Friendly Fire: Port FC 4-0 Bangkok Thonburi


For the second consecutive year, Port began their pre-season preparations against University side Bangkok Thonburi. Last season saw Port secure a comfortable 4-1 victory, with French trialist Saer Sene bagging a brace, and giving Port fans some hope that they had found themselves a top striker. It’s a year later, and Port once again find themselves in a similar situation. The competent if not exceptional Josimar was allowed to leave, the very good but arguably not exceptional Marcel Essombe has been signed and loaned to Police Tero, and Port are currently left with Wuttichai and Tana up front. Nevertheless, Port’s first XI excelled in a promising second half which yielded four goals, narrowly bettering last season’s scoreline, even if there wasn’t a recognized striker to speak of. Onward and upward!

Due to a shortage of photographic/video evidence of the game at the time the report was written, I will be inserting alternative artwork of my own choosing. In honour of retired Port midfielder Piyachart they will be a symbolic or artistic representations of what happened in the game, with some kind of Instagram-like filter applied to them.


‘The Football Match’ by LS Lowry with ‘Glow Edges’ filter applied to make it look less like a 5.6 million pound piece of art and more like one of Chris Coles’ representations of Soi Cowboy.


Port started with something between a second and third XI, and appropriately they turned in a performance that belonged somewhere between T2 and T3. Quite possibly below that, actually, as their opponents were a University team and Port certainly didn’t outplay them.


Tracy Emin’s ‘Messy Bed’ with a ‘Concrete’ filter. The huge turd on the bed represents Port’s first half performance.


Incidents of note during the opening period included several diabolical first touches, a missed header from 2 yards by Wuttichai and an argument between him and Jadue which had to be broken up by Pakasit. Jadue had just made one of about a hundred school-boy errors that had been made by the team in the first period, but Wuttichai took particular umbrage with this particular mistake and gave Jadue a dressing down which he was in no mood to listen to. The two were eventually told to go their separate ways back to the dressing room by Pakasit, and presumably their ‘conversation’ was continued behind closed doors during the break.


Wuttichai and Jadue as David Goliath with ‘Cut Out’ filter applied to represent the fact that both should be cut out from the Port squad ASAP


In terms of Port’s first half personnel, there were a few unfamiliar faces worth mentioning. Thanakorn (37) and Supachai (30) were sold to Songkhla and Sukhothai respectively last season, and appear to be training with Port until they find other club. Pinyo (21) is a winger who was on loan at Prachuap in the second half of 2017, and was injured for more or less the entire year and a half before that. Pinyo is a player with excellent potential, but that certainly wasn’t realized in this performance. Narakorn (29) is a left winger who joined Port from BBCU in 2017, but didn’t manage to make a competitive first team appearance. It’s pretty clear why. Port also brought Burmese trialist Aung Lwin (18) on up front, and in a team chock-full of pretty poor players he managed to stand out for being particularly awful. We’re going to tentatively predict that even while Wuttichai and Tana are the only available options, his trial will not be a successful one.


A representation of Aung Lwin’s first touch, with ‘Pencil Sketch’ filter applied to emphasise the sketchiness of his performance.


Things got going very quickly indeed in the second period, though. Port started with new signings Bodin (15) and Nurul (31), who played in a fluid front four with Pakorn (7) and Suarez (5). For the most part it was Pakorn on the right, Bodin through the middle and Nurul on the left with Suarez playing as a kind of ‘false nine’. Port immediately showed what the gulf in class should look like between T1 and University. Nurul was the stand-out performer, showing energy, dynamism and most of all superb skill. He was robbing the ball from his opponents, dribbling around them at will and linking up well with his teammates. Bodin was also excellent, playing in teammates on both sides of the pitch from his outpost in the centre and playing a lot of one and two touch football. In didn’t take long for the gulf in class to turn in to goals.


Port’s new formation, with Brightness and Contrast turned up to the max as Port’s performance was so bright and in contrast to anything we’ve ever seen before.


The opening goal was typical of Port’s early play, with Bodin playing in Nitipong (34) on the right, who fizzed in a dangerous cross which Suarez nonchalantly flicked past the goalkeeper. The Spaniard was looking very happy indeed with the tiki-taka football going on around him, although this was one of the rare occasions that he got on the end of anything as you would expect your ‘striker’ to do. A few minutes later it was Nurul’s turn to cut the defence to ribbons, which he did all by himself. First he broke through on the right and dinked an ambitious chip just over the bar, then after another jinking run he was scythed down well inside the area, although the referee charitably gave a freekick rather than a penalty, which Pakorn fired in to the wall.

The second goal was another combination between the two wingers, with Pakorn this time on the left and Nurul coming in from the right. Another flowing Port moved ended with Pakorn dinking in a cross with his weaker foot, and 5 foot 4 Nurul somehow getting the better of his defender to head the ball back across goal and in to the net. Something tells me he’s not going to be scoring many headers in T1!


Nurul Dinklage from Port of Thrones


The poor old Thonburi defenders just couldn’t get to grips with livewire Nurul, and before long he again bamboozled a defender down the right and was scythed down inside the area. This time the official did point to the spot, and interestingly Pakorn (7) rather than Rochela (22) stepped up to take it, comfortably beating the ‘keeper from 12 yards. It was to be Pakorn’s last action of the half, as he was replaced soon after. If he’d only stayed on another couple of minutes he would have had another penalty to take.


Salvado Dali’s impression of Pakorn’s penalty, with a ‘Smooth’ filter applied.


We weren’t sure what this one was given for, but it was in the middle of a move where Port embarrassed so many defenders with one-touch flicks that the referee may just have awarded it as a kind of mercy killing. Port weren’t done with gratuitously humiliating their opponents, though. With Pakorn off it was Rochela’s turn, and in the fine tradition of Johan Cruyff and most recently Lionel Messi, Rochela tapped the ball to his left where Suarez was waiting to score the simplest of tap-ins. Ay Caramba!


A representation of Rochela and Suarez’ penalty.


In terms of what we learned from the personnel in the second half, we learned that Pakorn, Nurul and Bodin all being on the pitch together works a treat! Admittedly they will need to do the business against better opposition than this, but this performance was certainly a good sign. The left back battle is well and truly on, with Yossawat (28) and Panpanpong (19) both getting a run-out with the first XI. Todsapol (6) has also maintained his position ahead of Dolah, and on a day where practically no defending was necessary nothing will have changed with the pecking order. Adisorn (13) has hung on to his place, but he looks very much like a placeholder until Kim Sung-Hwan starts his Port career. We would be nervous about him not being there today if we hadn’t already seen him on Madame Pang’s Instagram! Speaking of which, Chakrit, Athirbordee and Nebihi have all yet to be inducted in to the Madame Pang timeline of Fame, so their transfers may potentially still be up in the air.



First and second half lineups


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 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.