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Lights Out: Port FC P – P Muangthong United

Our match reports are brought to you by The Sportsman.

 

I would normally begin an article with a pithy, light hearted observation that can frame the basis
of the narrative but after taking stock of yesterday’s farcical events, reviewing the news and
social media and casting an eye back over what has been a frankly ridiculous year for the club
all I can do is ask a question:

What the fuck is going on at Port?

 

 

Yesterday’s match postponement due to an electrical fire and subsequently no floodlights
means we have been unable to complete 2 of our 3 home matches since the restart of the
league. The official announcement yesterday was that the match is postponed for a later date
but The FAT has communicated the match has been “called off because the electricity outage
had halted the game for more than 60 minutes”, just like the Police Tero match. This means we
will have to report the incident to a disciplinary committee and might have to accept another 0-2
defeat and a fine.

From any perspective this is shocking. After the last outage one must presume all electrical
units were inspected, any faults repaired and then vigorously tested. I have zero electrical
knowledge (but I know smoke + fire = big problem) and I don’t want to speculate the reasons
why the fire happened because that could lead into tin foil hat time but I will add this:
What happened yesterday is totally unacceptable for a professional football club.

I’m sure there will be more official statements in the coming week but there is nothing positive to
take from this situation. From the photos circulating on social media and chat groups, to the
news that media pass holders were unable to leave their holding room during the incident, this
was a brutal day and will no doubt have a detrimental effect on our reputation.

Let’s quickly take stock of this year: we have cut our stadium capacity by 25% by adding
uncomfortable, dangerous seating for one AFC match (which we lost), fired a silverware winning
coach who had taken 10 out of 12 points in this league campaign, signed an injured player and
shamefully dropped our captain to accommodate him in the squad, fired another coach for 2
defeats (1 technically awarded due to power outage) and there are still many, many things I
could gripe about.

I know that in football, and from supporting this team for 4 years, gallows humour plays a big
role in defeats, relegation and all other forms of misfortune but yesterday’s event was just
disrespectful. The fans, some of the most passionate in Thailand, deserve a lot better and the
club is now damaging the reputation of the league and Thai football in general. Port needs to
accept responsibility and any punishment meted out, show some understanding and remorse
towards its coaching staff, players and fans, and finally conduct itself more professionally. It’s
not something we ask for, it’s something we expect.

 

Port to Maintain the New Normal? Port FC vs. Muangthong Utd Preview

 

No, this is not a Covid-19 reference, nor some pessimistic speculation on Port’s relatively indifferent form since the re-start continuing, but, rather, a welcome nod to the Lions’ satisfying habit of regularly beating their much-loathed rivals in recent seasons. Resounding home and away victories have brought unbridled joy to the Klongtoey faithful, and some eagerly taken dressing-room photographic opportunities for the players. This happy sequence has only been marred by a 3-2, 2018 home loss in a game notable for four goals in seven minutes of Toby time after the interval and a cruelly ruled out, ‘offside’ equalizer.

As with all games between Port and the Kirins, this one will be eagerly anticipated, but the absence of a rabid, baying Port crowd thirsting for blood (metaphorically of course, as away fans have not been admitted in recent years) definitely dampens the enthusiasm. Games between these teams have led to heated debates amongst the fans, to say the least, and this rivalry has given the games a certain edge, with success often measured in the emergency room as much as the goalmouth.

With football in the UK played against an uninspiring soundtrack of canned cheering and audible player cursing, we should really be grateful that at least we can get to see live football again and have a few beers with our mates. All that is missing are the Korean sex-dolls. I will bring some along next time.

 

 

To be truthful, the atmosphere has been rather sterile in the first two home matches with somewhat muted cheers greeting the goals and occasional moments of artistry. In fact, the loudest outburst of meaningful noise was when the floodlights failed, plus the raucous howls of derision when Tunez tried to pick a fight with Heberty. It just showed what sort of delicious malice might be generated by a real crowd. To be fair, it is hard to get excited sitting down and with the luxurious space afforded by Port’s social distance seating (we knew they would come in handy some time) plus the uninterrupted views, it does seem rather a waste of energy getting to your feet, except at Zone B corners and then it’s often just to stretch the legs.

Then there is the lengthy wait while, it seems, every goal, yes, every goal, is subject to VAR regardless of its obvious validity. I am waiting for someone to score direct from a rolled-back kick-off only for the referee to check if the player had put his shin-pads in correctly.

Port’s re-start has been riddled with a predictable mixture of farce and folly: the floodlight fiasco, yet another Jadet sacking and the Bonilla injury saga, not to mention Madame Pang’s ostentatious footwear. It has been commented by some Sand-Pitters that this is not a club you can fully love at the moment and the back room in The Sportsman on Saturday night was a Viper’s pit of vitriol, most of the venom directed at Heberty, who is clearly this season’s pantomime villain. I am certainly irritated by his selfishness and wayward shooting but he’s no Pol Pot.

So, I’m going to look on the bright side. While it has not been the re-start we might have craved, a quick look at the table today shows us just three points behind leaders Bangkok Glass, to whom we lost narrowly, with only one ‘actual’ defeat, the same as Bangkok Utd. Last week’s win was decidedly un-pretty and somewhat desperate, like a closing time carry-out from Thermae, but the pitch looked like a rice paddy and it was our 4th different starting eleven in four games.

We have been hit by injuries and suspensions as well as haunted by missed chances. We now have a run of 3 ‘winnable’ game, which should maintain our strong position. This, I believe, will be a season where the top six teams take points off each other and it is likely to be a much more competitive title race than in previous campaigns. It used to be that you had to beat Buriram twice to even stand a chance of winning the League, as they would invariably mop up everyone else. Buriram will no doubt re-enter the fray at some point, which will make for a fascinating season. We have a squad able to compete at this level; it just needs a bit of inspired direction. Rumour has it that Madame Pang is lining up more foreign coaches than the harbour-master at Calais so maybe, just maybe. I prefer my glass half-full.

Our opponents this week had a decent win against 5th place Ratchaburi in their last run-out, which, unfortunately, might give them some renewed confidence. They have a number of foreign players in their ranks with an interesting pedigree. Brazilian, Vanderley Dias Marinho (87), or Derley for short, once had a spell with Benfica, signed after a 16-goal breakthrough season with Maritimo in 2014. One of his earliest moments after joining was to score a goal against Valencia in the Emirates Cup that season. He was only to score once more in 15 appearances with The Eagles. He has 11 goals in 20 appearances for Muang Thong, so is likely be a threat.

 

 

Russian born, Vietnamese national goalkeeper, Dang Van Lam (1) was signed from Haiphong, Leandro’s former club. A giant of a keeper with an arm span of two metres, we will need to keep it low. His Russian name, Lev, is contributed to his mother’s (a former ballet dancer) passionate admiration for the legendary Soviet goalkeeper Lev Yashin.

Daisuke Caumanday Sato (66) has an exotic name to match the other two and is one of more than a dozen Filipino players to be playing in the Thai League at the moment, although many, like Sato, are of dual nationality. His one claim to fame is being the first Filipino footballer to play in Romania, for Politehnica against Dinamo Bucharest in 2016. Something to boast about in the watering holes on P. Burgos.

 

 

It has been three years since MTU last won a trophy and four since they won the League; long may that continue. It seems that their only recent, notable statistic is the number of players they have out on loan: 37 at the last count, most of them at Udon Thani and Bang Pa-In Ayuthaya.

With a victory under their belt, Port need a settled spell so, if everyone is fit, I wouldn’t activate many changes unless it would be to bring back Siwakorn to accompany Go and Heberty/Suarez in midfield.

 

Possible Team

 

 

Prediction

Port to win 3-1.

 


 

The match will be shown on True4U and True Sports HD1 at 18:00 on Sunday 4th September, 2020. For the many of you who won’t be able to get your hands on tickets, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound. Don’t forget to wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk: Paking His Bags?

 

We’ve heard plenty of rumours linking Muangthong players with Port in recent weeks, but nothing in the opposite direction. Until today that is, when a massive Port name was rumoured to be heading to the SCG Stadium on loan. Yes, love him or hate him, rate him or slate him, Pakorn is a player who has made a massive impact since his arrival in 2016, and his magnificent but oh so inconsistent right boot could be pinging freekicks at the Yamaha Ultras next seen. It just seems wrong, and I’m struggling to come to terms with the possibility. He’s been the subject of rumours linking him with moves away in previous seasons and he’s stayed put, so perhaps there’s nothing to this, but it’s being very widely reported.

The rationale for the move is apparently that Heberty will be used wide on the right, from where he will cut inside and wreak havoc with his trusty left foot, while new loanee Adisak will lead the line, supported by Suarez in the No.10 role.

What we were originally expecting to see was Heberty and Suarez being used as a front two, although neither of them are natural strikers, but if Pakorn is indeed departing then Port are leaving themselves far too light on the wings to make that formation work. Bodin and Thanasit are the only T1 standard wingers on the books, with Pinyo and Chakrit surely inadequate cover should either pick up an injury. Kevin provides another option on the left, but there’s no one else on the right, unless Port dip back in to the transfer market, which begs the question: why let first Nurul and then Pakorn go in the first place?

Now, remember this is still just a rumour, and there may well to be no substance to it whatsoever. Muangthong have been spending the entire transfer window letting players go to slash their wage budget, and bringing in a high earner like Pakorn on loan would be a surprising move to say the least.

 


 

While the Pakorn rumours have been the ones making waves, there are also a couple of low key arrivals to make note of.

 

 

Port academy youngsters Watcharaphon Chumking and Partchya Katethip have been promoted to the first team, joining academy stopper Anipong Kijkam, former fox hunt duo Peemawat Cheewayapan and Chanchai Phonchamroen, and newly signed forward Patchara Chainarong, who are all also 20 years old or under. With Port once again not fielding a B team in 2020, these two have been selected to make the step up, although having watched all of the above besides Chanchai and Patchara, I doubt any of them will feature for the first team this season.

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk: Port to Splash Cash on Muangthong Fire Sale?

 

OK, OK, so that’s a very old squad photo back from when Muangthong were actually a decent side. Never mind. Anyone who has been following transfer new for the last few weeks will be aware that Muangthong are experiencing real financial problems. Main sponsors SCG have apparently dramatically reduced funding, meaning that Muangthong are facing the reality of selling all their best players just to balance the books. Heberty has already gone, and more will surely follow.

My original plan for this piece was to laugh heartily about the dilemma Muangthong find themselves in, before picking out the 5 players Port would be best advised to snap up. We’ve already brought in Heberty, of course, which is widely being seen as a massive coup for Port.

Then I had a look at their squad, and realized I’d bitten off more than I could chew. Maybe 3, then. Then I really thought about it, and realized that I genuinely don’t particularly want any of them.

It’s not that they don’t have any players of value of course – their performance in the second half of last season was vastly improved, and actually better than Port’s – rather that almost all of the players I’d really be interested in taking off their hands probably wouldn’t get in our starting XI anyway, and the last thing we need is more expensive placeholders.

Who am I thinking of specifically? Well, in the last few weeks I’ve seen rumours hinting at the exit of a host of players who clocked up regular minutes last season.

 


 

Sarach Yooyen is one, with Muangthong reportedly very optimistically offering him on loan to Japanese teams. Maybe a few years ago, fellas. The Sarach of today would lose a fight for a place in Port’s midfield, let alone a J League spot. Next.

 

 

Charyl Chappuis is another for sale, but unless Pang wants an extremely expensive mannequin to put our new shirt on, I am pretty sure he won’t be coming to Port. Pass.

Adisak Kraisorn has also been mentioned, and in fact has specifically been linked to Port. Now, I always give the caveat when discussing strikers that because the overall standard is so low, even poor strikers can still be one of the taller midgets in the circus. That’s probably true of Adisak, although I could never bring myself to recommend signing him. He’s no better than Arthit in my opinion, so I’m keeping Pele all day long. Next.

Teerasil Dangda. A tricky one. He’s a long way past his best, but as still arguably the tallest midget in the circus, signing him would probably make some sense. Yes, he’s probably on a big old salary, and no he probably wouldn’t start many games, but he would surely bag us some goals. He has a striker’s instincts and he already notched one for us in the derby last season. Sign him up. Maybe. Eurgh.

 

AL AIN, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – JANUARY 20: Teerasil Dangda of Thailand looks on prior to the AFC Asian Cup round of 16 match between Thailand and China at Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium on January 20, 2019 in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images)

 

Theerathon Bunmathan is the best player available on this list, but the question is would it really benefit Port to sign him? The rumours say we’ve been in talks, but a move back to Japan, where Theeraton won the league last year, would seem to be much more likely. We’d certainly be moving Kevin on to make way for him, and do we really want to shift one of the best young full backs in the country for a player on a big wedge with nothing to prove? Sorry, not for me. If Kevin goes we’re having a different conversation, but for now it’s a no.

 

 

Sanukran Thinjom was the subject of a rumour yesterday, and you know things are getting desperate in Legoland when they’re flogging bog standard squad players. He’s probably OK, and apparently he’s versatile and useful to have around. That’s OK. We’ve got plenty of that at Port. Move along.

 


 

There are probably other players I’m missing that have been put up for sale, such is the extent of the crisis of funding at the SCG, but I’m not following their news that closely. They have one of the top academies, so they are always churning out promising talents, and these players will probably come to the fore next season, once the first team have been sold off. Gama will probably find a way to get the best out of them, and they might do OK. Maybe upper mid table, maybe top 6.  

As I rather provocatively predicted in last week’s podcast, they’ll finish below newly promoted BG Pathum Thani. There it is in print!


 

And just before publishing we’ve received some real, actual transfer news. How about that! It probably doesn’t effect any other prospective business, as the player in question is an 18 year old who is still in his last year of high school, but nevertheless it is being reported that we have signed striker Patchara Chainarong on a 4 year deal.

 

 

Patchara has just helped his school team Debsirin win the Jaturamitr Cup for the first time in 20 years, so Port have decided to swoop in and secure his signature. Here’s a little clip of a nice goal he scored in that tournament. With Port’s abundance of striking options, we doubt we’ll see him in the first team this year, but hopefully he’ll be one for the future. Welcome, Patchara!  

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

 

What a result!

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

Could they do it?

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

Until the next time.

Now, bring on Bangkok United!

 

Third vs. Turd: Port FC vs. Muangthong Utd Preview

 

This week’s outstanding if nerve-wracking cup victory over Chiang Rai was arguably our best performance of the season, but Port will need to put in another considerable effort against their fiercest rivals to keep up the pace at the top of the table this weekend. 2 wins and a draw in our last 3 league games can’t hide the fact that we have flattered to deceive recently and the team selection shows there is still a lack of tactical awareness from the coaching staff.

And so it’s that shower of absolute bastards from Nonthaburi who come rolling into town this weekend and it couldn’t have come at a better time for them. But relax mate, you might counter, it’s a derby innit? The form book goes out the window. Well, the scumbag’s form book is so heavy with positive momentum it would be hard enough just to pick up the damn thing let alone chuck it. Also, don’t tell me to relax.

It was all so hysterically funny only a few months ago when those inept mugs found themselves stuck in the relegation zone and going through several managerial changes. Port even managed to rock up to Legoland twice and ran off into the night with 2 victories; firstly their third consecutive league victory in 3 seasons and more recently an absolute mugging in the last 16 of the FA Cup thanks to gifts from pretty boy Chappuis and the gargoyle-esque Teerasil (See above. Truly a hauntingly ugly man; I would hang his picture above the fireplace to keep the children away from the flames). But 7 wins and a draw in their last 8 league matches tells a different story and they now find themselves sitting comfortably in 6th position. Their away form is still a bit patchy (W2 D3 L6) but they are only 4 points off Port who only the good lord knows how still sit in 3rd position.

 

Ones to Watch

Heberty Fernandes

 

 

 

Heberty. Heberty. Heberty. Say his name 3 times and you develop an Irish accent but that’s where the joke ends. The Brazilian/Timorese attacker is their star performer, drifting ominously around the final third and popping up with key goals. On top of his 7 goals this season he’s racked up 8 assists and generally lifts the team’s all round performance. You could argue that if you stop him, you’ll stop the whole team, which I’m slightly inclined to agree with, so our full backs and defensive midfielders will have their work cut out tracking him around the pitch.

 

Alexandre Gama

 

 

If one individual is responsible for their return to form and march up the table then it has to be their Brazilian manager. A serial silverware winner for both Buriram and Chiang Rai, Gama has already taken an underperforming talent pool and molded a team that can play adventurous football in a 4-3-3 or 3-5-2 formation. My real reason for putting him in here is that he is also an absolute shithouse manager; every single time I have watched one of his teams in the flesh, he has walked onto the pitch to remonstrate with the match officials and most of the time he gets what he wants. With no away fans traveling to the PAT this weekend expect some dark arts from the bench if the chips are down.

 

The Home Team

 

The midweek cup performance will have given Choke/Spencer/Madame Pang (delete where applicable) a headache for team selection. Clearly width supplied by Bodin (10) and Pakorn (7) is the key to this team, and out of nowhere the usually woeful Sumanya (11) put on a high quality show which will surely justify his selection. This means Suarez (5) will probably find himself playing as a false 9. Or maybe the fear will creep into the training staff’s thinking and they opt for Josimar (30), back after being cup tied, who will defend more than Pakorn. Maybe. Probably. Rochela (22) will take his place in the stands after being cut from the league squad so either Tanaboon (71) or Todsapol (6) will come into the centre of defense. Most farang supporters prefer the latter but we all know Madame has her favourites so the ex-Glass man will probably get the nod.

 

 

Prediction

 

4-2 Port and I miss one, maybe 2 goals. You heard it here first. Cheers!

 


 

The match will be shown live at 18:00 on Sunday 11 August, 2019. For those who can’t make it to PAT Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound. Don’t forget to wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.

 

Muangthanks: Muangthong United 0-2 Port FC

Port move in to the last 8 of the FA Cup after overcoming rivals Muangthong 0-2, but really it was Port’s opposition who we have to give credit to for the victory, with a couple of suicidal defensive acts swinging a pretty poor game which neither side particularly deserved to win. It’s not every day us Port fans extend heartfelt and genuine thanks to a club with whom we have had so many problems in recent years, but let me, on behalf of all Port fans, do so now: Thankyou, Muangthong.

In the spirit of friendship in which Muangthong so generously handed victory to us last night, I will endeavor throughout my report to treat our red-clad brethren with as much respect as they showed us last night. That’ll make for an interesting change of pace.

 

 

Port lined up in a curious formation which, despite minimal changes in perssonel, represented a significant tactical departure for embattled coach Jadet. Usually a big believer in width, which is emphasized in his favoured 4-2-3-1 system, Jadet this time played a narrow 4-4-2, with the midfield four set up in a diamond formation. Worawut (36), the third goalkeeper Port have used in four games, was a surprise inclusion between the sticks, with the rather more familiar sight, although we won’t be able to say that for much longer, of Rochela (22) and Dolah (4) in front of him. Nitipong (34) and impressive new arrival Martin Steuble (15) manned the full back positions, with a remit to attack even more freely than usual necessitated by Jadet’s narrow set-up. At the base of the midfield diamond was Go (8), while Bodin (10) played to his left and Siwakorn (16) to his right. Sumanya (11) played in his favourite role just behind the forwards, who on this occasion were the familiar Suarez (5) and unknown quantity Rolando Blackburn (99).

The early going was scrappy, with both teams working hard but ultimately failing to create many clear-cut chances. Most moves broke down in the middle of the park, with Sumanya in particular for Port being very wasteful and possession. It was crowded in there, with Siwakorn unsurprisingly showing a proclivity to play more centrally than your average right sided midfielder. Focusing on Port’s shortcomings is only half the story, though. Muangthong, in the spirit of brotherhood in which I’m sure it was intended, were almost entirely unthreatening. Adisak (11), a player who we often malign for… well, everything, was suitably helpful to Port’s cause, and Derley (87) was the epitome of the striker who you want on the opposing team.

Heberty (7) was the only man who looked capable of making Port’s life difficult, but after creating a shooting chance for himself with a fantastic run on 24 minutes his deflected shot was tipped wide by the excellent Worawut (36). The resulting corner, taken by Heberty himself, was also flicked towards the far post dangerously by Oh Ban-suk (4) but thankfully his effort drifted just wide. Heberty took aim himself 10 minutes later with his viciously struck long range freekick well dealt with once again by Worawut.

The best two chances of the half fell to both sides in the last 5 minutes. First, Siwakorn fed Nitipong, whose looping cross found Rolando with plenty of space and time to direct his header, but he was some way out with a poor effort not coming close to troubling Dang Van Lam (1) in the Muangthong goal. Then a cross from Muangthong’s right was half blocked by Rochela, but fell to that man Heberty once again, who really should have done better with his side-footed effort, which went straight to Worawut, who nevertheless held it well.

The second half started quietly, with the quality remaining as poor as ever. Suarez put another wonderful chance on a plate for Rolando on 67 minutes, but the Panamanian was once again off target with a pretty weak attempt. Steuble, covering a lot of ground down Port’s left, tried his luck with his weaker foot a few minutes later but fired well over.

Muangthong were first to call on substitutes, with Brazilian Bruno Gallo (88) and Teerasil (10) tasked with turning to tide. Gallo came close with a well-struck volley which missed by the finest of margins, but it was Teerasil, in combination with another substitute, who would really shake things up. Jadet called on Pakorn (7), notably absent from the starting XI after his run-in with Port fans last week, and with his very first touch the Midfield Monk showed why we tolerate his deplorable attitude. Port win a freekick on the right flank. You know the rest. Or maybe not. Pakorn’s cross was bang on the money, and although the Port attackers failed to get the vital touch, Teerasil was on hand to put Port in to the lead. The Muangthong captain, who has had a very poor season since returning from the J League, wasn’t even concentrating on the ball; he was busy appealing to the linesman. The linesman, his arm probably knackered after giving almost very forward pass offside in the first half, for once stood still as the ball bounced off a confused Teerasil’s thigh, sending Port fans, crowded around TVs all over Khlongtoei, in to wild celebrations. Thanks guys, we couldn’t have done it without you! It was also a fantastic redemption story for Pakorn, who once again reminded his many critics what he brings to the team. Love him or loathe him, this is what he does.

Just a one goal win wouldn’t do, though. Chappuis, inspired by his captain, gave Rolando the chance to make the game safe and make his debut a dream start. Credit must go to the new man for having the awareness to run on to Chappuis’ beautifully weighted through ball, which at once set the Port man free on goal and took a despairing Dang Van Lam out of the game. Precision. Rolando tried his best to make a meal out of the finish, scuffing his shot a little and allowing Dang to get his fingertips on it, but nevertheless the ball found the back of the net and Port had the two goal cushion they needed to put the result beyond doubt. The defence, which has struggled horribly in the last few weeks, were even able to hold on to an encouraging clean sheet.

The result could be massive for Port’s season. Many a time has a cup win inspired improved league form, and with a tricky trip to Rayong coming up this Saturday, the boost in confidence could be the catalyst for a long overdue return to form. Jadet also has some breathing room, quieting some of the calls for his replacement for the time being.

At the end of the day, a tough game has been successfully negotiated and Port are through to the last 8. Almost all of the remaining teams hail from the top half of T1, though. The only team one could really say are an easy draw are Thai Honda, so expect Port to face a tougher test than what Muangthong offered in the quarter finals.

 

The Sandpit’s Man of the Match

 

 

A shared award this time, I think. Both Teerasil and Chappuis provided moments of magic that put Port over the line, and are equally deserving of our gratitude.

Seriously though, Worawut is probably the only Port player who can be entirely happy with his performance, dealing with everything Heberty had to throw at him admirably, although as always looking very punch-happy from corners and crosses. The defence were also solid, although most had the odd heart-in-mouth moment at some point.

 

Redemption ‘Thong? Muangthong Utd vs Port FC Preview (FA Cup)

 

Port play bitter old rivals Muangthong this week, the big question on everyone’s mind was would away fans be allowed at “The theatre of relegation screams”. Now we know tickets to the away end will not be available for sale. This Tuesday afternoon it was announced Port will show the match on a big screen opposite Zone A. Anyone that was there will remember the fiasco that was Port’s last attempt to screen a game. Nice water park fun, but not having the feed then goggling for new dodgy online feeds to show the match was a complete joke. I’m assured it will be better this time, but we all know how tits up this can go. Wednesday is a Buddhist holiday in Thailand so officially there are no sales of alcohol allowed. Previous Buddhist holidays have been slightly observed at PAT Stadium with bottles of Leo hidden respectfully behind the Coke and Sprite but available if you should feel the need.

The Old Enemy

The new manager Gama has steadied Muangthong’s relegation plummet with wins at home to Trat, Prajuap Away, and a solid 3-2 win vs Bangkok United at SCG. However Friday night’s 1-1 draw in Chiang Mai was unconvincing with big questions still to be asked about whether they’ve really turned the corner. With only a 2 points between them and the drop zone they could easily be dragged back into the relegation mire.

Looking at their attack it is a shock they were ever down there in the first place. With Teerasil (10)and Heberty(7) they have the two of the most experienced strikers in T1, Teerasil may be well be past is best but Heberty is still a potent force and they are still the club’s two biggest threats, they have with 4 and 5 goals respectively. Hopefully some players might be rested for the Cup, but this is unlikely with Muangthong having played the Friday night match. I think with the half decent mid season signings Gama will be taking this game pretty seriously.

Mid season has seen centre forward Derley(87) brought in he has scored one in his three starts, but most Muangthong fans will still be thinking of the nightmare vision of him managing to steer a header past the half open goal from 5 yards away against Bangkok United. After Derley fell on his backside in the next decent attack it was the other new Brazilian import Bruno Gallo(88) that smashed home the first goal to start the fight back against Bangkok United. Gallo looks to be a good a strong central midfielder. Likely to do well in the Thai League. Port will be looking for Go to boss him around a bit in the centre of the park.

When one looks at Muangthong one cannot forget to mention Chappuis (23), he has a very nice haircut.

Muangthong have been up and down with their performances but they tend to have a better game against the bigger clubs. The form that saw them beat Bangkok United and hold Port through most of a tight 2-1 loss means at home they are still a worry. And Port’s recent form is so worrying that I’ve decided to exchange my “2019 League Champions” T-shirt, for my “2019 nice not to worry about relegation isn’t it” T-shirt.

 

Boskoing, going, gone

Although Boskovic(23) is out of the league squad he is still training at Port and is likely the most overpaid “holder of Jadet’s umbrella” in the league. Latest news suggests he’ll be on his way before the end of the transfer window and is unlikely to play. Rochela(22) has just recently got the bombshell that he’s out of the squad and it is possible but very unlikely he’ll be skipping on to the pitch for the team that just handed him a big shit sandwich saying thanks but no thanks in the second leg. Tanaboon(71) is likely to have played for Bangkok Glass in their first round FA Cup loss to Bangkok United so probably won’t be available.

Jedeath or Glory

After the League Cup exit and a run of poor form Port are holding out for the FA Cup to be our main shot at a trophy in 2019. So I’d expect a full squad or maybe only a couple of changes if players picked up a knock on Saturday.  Siwakorn(16) was asking to be subbed off towards the end of the match so there might well be a problem there. The matchstickman might well be slight but he always wants to play 100% for every minute of every game.

Three at the back

The three port keepers have always been fairly similar for me but with Rattanai(17)getting the start in the last two matches I think Watchara(1) deserves to be back in between the sticks. Not sure why he’s been absent his form’s been fine, at least as good as other options with better distribution. Unless he has been sidelined by a minor injury we should see him return.

Steuble(15) impressed in his first full match at Port a little out of position at times but looked good going forward and did the basics well. The positional play should improve with a couple more starts. A decent left back, good cover for Kevin and a good asset as possible cover for Nittipong. Not his natural position over on the right but he has played there before.

Pakorn’s (7) arguing with the crowd last match should seem him dropped for Nurul(31). When the laziest man on the pitch complains because fans are telling him to chase a ball he could’ve got on, he should sit out. Apologise all you like but you’ve been doing this for four years. You’re only lucky fans haven’t got on your back more than this. Great free kicks, laziest player in the league.

Rolandomar

Up front I can see why you rest a player who’s just come off a 25 hour flight and just getting used to his first plate of som tam n’ sticky rice. But if he wasn’t ready why have him on the bench? If he was ready to play, then 10 minutes at the end of the match when we’re trying to break the deadlock was an ideal time to bring him on.

I’m sure we all want to see what Blackburn (99) can do. But is he ready for a full match? I think it’s a better idea to give him half a match to ease him into the oppressive humidity of Thai football. I’d start with Josimar(30) then sub on Blackburn in the second half. “Josi? You say no, no, no we want Rolando in there!” Well, Josimar had great game last time he was in the Legoland stadium it holds no fear for him, if anything a stadium that has banned Port fans might just be somewhere Josimar could relax a bit.

STOP PRESS Cup Tied Up

Whenever I press publish one of these articles something always pops up. I have forgotten Josimar played in the FA Cup for Police in the early rounds. Even back up option Chenrop is also Cup tied. So with Artit already gone to Chonburi Blackburn is the only forward we have. That being said Jadet could still choose Suarez. If Port ever needed a miracle now’s the time. Cometh the hour cometh the Panamanian man, Rolando Blackburn to the rescue!

I’ve also read Boskovic will be off in this transfer window but a couple of online stories suggest he might play one last game for Port. But there is a big question mark by that.

Watchara (1)

Nittipong(34) Dolah(4) Todsapol(6) Steuble(15)

Go(8)

Nurul(31) Suarez(5) Sumanya(11) Bodin(10)

Blackburn(99)

Finally I’m going to stop saying with cheery Sang Som fueled optimism, “well we’ve still got great players, I think we can still win by a couple of goals if everyone sharpens up a bit.” I’ve said this for the last four games in a row. For Wednesday, in the cold light of day I’ll say, I hope we do well but this form is not giving me or anyone else much confidence. Come whiskey o’clock on match day I’ll be saying, “but we still do have some great players…..

Prediction

Muangthong 6-7 Port, an away win for Port on penalties.

 

Muangthong vs Port  will be shown on True Sports 3 HD kick off 7.00 p.m. Wednesday 17th July

 

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.

 

Podcast

The Portcast #20: Famed but Flawed with Gian Chansrichawla

 

Gian Chansrichawla joins The Portcast to give some us some more insight in to the crisis at Muangthong. We talk about SMM’s legal disputes with the Thai FA, SCG’s reported sponsorship cut-back and why Muangthong’s famous academy is not all it’s cracked up to be. there’s plenty we didn’t know about that Gian spells out in rapid-fire detail.

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