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Know Your Enemy: Ariel Strikes

 

With a catch-up game between Chiang Mai and Chainat scheduled for Wednesday, I decided to delay my run-down of gameweek 9’s results. Unfortunately that means my memory of almost two-week old games is less than crystal clear, but I’ll do my best!

 

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Undercover Importz: Bricking It In Legoland

 

So the dust has now settled and bragging rights have been secured for the next few months. It’s a good feeling, right? But there’s a bittersweet taste. There’s no point going through the match highlights; Linny did an excellent job here and in turn got someone’s knickers in a twist (Hi “No Name”!) but the article, along with the build-up, highlights that the fans’ experience left a lot to be desired.

Do I need to remind you of the recent history between the two clubs? Probably not but, in a nutshell, we hate each other. A lot. Port fans’ reputation precedes them, and many try to embellish it, but things came to a head a few years back leading to matches being played behind closed doors, followed by an agreement that away fans should not attend derby matches for their own safety and to minimize the risk of violence. This still persists and was in effect last Saturday much to the annoyance of many fans.

The derby fixtures are the first 2 matches you look for when the season schedule is published, and naturally fans were eager to go up to the SCG Stadium for the first time in a couple of seasons, but the way the build-up played out would leave any football fan exasperated. The ineptitude shown in the week before the game by both clubs, the Thai FA and the ticket company outsourced by Muangthong to handle sales, Ticket Me (more on them later), was once again symptomatic of all that is wrong with Thai football. No clear message was broadcasted and tickets for the away end were sold to Port fans; through a cloud of misinformation hopes were raised then dashed then raised again until ultimately wrecked less than 48 hours before kick-off. It’s obvious that football fans anywhere should not be treated like this but situations like this are sadly par for the course. Rumour has it that Madame Pang made the final decision, possibly worried about a points deduction and its effect on the final table (very presumptuous if true) but you could equally argue that our opponents are in a very precarious position already and wouldn’t want to lose points.

So come the day and a bunch of us decided to make the trip incognito for various reasons; tick the stadium off the list, get behind the team even if we can’t cheer, it’s better to see it live than on a screen and generally fuck the ban. Our hopes of ghosting in unnoticed were immediately ended when, on getting out of our taxi outside the stadium, we bumped into ex-MTU employee and Sandpit contributor Gian, who thankfully didn’t raise the alarm. My first thoughts were that the stadium complex is self-contained, but with large spaces around either side which in theory could keep the fans apart, and the police and security presence was much larger than I’ve ever seen at a Thai football match. Black MTU security stand in huddles like European riot police; imposing, but after the travel ban announcement is it really necessary?

My girlfriend decided to tag along at the last moment (of all the away days to pick it had to be this one) so we had to secure another ticket. We were sent around the houses thanks to 2 Ticket Me stewards and 3 ticket offices only to be told that the stand had sold out (it clearly hadn’t but, you know, Thailand) so we had to purchase new tickets. The only tickets available were in the away end at home fan prices; clearly Ticket Me and MTU used this situation to their advantage but you can’t really blame them when there’s money to be made. After being asked by a bunch of farang MTU fans if I was a Port fan – my Borneo FC shirt with Dolphin emblem on an orange shield wasn’t the smartest fashion choice – we took our seats.

The away end, like the first half, was dull and lacked atmosphere; the ultras behind the north stand spiced things up with a “we hate Thai Port” chant but being around their fair-weather fans made the experience pretty lifeless. Thankfully we sneaked into the main stand with our Ticket Me stamps and enjoyed the second half much more. To their credit the Muangthong fans did wake up in the second half, maybe from going two goals down, and the noise from the Yahama Ultra Stand (nice bikes, lovely synths too) ramped up. As for us, we kept schtum for both the goals but Kevin’s thunderbastard had me out of my seat. I clapped Pakorn’s ridiculous keep ball just before the final whistle just because it took the absolute piss, and the press boxes rightfully applauded the second goal to the annoyance of some but all of the incident was contained on the pitch.

So all that was left was to navigate ourselves back to the Irish pub, past the hordes of young teenage girls waiting for part-time footballer Chappuis, for celebratory beers. Sure, we were buzzing from the result and the experience but football without fans lacks the excitement and atmosphere that makes it entertaining in the first place. News had already reached us that the screen at the futsal was a washout (literally) and everyone was streaming it on their phones there. Honestly, did anyone think the club could put on a successful screening? Last year we were squinting at the scoreboard in the PAT and this year there was a crappy stream in the middle of an EDM songkran party. Fun for some, sure, but enough reason for fans to jump into taxis and make their way to The Sportsman.

Ultimately there was nowhere for a Port fan to 100% enjoy the game and what the club offers us is not good enough. In a society where saving face is paramount, plus organisations and establishments are riddled with ineptitude and corruption, we can never expect common sense and logical thought to come to the rescue. It’s clear there are ways to resolve this; strong messages from clubs and the FA that violence will not be tolerated and harsh penalties will be handed out, ticket and travel for away fans purchased in advance and limited to a certain number so they can be policed correctly and separate fan areas would be a start but unless everyone – the clubs, police and fans – is motivated to start planning in advance and make this work then this is just a pipedream. Also factor in that it only takes one dickhead to throw a punch or a bottle and we’re back to square one again, so it seems that we’ll be sneaking in or at the boozer next season and maybe for a few more after.

 

Know Your Enemy: Dirty Dozen

 

Gameweek 7

Results and Highlights

 

With last week’s Songkran holiday I didn’t have time to keep up with all of the gameweek 7 action, so in the absence of my reports above are the results and highlights of the action. All you really need to know is that due to Port’s resurgence in form and Buriram’s match being postponed, Port went top of the league, while an agonizing late concession from Suphanburi sent them bottom to the fortune of Muangthong, who went in to their gameweek 8 with clash in second bottom on goals scored. Indulge me a second while I bask in the hilarity of Muangthong being lucky to be second bottom.

 

Port 5-0 Prachuap

Bangkok United 4-0 Suphanburi

Trat 1-1 Samut Prakan City

Sukhothai 0-0 Chonburi

Ratchaburi 0-2 Chiang Rai

Korat 3-1 Muangthong

 

Gameweek 8

The Action

 

OK, there we go. Now, on to gameweek 8.

Buriram, as I mentioned, missed their last fixture, meaning that they needed victory over strugglers Trat to replace Port at the top of the league. There have been a lot of personnel changes for the champs throughout this season, with the most notable being the ignominious exit of big summer arrival and former Premier League player Modibo Maiga. Fortunately for Buriram, strike partner Pedro Junior has been picking up the slack in Maiga’s absence, while the gradual introduction of Japanese star midfielder Hajime Hosogai is now complete, with the former Budesliga man now finally fit to start. Fit being the operative word. This guy is an absolute workhorse. For the entire 90 minutes against Trat he never stopped running, harassing, putting his body on the line and providing a platform for his team’s creative talents to build on. I would credit him with most likely having most touches of the ball, most fouls, and most fouled. The Genki Nagasato award for effort can be handed out now. Unfortunately for Buriram, Hosogai’s hard work didn’t lead to much up top. Pedro returned to his early season form, looking anonymous and devoid of ideas, and the same could be said of most of his teammates throughout a poor first half for the favourites.

 

 

Trat stuck to the tactics that have served them well enough so far this season – putting Doumbouya up against physically inferior centre backs and hoping that he eats them alive – and once again he was as voracious as ever. Filipino-Austrian full back Stephan Palla, playing out of position on the left hand side of Buriram’s back 3, was the latest victim. Doumbouya shrugged him off like he wasn’t there just before the hour mark, running on to Chenrop’s hopeful flick and powering his way through before deftly chipping it over Siwarak. 10 minutes later Trat survived one of the most ludicrous goal mouth scrambles I’ve ever seen, but a few minutes later substitutes Sasalak, Supachai and 16 year old Suphanat Muenta, who recently became the AFC Champions League’s youngest ever scorer, eventually combined to draw Buriram level. It wasn’t to be enough for the champs though, who now had to watch and hope that Port wouldn’t extend the lead to 4 points when they faced Muangthong on Saturday.

As we well though know, having faith in Muangthong this season is a losing strategy. The report on a wonderful, mental day for Port fans is here courtesy of Linny Russell, although a sad, salty Muangthong fan in the comments section also plays a starring role.

Buriram, and indeed Port, were given another surprising bonus on Saturday, with underdogs Chainat the latest team to expose Bangkok United’s much discussed poor early season form. This time I can find absolutely no fault with Mano Polking’s team selection – he went with Havenaar and Bonilla up front and picked more or less the team that I would consider is his strongest – but still Bangkok have been unable to string a couple of polished performances together in 2019. The defence was culpable for Chainat’s opener, as Bangkok allowed both of Chainat’s strikers a chance to take a swing at a loose ball in the box. Leandro missed the ball almost completely, but Ricardo Santos eventually connected to send the ball past a wrong-footed Falkesgaard. I have only watched the highlights, but as seems as though Anon Amonlerdsak was a bright spark for Bangkok, hitting the post and drawing a save from Teerath, but it’s all about converting chances, no matter how scrappy, and that’s what Chainat did again in the 53rd minute. Kiatisak Jia-udom (no, me neither) seemed to have been foiled by Falkesgaard, but the ball trickled agonizingly towards goal where a combination of Chainat forward Chatri and Bangkok defender Everton bundled the ball home to extend Chainat’s lead. They all count. Ricardo was fractionally out with a monster volley, and soon after Bangkok spurned a good chance when both Bonilla and Everton went for the same ball, putting each other off. Bonilla did much better on 74 minutes, finding a superb cross just as the ball looked to be going out of play, and Bangkok’s super sub Leesaw was on hand to head home. Two minutes later the assistant ref did a good job spotting Ricardo Santos basically punching Manuel Bihr in the face as Bangkok prepared to take a freekick and the Brazilian was rightfully sent packing, but even the 10 men of Chainat were able to hold on to a precious three points, heaping yet more pressure on Bangkok United. Last season at this stage they put together 11 successive wins, and they’ll need to do something similar if they’re to mount another serious title challenge this season.

PTT Rayong hosted Ratchaburi in another game I didn’t watch, but the highlights show that Yannick Boli, Steeven Langil and Philip Roller starred in a comfortable Ratchaburi win. Boli won and cheekily converted a penalty, then Roller provided one of the assists of the season with a magnificent run down the left, before crossing to Langil who converted smartly. Langil then turned on the style with a magnificent third, making Ariel Rodriguez’ 92nd minute toe-poke nothing more than a consolation. With Boli, Langil, Kang Soo-il and Roller on form, this is a dangerous Ratchaburi side, although they do have their problems at the back, particularly in goal.

 

 

I won’t bother you too much with the details of Chiang Rai’s 1-1 draw against Samut Prakan City as there are much more exciting results to talk about on Sunday. This was a 1-1 draw in which William Henrique scored an excellent equalizer for Chiang Rai.

Bottom club Suphanburi’s clash with surprisingly high-flying Korat was of interest to Port fans, as a draw or better from Suphan would see them lift themselves off the bottom, leaving our darling rivals where they belong. Despite a slow start, Suphanburi’s talented squad eventually found their flow and confidence, making it a comfortable 3-1 win. Bernard Henri did put Korat in the lead, but the chances were almost exclusively being created at the other end. Samuel Cunningham was very busy in the Korat goal, making some superb saves to keep the scores level, but he also had some help from the Suphanburi strike force. Cleiton, looking utterly bereft of confidence, was guilty of a few wild shots, while Jonatan Reis was looking more frustrated by the minute. It took a substitute to snap Suphan out of their slump, and it was English-born Filipino Mark Hartmann who connected with a tricky header to send the home fans wild, and breathe life back in to the slumbering War Elephant. Even Cleiton managed to find the target a few minutes later after a scramble in the box, then Reis rounded things off with a decisive volley in the dying moments. Three goals for three foreign forwards which ought to give their talented squad the confidence to find the form to push them up the table where they belong.

The Prachuap vs. Sukhothai clash escaped my attention, but I’m told it was a riveting end-to-end clash with numerous chances for both sides. Jhon Baggio hit the bar twice with the same shot in the first half, but both sides somehow went in to the break scoreless. 5 minutes in to the second half Baggio once again peppered the woodwork. His shot hit the bar and then the post but this time just about crossed the line, giving Sukhothai a deserved lead. It was Prachuap’s turn to hit the woodwork in a frantic late passage of play which, in injury time, finally resulted in a Prachuap equalizer. It was horribly indecisive defending from Indonesian Yanto Basna which allowed Matheus Alves to sneak in and score, meaning that Sukhothai now have a remarkable 1 win and 7 draws so far this season. Being unbeaten isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

 

 

Last, and most certainly not least, Chonburi vs. Chiang Mai. What a game. There were 12 goals in total, with the Sharks netting an astonishing 7 to Chiang Mai’s 5. I only switched on for the second half, with Chonburi already 4-2 up. Lukian had netted every single goal for the hosts. Bloody hell. Surely the second half can’t be as mental. Wrong. Lukian added another to equal Boskovic’s single game scoring record of 5, then Chonburi actually wasted a few good chances before Sithu Aung scored a worldie and young Thai forward Sittichok Paso also got himself on the scoresheet. Chonburi captain and former Port star Kroekrit Thaweekarn was also involved with many of the goals, despite not scoring himself. Chiang Mai’s front three didn’t do too badly, either. Mustafa Azadzoy scored twice, highly rated young Thai star Eakanit Panya got one and Eliandro poached another. Substitute Wanmai Setthanan got the final goal for Chiang Mai, who must look to their defence to explain how they managed to score 5 goals and lose. It must be said I don’t think I’ve seen a worse defensive display. Ever. They were an absolute shambles. I can’t wait for Port to play this lot!

 

Public Enemy Number One

 

 

From my last recap… “He’s looking like becoming a regular on my shortlist, so I’d better get it out of the way and give the award to Lukian this time.” Well, he’s only gone and equaled the T1 single game scoring record, so I can’t very well give it to anyone else this week either. Lukian is a seriously effective striker and a serious contender for the golden boot this year.

Other shortlisted players are Kroekrit, Azadzoy – the first time three players in one match have made the shortlist – Baggio, Cunningham, Langil and Hosogai. Unsurprisingly, with the exception of Cunningham and Hosogai, it’s mostly attacking players as not a single team managed to keep a clean sheet. Thai League, I love you.

 

Results and Highlights

 

Buriram 1-1 Trat

Chainat 2-1 Bangkok

PTT Rayong 1-3 Ratchaburi

Chiang Rai 1-1 Samut Prakan City

Muangthong 1-2 Port

Suphanburi 3-1 Korat

Prachuap 1-1 Sukhothai

Chonburi 7-5 Chiang Mai

 

League Table

 

 

Know Your Enemy: Chainese Burn

 

I know what the fans want. Let’s give them what they want. First up, the incredible capitulation of Port’s greatest rivals went in to overdrive in a result reminiscent of the 0-6 annihilation by Prachuap. This time Muangthong let even more unfancied opposition have their way with them, with relegation candidates Chainat sticking 3 goals without reply past the fallen giants of Thai football. Whilst the attacking was pitiful from the last team to unseat Buriram as champs, the defending was absolute filth. Chainat’s first came via a header, with neither the crosser nor the striker particularly pressured by Muangthong’s obliging back line. Then, Korean midfielder Lee Ho passed it straight to a Chainat striker from a freekick, allowing a simple second goal. The third was a real screamer from the first ever Laotian T1 goalscorer Soukaphone, as if you needed another reason to watch the highlights. The main point to be made here has to be about Muangthong’s defence, though. At the moment they’re starting with the hilariously overrated short-arse Adisorn Promrak and the inexperienced short-arse Saringkan Promsupa in central defence. They’re both 5 foot 9. Their full backs are also miserably inadequate for a team with even top half ambitions. Yes they’ve been unfortunate with an injury to their new Korean centre half, but as I warned in my recap of Muangthong’s transfer activity, you need more than that in defence if you’re going to challenge for anything other than relegation.

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Know Your Enemy: Football’s Coming Relegation Zone

 

It’s time for my roundup of T1’s gameweek 2 action, a week which saw two of the supposed big four title contenders continue to struggle. Both Buriram and Muangthong remain winless, after failing to overcome Suphanburi and Bangkok United. Early pace-setters Prachuap and Samut Prakan City are having no such problems, with two surprising wins from two, and there were also some really rubbish games which I can’t wait to tell you all about.

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Kirin Me Softly – Port Take On Weakened Rivals: Muangthong Utd vs. Port FC, 17 February 2018

 

In an early top of the table clash, T1 leaders Port will take on second place Muangthong United at the Theater of Corrugated Iron on Saturday. With Port fan groups calling for a boycott after numerous violent clashes between the fans at the SCG, both sides opted for an ‘away fan ban’ this year, meaning that Port fans won’t be able to watch the game live this Saturday, and Muangthong fans will also be banned from PAT Stadium when the two sides meet in June.

It’s a big let-down for fans that the game can’t just be policed responsibly, as it’s one of the biggest fixtures in Thai football. Surely if fan representatives and police came up with a plan to bus Port fans in and out of the stadium through a secure entrance then the game would be able to go ahead as normal, but instead both sides seem content to let the issue fester and deal with it again at a later date.

For fans still up for watching the game alongside the Port faithful, there will be a big screen at PAT Stadium which is expected to draw a pretty decent sized crowd. We’ll see you there!

Leaving off-the-pitch issues aside, Port have more reason for optimism in this season’s first Slum vs. Scum derby than they have for many years. With Madame Pang spending big bucks to fix all of Port’s major weaknesses, we now have more of a complete team than I’ve ever seen don the famous blue and orange.

The way Pattaya were dispatched also gave fans reason to hope that that Port’s game-management issues might be behind us. Adding a late third goal to secure a comfortable victory, rather than throwing away two late goals to slump to a disappointing draw, was certainly a welcome change!

Port can also call on the memory of their stunning 3-2 victory at the SCG last season, when a four minute masterclass in finishing put such a crushing dent in Muangthong’s title challenge that they never recovered.

Whereas that game was played in a completely empty SCG though, this game will be attended by all of the Yamaha Ultras and their ‘Curva Sud’ balaclavas. With the noise they’re sure to generate – when they’re not dribbling on their ridiculous ‘Money Can’t Buy History’ banners that is – Port will certainly have an uphill battle in a hostile atmosphere.

 

Muangthong United

Players to Watch

 

Muangthong may have lost some key players in the transfer window, but they still have some pretty useful replacements coming in. And some terrible ones, but we’ll get on to them later.

 

The Brazilians

 

The strike force of Heberty Fernandes (7) and Jaja Coelho (50) needs no introduction. Two of the finest forwards in Thai football brought together in a classic little-and-large partnership will certainly give Port’s defence plenty to think about. In replacing Leandro Assumpcao with Jaja, Muangthong have strengthened on the foreign-player front.

 

Heberty Fernandes, Jaja Coelho

 

Then at the back there’s Celio Santos, one of the best defenders in the league. An extremely imposing figure, he will present a tough challenge to Boskovic if he starts, although after missing out on the opening weekend we’re hoping the burly Brazilian is still indisposed.

 

The Thais

 

This is where things are looking significantly weaker for Muangthong this season.

Replacing Port fan-favourite Theeraton Bunmathan (you know him as Hia Um) is Peerapat Notechaiya (2), and whilst he’s second choice in the national team he’s not fit to lace the boots of the assist freak who will be spending 2018 with Vissel Kobe. I’d certainly take Port new boy Kevin Deeromram over Peerapat, and Muangthong must agree as they tried desperately to sign the Thai-Swede on deadline day, before Port swooped in and hijacked the deal. Chin up, fellas, you can have Panpanpong if you want!

Replacing Thailand’s finest striker of the last decade Teerasil Dangda is either the Thai Heskey Siroch Chatthong (35, Pipo to his friends) or the smaller, weaker and even more profligate Thai Heskey Chenrop Sampaodi (22). Whilst Pipo has stuck manfully to his principles, failing to find the net for Muangthong in T1 for half a season and counting, Chenrop went absolutely mental last weekend. The Thai under 23 striker bucked a trend which has seen him net just 3 times in 60 T1 games, firing in a hattrick after coming on at half time to help his side overturn a 2-0 deficit against Bangkok United. Well, I say firing in, but for the third goal he really just tripped over the ball on the line. I don’t know what on earth possessed Chenrop (a professional footballer, perhaps?) but I suspect he’ll be back to his inept best when Port come to town. The evidence of the previous 60 games holds rather more weight than 45 minutes of weirdness!

 

Siroch Chatthong, Chenrop Sampaodi

 

Replacing Thailand’s best ever goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan is Kampol Patthom-attakul (1), who has played 4 games in 7 seasons for Muangthong. Now, to be fair to Kampol he’s been on loan almost the entire time, and has played something like 100 T1 games, but he’s no Kawin.

Replacing Thailand’s most talented player Chanathip Songkrasin is Thai-Swiss Charyl Chappuis (23) who picked up a silly second yellow card on the opening weekend but won’t miss out on Saturday * as suspensions are only given to players who get a straight red card. With defensive midfielder Wattana Playnum who started that game missing out with injury, reliable captain Sarach Yooyen (6) and back-up Thossawat Limwannasathian (8) should start, which should make for a competent but hardly inspiring midfield.

Also looking competent but not exactly fearsome is the defence, with aforementioned left back Peerapat being joined at the back by Japanese veteran Naoaki Aoyama (4) and Thai national team duo Adisorn Promrak (25) and Tristan Do (19).

 

Naoaki Aoyama, Adisorn Promrak, Tristan Do

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 

 

Port FC

Full Strength?

 

I’m actually going to enjoy previewing our line-ups this season. At full strength Port are solid all over the park, with a few outstanding players to boot. There are even selection headaches for Jadet due to an overabundance of attacking talent in the ranks. What a time to be a Port fan!

We have no idea if Rattanai (17) is back to full fitness or not, but regardless, Worawut (36) dealt with everything Pattaya sent his way, including a second half penalty, with aplomb.

At the back the usual suspects Nitipong (34), Rochela (22) and Todsapol (6) should be joined by Kevin Deeromram (97), who did enough to hold on to his left back slot in his debut on Sunday. Sound defensive work, largely mistake-free play in possession and some tasty dead-ball deliveries put Kevin well ahead of his competition. It’s sure to be a tough day at the office for the Port back 4 though, with Heberty and Jaja posing some very difficult and very different problems. Heberty will be trying to find pockets of space in and around the area to unleash his pinpoint finishes, whereas Jaja will be using brute force to crash through.

 

Kevin Deeromram

 

Port’s fit-again defensive midfielder Kim Sung-Hwan (8) should be the only change to Port’s first XI. Kim will provide more reliable protection for the back four and better distribution than Adisorn (13). Siwakorn (16) was one of many names in the Man of the Match hat last week with a typically smooth display. He even whacked someone in the first couple of minutes and didn’t get booked. Remarkable! Against a weakened Muangthong midfield, Kim and Siwakorn must try to give Port a solid platform from which to attack.

Bodin (10) certainly gave Jadet something to think about with his electrifying cameo, but I doubt he will lose faith in Pakorn (7) just yet. Nurul (31) was practically unplayable in the second half, and will enjoy himself on the right wing against Peerapat if he gets a chance to play there, but with Do at right back, it seems unlikely that either Pakorn or Nurul will make too many inroads on their less-favoured side of the pitch.

In what seem to be more loosely defined roles this season, Suarez (5) and Boskovic (23) were popping up all over the place on Sunday. It worked a treat, as Port overran their opponents in midfield and never seemed short of attackers. Breaking down the Muangthong defence will be more of a challenge, but you have to fancy Port to get on the scoresheet at some point.

 

Dragan Boskovic

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 


 

When the article was first published, I wrote that Chappuis was suspended, but Dom informed me that only a straight red card or an accumulation of four yellow cards gets you a suspension.

 


 

The match will be shown live on True 4U and True Sport HD2 at 18:00 on Saturday 17 February, 2018. Again, away fans are banned so for those who can’t make it to PAT Stadium to watch on the big screen, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match with sound if you ask them nicely. Mention the Sandpit or wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount.

 

Slum vs. Scum: Port FC vs. Muangthong United, 22 October 2017

 

IMPORTANT NOTE: FANS ARE BANNED FROM ATTENDING

Due to last season’s shenanigans, fans from both sides are not allowed to attend Sunday’s clash. As of Wednesday when this was written, there has been no word of big screens or anywhere that all fans will be convening to watch Port take on their biggest rivals. What we can tell you, is that The Sandpit, and a fairly substantial group of fans, will be spending our Sunday afternoon shouting at one of The Sportsman’s big screens instead. Join us and get 10% off regular prices, and an atmosphere as hostile to the Muangscum as Zone B itself!

 


 

Port will ‘welcome’ SCG Muangthong to a boggy PAT Stadium on Sunday, looking to strike a final and decisive blow in the War Of Heroes. Port have already condemned The Dream Team to one stunning defeat this season, when Suarez’ majestic header and Josimar’s volleyed brace in front of the Yamaha Ultras Stand were just enough to hold off a Fight Back by Kirin United. Sick of the gaudy corporate slogans yet? Here, have some Leo. It might wash it off.

No, wait…

 

Motherfuckers! Is nothing sacrosanct?

Muangthong face a 9 point deficit to Buriram, although they have a game in hand after their clash with Honda last week was rained off. With just 12 more points available, a Muangthong defeat against Port and a victory for Buriram at Suphanburi would send the title to the Thunder Castle, as Muangthong’s inferior head to head record with Buriram mean they lose out if the sides finish level on points.

Now, there’s some motivation if ever Port needed it!

 

Muangthong United

Players to Watch

 

Alright, I give up. I can’t pick my usual 4 or 5 players, so this is basically the whole team. Hold your noses!

 

The Defence

Legendary stopper Kawin Thamsatchanan (1) will of course start in goal, with the reliable Japanese veteran Naoaki Aoyama (5) and Brazilian man-mountain Celio Santos (29) in central defence. If Muangthong go for a back three then they will be joined by Adisorn Promrak (5), with regular full-backs Peerapat Notchaiya (2, the rubbish one on the left) and Tristan Do (19, the good one on the right who all the Port fans hate because he’s a tough little so-and-so) playing a little higher up the pitch.

 

Aoyama and Celio

 

The Midfield

With all the options available to Muangthong, it’s difficult to say who will get the nod on Sunday, although Charyl Chappuis (23) will very likely start in attacking midfield. Muangthong have been reshuffling their pack quite a bit of late, and the Thai-Swiss heartthrob seems to be one of the beneficiaries, playing in a more advanced role. He showed superb awareness and touch to lay on the opening goal in Muangthong’s 2-0 victory at Buriram a couple of weeks back.

One man who has been utilized in central midfield quite a few times by club and country this season is the man well known to Port fans, although more often not by his real name Theerathon Bunmathan (3), but rather by – shall we say – his pet name. Yep, it’s Hia Um. I really hope Muangthong persist with the experiment, as it’s been a load of rubbish as far as I can tell. Hia Um is probably the best crosser of the ball in the league, so the idea of playing him in central midfield where he seldom has opportunities to cross the ball is utter nonsense. In the first half of the season, Hia Um racked up an outrageous 7 goals and 11 assists from left back and occasionally left midfield, but since Rajevac moved him in to the centre of the national team midfield, copycat-in-chief Totchtawan Sripan has followed suit to the tune of zero goals or assists in Hia Um’s last 9 league games. I’m cheating a bit to be fair, as he didn’t play centre midfield in all of those games, and to his credit, Hia Um did bag the final goal in the league cup victory against Buriram with a superb finish. Buuut let’s forget about that and assume he’s going to be rubbish. He normally is against Port, anyway!

It’s worth briefly mentioning that Sarach Yooyen (6) has just returned from injury, and could play a part. While being injured, the Thai national team regular has been frequently linked with Port, but as I said at the time, there’s very little chance of that happening, as once he’s 100% fit Sarach should just slot back in to the team with Wattana (34) or Thossawat (8) losing their place.

 

I can do photoshop, me!

 

The Attack

Just let these figures sink in for a moment. Since joining Muangthong mid-season, former Sisaket forward Leandro Assumpcao (77) has scored 13 goals in 13 starts in all competitions. Having joined at the same time, his compatriot Heberty Fernandes (7) has 15 in 13 starts, including 10 in his last 6 league games. The comparative slouch in Muangthong’s front three is Thai superstar Teerasil Dangda (10) who has 13 goals in 26 games, and has also turned creator for a further 13. Remember when we only conceded 2 against them last time out? Well, 2 of these 3 weren’t there at the time. Good luck, chaps…

 

Leandro, Heberty and Teerasil

 

Form

After an absolutely calamitous collapse in the back half of May that saw Muangthong go down to the three promoted teams in succession, they haven’t lost in the league since. That’s 9 wins and 4 draws. They’ve secured 5 wins and 1 draw in their last 6 outings, with 24 goals scored and 6 conceded.

Port are not in quite such strong form, although Jadet has a 100% winning record in the league since replacing Zico, with 2 wins from 2. The last 6 games also include 2 draws and 2 losses, but the less said about the Zico era the better!

 

Port FC

Starting XI

 

Well, I went through all of their mob, so I may as well do the same with ours.

It will be interesting to see if Jadet puts Dolah (4) straight back in to the starting XI, or if Todsapol (6) keeps his place at the back. With Muangthong’s forward line being more mobile than it is tall, Todsapol could be a wise choice, although with Celio coming forward for set-pieces we may yet miss Dolah’s physical presence if he’s not there. Whoever is picked will of course be partnered by Rochela (22), with Panpanpong (19) and Nitipong (34) likely to continue as full-backs. Rattanai (17) made an impressive return to action last week, and should keep his place in goal, despite Paulo Rangel’s despicable attempt to injure him.

Adisorn (13) seems to have fought his way back in to the first XI with another feisty performance in defensive midfield against Nakhon Ratchasima. This sort of game, against more glamorous opposition in swampy conditions is just where you would expect Adisorn to shine alongside Siwakorn (16) in the Port engine room.

Pakorn (9) and Genki (18) will occupy their usual places on the wings, with Suarez (5) and Josimar (30) up front. Both the Spaniard and the Brazilian are in fine form, with Suarez having scored 2 in his last 3, as well as providing 3 assists, whilst Josi has bagged 4 goals in his last 3. The pair were responsible for Port’s 3 goals at the SCG, so will not be underestimated by Celio (29) and Aoyama (5) this time round.

 

Predicted Starting XI

 

 

The match will be shown live on True4U and True Sport HD at 17:45 on Sunday 22 October, 2017. Remember everyone, FANS ARE BANNED FROM ATTENDING, so The Sandpit will be convening in The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 for happy hour beers, where the match will be shown on a big screen with sound. Mention the Sandpit or wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount while you’re there!

 

No Bottle; Port Crack in Coke Cup Final

 

Port’s Academy suffered Coke Cup heartbreak after they slumped to a 2-0 loss against Muangthong in the Bangkok Regional Final. Port had already exceeded expectations by getting as far as they did, outperforming the youth sides of some of Bangkok’s best clubs, most notably Bangkok United – who were dispatched in the group stage – and Bangkok Glass. Ultimately their efforts came to nothing, though, as rivals Muangthong advanced to the last 8 of the Coke Cup, where they will face the champions of 7 other regions.

The game itself was a pretty one-sided affair, and it’s no surprise when you look at the teams. The Muangthong Academy provides a sizable proportion of Thailand’s under 19 squad, whereas Port don’t have a single representative, with Meechok having turned 20 this year. Nevertheless, Port’s young lions did themselves proud, surviving against the prohibitive favourites until well in to the second half.

Tall, powerful midfielder Polkrit (11) was arguably Port’s key man, shielding the defence well and making Muangthong’s forwards think twice about going in to challenges with him. Unfortunately his all-action performance took its’ toll, and Polkrit limped off with a foot injury at about the hour mark. It was shortly after the big man was replaced that Port finally succumbed. A pinpoint cross from the left was headed home by the only forward in the box, who did well to find space between the two centre backs and finish clinically.

It was at about this time that Port players started dropping like flies. A spate of substitutions were made as Port’s players were clearly not able to cope with the physical demands of playing every 2 or 3 days in a tournament format like this, with most games being played at four o’clock in the afternoon. The game slowed down as numerous Port players cramped up, and others suffered injuries. Muangthong held up much better, retaining their impetus and continuing to attack in search of a second goal that would surely kill the game off.

It wasn’t long before it came, and it was a goal that goalkeeper Jedsadakorn (23) will want to forget in a hurry. In fairness to Port’s stopper there was a clear hand-ball in the build-up, but the way he flung himself on to the floor in an attempt to gather what should have been a fairly routine ball through was definitely more Weera than Rattanai. It was a disappointing end to what had been a good tournament for the ‘keeper, who kept two clean-sheets in four games.

 

Partchya (27) scored one of the goals of the tournament in the 2-0 win over Honda

 

Nevertheless, Port can certainly return to their regular season with heads held high. Perhaps some of Port’s players may have even done enough to be considered for an under-19 national team call-up. From the bits and pieces I watched, if I were to pick the two with the best chances they would be Polkrit (11) in midfield and Partchya (27) on the left wing.

 

Well Worth the Wait: Muangthong United 2-3 Port FC

 

As we gathered in The Sportsman on soi 13 yesterday afternoon I couldn’t help but reminisce about the feeling of hating a club so much. Fortunately for me mine overlapped; Glasgow Rangers died and I came to Thailand in the same year – 2012. Muangthong actually represent everything I despise socially and in football. Owned by capitalist billionaires with influence, they think the world owes them and have a sponsored stand named after the plebs that support them. The club is so fake!

Eight long years it had been since Thai Port had recorded a victory against this mob and given the start they had made to this campaign, even the most optimistic of Port fans would have passed on the 8/1 odds Paddy Power was offering. Well, the rest is history and a devastating four minute spell at the end of the first half has created what will live in our memories for several years to come.

Jadet gave us the team most of my Sandpit colleagues envisaged: basically a 4-5-1 formation with the usual suspects operating the positions in what were wet and blustery pre-match conditions. The first ten minutes both sides evened each other out and Muangthong settled into a slow passing rhythm, with Port having the odd venture forward, usually led by Pakorn (9) and his trademark sticking his arse into the opponent, dropping the shoulder and a quick acceleration. It nearly worked as early as the third minute, but nobody was on the end of a brisk centre.

A corner in the 11th minute nearly resulted in the opening goal, swung in by Tristan Do (19), Lee Ho (15) rose highest to thunder a header off the woodwork and central defender Celio (29) failed with the response only to be cleared by the ever reliable Captain Fantastic himself. Muangthong were now on top and with Teerasil (10, when the prick would stay on his feet) and Sorawit (14) were looking dangerous. Minutes later we traded chances. Firstly, Josi (30) hit over the bar and then Sorawit (14) returned the favour.

Port’s fist real chance came soon after when Rochela (22) set Suarez (5) on his way, but he was unlucky with the finish. Nevertheless, the statement was clear: we were going to have ago even though we would have to play the sponge tactic and break quickly. Shortly after shaky defending by Nitipong (34) let in Sanukran (16) who brought a great save out of Worawut (36) in goal. By now Muangthong had been looking dangerous and a bursting run and triple jump resulted in a penalty being incorrectly given by the ref. Teerasil (10), who was dangerous throughout, was fouled by a rash Dolah (4) challenge but the replay showed it was a yard outside the box, Theerathon (3) – Thailand’s talisman – made sure from the spot. Muangthong 1-0 Port

Then just before half time my orgasm started. Josimar had a shot on goal deflected, and from the resulting corner Dolah’s header was charged away by Theerathon. Then Pinkong (19) decided to have his own crossing practice exhibition, the Muangthong defence failed to clear and Josi smashed the ball low and hard into the corner of the net. Muangthong 1-1 Port

Then in the 43rd minute the Pink man was at it again. This time a salmon rose in the form of Sergio Suarez (5) and dispatched an exquisite header into the back of the Kirins net. Muangthong 1-2 Port

Then the Bangkok pool league was officially halted for the first time ever in its twenty year existence as fifteen lunatics preceded to run wild around there pool tables like buffalo en route to the first creek in seven miles. From the right wing Nitipong (34) advanced and delivered an inch-perfect ball into Josimar who volleyed an unstoppable shot into the gaping goal. The moment of ejaculation! Muangthong 1-3 Port

The second half began with a Muangthong tactical change reverting to a 3-5-2 formation and making a double substitution with Mongkol (22) introducing himself with his elbow on Rochela (22) in a terrible challenge. Muangthong were now on top and Port reverted to a hold tight approach which was not good for my finger nails or ticker. Defensively we had looked shaky throughout in fairness and on 55 minutes Dolah was caught under a cross, but thankfully Teerasil couldn’t capitalize. Then minutes later Chanathip (18) sent a thunderbolt destined for the top corner only for Worawut to pull off a world class stop. A minute later the ball was thumping off the Port woodwork, again from the head of Lee Ho (15).

We were now wobbling significantly, and two minutes later the inevitable happened. Centre half Celio (29) was doing his Jinky Johnstone impression on the left wing and centred for Teerasil to pull a goal back with a close range strike. Muangthong 2-3 Port

Then all of a sudden in the last 15 minutes Port started to express themselves again and looked more composed. They could have even sealed it with two late forays into enemy territory. Josimar was found by Pakorn (9) in acres and Tana (99) was one on one but neither could capitalize. Thankfully the game was soon over and the boys from Khlong Toei were triumphant! The boys in yellow had made a statement that on our day we can beat anyone, anywhere. The only disappointment is we could not experience this occasion with the team we loyally follow throughout the kingdom, but our day will come again for sure.

 

The Sandpit’s Man of the Match

 

Any man who hits a brace against them deserves it. Well done, Josimar Rodrigues!

 

8 Reasons We Love Beating Muangthong

 

It’s been a while since Port have beaten their fiercest rivals. 2,853 days to be exact, but who’s counting? To celebrate Port breaking their near 8 year drought, we thought it was only right to give you 8 reasons why we LOVE beating the Muangscum.

 

We Even Gave Them a Head Start

 

We didn’t just beat Muangthong. We beat them giving up a one goal head start! Whilst Dolah clearly felled Teerasil, replays showed contact was made just outside the box. Maybe next time if the ref doesn’t give them a one goal start, we’ll win more convincingly!

 

The Numbers

Muangthong: 25 Shots, 2 Goals

Port: 4 Shots, 3 Goals

Check your pockets, Muangthong, you’ve been robbed!

 

Those Four Minutes

Possibly the most exhilarating four minutes of football in Port history. One nil down and without a goal in the last 2 games, Port suddenly turned on the afterburners, sending cross after cross in to the Muangthong box, and attacking the ball as if our lives depended on it.

The first goal was a pleasant surprise, the second a downright shock, and the third an out-of-body experience!

 

Headers and Volleys

At Port we don’t just score run-of-the-mill goals like dodgy penalties and tap-ins; we go the extra mile. Josimar’s first was a stunning left-footed volley which curled in to the bottom corner, the second a Beckham-esque cross by Panpanpong met by a Ronaldo-esque leap and header by Suarez, the third a pinpoint pull-back from Nitipong met by a right footed pile driver from Josimar. The perfect hattrick. The Holy Trinity. The Tarua Trilogy!

 

 

The Title Race Is Back On

In two losses to Thai Honda and Port, Muangthong’s seven point advantage at the top has been cut to just one. If Muangthong lose out by a couple of points this year, we’ll be sure to remind them about this game, and the points they could have had, if not for…

 

Port’s Twelfth Man

“You Shall Not Pass!”

 

Usually this is where we sing the praises of the traveling fans, but in the ghost town that was the SCG, Port received some spooky help from the woodwork. First, the bar rejected Lee Ho’s powerful header, then the post repelled Sorawit’s mishit effort, before finally the bar once again said “No” to Lee Ho. “You shall not pass!”

 

Bragging Rights

Who else is looking forward to all those conversations with Muangthong supporters now? Not just in the coming days and weeks, but for years to come Port fans will be reminding their glory-supporting counterparts about those four minutes at the SCG.

 

This Video

We may not have been there to cheer on the lads, but they made sure the occasion didn’t pass without some Tarua songs ringing through the bowels of the SCG. We particularly hope the dressing rooms are next door, so that Weera’s wall-banging antics were clearly audible in a silent, dejected Muangthong dressing room.

 

 

If you can’t view this video, click here for a Youtube version.

 

Ahh, Schadenfreude!