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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!

 

Lions Roar Behind Enemy Lines: Muangthong Utd vs. Brisbane Roar

 

It’s the most natural of alliances. Two teams whose colours have historically been orange and blue, whose club crests feature roaring lions and who most importantly shared a common enemy on Wednesday.

 

 

Fans of the Twin Lions – Port and Brisbane – make the trip to the home of the Twin Qilins: Thai Champions and all-around baddies Muangthong United. Brisbane’s experience with Muangthong may only go as far back as a couple of months ago when the two sides drew 0-0 in their Asian Champions League (ACL) clash in Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium, but us Port fans have a longer and more complicated history with the second most decorated side in Thai football history.

Various scraps between the fans of Thailand’s greatest rivals have resulted in fines, points deductions and stadium bans, most recently when fans of both sides were banned for the final 5 games of 2016, as well as the clashes between the two sides in 2017. With this in mind, we didn’t expect to be visiting the SCG this season. Then came Port and Brisbane fans Costa and John. When we saw pictures of these two at the aforementioned ACL clash between Brisbane and Muangthong, we knew what we had to do!

 

Costa and John representing Klongtoey in The Lion’s Den

 

After last season’s ban-defying undercover mission to Nakhon Pathom, we had a taste for the subterfuge and excitement that comes with visiting an opposition stadium under false pretenses. What was to follow meandered from tense stand-offs with security to a chance meeting with a celebrity reader of The Sandpit, with lots of drinking and singing between!

But let’s start from the beginning. When I meet my fellow infiltrators Dom and Dave at Mo Chit, we compare our Port regalia. On one end of the spectrum, Dave has gone full-on brazen. His Klongtoey t-shirt is about as subtle as a brick, although to be fair he hasn’t put it on yet. I’ve played it a little safer, with a Port scarf tucked surreptitiously into my back pocket; visible but hopefully unidentifiable. Dom is in squeaky-clean stealth mode, with no identifiable Port items at all; the perfect cover.

Our first stop is Flann O’Brien’s in Impact Arena, where we’re scheduled to meet up with the Aussies, as well a fellow Port fans Eddie and Jesse. We’re warmly received and, after our first drink, pictures are soon being taken. My plan of not revealing my Port scarf until we’re safely ensconced in the away end goes straight out the window, but at least I’m not having my picture taken by one Muangthong fan, whilst being stood next to another. Ah, oops!

 

Fans of Port, Brisbane and Kung Fu Panda in Flann O’Brien’s

 

Next stop is the SCG, where large Leos are the order of the day. Within minutes, Dave has stripped off and put on his Klongtoey t-shirt, after which he nonchalantly cruises past a few hundred Muangthong fans on the way to the away end. A last-minute search for tickets proves successful, and we are sent up, beer in hand, to WW7 – a small area of the upper tier just above the normal away section. There’s a pretty impressive turn out from The Roar. Whereas Ulsan Hyundai turned up with 5 away fans, there are a few dozen there supporting Brisbane, including a group of fans who have made the long trek from Eastern Australia, complete with purpose-made caps to mark the occasion. Good effort, lads!

There’s a good view from our outpost, and soon enough the game is underway. Brisbane have apparently put out a combination of youth team and squad players, whereas Muangthong are at full strength. It shows straight away as Muangthong seize the initiative and lay siege to the Brisbane goal. Muangthong look composed and threatening, whereas Brisbane look panicky. Brisbane manage to create a couple of chances, but just as it looks as if they’re poised to start asserting themselves on the game, Muangthong take the lead. A pinpoint cross from Thai national team wing-back  Tristan Do (19) is met by Spanish striker Xisco (9), who finds the corner of the net with a powerful header. Brisbane make it to half time a single goal in arrears, but they’ve got it all to do in the second half.

The same could be said for us away fans, who filter out to stock up on beer and snacks oblivious to the shower of shit the mad-cap SCG stewards have in store for us. Dave gets an early taste, when a security guard notices his Klongtoey shirt and decides to start sticking to him like a limpet. I’m the first to try my luck re-entering the stadium with a large beer, just as I had before the game. The stewards smugly inform me that – as of now – only small beers are allowed inside. Just as I’m pointing out the absurdity of making up a new rule halfway through the game, a Muangthong fan walks past me with two small beers grinning like a Cheshire cat. Cheeky git. I try to explain the irony of allowing two full small beers in, while rejecting a half-full large beer. It falls on deaf ears. Admitting defeat, I find myself a small cup, inform the rest of the fans outside what’s going on and head up for the second half.

If only that was the end of the story. By the time the rest of the Brisbane fans try to make they way up the rules have changed again. Now it’s only a very specific kind of cup with a certain logo on it that’s allowed in. Unfortunately for the stewards, Dom falls victim to the latest rule change, and he’s less forgiving than I am. Seeing the opportunity for a lively discussion, Dom decides against watching the rest of the game and spends the next 20 minutes informing the stewards in minute detail exactly how deficient they are. I didn’t see this first hand, but have full confidence that Dom didn’t leave out the words “useless” and “cretins”. Whilst I’m light-heartedly poking fun at the absurdity of the situation, the bone-headedness of denying entry to fans who have traveled over 7,000 km to be there just because of the size of cup they’re carrying is seriously wrong, and further evidence – as if it were needed – that the SCG is a world-class joke of a stadium.

It wasn’t just the fans who came away appalled by the SCG, though. As The Courier Mail reported, Brisbane ‘keeper Jamie Young was injured by a damaged net hook and had to be substituted then taken to hospital (pictures here), where he had 26 stitches in his arm. Brisbane Director of Football Craig Moore commented “The goalposts cannot be of danger to any player and clearly they were.” Stay Classy, Muangthong.

“I’m not holding that scarf, mate!” says Brisbane Roar legend and Bangkok Glass captain Matt Smith

Meanwhile, the second half is in full-swing, with play mostly following the same pattern as the first half. I look around for a distraction from the depressing inevitability of a Muangthong win, and spot Brisbane Roar legend and current Bangkok Glass captain Matt Smith. After I introduce myself, talk soon turns to The Sandpit. Matt tells me he knows all about the website and is a regular reader. Good stuff, Matt! After I finish blushing, I castigate him for being injured for Port’s clash with The Glass Rabbits a couple of weeks ago, as I talked up the importance of the clash between him and Josimar in my preview. Matt tells me that despite my abjectly inadequate research he enjoyed reading the article, and will try his best to be fit next time!

Meanwhile, Brisbane struggle on, creating chances but not looking composed enough to take advantage of them. Then, in the 83rd minute, superstar playmaker Chanathip (18) makes them pay by scoring a goal befitting a player of his outrageous talent. Chanathip takes it past 2 defenders before selling the goalkeeper a dummy and walking the ball in to an empty net. Five minutes later Thai national team captain Teerasil (10) seals the win for Muangthong by adding a third goal, sliding in to apply the finishing touch to Peerapat’s (2) inviting cross-cum-shot.

Brisbane didn’t exactly cover themselves with glory in terms of their performance, but for a young group of players up against half of the Thai national team, it was always going to be a struggle. The traveling fans knew what to expect, and stayed out to applaud their players after the final whistle, but in a quite shocking display of what could generously be described as inexperience, all they got in return was a halfhearted clap from a handful of players, whilst the rest turned around to start warming down. At least a gesture to the loyal fans who had flown the 9 hours out to Bangkok to watch a weakened team get schooled and unceremoniously dumped out of the ACL would have been nice.

With the game over and Dom now back from his discussion with security, attention turns to a mysterious set of Klongtoey stickers, which have appeared from nowhere and distributed themselves around the stadium. How did that happen?! Regardless, we all take the opportunity to snap some choice pictures, before heading back down past the beer police and outside.

More beers are ordered, and Dave’s friend the security guard starts asking personal questions. “You have car? Or you go taxi?” Unsure of whether the security guard is angling for a phone number or just wants to get rid of him, Dave plays it cool and tries to wait him out. Unmoved, the security guard stands within a meter of him at all times. His body language says he’s going nowhere. His worst suspicions are confirmed when a Muangthong fan asks to see my scarf, which isn’t buried quite deep enough in my back pocket. I try my best to politely decline, but he’s straight in the ear of the security guard, and after photos start being taken and the walkie-talkie comes out, it seems like drastic measures are definitely in order. The scarf is stashed in Dom’s bag, and shortly after we scarper in the direction of Flann O’Brien’s, and part ways with our new friends, the Brisbane Roar fans.

These guys are a top bunch, and we hope to see them again before long, either if The Roar get drawn with another Thai team in the ACL, or if they fancy a trip to PAT Stadium. Despite the result, and the inevitable hardships any visitors to the SCG endure, this was a night where two sets of fans came together to watch football, have a few beers, share stories and enjoy themselves. In that respect, our mission behind enemy lines was most definitely a rip-roaring success!