slightly more slender than last season, was a constant menace down the right. He curled in a couple of fantastic shots which missed by just a few inches, and provided a trademark cross which Maranhao narrowly failed to connect with.

On the hour mark, though, Maranhao put Port in to the lead. He made a clever run in behind the defence, collected a through ball from midfield and side-footed a composed finish in to the bottom corner. Maranhao saluted the fans behind the goal,who were pleased to see him rediscover his early-2016 form. He may not be playing for us next season, but we wish him all the best wherever he goes.

Maranhao turned provider for Pakorn in the 78th minute. He twisted, turned and beat his defender on the left before showing excellent awareness to find Pakorn, who was in space on the right hand side. Pakorn powered his shot past the Sukhothai ‘keeper in to the bottom left corner, getting the goal that his second half performance deserved.

The pace dropped in the final 10 minutes, but Port comfortably held on for a well-deserved 3-1 win. Sukhothai finished 8th in the TPL last season and knocked Port out of the FA Cup with a convincing 4-0 win. Although this was only a friendly, a comfortable win represents a step in the right direction for a Port side aiming for a top half finish this season.

Lineups

1st half

Weera, Meechok, Rochela, Dolah, Pinkong, Siwakorn, Piyachat, Suarez, Genki, Nitipong, Asdrubal

2nd half

Worawut, Meechok (Pakasit, 76), Todsapol, Rochela (Anisong, 81), Piyachart, Tatchanon, Siwakorn (Siwapong, 72), Suarez (Wuttichai, 67), Ekkapoom, Pakorn, Maranhao

 

 

The Sandpit/Thai Port Importz 2016 Player of the Year

We asked members of the popular Thai Port Importz Facebook group to vote for their 2016 Port FC Player of the Year this week, and the results are in – and it’s an absolute landslide for Port’s Spanish captain David Rochela.

Rochela’s loyalty, his calm, unhurried defending, and his week-in week-out consistency made him the undisputed winner. He surprised many Port fans by pledging his loyalty to the club after relegation in 2015, and his leadership was a key factor in Port returning to the TPL at the first attempt. Thai football’s very own Alan Hansen/Paolo Maldini, his reading of the game means you rarely see him diving into tackles, giving away penalties or getting booked, and his best work is generally so damn smooth & unruffled you barely notice he’s there. Except when he’s stepping up to take penalties of course, which he did with ruthless efficiency on numerous occasions. His dashing Mediterranean good looks have made him a big hit with the laydeez, and, as The Sandpit can confirm after bumping into him on a night out recently, he’s a very nice bloke too. Well done David!

Whilst I was one of the many who voted for Rochela, my second vote would’ve gone to the unfancied Genki Nagasato. He may not have been blessed with the silkiest footballing skills – as Big Ron once observed of Carlton Palmer, “He traps the ball further than I can kick it” – but there’s always something exciting about an old-school, socks-down, balls-out winger. The Genk always gives the proverbial 110%, weighs in with a few goals and, best of all, clearly just bloody loves playing football, which is a wonderful thing to see. If the rumours are correct it appears we may not see him in a Port shirt again, so Genki-san, we, or at least I, salute you.

Anyway, without further ado here are the top-ranked players and some reasons why…

 

David Rochela: 67%

“Our best player by a country mile, and always puts in a shift.” (Danny)

“Over the season Rochela’s work at the back kept us in contention. He held a pretty average defence together.” (Dom)

“Rochela – reads the game well & steady as a rock. A captain leading by example.” (Derek)

“Rochela by a mile…” (Tommie)

 

Pakorn: 11%

“Pakorn must have had more combined goals and assists than any other player by a long shot. Can be frustrating at times, but without his contribution, particularly from set pieces, we would not have been promoted. Without him in the side there is pretty much no one who can take a set piece or cross a ball. ” (Tom)

“When he was on it was a treat to watch.” (Mike)

“Pakorn was an important part of promotion. Without him we wouldn’t have gone up, but for the same money we could’ve got someone better. He was class on the ball, and on free kicks. But he was incredibly selfish, undermines a lot of the good work he did. A big reason Port faultered was big names playing as individuals not pulling together as a team. Can’t give player of the season to someone who boots the ball out of the stadium after being subbed. He would make the top 5 players of the season but can’t bring myself to put him top.” (Dom)

 

Tana: 11%

 

Rodrigo Maranhao: 5%

“Maranhao for me, even though he faded in the 2nd half of the season but still chipped in with a load of goals.” (Kenny)

 

Sivakhorn: 5%

 

Big thanks to all who voted and commented. If you like polls, scroll down to the bottom of this page and tell us how you think Port FC will fare in the 2017 TPL!

 

 

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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!