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My All-Time Port XI: James

 

After reading Andy’s all-time Port XI, and then hearing Tim and Tom’s teams on the most recent Portcast, it got me thinking as to who would make my team. With no live football to watch at the moment [unless you can get a stream for the games in Belarus] it’s a case of either watching old live streams on YouTube or not watching any football at all.

I’ve only been watching Port since the 2016 season that we spent in T2, so my team may lack variety in a sense, although there’s one player that I just couldn’t not include in my team: he had to be in it regardless, purely due to the stories I’ve had told about him from either Port fans or players that have personally played against him.

I’ll be sticking with the 4-4-2 system that the others have used, and this is my team:

 

GK – Watchara Buathong

 

 

Arguably the best goalkeeper we have on our books at the moment, so it’s no surprise that he’s third choice and not getting a look in. Probably the only goalkeeper that we have that is comfortable catching the ball, and I thought he did quite well for a while last season before a couple of mistakes cost him his place in the side.

 

RB – Nitipong Selanon

One of the easiest selections to make. His consistency is pretty much unrivalled across the entire league, and I’m glad that he’s finally getting a look in on the international stage. Whilst he may not be as good as an attacker as Tristan, he’s ten times the defender, and that should count more on the bigger stage. I imagine he’ll be in most peoples team to be honest.

 

CB – Elias Dolah

 

 

Tough as nails, and puts his body on the line to keep the opposition from scoring. He’s an absolute handful at set-pieces, and if he can add more goals to his locker: an argument could be made for him going to an even higher stage. Has improved a hell of a lot since signing, and I look forward to more games with him in the line-up.

 

CB – David Rochela

It’s no secret that I feel as though we will need to replace Rochela sooner rather than later, but I’ll also admit that he’s a talented player whose done well for the club in the past. I have nothing but respect for the way he conducts himself and goes about his business, and his calmness helps the rest of the squad to settle down too.

 

LB – Kevin Deeromran

This is a position where we have incredible depth at the moment, and the likes of Steuble, Jaturapat and Yossawat can all count themselves unlucky to be at a club with the best Thai left-back to be playing in Thailand at the moment. Kevin’s solid defensively, and there’s always that feeling that he could produce something memorable in the attacking-third too. Brownie points for the way he trolled Muangthong and signed for us instead.

 

RM – Pakorn Prempak

 

 

I missed the spell of Saruta unfortunately, and I can’t remember Ekkapoom playing too much during the 2016-17 seasons unfortunately. What I do remember of 2016-17 is seeing Tana suit up on the right at times, and it’s for that reason that I ended up going with Pakorn. There’s no doubting that he can be the source of incredible frustration, but there’s also no doubting that he has the ability to deliver some fantastic set-pieces that we score from, or score himself.

 

CM – Siwakorn Jakkuprasat

Another easy selection to make: he’s my favourite player at the club. I actually thought he was going to lose his spot last season with the abundance of central-midfielders we went out and purchased, but it actually had the opposite effect. He’s somewhat mellowed out and isn’t constantly getting unnecessary bookings, whilst he’s still the first player that’ll dive into a 50-50 and come out with the ball and leave the opposition player requiring treatment. He’s the only former Muangthong player we have that I like, and I’d prefer it if we didn’t go about signing our biggest rivals players personally.

 

CM – Go Seul-Ki

Probably the most important player at the club at the moment. Go oozes class with almost everything he does, but his ability to attack doesn’t affect his ability to defend. He can do it all, and at a high level too, which makes it crazy that Buriram let him sign for us considering the Korean players that they have had since his departure: not that that I’m complaining..! If he can play until he’s 40 like he says he thinks he can, I’d love it to be with us, as I’d love to see him retire as a Port player.

 

LM – Genki Nagasato

I really enjoyed watching Genki play, because I knew that I’d get a fully committed performance from him every time he stepped onto the pitch. Whilst he may not have had the same level of technical ability of some of the wingers that have played for the club, he was incredibly consistent [I thought] and for that reason alone he became someone that I enjoyed having in the line-up during his spell at the club.

 

ST – Leandro de Oliveira da Luz

I missed his spell at the club, but ever since my first trip to PAT Stadium in 2016: I’ve been told stories involving him. A former club of his in Vietnam has been posting nostalgic clips of him during the virus-induced break, and the level of his talents is clear as day. Watching videos of someone online and seeing them live cannot be compared, and I’m somewhat disappointed that I never got to see the Brazilian play in person.

 

ST – Arthit Boodjinda

 

 

It’d be quite funny watching ‘Pele’ play alongside Leandro to be honest, with it either being completely awesome or something that would have the Brazilian ripping his hair out. Arthit is underrated in my opinion [bar by Tom!] and I’d love to have him back at the club instead of some of our current attackers [I’m looking at you Chenrop and Adisak]. Honorable mentions would go to Josimar and Rodrigo Maranhão too, with both of them providing some moments of jubilation.

 


 

We are open to more ‘All-Time XI’ submissions, so feel free to send us your team and we’ll publish it.

 

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.

 

Army Stadium Ready For Battle: Bangkok Utd vs. Port FC, FA Cup Semi Final Preview

 

Port march to Army this Wednesday in what is sure to be a decisive battle. This is a cup tie with everything riding on it for both sides. The Angels have come close to lifting cups in recent seasons, before being vanquished at the death. Their widely acclaimed manager Mano Polking has announced his imminent departure, although we’re not yet sure if a cup success would reverse his decision or encourage the club to go all out to reenlist him. They’re out of touch in the league, meaning it’s do or die in the cup. Meanwhile, Port are considerably closer but still look to be just out of range for an assault on the league title, and after being denied an AFC qualifying berth by a shock FA Cup result last season, have their sights set on redemption.

So, who are the favourites? The league table suggests that Port are the team to beat, having accumulated an extra point in one fewer game than Bangkok. The head-to-head results tell a different story, with this season’s clashes swinging in The Angels’ favor. The historical record is even grimmer reading for Port. Recent form too tells two opposing stories. Port’s form is better over the last 6 games, although our only defeat in the last 6 came against… you guessed it, Bangkok. Player availability is another area throwing us curve balls. The injury lottery has given Port a massive boost with Bonilla being stretchered off after just 8 minutes in the Angels’ 1-1 draw on the weekend. His leg is in a cast, so unless there is an elaborate hoax at hand, he won’t be starting. Meanwhile, Pakorn and Kevin have just returned to fitness for Port. On the flip side, Port will be without two forwards who are ineligible to represent Port in the FA Cup, leaving Rolando as the only recognized striker in the squad.

Enough with the imponderables and maddening speculation, though. Let’s meet the players.

 

Bangkok United

Players to Watch

 

He was man of the match in their last outing, and with Bonilla being unavailable, Michael Falkesgaard (1) could once again be the key figure for the opposition. I tire of singing his praises, but what else can you do when you see the annoyingly handsome stopper get in the way of everything Port send towards his goal? There were a few moments in the last meeting between the two sides where he took risks with the ball at his feet, which is the only thing I can point to as a potential vulnerability. Come on, pull an Enckelman!

 

 

I’m not as much of a fanboy of Vander Luiz (8) as many Thai football observers seem to be. He doesn’t produce enough (5 goals and 1 assist in T1 in 2019), and although he does bring a lot of creativity to the team, if you want to win the league I’m not quite sure that Van is the man to fire you there. Having said that, this is the cup and he won a couple of them with Chiang Rai in 2017. And he was man of the match last time we played Bangkok. So, my opinion that he’s a bit overrated means nothing, and he’ll probably play a blinder.

 

 

As we well know, the star boys have plenty of depth behind then at Bangkok, too. Chananan (20) is cup-tied but Jaycee John (22) is the most natural like-for-like replacement for Bonilla, while young speedster Anon Amornlerdsak (27) is an option in a different system. He’s dangerous on his day. In midfield there’s the likes of Pokklaw (10), Anthony (6) and everyone’s favourite ref-puncher Sanrawat (29). The perennial big game bottler was an unused sub on the weekend, which makes me think Mano is saving him up for this one. Everton (3) and Manuel Bihr (4) are a solid pairing at centre half, and I haven’t even mentioned some other top tier T1 stalwarts like Tristan Do (7) and Mika Chunuonsee (16).

Regardless of which XI takes the pitch, we always know that Mano comes in to matches against Port with a plan, and that usually puts his side a step ahead of us. One thing he apparently can’t plan for is his own team’s ill-discipline, though. Red cards in big games have plagued Bangkok in recent years, so Port’s best shot could be to really take the game to their opponents physically, and see if they have the mental fortitude to keep their cool in the heat of battle.

 

Port FC

El Capitán Regresa

 

As I alluded to earlier, there are a few differences between Port’s squad in the league and cup. The big boon for Port is that El Capitan Rochela (22) will once again take to the field in what could potentially be his last game in Port colours. Whilst Tanaboon (71) has conned most of T1 in to thinking he’s a decent defender, anyone who has watched Dolah (4) make 10 times as many tackles and win 10 times as many headers over the last couple of months knows otherwise. Rochela is available, he will start and Tanaboon will hopefully drop to the bench. We’ll take that. The risk is that Choke tries to crowbar him in at DM, meaning that Go (8), Siwakorn (16) and Suarez (5) are all shunted forward a place with Rolando missing out. I’m not the Panamanian goal-hanger’s biggest fan, but I’m picking him for this one and hoping for the best.

There are also a couple of forwards who aren’t available, and one who is. Josimar (30) and Chenrop (39) are cup-tied after representing Police Tero and Trat respectively earlier this season. With Pakorn (7) back on the right flank, Choke will be able to choose between Suarez and Rolando up top. The Spaniard has played OK, although he hasn’t reached the prolific heights of last season, whereas Rolando has been largely rubbish but has popped up with a couple of big goals, most notably in the FA Cup win over Muangthong. The Panamanian may not be much use in the build-up, but get the defender to pass the ball to him or give him a sniff of goal in the 6 yard box and you see a striker’s instinct that Port don’t otherwise possess.

Kevin (97) approaching full fitness will also give Choke a tricky decision to make at some point, but I think we can all agree that throwing Kevin in for a match of this magnitude after a lengthy lay-off would be a bit mental. Steuble (15) keeps his place for the moment, and we look set to have very healthy competition at left back going forward.

 


 

This may not be one many fans are feeling optimistic about, but remember we went in to the last two rounds against Muangthong and Chiang Rai nervous as anything, yet overcame poor form and ascendant opponents to advance. This team has heart, and we’d be mad to think we don’t have a decent shot of overcoming Bangkok.

 

Predicted lineup

 

 

You’ll notice Rolando’s rather unconventional positioning inside the six yard box. Damn the offside rule Rolando, you’re standing there until the ball magically appears in front of you and that’s that.

 


 

The match will probably be shown live on True Sport 2 or True4U (still awaiting confirmation of the channel) at 19.00 p.m. on Wednesday 18 September, 2019. For those who can’t make it to Army 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.

 

Bats in the PAT: Port FC vs. Sukhothai FC Preview

 

Port’s woeful run of form continued last Saturday with PTT Rayong snatching a victory against a team who looked flat, unconfident and lacked ideas. Jadet’s final throw of the dice as Port coach was a midfield diamond system which, despite a fortuitous win against Muangthong, didn’t click at all in the two games in which it was tried.

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Port Four Play Leaves Bats A-Flutter: Port FC 4-1 Sukhothai FC (Chang FA Cup R32)

 

 

When Port were drawn against Sukhothai in the FA Cup round of 32, the tie had the look of a potential banana skin about it – despite their lowly league position, the Firebats have one of the best defences in T1, and until Buriram’s visit last Sunday were the only team to have beaten Port all season. Fortunately for Port, but unfortunately for those of us who were hoping for a competitive game, Sukhothai are clearly prioritising T1 survival and put out a second string side, making this little more than a training exercise for Port’s first XI.

The floodgates opened as early as the 8th minute, when Pakorn (7) hit a freekick from the left of the penalty area, which former Port keeper Wanlop helpfully palmed into the net; but then Sukhothai sat back and defended resolutely, holding out against intense Port pressure until the 34th minute, when Pakorn curled in his second freekick of the night. The Midfield Monk loves playing against lowly opposition, but I wish he could find this kind of form when the big boys are in town. On the stroke of half time Bodin (10) scored a third but I’d already gone out for a cleansing ale by that point so can’t tell you what happened.

Predictably, the second half began with the usual Toby Time goal. Nurul (31) was upended in the area and Cap’n Rochela stroked home the pen to give Port an unassailable lead. Sukhothai got a consolation goal with a 75th minute penalty, but that was it for second half action and the gentle workout was just what Port needed before Sunday’s tricky trip to face MK Dons. The only black cloud was Go (8) going off late in the game with a knock, closely followed by the arrival of an ambulance at the stadium. Let’s hope it was just a precaution, as the last thing Port need now is to lose their midfield general.

**UPDATE**

Go suffered a bang on the head & the ambulance was just a precaution – he’ll be fit for Sunday’s game at Samut Prakhan.

 

The Sandpit Man of the Match: Pakorn

Two fine goals. No contest.

 

Shameonya: Sukhothai FC 3-1 Port FC

 

 

Port travelled north to face another unbeaten side in the form of Sukhothai FC yesterday, in a game which, on paper, should have been an opportunity for 3 valuable points. Sadly a combination of dubious refereeing, some appalling behaviour from certain Port players, and a bizarre second half substitution from Jadet handed Sukhothai one of the easiest wins they’ll have all season.

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In Defence Of Pakorn

 

This might be the hardest article I’ve ever written. The most divisive player on the Port books is ever the subject of feverish debate in the Sandpit and online, so much so that the man himself celebrated one of his goals last season by sitting down and typing on the turf, a show of defiance to his keyboard warrior critics.

 

 

Now, it’s only fair for me to acknowledge that I have, on numerous occasions, been one of those critics. I think almost everyone has been at some point. When you’ve watched the Midfield Monk as much as any regular viewer of Port has, you just have to have had moments of frustration, rage even, at Pakorn when he’s at his worst. So, before I come to his defense, let’s first briefly hear the critics’ case.

 

The Critics

He’s lazy. Unfortunately, we are not blessed with GPS data in Thai football, but if we were it would likely prove that he covers less ground than any other Port outfield player.

He’s slow. Most wingers have a bit of pace. Pakorn doesn’t.

He’s predictable. He’s very good at a few things, but when he does them on repeat, it becomes easy for the opposition to predict what’s coming.

His stats are skewed. They’re only so good because he hogs the ball and takes the majority of dead balls in the final third.

He’s soft. Our goalkeepers aim kicks at Pakorn with absurd regularity, considering that he seldom challenges for, let alone wins, the ball. He doesn’t do 50/50 tackles either.

He’s inconsistent. Even Pakorn’s fiercest critics won’t deny his talent, but they will berate him for not showing what he’s capable of week in week out.

When he’s bad, he’s bad. His highest level is unplayable. His lowest is unfathomably poor for someone of his ability.

He’s untouchable. At times Pakorn seems to be undroppable, not because of his performances but because forces on high seem determined to keep him in the team come rain or shine.

He’s not in demand. Other than Police Tero on two occasions, I can’t think of another team who has expressed a serious interest in signing Pakorn.

And most importantly…

He’s selfish. He shoots from corners. And freekicks. A lot. This undermines his teammates, who are often reduced to being bystanders while Pakorn single handedly goes for glory.

 

The Defense

He’s lazy. Not any more. Maybe. Hopefully. Yes, we’ve seen Pakorn turn up for pre-season looking like he’s bankrupted half of Bangkok’s buffets in his month off, but that is not the case this year. After being called up by the national team for the Suzuki Cup, Pakorn has had an extra month’s hard training and so far in pre-season has looked like Port’s sharpest player. I’m not saying he’s our fittest or hardest working player all of a sudden, but he’s certainly pulling his reduced weight. I’m quietly hopeful that this is going to make a real difference to his performance level this season.

He’s slow. So? With the ability to make a yard for himself and whip the ball in with either foot, that’s basically irrelevant. Some players need pace to be effective, Pakorn demonstrably doesn’t.

He’s predictable. Predictably effective. I’m not sure that Thai goalkeepers would agree that he’s predictable. Pakorn’s propensity to shoot when most would cross must keep goalkeepers on their toes a bit. They certainly can’t be charging cavalierly off their lines to punch or catch many of his deliveries for fear of the ball flying over their heads and into the top corner. We’ve all seen him do it before. Also, is it fair to criticize Port’s top assister for shooting too often? How many assists does he have to get year in year out to be considered a team player? Will it ever be enough? Port’s other wingers do go for glory less often, but they also provide less chances for their teammates. It doesn’t seem to add up; it’s not magic, just Pakorn.

His stats are skewed. He’s a dead ball specialist. In the last two seasons he’s scored 13 and assisted 32. Only Suarez can boast better numbers, and his combined total is only 5 ahead, despite playing in a more advanced position. You can try to put an asterisk by those numbers all you want, but you’re fighting a losing battle. Penalty takers take penalties, dead ball specialists take dead balls. Does Kane’s Golden boot at the World Cup have an asterisk next to it? He did his job, taking the responsibility of converting from the spot, and Pakorn frequently shoulders the burden of taking the majority of Port’s set-pieces, and doing so pretty bloody well. Most of the time. Other teams have dead ball specialists too, and most of them don’t manage to churn out the volume of goals and assists that Pakorn does.

He’s soft. Fair enough. I can’t pretend this hasn’t annoyed me at times, but I would also be annoyed if he got himself injured and we were stuck with a vastly less productive player on the right wing. Players who get kicked can either take the punishment and most likely pick up a few knocks, or stay well away and avoid injury to the best of their ability. You can put this one down as a less than forceful defense. I would like to see him challenge for the ball more often, although I think I understand why he doesn’t.

He’s inconsistent. And which of our attackers isn’t? We’ve leveled the same criticisms at every creative player at Port at some point. The fact that he has so much natural ability makes it more frustrating in his case, but that doesn’t mean that Pakorn should be singled out for more grief than other players who have just as many off days. It’s seen as a positive when a striker can play poorly and still score. Should the same not apply to Pakorn when he underperforms but then provides a moment of quality that leads to a goal?

When he’s bad, he’s bad. And which of our attackers isn’t? Again, I think this can apply to Port’s other attackers just as much as it can apply to Pakorn.

He’s untouchable. He doesn’t pick the team. I can only remember Pakorn being dropped on a couple of occasions under Jadet. He was left out of the XI when Port traveled to Honda in 2017, only to be brought on with Port 5-0 down. He scored a free kick. Typical. I can’t remember the other occasion(s) in any detail, but I remember him coming back with renewed purpose and showing us what we’d been missing without him being in the side. What I’m trying to say here is that dropping Pakorn every now and then is not a bad idea, and I don’t see calling for him to be left out occasionally as a criticism. A rested, motivated Pakorn is what he all want to see, and if dropping or resting him is the best way to achieve that, than that’s what Jadet should do. Pakorn’s not picking the team anyway, so there’s not a lot he can do about it.

He’s not in demand. Thankfully! The Sandpit has had occasion to bring up the Pakorn issue with a few T1 bosses, and none of them expressed an interest in trying to sign him. Police did try and fail a couple of times, but otherwise there is surprisingly little speculation surrounding the future of a player who puts up such impressive numbers every season, while other Thai wingers summarily fail to match his output. Even the national team staunchly refused to give him a go until the Suzuki Cup last year. Their lack of interest in Pakorn surely doesn’t stem from doubt of his ability but rather his attitude. Again, I can’t put in a particularly staunch defense here, as I have quite reasonably questioned his attitude on numerous occasions, but I do think that the criticism is sometimes a little exaggerated. He’s never said anything derisory about Port or our fans, and as far as I know he’s never refused to train or play, aside from maybe asking to be subbed off a couple of times in minor games. He’s hardly Nile Ranger, is he? Last season he did make a stupid error, agreeing to play an exhibition game in the middle of a packed schedule, resulting in him fainting and being rushed to hospital. A silly thing to do no doubt, but to my mind the likes of Wuttichai, Wagner, Kaludjerovic, Thiago and even Suarez have all demonstrated having a more disrespectful attitude than Pakorn.

And finally…

He’s selfish. Yes, but… This is the hardest of all for me to make a decent defense of, although I’ll get by with a little help from some perhaps unlikely allies. Does he genuinely believe the team is better off with him shooting from way outside the box rather than helping build an attack? There’s no way to know, but the alternative is that he simply wants the glory for himself, and I don’t think that’s true. The former is clearly far less grievous than the latter, and I’m going to run with that idea for a moment. If you think he’s just a glory hunter I doubt I’ll be able to change your mind, but if, like me, you have a little more faith in the Midfield Monk, read on. A particularly avid Pakorn fan would praise him for taking responsibility, rather than being selfish, and trying to make something happen while others show less willingness to risk the ire of the fans if it goes wrong.

This is where things get interesting. It’s an argument made not by me or another random fan, but by his teammates. Whilst opposition coaches may not talk about Pakorn in particularly glowing terms, Port players have not had any time for criticism directed at the Midfield Monk, even off the record. He provides an outlet, they say. He takes the heat off the defence with his forward runs and passes. There’s a lot of pressure on him to provide, and he does an admirable job. Of course you don’t have to agree with these players, but it’s certainly interesting that they defend him so vociferously.

I must admit to having had my own sneaking suspicions that they may well privately be the ones most frustrated by him. Not so. If the likes of Josimar and Boskovic are to be believed, the way Pakorn plays makes life easier for the rest of the team, who see him as an indispensable cog in the Port machine. Far from being a divisive figure, his presence is appreciated by his teammates, who see just how talented he is every day in training as well as on match days, and appreciate having a teammate who is always willing to put his best foot forward when the time comes, unless what’s in front of him is a tackle, obviously.

 

 

I realize there’s every chance I won’t be changing many minds here in any meaningful way. I’m not sure I’ve even fully convinced myself of some of my arguments, and I expect to encounter the inner struggle brought on by Pakorn fatigue again very soon. What I hope I do achieve is to give those on the fence about the Midfield Monk something to cling on to, and a way to defend him when he’s being mercilessly slagged off on the terraces. Does he deserve it sometimes? Absolutely, but he’s our player and as such I’m going to defend him against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

The best right foot in Thailand has my unconditional support this season as he prepares to finally fulfill his potential, and I’ll be damned if I go in to the season where he becomes the best domestic player in the league with a negative frame of mind! I am, perhaps against by best instincts, thankful that we don’t have some other winger who works harder but produces less. This is your year, Pakorn. Now get out there and show ’em!

 

Things Bodin’ Well for Port: Port FC 4-2 Ratchaburi (Friendly)

 

After watching Port crowned 2018 Futsal champions at the Thai-Japanese Stadium, we piled into a taxi and headed down to the PAT for the second friendly of the pre-season. It was good to see Port team win a trophy but there’s no substitute for real football and we were rewarded with a highly entertaining game.

Port began the game with pretty much a first-team XI, missing only Thailand internationals Kevin, Nurul and Sumanya, and more worryingly Boskovic, who was conspicuous by his absence. Dolah started alongside Rochela which suggests he is finally first choice in Jadet’s thinking.

Ratchaburi opened the scoring on 5 minutes when their very impressive new signing, ex-Auxerre, Nimes & NEC winger Steeven Langil teed up a perfect cross for Kang Soo-Il who headed past Rattanai. Langil looks the real deal and could be one of the signings of the season.

Port equalised a minute later when Rochela converted a penalty after Suarez had been upended by Ratchaburi’s keeper. The Spanish midfielder was as fired up as ever and showed that the word “friendly” isn’t in is vocabulary as, even after being awarded a penalty, he continued to get in the keeper’s face, followed by that of the referee. Don’t ever change Sergio.

With the Sandpit crew sitting close to the pitch we were able to, ahem, enter into dialogue with a few players, and whilst Ratchaburi striker Kang Soo-Il got some inevitable taunts about his use of moustache cream, the focus was on Port’s portly winger Pakorn. Dom gave him a bit of bantz about his selfishness and lack of teamwork; Pakorn made a “yeah yeah, keep talking” gesture, went down the other end, and set up a tap-in for a newly-shorn Bodin. Dom took this as evidence of his motivational skills, but really Dom, until Pakorn picks you out of the crowd, comes over to shake your hand and thanks you for inspiring him with your abuse, you’re an amateur.

The second “third” of the game kicked off with almost identical lineups and Bodin soon made it 3-1 with an absolute screamer. The removal of his trademark afro seems to have given the lacklustre winger a new lease of life as he looked well up for it yesterday. Ratchaburi got a goal back soon after this if memory serves me correctly but I can’t remember anything about it.

The third third featured a reserve side, which unfortunately featured Yossawat, who must’ve run over Jadet’s dog or something as he is about as far away from the first XI as I am at the moment. The stiffs gave a good account of themselves and in the 82nd minute the Port Pele himself, Arthit, bundled in a bustling header to extend Port’s lead.

An impressive win then, and Port’s key men all look well up for the season ahead. With Nurul, Kevin, Boskovic (hopefully), Sumanya and our new mystery midfielder all to come into the side, the signs for 2019 are very positive indeed.

Man of the Match

Anon bossed the midfield like a seasoned pro; Dolah led by example, yelling at his teammates throughout; and Bodin capped a superb performance with two goals; but the MOTM was indisputably (apart from Dom) Pakorn. The Midfield Monk could’ve taken the day off like his fellow AFF participants, but he chose to show up and put in a very impressive shift, even chasing a long ball at one point. New season, new Pakorn? Let’s hope so.

 

Boskovictory! Dragan Wins 2018 Goal of the Season Award

 

2016: Star striker Thiago Cunha took the Inaugural Sandpit Goal of the Season prize – presumably smashing it on the dressing room door in a fit of rage – with the winning goal being a sublime lob in Port’s memorable cup encounter with Muangthong.

2017: Star striker Josimar didn’t win a fan vote – none was held after we decided pickings were rather too slim – but a plurality of our season reviewers picked his stunning volley in the behind-closed-doors upset of… yes, you guessed it, Muangthong.

2018: …

 

Winner: Dragan Boskovic (27%)

Yes, once again Port’s star striker takes the Goal of the Season prize, but which of his 3 shortlisted efforts persuaded 27% of voters to award him the gong?

Well, it took him less than forty five minutes of his Port career to register. Boskovic received a pass from Suarez down the left flank, cut inside – nutmegging an unsuspecting defender in the process – before curling a sublime finish in to the top right hand corner. I’m talking of course about his effort in Port’s 3-0 home victory against Pattaya. Boskovic would go on to find the net a further 27 times in all competitions, but none would equal his very first.

 

 

2nd: Pakorn Prempak (21%)

A scorer of spectacular goals, there’s no doubt about that. 3 of Pakorn’s finest efforts in 2018 made our shortlist and, remarkably, we didn’t include any of his freekicks. Pakorn thrilled the crowd twice in the home fixture against Air Force, first driving the ball in to the top corner from the corner of the penalty box, and secondly launching home from close range after receiving a delightful through ball from Nurul. Neither of these efforts wooed more than 4% of voters though, with his standout goal adjudged to be his speculative, spectacular long range screamer in the 7-1 triumph over Navy.

 

 

3rd: Dragan Boskovic (15%)

Edging out Kim’s only entry, which finished 4th, Boskovic’s first goal in the final game of the season rounds out our podium finishers. Apparently Dragan really likes playing against Pattaya. Suarez was once again provider, with Boskovic turning on the style to rifle an unstoppable volley in to his favourite corner of the net. He would go on to score a further 3, guaranteeing Port’s 3rd place finish in T1, along with bagging 3rd place in our Goal of the Season poll.

 

 


 

 

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‘Korn: Freak on a Lease?

 

Several Thai websites are reporting that Port right-winger & assist freak Pakorn could be heading back to former club Police Tero on a season-long loan. With the club having signed Thailand international right-winger Nurul, Pakorn could be faced with a choice of either playing out of position on the left or sitting on the bench, and it appears that the Midfield Monk doesn’t find either option particularly attractive.

Pakorn had a superb 2017 season with 6 goals and an amazing18 assists, and was on particularly good form after his somewhat bizarre mid-season spell at the monastery, working much harder for the team and playing much more unselfishly. There are few better crossers or dead-ball strikers in Thai football, and so it would be a shame to lose him. That said, Port clearly haven’t spunked 20mTHB on Nurul (the only T1 player with more assists in 2017) to play him out of position, so it would be no surprise to see ‘Korn try his luck elsewhere.

Of course, if Pakorn does leave, it means Port will be in need of a left-winger, with ASEAN winger Terens ‘Flash’ Puhiri not likely to get much game time due to foreign player restrictions. Watch this space for more news as we get it!