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2020 Thai League Lineup Announced… For Now

 

The 16 teams who will be competing in next season’s T1 have been finalized after PTT Rayong’s rumoured collapse was announced on Monday. To account for the dissolution of the unfortunately named ‘Oil Millionaires’, the FAT have confirmed that only two teams will be relegated, with Suphanburi receiving a dramatic late reprieve. Despite finishing 14th after losing 2-5 to eventual champions Chiang Rai, who they led for a time on a dramatic final day at both ends of the table, Suphanburi have been given a lifeline and will compete in T1 for the 8th consecutive season in 2020.

Coming up from T2 are BG Pathum United, who predictably swept aside all of the competition with ease and took the Championship by a 13 point margin. Police Tero will be joining them, having secured second place on the final day by absolutely obliterating third placed Rayong FC 7-0. Remarkably that 7 goal drubbing was enough to see Rayong faceplant in to the last promotion place as in-form Sisaket were run over 0-3 by Thai Honda.

 

 

But wait, this is the Thai League, and just because the season is over, a team has been dissolved, another un-relegated and the promotion places confirmed, that doesn’t mean the drama is over. Sisaket, who finished just 2 points behind third placed Rayong FC, have been embroiled in investigations throughout the season, resulting in in two separate 6 point penalties by FIFA. The Dangerous Koupreys will apparently find out the result of their appeal to the second of those 6 point deductions this week. If successful they would shoot up to second place, and the FAT would have a tricky decision on their hands. Could they un-promote Rayong FC, or un-unrelegate Suphanburi? Who knows?

They’re already in an unusual situation, having reduced the number of T2 teams for next season to 17 by un-relegating Suphanburi. Should they also un-relegate Navy, who currently join Ubon United and Ayutthaya United in dropping down to T3? Navy finished 14th in T2, and by un-relegating them the FAT could restore the number of T2 clubs to 18 and pass the issue down to the regional T3 leagues.

Of course, whatever decision the FAT come to would be fine if it was done in an above-board manner, with the results of their decisions being based on an unambiguous set of rules provided before the start of the season. Unclear rules can potentially leave wiggle room for Thai football’s governing body to play favourites when things, as they do pretty much every year, get complicated. We’ve seen it time and time again, so don’t be surprised if some unimagined scenario ends up on the table in a few days, and we’re all left confounded when Army are announced T1 winners and Port are relegated to T3 North. You heard it here first.

 

What a Navy Lark! Port’s Penalty Punishment Persists: Navy 2-2 Port FC

 

Port conceded their 11th penalty of the season to throw away what would have been a precious, though scarcely deserved, three points at the Navy Stadium last night. We would have settled for a draw before the game but, just as at Sisaket, a late rush of blood to the head earned the referee’s ire and another frustrating conclusion. It was difficult to see the incident from our distant vantage point but, deserved or not, we should not be even giving the referee the option of some supplying some Home comfort.  More discipline please, Gents!

Port lined up with what our trio of travelling, farang fans considered to be a back three of Dolah (4), Rochela (22) and Pravinwat (55), with newly installed wingbacks Nitipong (34) and Pinkong (19) providing both flanking defensive cover and attacking intent. Siwakorn (16) and Adisorn (13) were to hustle and jostle in midfield with Pakorn (9), Josimar (30) and Genki (18) our main goal threats.

 

 

Well, that was the plan anyway. This is a system that has proved highly successful for many teams of late, most notably, Chelsea, but players need time to understand and adapt to it and, for the first quarter of the game, we struggled. Pinkong, in particular, didn’t know whether to attack or defend, and in the end did neither, so there was a constant threat down our left flank, with Nitipong, on the other side, only slightly more comfortable. The central three, as one might expect, were solid and the system may eventually bear fruit. However, a stronger team than Navy may well have exploited this opening edginess. As it was, both Rodrigo (23) and Andre Luis (7) hit the post within the first 20 minutes and Port were living dangerously.

Then, out of the blue in the 28th minute, Josi, who ploughed a brave, lone furrow all night, weaved his way through several challenges on the edge of the box, drifting out to the left, to provide a delightful cross (intended or not) for Genki to glide home with the simplest of headers. The travelling Port fans, recently boosted by the arrival of the Drum Majors were ecstatic. Unbelievably, that lead was doubled thirteen minutes later with another Pakorn, ‘direct from a corner’, effort. I’m beginning to think that these are no longer a fluke! 2-0, surely we can’t stuff this one up?

‘We’re Port and of Course We Can’.

Port’s second half performance, IMHO, was dismal. We were pedantic and lacking in ideas and even when we got into promising positions, mostly down the flanks prompted by a slightly subdued Siwakorn’s still accurate distribution, passes and crosses were played into unoccupied spaces (never to be filled), the nearest defender, or out of touch. We were losing possession at the rate of the post-war British Empire.

I had foolishly declared in my match preview that we were a better team than Navy but there was nothing on view to support that. Navy played with patience and a greater authority, with the inter-changeable front trio of Rodrigo, Andre Luis and Durosinmi (40) putting our central three at full stretch. To their credit, they largely held their nerve and with a combination of lady luck and stout defending, Port held on to their lead until the 67th minute with a goal conceded from an unlikely source.

Rattanai’s handling has been one of his strengths this season, making him number one choice, but when he appeared to miss a simple corner (remember, we were a long distance away), Navy full back Chaothonglang was on hand to tap into an empty net.

It was at this point that seasoned Port away followers could sadly predict the final outcome, made even more likely when Tana (99) replaced Genki. Navy were now dominating, and when the ball skidded across the box and out for a throw-in, in yet another suspense-filled raid, the sense of relief was palpable. But then, hold your breath, there was that familiar, raised arm pointing to the spot, the yellow card brandished and that sick to my stomach, here we go again feeling, as Pravinwat apparently manhandled an opponent in the box. Rodrigo duly dispatched the resultant penalty with aplomb. There was just enough time for Suarez to replace Pakorn and for Port to probably have their first shot on goal in the entire half, only for Piyachat (88, on for Adisorn) to balloon it over the bar.

 

Seaman Stains and Roger the Cabin boy reflect on another late penalty in a Ban Chang bar

 

Final emotions again were a mixture of frustration and not a little anger – but we always had Ban Chang!

As for MOTM, none of us could really recall any player having an above average game, so my Man (Boys) of the Match award goes to the Navy Cadet choir, who, although probably in their massed ranks behind the goal under sufferance, kept up their jubilant chanting and singing throughout the game, including some generous homages to Port and their fans – well done boys, you did the Navy proud!

 

Blistering Barnacles! Siam Navy vs. Port FC, 28 June 2017

Note to Readers: Although there are few nautical puns in this report (there aren’t many left), there are references, including some, long discredited, to a popular children’s cartoon show based on-board ship.

Port travel to Sattahip on Wednesday to what is universally recognized (well, by me and Keith anyway) as one of the worst grounds and worst views in T1. Conflicting statistics on Wikipedia list the Navy Stadium’s capacity as either 12,500 or 6000, depending, I suppose, on how many hapless Navy Cadets they can press-gang inside the ground. Visiting this long-suffered, architectural inconvenience is only tempered by the cultural delights on offer 20 minutes away in the small town of Ban Chang. More on those later.

Port won the reverse fixture early in the season, 1-0, with a cross-cum-shot from a raiding Nitipong (34) in the first half and always looked in control of the game.  However, we were in control of the game at Suphanburi for the first half, and for long stretches against Bangkok Utd, but, if you don’t take your chances when you are on top, you get punished. Coddling Codfish, football!

Port are, I believe, a better team than Navy, in spite of their recent decent results; we have more points, we have a new, hopefully, inspirational manager, but just for once, down here, we have to do it on the pitch. This will be my fourth visit to the Navy ground and I have never seen us scramble even a point. True, we were right royally shafted on one occasion when Matty Christen’s equalizer was flagged offside by a linesman, the Liechtenstein international receiving the ball with 3 defenders waiting behind him. The linesman was mysteriously shot three days later (he survived).  Shuddering Sharks! An appalling decision, but that was a tad drastic!

Navy have recently acquired a useful Brazilian striker, Andre Luis Leite (7), from Chonburi, who will team up with his fellow countryman, ten-goals to date, Rodrigo (23). A potentially lethal striking trio is completed by Nigerian, Adefolarin Divosinmi (40) – there are goals in all three of these, so containing them will be the key to our chances of a rare victory on the road. Tottering Turtles – I’m nervous already!

Navy manager, Somchai (Pugwash) Chuayboonchum, in the giddy excitement of his pre-match team selections, is likely to leave Seaman Stains on the bench, or, Roger the Cabin boy. Either way, the consequences could be messy. Master Bates is another viable option and perhaps less risky. Dithering Dogfish! The choices a manager has to make these days!

 

Players Of Whom We Are Afraid

Rodrigo Vergilio

Andre Luis Leite

Adefolarin Divosinmi

 

Port FC

 

As for Port, Sunday’s late collapse against a very fit, classy Bangkok Utd, after a promising start, should have helped manager Zico decide who is good enough for the type of football he is trying to introduce and who isn’t. Worawut (36) might keep his place but if Rattanai (17) is fully fit, he needs to start getting a regular game. Dolah (4) and Siwakorn (16) will be back, but centre back Pravinwat (55) looked impressive and may turn the Boss’s thoughts towards a back three, allowing the full backs licence to attack (not that they don’t anyway). We are trying to play modern football after all! Pick two from Pinkong (19), Nitipong (34) and Meechok (20). Siwakorn and Adisorn (13) will fill the middle with a possible front three of Genki (18), Josimar (30) and, most likely, Pakorn (9), although it is difficult to predict the manager’s thoughts at this early stage. Tommy’s MOM from Sunday, Ittipol (7), may have done enough to keep his place. With Jadet, you more or less knew who he would pick, unless a player’s parents were in the crowd or it was their birthday. Wuttichai (14) and Tana (99) should never pull on a Port shirt again, unless it is to stand in Zone D.

Meanwhile, back in Ban Chang all is waiting for the post match celebration or drowning of sorrows.

Suffering Seagulls! What match-memories will our intrepid bunch of travellers bring back with them to this short-sprint street of dreams, which boasts no fewer than 34 drinking holes, mostly on the same side of the road; Lolloping Landlubbers! These entertainment venues are a hit with the local ex-sailors and oil-riggers and, on any given night, the charming hostesses will expect to have their naval bases overflowing with discharged seamen.

So, Dear Friends*, will our Farang contingent be (Varee) Happy, blowing Kisses, with a Smile on their Face and looking forward to a Good Time, having seen a Surprise, yet Classic domineering away performance – like taking Candy from a baby? Plundering Porpoises! Even just One-nil, Featuring a Ram-Inn goal from our hero, Siwakorn, after watching him Beaver away in midfield, will be Love-Ly. No more memories of hitting The Bar or ballooning the ball into the Sunny, Blue Sky, or over the Rainbow for Nasa to track. This time there will be Noot to be sad about, no Rumours of defeat, just time to visit the ATM by the B an K and Start-Up the celebrations at places you would, quite frankly, never invite your ‘Mam’. Then it’s up and down the street like a Yo-Yo, with cries of ‘Bottoms-Up’, ‘Down the Hatch,’ ‘be a good Sport and taste that Moonshine’,  to Crown a great evening. Will the night end with unintelligible, grunted, monosyllabic enquiries like, “Where House?” Stuttering Starfish! Will we behave – of course we will; Ban Chang is heaven but we are all angels, keeping The Angels’ Secret.

*Names in Italics denote the BC strip’s 34 bars.

 

The match will be shown live on True Spark Jump (Ed – No, us neither) at 19:00 on Wednesday 28th June, 2017. 

 

Port To Shore Up Defence As Navy Weigh Anchor: Port FC vs. Siam Navy, 4 Mar 2017

 

After floundering at the hands of Bangkok Utd, Port will need to batten down the hatches to avoid being cast adrift in the lower regions of T1. Befogged by copious amounts of grog, Saturday’s performance did not seem too bad, but with the benefit of a highlights video, it was clear that the defence had completely lost its bearings, allowing the Angels to cruise to an emphatic victory.

Navy will sail into Port, buoyed by a narrow victory over last year’s Division Champions Thai Honda, after two equally narrow defeats at the hands of Buriram and the aforementioned Bangkok Utd. They are one point below us and this can be officially classified as a, ‘game we need to win to remain afloat’.

 

Siam Navy

Form

 

Navy are one of the oldest teams in Thailand, being formed in 1937, the same year as Air Force, and a good 30 years ahead of Port. This is their third consecutive year in the top flight and were sitting precariously above the relegation zone last year when the season ended prematurely.

Their early form suggests a well-organized defence and a solid midfield, possibly one of the oldest in the League; last week’s trio of Lindemann (10), Kornchan (18) and Bang Seung-hwan (99) totaling 101 years between them.

 

Players to Watch

 

German Bjorn Lindemann (10) is one of the more interesting foreign players in the League, arriving in Thailand in 2012 and featuring for Army, Suphanburi and Nakhon Ratchasima before arriving in Sattahip. He is a good, solid, technical player but may lack the pace to catch Siwakorn, we hope.

At centre back and captain, is another veteran, 35 year old Nataporn Phanrit (6), who earned 70 caps for the Thai National team between 2001-12. Navy are his 9th club in the top flight.

Finally, the third player to watch, was the scorer of the winning penalty against Thai Honda, Brazilian, Rodrigo Vergilio (23), a nifty centre-forward capable of stretching static defences –  which ours certainly was last week!  Think of a two-footed Leandro without the drama.

Port FC

The Starting XI

 

Rattanai (17) was one of the few players to come out with any credit from last week’s game and should keep his place. Jadet seems to pick his fullbacks by throwing their names in the air and seeing who lands face-up. We have been vulnerable down the wings for a while now and a settled, in-form pair needs to be established. This week he may stick with Nitipong (34) and Panpanpong (19); both have looked good going forward and Navy should not pose the attacking threat faced last week. Meechok (20) is perhaps the best alternative. What has happened to Todsapol (6)? Dolah (4) and Captain Marvelous, Rochela (22), were badly exposed late on by Mario’s probing passes but the pairing should be allowed to continue to develop their understanding. Vergilio (23) will test Dolah (4) if left one on one, but Rochela (22) will no doubt come to the rescue!

Siwakorn (16) continues to impress; he has a good first touch, is quick and energetic and can switch the pattern of play to good effect. We need to attack the 101 club at pace so Pakorn (9), Genki (18) out wide, possibly with one of Adisorn (13), Tatchanon (39), Wanchalerm (40) or the fit-again Piyachat (88) to complete a middle four. Up front, it could be the perfect moment to introduce Josimar (30) against the experienced but ageing Nataporn (6) with Sergio Suarez (5) tucked in behind him.

Tana (99) has done well coming on as an impact player while Ekkapoom (8) can also stretch tired legs late on.

 

Prediction

 

Won’t even bother. This is Port.

 

The match will be shown live on True Sports 2 at 20:00 on Saturday 4th March, 2017

 

MATCH REPORT: Siam Navy 2-1 Port FC

Siam Navy overcame an experimental Port side 2-1 in Thursday’s pre-season friendly.

Despite our shiny new sponsorship deal with The Sportsman, The Sandpit is not in the business of sending it’s minions to Sattahip for a weekday friendly, so this is less match report and more highlight report.

Port fielded a strong side in the first half, including regular starters Rochela (22), Meechok (20), Siwakorn (16), Ekkapoom (8) and Pakorn (9), new signings Sergio Suarez (5) and Elias Dolah (4) and French trialist Saer Sene (24). Wachara (1) who spent last season on loan at BBCU was a surprise starter in goal, and he looked determined to impress coach Jadet, coming off his line quickly to thwart a few early Navy attacks, before saving well from a free-kick. There were two players – presumably trialists – that we haven’t seen before, playing at left back (19) and centre midfield (27).

Port created a host of chances, most of which fell to Saer Sene, but the big man looked a little short of match fitness and luck, frequently hitting the target but not finding a way past the Navy ‘keeper.

In the second half Port made 9 changes, with only Dolah and Sene staying on the pitch. It didn’t take Navy long to punish the weakened side. Adisorn (13) was left for dead by a sharp turn from Navy’s left winger, and his cross was met with an unstoppable strike which went in off the crossbar.

Navy soon doubled their lead from a corner. A deep cross was headed back across goal, and neither Piyachart (23) or Todsapol (6) could react quickly enough to prevent the shot, which easily beat the flat-footed Worawut (36) in goal.

Late in the second half, Port claimed a consolation goal. With Pakorn not on the pitch free-kick duty fell to new signing Siwapong (39), and he proved himself an able deputy, finding the top left-hand corner with a well placed strike.

Port host Malaysian side Pahang FC on Sunday at PAT Stadium, where there will likely be more experimentation from Jadet. The Sandpit expects to see more game time for Sene, who will need to find the net if he is to convince the coach that he is the man to spearhead the team in the TPL.

Highlights have just appeared on Youtube, so here they are for your viewing pleasure!