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Tom’s Transfer Talk – Mid-Season Roundup

 

OK, so Tom’s Transfer Talk hasn’t been particularly talkative so far this season. It has been a shockingly quiet transfer window by Port’s recent standards, but there have been a fair amount of low-key moves and juicy rumours, so let’s get up to date with exactly what’s been going on at Port in recent weeks.

 

Departures

First and foremost let’s get the bad news out of the way. Despite his exemplary commitment to training and his tenacious attitude on the pitch, Thai national team star and fan favourite Tana Chanabhut has been shockingly allowed to leave PAT Stadium. To add insult to injury, not only are Port being deprived of the services of one of the finest moustaches in world football, the forward has been sold to T2 team Nongbua Pitchaya FC, a side so far below his level I’m shocked he agreed to the move. No, wait a minute…

 

 

HAHAHAAAAA SCREW YOU TANA, YOU OVERRATED, LAZY GOOD-FOR-NOTHING WASTE OF A SQUAD NUMBER! NEVER, EVER, EVER COME BACK!

Ahhh, that’s better. Anyway, Port have also allowed young right-back Meechok Marhasaranukun to move on. After signing from TOT, Meechok broke in to Port’s starting XI in 2016 at the age of just 18, but was displaced by Nitipong at the start of 2017, and has spent the vast majority of the last season and a half on the bench. Now 20, it makes sense for Meechok to move on to a club where he can get more regular football, but surprisingly he has chosen to move to Suphanburi, where he is not expected to be getting an awful lot of playing time, either. Still, we wish Meechok, a good young player with a bright future ahead of him, all the best.

 

 

Port have surprisingly not moved to replace Meechok, so either versatile defensive midfelder Adisorn or left winger Chakrit Rawanprakone are expected to fill in if first choice Nitipong is injured or suspended.

Speaking of versatile central midfielders, Athibordee Atirat has also secured a transfer away from PAT Stadium, although his move is not permanent. Athibordee joins Navy on a 6 month loan, where he is expected to play a key role in midfield. He’ll need to perform miracles to keep Navy up, mind you. This move surprised me a little, as Athibordee had been seeing pretty regular action in midfield and defence, but he is obviously seen as surplus to requirements in the second half of the season.

 

 

There have been some other loan moves too, although it’s mostly players who were already out on loan moving on to different clubs.

Left back Yossawat Montha, who made 9 starts for strugglers Ubon UMT, has moved to Prachuap, where he will compete for a starting berth for 2018’s surprise success story. Unfortunately for Yossawat, he will likely be behind 37 year old Prachuap captain Adul Meunsamaan in the pecking order, whilst former Port teammate Piyachart Tamaphan will also provide competition.

 

 

Bajram Nebihi has also moved on from Chiang Rai, with Chonburi securing his services on loan for the second half of 2018. The big German didn’t strike up much of a partnership with under-performing star player Cleiton Silva, so it is no surprise that ambitious Chiang Rai are looking to rebuild their forward line without Nebihi. It was also no surprise that the player who had such a strong impact for Ubon in 2017 had numerous suitors. Talk of a move to Navy was rife, before he eventually signed for The Sharks.

 

 

Now we starts to get in to the weeds a little. Two players who, as far as I was aware, had already made permanent their moves away from PAT Stadium may still be on the books. It’s of little consequence that Thanakorn Saipunya is still a Port player, as he wasn’t given a squad number and was confined to training with Port B in pre-season. His move to Khon Kaen is apparently only a loan, but he will surely leave on a permanent deal at some point, without getting a sniff of first team action.

 

 

The other player in limbo is midfielder Tatchanon Nakarawong, who everyone including Chonburi seemed to think was a Chonburi player, but is now apparently on loan at Army from Port. Tatchanon arrived at Port from Army a couple of seasons ago, and despite impressing in pre-season was grossly underused by Port before being shipped out on loan to another club where he was very unlikely to see significant game time. Indeed, the youngster played just 7 times for The Sharks. He has finally done the right thing in joining a team where he is likely to be first choice, although with Army recently announced that they will be folding, he will likely have to move on again before long.

 

 

 

Arrivals

Now, I know I said things had been quiet, but I do actually have a couple of confirmed arrivals for you. This could be good…

Port have signed two young players who had been part of King Power’s ‘Fox Hunt’ project. Anon Samakorn and Somprasong Promsorn are the two players in question, and they look pretty promising. Anon, nicknamed Boat, is a 19 year old midfielder who has been on the books at both Leicester City and OH Leuven’s youth setups. Somprasong, nicknamed Toto, is a 21 year old right winger who has also been with both Leicester and Leuven. He looks pretty nifty in this video, playing for Leuven’s under 19 team in a 4-1 victory over Bierbeek, and showing some impressive pace and trickery. The video of Anon’s performance from the same game looks less exciting, although he does notch an assist with a clever through-ball.

 

Anon (l) and Somprasong (r)

 

Both players have been given first team squad numbers, with Anon taking number 20 and Somprasong number 14, although it is thought that both will start out with Port B before joining the big boys.

 

Rumours

Now for the rumours. We’ve been hearing Ratchaburi’s Thai-German right wing back Philip Roller’s name over and over again in recent days. He has been linked with both Port and Muangthong though, in a situation eerily reminiscent of the saga that led to Kevin Deeromram signing for Port. Roller is a superb player, but would find very stiff competition for a place in Port’s team. I do think that he’s a better player than Nitipong, but there’s certainly no guarantee that he would nail down a starting place, whilst his ability to play further forward would be of little value to Port, who already possess a surfeit of right wingers. As much as it pains me to say it, I think a move to the Theatre of Corrugated Iron makes sense for Roller, with Tristan Do having moved on to the wing and midfielder Wattana Plainum currently playing out of position at full-back.

 

 

We also heard numerous rumours that Port’s third choice goalie Watchara Buathong was on the way out, but as far as we know the perennial back-up to the back-up is still kicking around at PAT Stadium. He must like the easy life.

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk: Kevin!

 

Port made two shock deadline day signings, addressing two key weaknesses in the squad and showing once again that a push for the top 5 is not out of the question this season. Kevin Deeromram was rumoured to be on his way to Muangthong, but in a dramatic last minute switch opted for Port instead, while Worawut Namdech joined on a loan deal from Chiang Rai.

In an action-filled day there were also two loan departures, with Bajram Nebihi finally losing out in his duel with Sergio Suarez and being loaned to Chiang Rai, and left back Yossawat Montha moving to Ubon after being relegated to fourth choice left back by the arrival of Kevin Deeromram.

 

Kevin!

 

Headlining for Port on deadline day was Kevin Deeromram. You’ve heard us prattle on ad nauseam about how much of a liability incumbent left back Panpanpong is, and we’d more or less resigned ourselves to continuing this ranting and raving throughout 2018, and then… Kevin!

What makes the arrival of the 20 year old Thai-Swede even sweeter is that he was rumoured to be on the way to Muangthong, before opting for Khlong Toei instead at the last minute. He’s only been here 5 minutes and is already trolling the Muangscum. What’s not to like?!

This lad is undoubtedly one of the most talented young players in the country. He represented Sweden at youth level, then after joining Ratchaburi in 2017 switched allegiances to Thailand and in just one season played for the under 23s and then became a full international. He also impressed for Ratchaburi, notching up 1 goal and 8 assists in 28 appearances.

 

Loan Star

 

Worawut Namdech won’t be well known to too many T1 fans after making just 8 league appearances in 2017 for Chiang Rai and Sisaket. He did make his name in the SEA Games though, captaining the Thai under 23 team to victory and conceding just 1 goal in 7 games along the way.

He probably arrives at Port below Rochela, Todsapol and Dolah in the central defensive pecking order, but there is every chance that the promising youngster could force his way in to the team if he performs well in training.

His arrival also probably means that Thanakorn Saipanya, who had not yet been registered in the T1 squad, will drop down to T4 to play for Port B in 2018.

 

Byeram Nebihi

 

 

Poor Bajram. What could have gone wrong did go wrong. Apparently Port thought they were signing a striker when they brought him in, and he had no idea that the foreign player quota was already filled. Then there was a lawsuit involving a former agent to complicate matters even further. Ultimately, despite some impressive pre-season performances, Nebihi never managed to move ahead of Suarez in Jadet’s estimations, and then Just when it looked as if Nebihi would be doing a Maranhao and kicking his heels for 6 month, Chiang Rai forward Gilbert Macena suffered a season-ending injury and Nebihi was quickly drafted in on loan as his replacement. Could Port yet regret letting him go to a team who should be our close rivals this season while we have only one back-up striker on the books? Only time will tell.

 

Port’s Yoss Ubon’s Gain

 

 

Did we just feel like we had to make up for sending poor old Ubon Wuttichai earlier in the transfer window? Possibly. This loan deal for Yossawat should make up for it, anyway! Poor Yossa was third in the left back hierarchy before Kevin arrived, so sending him packing was sadly inevitable. Hopefully he gets more first team chances in Ubon than he did at Port.

 

Essomb-Eh?

 

 

Confusion surrounds Marcel Essombe’s current contract situation after the Cameroonian’s work permit issues cost him his move to Police Tero. It’s not known exactly what prevented the striker getting his paperwork in order for 2018, but Police have made a late move to replace him, and it is thought that his contract with Port may have also been cancelled. Hopefully the big man manages to find a team soon, and doesn’t have to spend too much time in Chaeng Wattana. We wouldn’t wish that on anyone!

 

Super 8: Port Punish Pre-season Opponents

 

Port romped past two pre-season opponents early this week, scoring 8 goals and showing plenty of attacking promise. On Monday, Jadet’s first choice XI took on J1 side Sanfrecce Hiroshima, who have signed Muangthong striker Teerasil on loan, and recorded an excellent 5-2 win. Then on Tuesday, the second string faced off with Samut Sakhon – AKA The Proud Junk Ship – and cruised to a 3-0 victory.

First up were Sanfrecce Hiroshima, who ought to have presented a very tough test for Port. A J1 side – albeit one who struggled to a 15th place finish – would be expected to have the upper hand against Port, but Port showed a lot of attacking intent and some improved finishing to take a decisive first-half lead.

 

 

The first goal came courtesy of an appalling error by an opposition centre half. In attempting an ambitious pass forward, the defender only succeeded in finding Siwakorn’s (16) stomach, or where his stomach would be if he had one, and the ball fell kindly for Suarez (5). The Spaniard, whose selection with the First XI was surprising given that he started a riot in his last appearance, laid it off to Boskovic (10), who calmly side-footed home from 12 yards.

Next came two goals which upon further review I still have absolutely no idea who should be credited with. Both came from Pakorn (7) crosses which were delivered right in to the danger zone by Port’s dead-ball specialist. The first, a corner from the left, was turned home by either Suarez, Rochela (22) or a defender from a couple of yards out, then the second, an inswinging free kick from deep, was directed goalwards by either Suarez or a defender.

At half time Hiroshima made some changes, and seemed to have brought some quality off the bench. They got right back in to the game with a quick-fire double, with both goals following a very familiar pattern for Port defensively. Two crosses from the Port left, neither under any real pressure from a defender, found teammates in the middle who found the back of the net. For the first at least the goal-scorer was being marked by Rochela, although he couldn’t stop the ball being poked towards goal. Worawut (36), who looks certain to start the season as Port’s first choice ‘keeper with Rattanai (17) seemingly still not 100% after a string of injuries last season, will be disappointed not to have kept it out.

The second was a free header, with the attacker peeling away from Todsapol (6) in to far more space than there should have been just 8 yards away from the Port goal. Are Port ever going to address their painfully obvious left-sided issue? Four goals in two games have been conceded from there, with neither Panpanpong (19) or the left-sided midfielder taking responsibility for stopping crosses coming in. Last season it was clear there was a problem, although with Genki ahead of Panpanpong the damage done by his positional indiscipline was perhaps not as bad as it could have been. This season Port seem likely to be lining up with either Nurul (31) or Pakorn on the left hand side of midfield, and as much as they bring to the team on the creative side, they will not immediately be thinking about filling in for their left-back when they see him bombing forward. With pre-season almost at an end, though, Port have given very little game time to either Yossawat (28) or Jetjinn (51), who ought to have been given the opportunity to make a case for first-team inclusion.

Port were soon back on the offensive though, with Siwakorn once again putting enough pressure on his opponents to force a mistake. A loose pass in midfield was pounced on by the Thin White Duke, who rode two challenges before releasing Suarez who played in Boskovic. The Montengrin had the beating of the centre halves, who both simultaneously brought him down in the area. The referee pointed to the spot, despite the utterly ridiculous appeals of the defenders, and El Capitan Rochela stepped up to do the business. If pre-season is anything to go by Port will not be bottom of the penalties-awarded list this time around!

The final nail in the Japanese coffin was created by another typical Nurul incursion in to the box. Nurul had been busy throughout, often being on the receiving end of some robust challenges, and on this occasion was just about to pull the trigger when he was fouled. After being fed by Nitipong (34), the diminutive Southerner turned smartly in the box and his swinging boot was impeded from behind. The referee once again awarded Port the spot-kick, but this time Kim (8) was determined to show off his goal-scoring credentials. The Korean’s penalty kick looked well-practiced, meaning that in Rochela, Boskovic and Kim, Port seem to have three very capable options.

 


 

In Tuesday’s game, which your correspondent didn’t make it to by the way, Port faced off against T2 side Samut Sakhon FC. The ambitious Proud Junk Ship, who have finished first in their division for 3 consecutive seasons, were facing Port’s second string, with Jadet taking the opportunity to give a final audition to those still looking to break in to the First XI before the season opener two weekends from now.

 

 

The man most in need of a star turn was of course German Bajram Nebihi (14), who is locked in a head-to-head battle with Suarez for a place in Port’s 2018 T1 squad. Other contenders are Bodin (15), who is pushing Pakorn (7) and Nurul (31) for a spot on the wing, Dolah (4), who is in contention with Todsapol (6) in central defence, and Jetjinn (51), who purely by virtue of the fact that Panpanpong (19) is still in the team must not be far behind.

With the only video posted by the Port Facebook page today being a clip of Terens Puhiri attempting to sing, we have nothing to go by other than the list of goal-scorers and a couple of comments from those who watched the game.

New striker Arthit (29) opened the scoring, getting on the end of a pass from Bodin and putting Port one up just before the interval. About 5 minutes after the restart, Nebihi got the goal he desperately needed. He converted a freekick from about 20 yards out, and according to our sources it was the least he deserved for an excellent all-round performance. All we know about the final goal was that it was scored by Dolah and assisted by Chakrit (9), who had replaced Bodin just a few minutes earlier.

So, Nebihi did what he needed to do, and it will be very interesting to see who Jadet chooses for Friday’s final friendly against Suphanburi. Bodin will be pleased to have notched an assist, and Dolah will also be happy with a clean sheet and a goal to his name.

 


 

Port conclude their pre-season campaign against Suphanburi on Saturday 3rd February at 17:00. See you there!

 

Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting: Port FC 2-3 Suwon FC

 

What should have been a laid-back pre-season friendly ended up being a hard-fought 5-goal thriller involving a mass brawl following a spat centred around Sergio Suarez. Port ended up coming out on the wrong side of the 3-2 scoreline, but with some more clinical finishing the result could easily have gone the other way.

 

 

 

Jadet went with something pretty close to his first XI, with the two eyebrow-raisers being that Suarez (5) was preferred to Nebihi (18) and Bodin (15) to Pakorn (7). The first half, while it lasted, was a pretty even affair, with both sides having a few attacks and winning a penalty each, although we weren’t convinced entirely by either of them. Suwon were first up, as their left-winger ghosted past Nitipong, who the referee adjudged to have pushed his opponent in the back. From what we saw the Korean tripped over the ball, but Nitipong (34) – who regardless of whether or not he committed the foul was completely caught out by his opponent – may well have helped him on his way down. Suwon’s resident Brazilian hit the top corner, with Worawut (36) going the wrong way.

Then it was Port’s turn up the other end, with Boskovic (10) being sent through down the middle. The Montenegrin, who had largely been starved of service up to that point, looked to have delayed his shot too long, although his blushes were saved when a sliding challenge came in from his right, and he took a tumble which convinced the referee enough to point to the spot. From our angle it looked like a questionable decision, but we can’t say we’re not happy to have a forward with enough about him to win the penalty if he’s not going to score the goal. Boskovic handed the ball to captain Rochela (22), who still seems to be on spot-kick duty despite the arrival of his record-scoring teammate, and El Capitan dispatched it in to the top right corner with the usual ease.

What was a pretty low-key affair was about to turn very ugly indeed, though, and the man at the centre of the big first-half controversy was Sergio Suarez, who may well have bought his own ticket away from Khlong Toei with the way he reacted to a bit of handbags from an opposition player. Suarez came in with a late challenge which sent both players to the turf, then the Korean player appeared to throw a little slap in his direction. Suarez got up quicker than he ever has done in his Port career and proceeded to kick out at his opponent. Now, I’m not talking a Beckham-versus-Argentina little flick of the foot here but a full on studs-first attack designed to hurt his opponent. In an instant at least 3 Koreans were aiming myriad martial arts kicks at Suarez, who was forced in to a hasty retreat. Within seconds there were dozens of people on the pitch, with a fair few players pushing, shoving and having to be restrained by teammates and staff on both sides. Dolah (4) was summoned from the bench to remove Suarez, who was sat down and given what looked to be a pretty stern talking to by Madame Pang. Reports that Nebihi was seen grinning like a Cheshire cat are unconfirmed but almost certainly accurate!

Eventually, with Rochela, Kim (39) and Nitipong mediating on the Port side, peace was restored and incredibly the referee agreed not to send anyone off, but presumably insisted that both sides sub-off all of the offenders in a bid to restore sanity. Suarez, Todsapol (6) and Bodin went off for Port, but it was a long time before replacements Nebihi, Dolah and Pakorn saw any action. The first half was stopped, despite there having been about 30 minutes played, and there was a longer-than usual half-time break for all of the players to regain their composure. It seemed for a moment as if the Koreans weren’t going to be returning for the second period, with all their equipment disappearing from the side of the pitch, and the whole squad in the dressing room. Eventually they did reemerge to play the second period though, and within just a couple of minutes were back in the lead.

The move came down Port’s left, with a Suwon attacker getting the wrong side of his marker to head his team back in to the lead. Port tried to get back in to the game, with Pakorn and Dolah combining a couple of times from set-pieces to threaten the Korean goal, but despite the Thai-Swede’s significant height advantage he couldn’t find the target with his headers. There was also a moment of interest for fans of Delap-era Stoke City, with Kim (39) unveiling a very useful-looking long throw, although his teammates were not best positioned to take advantage of it. Now, I’ve never really seen a Thai team set up to try and attack a long throw, so Port may be best served letting Kim take a training session himself and teach his teammates how to wreak havoc in the opposition box with these deliveries. Port could well have a dangerous attacking weapon on their hands that few opponents will be prepared to defend against if they play their cards right.

Suwon had a few useful attacking ideas of their own, too, and just a few minutes after scoring their second they got a third. The attack once again came down Port’s left, which most Port fans will be used to with Panpanpong (19) ‘defending’ that side of the pitch. He was soon replaced, with Jetjinn (51) once again being preferred to Yossawat (28) as back-up in that position.

With the Koreans perhaps content with their two goal lead, though, Port really ratcheted up the pressure, and it was Nebihi who was at the heart of most of it. The ungainly German almost always seems to be about to lose the ball, before one of his long legs flicks it around a defender. At times he was embarrassing his opponents, with a superb piece of exhibition skill featuring a couple of cheeky nutmegs down the right between him, Pakorn and Nitipong drawing numerous cheers from the rowdy foreigners in Zone C.

The other star performer was Kim who, aside from his long throws, also impressed with his long passing. On a few occasions, searching passes from deep were aimed either forward at Boskovic, whose movement was excellent throughout, or wide to Pakorn, whose control and crossing was of the standard we’ve come to expect from The Midfield Monk. If Boskovic had been able to convert a one-on-one chance against the keeper, where the bounce of the ball seemed to foil him, or a simple volleyed chance from a Pakorn cross, then Port would have been victorious. He did get on to the score sheet late on, though, as Port were awarded the least controversial penalty of the night for a clear handball. This time, Boskovic stepped up to take the spot-kick, and rolled the ball home impudently, sending the ‘keeper helplessly in the wrong direction.

 

 

The final incident of note came from a freekick which Port were awarded just on the edge of the area in the dying seconds of the game. Boskovic, having just converted the penalty, was determined to take it, but Pakorn isn’t used to being challenged in this sort of position. Nevertheless, the fire-breathing Dragan got his point across and was allowed to take responsibility. His effort looked in for a second, but some combination of the gigantic Korean ‘keeper and the crossbar kept it out, denying Port a draw, which after the amount of chances they created in the last 20 or so minutes, was the least they deserved.

So, what did we learn today? Pre-game, Suarez had earned the right to start ahead of Nebihi, but quickly shot himself in the foot with his karate kid antics. If Nebihi was behind Suarez for the final foreign player spot, he has most certainly moved ahead of him with another superb 45 minute performance. Port are very dangerous going forward, but the defensive frailties are far from a thing of the past.

 

Port FC Man of the Match

 

 

Nebihi may have impressed again, but my Man of the Match this time was Kim in central midfield. We haven’t seen vision and passing as good as Kim’s at PAT Stadium for quite a while, and that long throw could come in handy, too.

 

Out Of Leo: Chiang Rai 5-3 Port (after penalty shootout)

 

Port exited the pre-season Leo Cup in the first round, as Chiang Rai showed more composure at the death to win 5-3 on penalties. In a match that you could have been forgiven for thinking would be a battle between two of the top strikers in Thai football – last season’s top scorer Boskovic and all-time top scorer Cleiton – neither side could break the deadlock, despite Port having the better of the action for most of the game. As there weren’t a great many incidents of note, I won’t bother with a blow-by-blow account of the action but rather give my impressions on some of Port’s key men.

 

Suarez or Nebihi?

Jadet went for a curious line-up in the first half, picking four foreigners who will not be allowed to play together in T1 next season. Rochela (22) and Boskovic (10) are of course nailed on certainties to be in the T1 squad next season, but only one of Nebihi (14) and Suarez (5) will be joining them. Jadet picked both – presumably to see which one would stake the stronger claim – and Nebihi responded just the way his manager would have hoped for. A natural number 10 if there ever was one, Nebihi was gliding past defenders at will, his long strides and robust frame presenting a problem the Chiang Rai defence could only really answer by fouling him. Whilst his final ball looked a little rusty – as did pretty much everyone’s – he did as much as Port fans could have hoped for to suggest that he will be an important addition to Port’s attacking arsenal. Suarez also looked lively, putting in a lot of strong challenges and showing some fancy footwork, but it was clear that his impact on the game was not as marked as that of Nebihi.

 

The Strikers

Boskovic didn’t have the debut he will have been hoping for, but there was really very little in the way of service for him to dig his teeth in to. Given a few more games to get his scoring touch back, Boskovic will find that extra yard and hone that first touch to hopefully become the deadly force he was in 2017. Fellow new signing Arthit Butjinda (29) similarly had very little to play with up front after he replaced the Montenegrin. He converted his penalty in the shoot-out with minimum fuss.

 

Kim Sung-Hwan

 

 

So that’s what a proper defensive midfielder looks like. Kim (8) was a rock in the centre of the park, showing spot-on positioning, quality passing and communicating well with his teammates. Not only does he look technically very sound, he also looks to be a natural leader, something which Port’s midfield has been severely lacking for the last few seasons. Going by the early evidence, Kim should be one of the very first names on Jadet’s team-sheet.

 

Siwakorn Spills Leo Cup

 

 

Not one of his finer afternoons. Siwakorn (16) was comfortably out-shone by both Suarez and Kim, got in to a scrap with an opposition player and then stepped up to take a penalty which more or less everyone except him thought he was going to miss. It’s going to be an interesting year for the man who is so highly thought of by his teammates. With Kim looking like a dominant, reliable defensive presence and Nebihi looking like the creative fulcrum of the team, Siwakorn has to carve himself out a role. Will he flourish alongside more accomplished teammates in the coming season, or struggle to justify his place in the team? It’s time to show that you belong at a top-5 club, Siv!

 

The Wingers

Port started with Pakorn (7) on the right and Nurul (31) on the left. Pakorn did as Pakorn does, delivering some dangerous balls, and shooting at every conceivable opportunity. Nurul looked very lively, but his touch deserted him a few times in promising positions, and he picked up a silly yellow card for a Siwakornesque shirt-pull. Expect much, much better from Nurul in coming friendlies.

 

 

In the second half, new Indonesian dynamo Terens (27) replaced Pakorn on the right, and Bodin replaced Nurul on the left. Bodin (15) played a part in some promising breaks, but was a little slow to release the pass at times. Terens had one chance to stretch his little legs, and gave Port fans an exciting glimpse of his frankly ridiculous pace. He should be a regular feature off the bench in 2018.

 

The Defence

Not much to report here, and that is probably a good thing. Nitipong (34) looked as tough and energetic as ever, Rochela and Todsapol (6) were pretty solid despite a couple of lapses of concentration which went un-punished, and Panpanpong (19) was… well, Panpanpong. There was the usual wondering forward and leaving space behind, which may well be a very bad idea indeed in 2018. With either Nurul or Pakorn likely to be on the left wing, Panpanpong must understand that he can’t afford to leave 5 foot 4 Nurul or own-goal maestro Pakorn to do his dirty work for him. Surprisingly, Jadet replaced Panpanpong with Jetjinn (11) rather than Yossawat (28) in the second half. We don’t know what Yossawat has done to deserve being consistently overlooked, but his treatment by management is beginning to remind me an awful lot of Tatchanon last season. Jetjinn’s most notable contribution was an absolutely abominable freekick which flew a good couple of meters above everyone’s head and out of play.

 

The Penalty Takers

1) Rochela. The only surprise was that he put it in the bottom left rather than the bottom right.

2) Suarez. His second cheeky penalty in as many games. Went for the Panenka and dispatched it with aplomb.

3) Arthit. Sent the ‘keeper the wrong way, so the fact that he didn’t find the corner didn’t matter.

4) Siwakorn. Hands up if you thought Siwakorn was going to miss. Yep, me too. Next time let players who can actually shoot do the shooting, eh Siv?

5) Kim. You don’t need to be able to speak Korean to understand an extremely confident nod when asked if you’re going to take a penalty, and number 5 to indicate that you’re fine with a bit of pressure. Unfortunately his penalty was not required, with Victor dispatching Chiang Rai’s decisive spot-kick to end the tie.

 

Port FC Man of the Match

 

 

He may have only played half the game, but what a half it was. Nebihi will add strength, height, guile and no little amount of skill to Port’s forward line in 2018. Honourable mentions go to Kim, who didn’t put a foot wrong in defensive midfield, and Nitipong who looks like he’s spent his holiday training even harder than usual.

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk: Nuru and the Montenegrin Coat of Arms

 

So, this isn’t exactly the most punctual Transfer Talk ever. To be fair though, when the news broke about Port’s marquee Thai signing, The Sandpit was eyeball deep in craft beer and couldn’t have told you whether ‘Nurul’ was a Thai footballer or a style of Japanese erotic massage.

 

Port’s new signing?

 

Then, just as our social media accounts started to be bombarded with news about the pint-size winger – that in our inebriated state we probably mistook for an actual pint of beer – we discovered a Thai Port bar not far away on Udom Suk and proceeded to celebrate by swilling Leo like thirsty privateers celebrating the capture of a Spanish treasure ship. Somewhere between taking on the ‘buy 5 get 1 free’ promotion as a repeat challenge and engaging in an extremely intense debate about the objective value of music, we eventually called it a night, and resolved to report on the good news in the morning.

 

 

Come the morning however, we discovered that it was not a Spanish treasure ship that we had captured, but a Moby Dick of a headache so savage that between us we would have probably offered to pay Nurul’s 20 million baht transfer fee just to make it stop. But stop it didn’t, hence why we bring you news of Port’s excellent new signing rather later than we would have liked.

 

Nurul Sriyankem

For the basic details on Port’s new superstar winger, check out his player profile here. Whilst Nurul is an excellent signing, his acquisition certainly raises a tricky issue for coach Jadet. He now has two of the best right wingers in the country at his disposal, and has to figure out what to do with them. The simplest way I can think of to explain his conundrum is to relate Nurul and Pakorn to the rather better known Giggs and Beckham. Nurul is our Giggsy, with his electric pace and lightning changes of direction, while Pakorn is our Becks, with his pinpoint crossing and dead-ball expertise. So, if Giggsy was right-footed, what would you do? For me the answer is to stick him on the left anyway, because if you put Becks out there you lose the whole point of having him in the team in the first place, whereas Giggsy can still do a job even if his performance from that side of the pitch is likely to be a bit sub-optimal. Alternative ideas have also been proposed, such as putting Nurul on the right, using Pakorn through the middle and starting with new leftie Chakrit on his natural wing.

 

Bajram Nebihi

Another now confirmed signing is that of German attacking midfielder Bajram Nebihi. He scores his hattrick of transfer-talk references today, and we are still none the wiser on what Port intend to do with him. As we’ve said before, if he’s replacing Suarez then we’re over the moon, but if he’s going to be used as a centre forward then we think Port could most certainly do better. With rumours still flying around left, right and centre about strikers, it seems likely that Nebihi is indeed being rightly seen as an attacking midfielder, which could mean that Suarez will be finding a new club and Port will continue to try to secure a big-name goalscorer. Speaking of which…

 

Bangkok Untied

The latest superstar to be linked with PAT Stadium is an absolute corker. It’s based on a story about Bangkok United’s foreign players, which says that they will be keeping hold of just 2 of their current 6. That means that only 2 of the superstar trio Dragan Boskovic, Mario Gjurovski and Jaycee John will remain at Thammasat stadium, assuming that Yohan Tavares, Mehrdad Pooladi and Chinedu Ede all move on as expected.

Bangkok United’s – and indeed T1’s – leading scorer in 2017 was Montenegrin scoring ace Dragan Boskovic, and reports have emerged in the last couple of days suggesting that with Jaycee John holding an Asian passport, Boskovic is the forward most likely to give way. Now, let’s be very clear, this is a very suspect story indeed and I’m not saying that I think there is even a grain of truth in it, but if nothing else it is Exhibit 87 so far of the transfer window of Port being linked to exactly the right kind of players. At the risk of getting too many hopes up, we know from a less-than-sober chat we had with Dragan earlier in the season that he is a big, big fan of the PAT Stadium atmosphere and already a Khlong Toei local, and that the Montenegrin Coat of Arms features a lion. Up next, how Port are being linked with David De Gea, who they plan to loan to Samut Prakarn FC, and how Mezut Ozil is set to be named team optician.

 


 

Additionally, it just so happens that The Sandpit’s very first Birthday coincides with my 100th Sandpit contribution, so here’s a massive thank you to everyone who helps me churn out the untimely, error-ridden ramblings that I offer up on this fantastic website. Thanks to Editor-in-chief Tim for providing this awesome platform and pointing out my constant spelling mistakes, Dom in his unofficial capacities as Port historian, chief news-spotter and reports/previews editor, and all those who send me rumours and news. Thanks also to all the guests who have appeared on Zone F podcasts and the players who have participated in our interviews. Most of all though, thank you to all of the Port fans who continue to make going to games the highlight of my week. Here’s to doing it all over again in 2018!

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk: Essombe Signed By Port; Nabbed by Police

 

Port’s annual striker search is well and truly in overdrive, with rummy rumours about huge names all over the shop in the most recent round of gossip. The four names currently in the frame to replace Josimar are Bajram Nebihi, Dellatorre, Marcel Essombe and the big prize Jaja Coelho. Prepare yourself, because this story could well have a real sting in the tail! In other rumours, Port are in for two top Thai wingers, both of which would be excellent if pricey signings, and a couple of Port’s old guard are rumoured to be heading to Isaan.

 

The Foreign Strikers

 

Let’s start with the strikers. In ascending order of excitingness…

 

 

We covered the rumours linking Bajram Nebihi to Port in the last Transfer Talk and the conclusion was that as a replacement for Suarez he would be a good acquisition, but as an out-and-out striker he certainly isn’t what we are after. With the all-star cast on our radar, Nebihi is certainly the runt of the litter. Pass…

 

 

Dellatorre is a big, strong Brazilian forward who has been at Suphanburi for the last 2 seasons. He had a bit of an underwhelming campaign in 2016, notching just 10 times in 26 starts, but really clicked in to gear at the start of 2017, scoring 8 goals and making a further 5 in his first 13 games. Dellatorre struggled with injuries in the second half of the campaign, but still managed to net 14 goals in his 22 appearances, including 3 in 2 games against Port. If Dellatorre shows the form he usually displays against Port in the orange and blue next season, we will most certainly have one of the better forwards in the league.

 

 

Rumours have been going around about Ratchaburi’s Cameroonian forward Marcel Essombe for a while now, and the story has really heated up in the last few hours. I’m not going to lie, this is going to get wierd. Essombe was one of the stars of the first half of 2017, scoring 13 goals in his first 14 starts, and although he fell out of favour towards the end of the season, he still finished with 19 goals. Now, the latest news, which we have seen on both Goal.com and SMM Sport is that Essombe has already signed with Port, but has been loaned straight out to Police Tero for 2018. All together now… WHAT THE F*CK?! Are we about to see Maranhao-level tomfoolery rear its’ ugly head again? If this story is true, it would suggest that Port have either signed a bigger name already, in which case I’m not sure why they see the need to sign Essombe and then loan him out, OR they are playing a very risky game indeed by putting their eggs in what is most likely a Jaja shaped basket. Speaking of which…

 

 

The man who’s name just won’t go away, and undoubtedly Port’s main target for the last few months has been Buriram’s Brazilian battering ram Jaja Coelho. Yes, the man who bent time and space to convince the linesman that he was onside when Port visited the Thunder Castle has confirmed that he will not be at Buriram next season, whilst Muangthong will reportedly be sticking with Heberty and Assumpcao as their Brazilian forward line in 2018, meaning that the race for the 34-goal strikers’ signature is legitimately wide open. With Port having thrown away the chance for a top signing already, they’d better pray that they are in the box seat for Jaja’s coveted signature.

 

The Thai Wingers

Port To Sign Dom? Things Bodin Well…

 

In Thai transfers, Port are apparently in the frame for two potentially major signings. Youngster Nurul Sriyankem had an absolutely blistering year in 2017, scoring 8 goals and assisting an outrageous 18 for Chonburi, but has a 30 million baht price on his head, which apparently Buriram and Chiang Rai are both willing to stump up. Port can consider themselves well and truly in third place in the hunt to sign the pint-sized superstar.

 

 

In an interesting twist, though, if Buriram get their man then Port’s chances of landing 22 year old Buriram winger Bodin Phala could well get a huge boost. Port are apparently interested in the cultured attacking player – nicknamed Dom – who ran rings around Port defenders in a Bangkok Glass shirt back in 2015, and he could be available for a much more affordable 7 million baht. Interestingly, Bodin represented Port Futsal Club back in 2013 as a teenager. His excellent close control and short, sharp passing at speed is clearly a product of his futsal background. Bodin could also be a more sensible signing as he has more experience of playing on the left – where Port are in desperate need of an upgrade – than Nurul. There are srong rumours that this deal is close to being completed if it hasn’t been already. Exciting times…

 

The Dead Wood

 

Of course there are also rumours about outgoings too, and mercifully Wuttichai appears to be at the front of the exit queue. Behind him, waiting patiently for a permanent Port exit is left back Piyachart Tamaphan, who was on loan at Ubon in the second half of 2017. Both are apparently on Sisaket’s radar, and it would make a lot of sense for all involved for these moves to get done.

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk: Nebihi, or not Nebihi?

 

Transfer season is well and truly upon us, and unsurprisingly rumours are aplenty. The latest gossip has had Port signing a 12-goal midfielder, whilst teetering on the brink of losing a star player. But don’t panic everyone… Tana’s probably staying!

We start with the exciting news that Bajram Nebihi is being strongly linked with a move to PAT Stadium. The big Ubon attacking midfielder was integral in his team’s electric start to the season, scoring 5 times in his first 4 games, and he ended the season with 12 goals and 2 assists in the league, despite falling a little out of favour and completing 90 minutes just 4 times in the second half of the season.

 

 

29 year old Nebihi hails from Germany, but was born in Kosovo. The nomadic European played for 11 clubs across Germany, Turkey, Finland and Iran before being signed by Ubon in 2017. He is a big, strong player – 1.94m or 6 foot 4 – and that extra height and aerial ability could be just what Port’s attack needs in 2018. My only concern with this rumour is how exactly Port intend to use the big man. He performed best at Ubon playing ‘in the hole’ behind a striker, although he was used up front a few times too. If he is being touted as a replacement for Suarez in attacking midfield then I think he is probably an upgrade on the Spaniard, but he certainly isn’t a natural striker, and if he’s being signed as one then Port could be making a mistake. Thus, even if he is signed, the search for a Scary Foreign Striker should continue, although an even more pressing concern for Port has been the future of their main provider, the 18-assist dead-ball-machine himself…

Yes, the man who has been dominating the rumour mill over the last few days is our very own Pakorn Prempak. Fresh from coming third in The Sandpit’s player of the year poll – making him Port’s best performing Thai player of 2017 – Pakorn had been repeatedly linked with a move back to his old club Police Tero. Quite why Pakorn would want to make a backwards move to a club who finished below Port in the league was beyond me, but the most recent stories thankfully seem to suggest that Pakorn had been using the interest of his former club to coax a better contract offer out of Port.

 

 

SMM Sport reported that Jadet also weighed in yesterday, reminding Police that the Midfield Monk still has a year remaining on his contract and would not be going anywhere just yet. If Pakorn has indeed been using his former club as leverage to get a pay-rise then we can’t say we blame him. Pakorn, nicknamed Bas, has become Port’s most important Thai player in 2017, and his contract should probably reflect that. With Jadet having stood by his man and made his position clear, the club have now had to show that they are serious about backing him, and keeping Port’s star players. News has just now emerged that Pakorn has got what he wanted and joined El Capitan in signing a brand spanking new contract, so the Port fan groups’ #savebas hashtag can now be put to rest!

Tied in to the same SMM Sport article is a similar if as yet  not concluded story about Tana. Port’s erstwhile non-impact substitute is apparently also of interest to Police Tero, where he played for 4 years before joining Port. Incredibly, Tana banged in 25 goals in 2015, making him equal top-scorer in T2. What on earth happened?! Unfortunately, Tana also still has one year remaining on his contract and Jadet has issued the same ‘hands-off’ statement about the Karaoke Kid is he did about the Midfield Monk. Oh, well, swings and roundabouts…