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La Fin: Port FC vs. Chonburi FC Preview

 

Thai football’s biggest inter-club bromance resumes on Wednesday night at the PAT, as Port welcome Chonburi for the final home game of the season. The home side should be buoyed by a 5-0 win at the weekend over Navy, while the Sharks ensured another year of top-flight football thanks to a 3-1 win over Korat.

Having done more than was required of them on Saturday night in Sattahip, the advantage in the battle for 3rd place appeared to be back with us, as the forces of darkness from Legoland went into injury time on Sunday evening lucky to be at 2-2 with Sukhothai, only for substitute Sanukran to pop up with an entirely undeserved winner.  They play Pattaya at the same time as this match takes place. Good luck Pattaya, may you join the long list of teams to celebrate a victory in the away dressing room’s party lounge at Legoland, hopefully a party that stretches into the coming weekend.

Being the last home game you hope the club lays on something to mark the occasion. Back home you might see next season’s kit given an appearance. Given the recent record of Port failing to have kits ready for the start of the season I’ll hold my breath.

 

Our Opposition

 

As ever when playing Chonburi, I got in touch with Dale Farrington to find out whats going on with the Sharks (and save myself messing about on Wikipedia and and Transfermarkt trying to work out who their decent players are).

  • Chonburi secured top flight football for another season at the weekend, a pleasing end to the season?

Not really. Staying up is clearly better than getting relegated, but I don’t think it’s any cause for celebration. If anything, it should be a big kick up the backside to those who run the club. Sadly, I actually believe they think it’s an achievement. A sign of how far we’ve fallen and what little expectations we (they) have these days.

  • Overall a good or bad season for the club and do you expect an improvement next year?

Overall, a bad season. A new coach, who was showing potential and had the side well organised, was forced out after just eight matches and we never really recovered from that. Unless they employ a new coach – who actually knows what they are doing (unlike the current one) – and invest in some new players – preferably decent foreigners – next year will be much the same as this one. Or even worse!

  • Do you still have that goalkeeper who thinks he’s a sweeper, if so will he play and what other players should we look out for?

Chanin (35)? Yes. He’s still here. I’m not his biggest fan, but he has been outstanding over the past few weeks. His saves against Ubon Utd probably kept us up. Watch out for his kicking though. I’d say about 90% of his clearances go straight into touch! Otherwise, the centre backs, Gyeong Min (30) and Kritsada (42) are worth keeping an eye on. The former showed a lot of class before getting injured (he’s only recently returned) and the latter is a promising youngster, who hopefully will go on to bigger things.

 

Chanin Sae-ear, Kim Gyeong-min and Kritsada Kaman

 

  • And finally a prediction for Wednesday? Any chance your players have had a week off and want to donate 3 points to their besties up the road?

A prediction is almost impossible. I never know which Chonburi will turn up – the poor one or the slightly less than average one. If we’ve switched off after Saturday, you could get three or four.

 

Thanks to Dale for answering, especially at rather late notice.

 

Line Up

 

Given Jadet’s noted resistance to change and that his preferred outfield 10 just won 5-0 away from home, I wouln’t expect any changes by choice. Bodin (10), having served his suspension, will probably return to the bench and here’s the standard mention that should Rattanai (17) frame of biscuits be up to it he could start/be on the bench.

 

Form

 

Despite only achieving mathematically safety from relegation with their win last time out, Chonburi have spent most of the season hovering just above mid table.  Their form in 11 games since a defeat to this season’s shock underperformers Rangsit Glass, has seen them win 4, draw 3 and suffer defeat 4 times. 3 of those defeats came against the current top 3 and the other in their derby against Pattaya, while the wins have come against 3 teams currently in the relegation zone and (woeful) Korat. Very much that of a solid mid table grinder. Only twice have they kept clean sheets in that spell, with those matches averaging just under 3 goals (2.91), which is just a tad above the league average of 2.84.

Port’s form is somewhat more unpredictable. The two wins since the resumption have come against a Navy side so poor they make the decision to reduce the number of teams in the top tier look prudent and a Korat team whose survival, could be used to justification a similar reduction next season.  The first half against Suphanburi was encouraging and the result would probably have reversed if we’d found the net in the first half.

 

Prediction

 

If we are serious about third this is the kind of team – mediocre form and with an inability to keep clean sheets – we need to be putting away. As they also have nothing to play for, I’ll go 3-0 Port. Hopefully Dragon Boskovic can bag a brace and pass 100 career goals in Thailand as well.

 


 

True have had to get a bit creative with their choice of channels, what with all of the games being played simultaneously. This means that the match will be shown live on True Tennis HD at 18:00 on Wednesday 3 October, 2018. For those who can’t make it to PAT Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound. Don’t forget to wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.

 

Port Float into Navy to Sink or Swim: Navy FC vs. Port FC Preview

We’re hanging on in there. Just when we thought we were out of it, Muang Thong prove once again that they are just as shit as we are when it comes to sealing 3rd place, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory at Chainat, which makes Saturday’s humbling defeat at the hands of a resilient Suphanburi even more galling.

 

 

This fan-torment from Jadet’s Jesters is almost Shakespearean, “As flies to wanton boys, are we to th’ Port, they kill us for their sport”.  And so, with spirits raised and brimful of eternal optimism, we work out the permutations once again: three ‘winnable’ games while Muang Thong face tricky Sukothai and Bangkok Utd in their closing run.

Talking of which, Sukothai’s 3-2 win at  Bangkok Utd featured a classic hat-trick from Salvadorean international Nelson Bonilla, the first from a seemingly impossible angle and well worth watching – the other two the kind of finishes we have come to expect from the League’s second highest scorer: 24 to Diogo’s 29, but in a much inferior team. Now this is a proper centre forward and one I would willingly swap for our currently flailing Montenegrin. You can see Bonilla’s hat-trick here – it helped to brighten up my Sunday, anyway.

 

Sattahip Stadium

 

So what are our chances at Navy? Our record at the Sattahip Stadium is poor; in fact I don’t recall ever witnessing a victory there in the League, with last season’s fixture ending in a disappointing 2-2 draw, after Port went in at half-time 2-0 up. And I seemed to have written so many Navy previews and match reports that I have run out of nautical puns and quips, so this will just be a straightforward assessment – even the delights of nearby Ban Chang, featured so prominently in last season’s preview, will have to take a back seat.

 

Ban Chang Cheerleaders

 

The corresponding home fixture ending in a pulsating 7-1 victory but this was in the middle of a run of 11 wins in 12 games with only the freakish, mad 3 minutes at home to Muang Thong spoiling the fun. We now go into Saturday off 3 wins in 13, one of those against lowly Trat in the F.A. Cup. The reasons for this slump are discussed ad-nauseum in the Sandpit: lack of fitness, the International break, injuries and suspensions, poor coaching and selection (what has happened to Anon?), lack of motivation, loss of key players’ form; maybe it’s a bit of all of these.

But football matches hang on such fine margins and Saturday was a good example. Port were actually not that bad in the first half, having more of the lion’s share of the game and creating several good chances, some of which would have been converted had it not been for some astounding saves from the Suphanburi keeper. The second half opened in the same way and Cleiton Silva’s headed goal was so out of the blue and against the run of play that it left everyone in stunned silence. The second, shortly after, came as a result of the War Elephants’ new found buoyancy and Port’s sudden deflation.  In fact, the first half was scarily similar to recent ones against Chainat and Nakhon Ratchasima, but in the latter we were gifted an early second half penalty which turned the game in our favour.

There was to be no second half redemption this time. Plus, we had brought on Pakorn, who, after early promise, became, well, Pakorn. It didn’t help either that players who had such an impact early in the season were poor – Kevin being a prime example.

I have just become one of the 63% that want to see Jadet gone at the end of the season and I firmly believe, at last, that the time is right. Even if he now ‘inspires’ us to a third place finish, it will be more down to other teams’ failings than our own brilliance.  A top four finish, although not our best ever (we actually came second in the top flight in 1999) should satisfy even the most pessimistic pundit after the recent yo-yo years, and should prompt further investment, especially if next season is the Madame’s final fling and she wants to go out with a bang, as it were. But I don’t think Jadet is the man to take us that further step.

Back to Saturday: Navy are down already, but with consecutive draws against Port’s top six rivals Prachuap and Chiang Rai, they will be no pushovers. Sailors do have some pride, even if the only young tars present will be those watching from the free seats.

Port, and Jadet, have three games left to make some kind of statement – will it all end in a bang or a whimper?

I am not highlighting any Navy players to watch because I won’t be watching them; this week, I am only interested in how Port perform, although Amadou Ouattara (81) looks to stand out from the crowd with 11 goals and 6 assists. I don’t even have the enthusiasm to poke duck orientated fun at Gabriel Quak (22), who incidentally got the only goal at Port – hopefully he won’t be ruffling our feathers this week. Oh dear, I’ve gone and done it.

 

Amadou (81) and Athibordee (63), who is on loan from Port so should be ineligible against his parent club.

 

For my Port line-up I have gone for the eleven (injuries and suspensions willing) that I sense that the Sandpit would like to see:

Rattanai (is he fit?) [Ed – he’s been back in training this week, but probably not match fit.]; Nitipong, Dolah, Rochela, Kevin; Anon, Kim, Siwakorn (or Adisorn – it’s a toss-up); Nurul, Suarez, Boskovic.

It would be great to see Terens and Sammy Slot on the bench with Arthit. Let’s have a bit of fun at least – Navy is a long way back when you’ve lost. [Ed – Bodin is suspended having picked up his 4th yellow card last week, so there’s a good chance we’ll see at least 2 of these fellas come off the bench.]

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True4U, True Sports 2 and True Sports HD2 at 20:00 on Saturday 29 September, 2018. For those who can’t make it to Sattahip 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.

 

Suphanburied: Port FC 0-2 Suphanburi FC

 

Dear reader, if you’re reading this thank you but if I’m honest I have nothing to report but bad news. I could tell you about the match but it won’t live long in the memory. I could tell you about the problems in the club, team and with individual players but I’ve written and discussed these so many times before. Guess I could make light of it and tell you I missed both the goals taking my tally to 15 this season but it really doesn’t feel like something to laugh about today. At least I got a free sticker and a Madame Pang fan out of the experience yesterday.

The day started badly as I was due to cheer on Melbourne in the Aussie rules semi final against The Eagles but while running late I received a message that the Demons were 51-3 down in the 2nd quarter. Disaster. Watching the rest of the match was like watching a grown man beat up a toddler; brutal, ugly and totally unnecessary. So after that setback it was on to PAT Stadium for the last Saturday home game of the season and AFC Champions League still a very distant possibility. On arrival I was told Pakorn (7), arguably our best ‘performer’ last week, and Arthit (29) had been dropped, plus Anon (20) hadn’t made the squad. Ominous stuff. Then Tim appeared to inform me that the futsal team had lost and now dark clouds were circling overhead. He also mentioned Tottenham had won; this was going to be a bad day.

 

Oooooo pretty

 

Port did start the first half the better team and fashioned some good chances; Suarez (5)  was unable to control a header and shortly after Nurul (31) darted into the area, outwitted Anderson (3)  but fired over. It wasn’t until the 33rd minute that Port created their best chance but Suphanburi keeper Sinthaweechai (18) produced a magnificent triple save; tipping Suarez’s shot onto the post then blocking a close range effort from Boskovic (23)  and finally getting his body behind Suarez’s follow up. Suphanburi could have had a penalty thanks to Boskovic’s WWE-style defending but the referee clearly wanted an easy afternoon with as little controversy as possible. Sinthaweechai was not finished with his heroics and pulled off a Hollywood one handed save from Boskovic’s deflected shot.

So half time and obviously after a lacklustre first half I was keen to get my hands on a cold Leo and discuss the finer points of our performance. My love of the social aspects of football have been well documented and without hearing any noises from the stadium to denote any action taking place I decided to continue my conversation and take my sweet time with the ale. How wrong I was; by the time I had returned Port were 2 down and falling apart on the pitch. In truth Port could have gone 1 up with Pakorn, on for the completely ineffective Bodin (10), forcing Sinthaweechai to make another top save. As if to rub salt into the wound it was ex-Port player Meechok (20) who supplied a beautiful arcing cross into the box for Cleiton (22) to ghost between Nitipong (34) and Rochela (22) and send a bullet header into the net. Meechok, thinking that the wound needs a little more salt to be rubbed into it, controlled an excellent cross field ball to pull back to Chananan (10) who fired a beautiful first time shot low past Worawut. Chananan had been pulling the strings all game and the goal was just reward for his work, I just wish I had been there to see it.

 

 

The rest of the game played out as most Port fans have come to expect recently; Nurul did his customary dive and Rochela redeemed himself after not picking up Cleiton for the first goal to make a first rate last ditch tackle on Chananan. Pakorn had a shot deflected off the post and Romulo (9) unleashed an absolute thunderbastard of a shot that cannoned off the crossbar. There were also a few feisty moments with Suphanburi lucky to stay with 11 men on the pitch and their coach Pairoj marching onto the pitch to remonstrate with the ref but the man in the middle wasn’t in the mood to take action at all today.

So another woeful performance and our recent form, bar last week’s win, is frankly garbage. To see a team give 110% effort while your own players are going through the motions and thinking about sun loungers and pina coladas is pretty galling. Port needs players like Cleiton and Chananan next season because we can all see the attitude and effort of the players on the pitch is not good enough. We know there are several who think training is optional and that attitude is polluting the atmosphere in the club, especially as the reserve players who deserve a chance are working hard but not getting the opportunities they deserve. Jadet doesn’t have control of the team and playing with no striker for 60-odd minutes is not going to win games; to highlight this Boskovic’s best chances were both inside the area – where he should be when we’re on the attack.

Unbelievably we are still in fourth place, enjoying our best ever season and we are still not happy; it’s frankly amazing what we have achieved given the circumstances but these constant problems that hamper us make you think just what we could achieve if we were really well run from top to bottom and not this clown car of a club waiting to fall apart. Chainat finally did us a favour this season and beat those mugs from Legoland so the impossible is still possible but Jadet needs to get a grip and find some short term solutions to long term problems.

 

Best picture of the day

 

 

Man of the Match – Sinthaweechai Hathairattanakool

 

 

Nope, It’s certainly not going to a Port player this time. Only one team gave their all on the pitch and their captain and goalkeeper put in one hell of a shift, galvanising the rest of his team and pushing them onto victory. One of the best opposition performances I have seen in my short time at the PAT and watching his saves again today has been a pleasure. Go on son, you deserve it.

 

In The Suph: Port FC vs. Suphanburi FC Preview

 

The precariousness of Port’s unlikely bid to snatch the final ACL spot from under the noses of rivals Muangthong was brought sharply in to focus on Wednesday night, with Buriram crashing out of the League Cup to underdogs Bangkok Glass. Port need Buriram to prevail in the other cup – the FA Cup – meaning that the final ACL qualifying spot will be passed to the team who finishes third in the league. It’s never ideal to have to rely on other teams, but at least there is still a chance. Port got back to winning ways with a 4-0 victory over an under-strength Korat side, and were relieved to see Muangthong slip to a comfortable 0-3 defeat at the hands of Buriram, which brought Port back to within 2 points of third place. Muangthong still have Bangkok United to play in a key final-day fixture, meaning Port can still hang on to some slim hopes of qualification if they can string four wins together against this week’s opponents Suphanburi, then seaside clubs Navy, Chonburi and Pattaya.

 

Suphanburi FC

Players to Watch

 

I had nothing but harsh words for Cleiton Silva (22) after the first couple of months of his highly anticipated return to Thai football yielded just a handful of goals, and a whole lot of poor performances. Since being loaned out to Suphanburi, however, the Cleiton of years past has once again found his shooting boots, and the Brazilian has hit 7 goals in just 9 appearances. When he’s on form he’s deadly, and right now he’s on form.

The only man probably not overly chuffed with one of Thai football’s all-time great strikers pitching up in Suphanburi is compatriot Romulo (9). Very much the focal point of Suphanburi’s attack in the first half of the season, Romulo plundered 7 goals and looked in good nick. In the 9 games that both Brazilians have started since the mid-season break, Romulo has added just one more to his tally.

Making up for Romulo’s dip in form has been one of the few half-decent forwards in Thai football, and man with two many an’s in his name: Chananan Pombuppha (10). Chanananan was the main man up front for the Thai under 23 team before they were rubbish, but as almost all promising Thai strikers have been, Chananananan has been converted in to a winger/attacking midfielder. Playing just behind Romulo and Cleiton, Chanananananan has finally started finding his feet, scoring 4 and assisting 1 in his last 5 games. Port would do well to task a defensive midfielder with watching his forward runs and making sure he doesn’t have the opportunity to shoot from the edge of the box. Maybe Anononon (20) would be up to the task, if only he were returned to the starting XI.

 

 

They’re not all just strikers, either. Suphanburi can look to the Thai Ronaldinho – Tanasith Sripala (11) – to create chances for the forwards, although he doesn’t produce the quality that he is capable of nearly as much as he should.

A much more consistent presence in the midfield is another one who just doesn’t want me to pronounce his name properly. Japanese midfielder Takafumi Akahoshi (37) is in to his second season in Thailand, and does a solid if unspectacular job in the heart of midfield. He will be fresh and raring to go having missed the last game through suspension.

At the back, Thai league veteran defender Anderson dos Santos (3) has been in the game as long if not longer than any other foreign player around, and can be relied to put in a solid shift in Suphan’s back 3. Alongside him will be a useful young Thai centre back appropriately named Suphan (26) and some bloke who I’ve never heard of called Tinnakorn (33).

 

 

 

Form

 

Suphanburi’s form is very much mid-table, although with 5 going down their league position still puts them in with an outside chance of relegation. Their last 6 games have seen 2 wins, draws and losses. The two one-goal defeats came against Buriram and Sukhothai, the two draws against Muangthong and Ubon UMT and the two wins against Air Force and Ratchaburi. Suphanburi are a decent side capable of upset wins, but equally capable of shocking defeats. It’s not a lack of ability in their squad that’s got them in to trouble, rather a lack of consistency. They’re not bad on the road though, having lost just 4 all season on their travels. The question is, will coach Pairoj have the guts to play the attacking system which has got the best out of Cleiton and Chananananananan in recent weeks, or will he revert to a more defensive system to try to stymie Port’s attack.

 

Port FC

Young Pele

 

 

Speaking of that attack… He may not have gotten on the scoresheet last week, but Arthit (29) still providing a compelling argument for his inclusion in the first XI. He created one excellent chance for himself with a superb turn, shimmy and shot, and he again tested the Korat ‘keeper with a deft outside of the boot flick. More important than his chances to score, though, Arthit just played like a real striker, attempting to hold the ball up at the right times and getting himself in to the box at the right times. His positional discipline allowed Boskovic, Suarez and Pakorn to drift around as is their wont, and the team – poorly drilled under coach Jadet – gained structure by having a more natural centre-forward to lead the line. Give him another go Jadet, please! If only so we can enjoy watching him trying to overcome his limitations in talent with blood and thunder attacking for another week. Arthit did pick up a knock last week but, just by looking for the only bloke wearing his shorts as if they were a thong, we can confirm from the following picture that Arthit is in training, and so ought to be fit to start.

 

 

Another man who we can apply the same logic to also enjoys a tight pair of shorts. Anon (20) has mysteriously missed out on the last two match day squads, despite being one of Port’s best players in recent games. We really hope Jadet has not lost faith in the youngster after being involved in a few defeats during Port’s tough run of fixtures, as Anon was often the brightest spark during those most challenging games. We know he’s fit now (that’s him on the far left of the same picture) so there are no excuses for not picking him again.

Nurul (31), towards the front of the shot on the left, is the final outfield injury doubt, and although we know that he’s fit, he could miss out on selection if Arthit starts and Boskovic (23) is once again deployed on the left wing. He didn’t do too badly at all in that position last week, and would have provided Suarez (5) with a sublime assist had the Spaniard been able to hit a barn door from a foot out.

Dolah should return to the team (4) after serving his ban for picking up his 7th and 8th yellow cards in infuriating circumstances 2 games ago, but Rattanai (17) is still on the injury list. Quelle surprise.

 

Predicted Lineup

 

Yes, yes. I should know better than to have the slightest faith that Anon will be picked. Expect to see Siwakorn (16) starting again. At least he had a decent game last week, for a change.

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True4U and True Sport HD2 at 18:00 on Saturday 22 September, 2018. For those who can’t make it to PAT Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound. Don’t forget to wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.

 

Watch Out, Beetles About: Chiang Rai United vs. Port FC Preview

 

Port travel to Chiang Rai on Wednesday looking to turn around their worst run of form so far in 2018. Port’s last 6 league games have seen just 1 win, 3 draws and 2 losses, and they have slipped below bitter rivals Muangthong for the first time in months. Chiang Rai on the other hand have improved markedly in the second half of the season, and will be looking to close the gap to Port to just 1 point with a victory.

 

Chiang Rai United

Players to Watch

 

The main man for Chiang Rai is captain and certified brick shithouse Victor Cardozo (6). The best defender in the league has even managed to net 7 goals, including the opener in Chiang Rai’s 3-2 win over Prachuap last week. Dolah will have to maintain his excellent form of late when defending the big man, who is sure to be a threat from set-pieces. Chiang Rai’s back 3 will also contain the excellent youngster Shinnaphat Leeaoh (36), one of the more impressive up-and-coming defenders in Thailand.

 

 

On the left flank, Thai under 23 captain Suriya Singmui (30) will also be a solid presence defensively as well as a threat going forward. He was preferred to Port left back Kevin for the Thai Asian Games squad, just one of the many laughable decisions that got coach Worawut sacked as Thailand crashed out in the group stages. Still, Suriya is a very good player.

 

 

In midfield will sit the solid, dependable duo of South Korean Lee Yong-Rae (8) and Phitiwat Sukjitthammakul (6) who have combined for just 2 goals and 4 assists all season, but have provided excellent protection for the defence, and are rarely caught out of position.

 

 

Up front is the man who has really turned things round for The Beetles in the second half of 2018. Cleiton Silva arrived for big money at the start of the season carrying a huge reputation in Thai football, and was widely thought of as a safe bet to score 20 goals minimum. Well, Cleiton came, saw and ran off with his tail between his legs, and in came a player who was little more than a laughing stock in his first few games of 2018, Bill Rosimar (9). Since shedding a few pounds and finding his feet in Thai football, Bill has become one of the more dangerous forwards in the league. He has 5 goals in 9 games since making the switch. He will be fresh, having missed last week’s win as he was serving a one game ban for picking up 4 yellow cards.

 

 

Form

 

Only slightly better than Port’s, actually. Chiang Rai have won 2, drawn 2 and lost 2 in their last 6, although their 2 wins have come against 2 teams who Port have recently failed to overcome – Prachuap and and Chainat. Surprising draws against Air Force and Pattaya and understandable losses to Buriram and Bangkok United round out their last 6.

 

Port FC

Pakorn Out

 

Port will not be starting the same XI that has failed to win either of the last 2, as divisive winger Pakorn (7) misses out with his first suspension of the season. Nurul (31) is also a doubt, having just recently recovered from a serious injury and been withdrawn at half time on Wednesday. If there’s any risk at all, please just leave the little guy out. Coming in ought to be Bodin (10) and one of Terens (28), Chakrit (9) or Somprasong (14). Terens can only play if one of the other foreign players miss out, so either Chakrit or Somprasong are more likely. Jadet should probably also consider starting last week’s goal hero Arthit (29) and moving Boskovic out wide. It’s not like he ever plays through the middle when he’s on the pitch, anyway.

I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but the midfield problem just won’t go away. After bringing him off in the last 2 games, it must surely be time to drop Siwakorn (16). Anon (20) has proved much more effective when he has come on, and is a breath of fresh air with his tough tackling, meerkat-like awareness and crisp passing. Just do it, Jadet!

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 


 

The match will be shown live, although the channel is yet to be confirmed. Kick off is 17:45 on Wednesday 12 September, 2018. For those (and I assume there will be quite a few) who can’t make it to Singha Stadium up North, 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.

 

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before: Port FC 1-1 Chainat Hornbill

 

 

Football returned to the PAT Stadium after a month of intense, thrilling international footballing achievement thumb twiddling, with Port welcoming arguably our second most hated team, the Hornbills of Chainat. Regulars on the away terraces and this fine website might remember the away fixture earlier this season which resulted in a barrage of boos and harassment at the final whistle. At the time it felt like the lowest point of our season. Hoping this would serve as a constant reminder, and after the dismal showing at Prachuap, our boys needed to show some mettle. Another important factor was Police’s 4 goal capitulation to The Scum the night before, so a win was a must to keep up with the pace. 

Errr yeah, so about that “win”… Jadet chose to stick with the team from Wednesday’s defeat and in the opening exchanges Port played some neat football with Pakorn (7), carrying a little extra timber after a month of R&R, confounding his critics and sending a dangerous cross over to Boskovic (23) who couldn’t control his header. Then after 20 minutes Kevin darted to the byline and pulled back to Boskovic only for him to be crudely bundled over by Chatchon (6). Hands were raised appealing for a penalty but the ball quickly spilled to Suarez whose shot was blocked and it seemed as if the penalty appeal had been forgotten about. The crowd, sensing injustice, started chanting “VAR, VAR” and the referee, clearly thinking about leaving the stadium upright, duly obliged and consulted the gogglebox before awarding the penalty.

Now, when Dragan asserted himself and took the ball from captain Rochela’s (22) hands, you had to be impressed with the confidence of the man; his talent hasn’t shone as brightly as we had expected this season but his endeavour so far in the match had been commendable. The penalty that he attempted was somewhere between a “Tana” and a “Chakrit”; a lazy, half-assed failure of a faint that keeper Kritchana (1) saw straight through followed by a shot so tame even a corpse could have saved it. Chainat were now sensing an upset and duly upped their game with some smart wide play; Chatchai (15) sending in a dangerous low cross across goal for Dolah (4) to clear and then bollock Nurul (31) for failing to track back. Then another cross into the box saw Worawut (36) come off his line only to misjudge the flight and allow Diouf (20) to cushion his header over to Doumbia (11) who scrambled the ball into the net, then wheeled off to celebrate in front of The Pink Rangers (who are welcome to visit us anytime at the PAT Stadium). 

 

That sinking feeling

 

So 1-0 down when we should be 1-0 up and Jadet was forced to shuffle the pack with Nurul coming off, presumably injured, at half time. What followed was an inept, shapeless 35 minutes of hustle and bustle with no end product. Boskovic decided to play in several positions – anywhere apart from centre forward – with little success, and Suarez and Kim decided to be the front 2 because playing 2 midfielders up front makes perfect sense. Pakorn, Nitipong (34) and Kevin (97) all tried to make something happen but nothing seemed to work, that is until the arrival of everyone’s favourite carthorse Arthit Boodjinda (29). Suarez dinked the ball towards the Chainat goal and Arthit fouled the defender made a nuisance of himself as Kritchana smacked the clearance into Parinya (13), leaving the way clear for Arthit to foul the defender again stroke the ball into an empty net. Chainat were clearly incensed after getting shafted by VAR in the first half so decided to complain until the referee gave into his desire to not visit the hospital straight after the match and consulted the television again. Port fans waited nervously, so while we wait let’s have 3 fun football facts about our dynamic second choice centre forward: 

 

3 Fun Football Facts about Arthit Boodjinda 

  1. “Arthit” is Thai for “Heskey”.
  2. Arthit pulls up his shorts so he can be 42.7% more aerodynamic.     
  3. Pele recently said this about Arthit: “He reminds me of a young, more elegant version of myself; the raw exuberance of youth coupled with the burning desire to win at all costs.”

 

After what seemed an eternity the referee gave Port the goal, and to be honest that was that; a few more attacks and crosses with no result and then it was back to The Sandpit for Leo, drums and flares. A draw seemed like a fair result especially as it feels like our team still hasn’t turned up since their enforced break and the regular failings are still present. Our team shape is a mess once substitutions are made and it’s clear that the communication from the bench to the pitch is not working and several players are having to suss out what to do with varying degrees of success. It’s too much of the same errors shown week in week out with no solution in sight. 

Young Pele

 

Next up is our trickiest fixture of the remaining matches of this campaign: a midweek clash in Chiang Rai. If we play anything like our last two matches we will be on the receiving end of a sound thrashing but knowing Port we could just make a few people eat their words. The players need to realise that there is still a lot to play for and our season petering out is not an option; there is still the longshot of AFC Champions League qualification, the highest points total achieved in the top division and, most importantly, the opportunity to finish above those scumbags from Legoland.  

 

The Sandpit Man of the Match – Elias Dolah 

 

 

In a game that will be filed under ‘meh’ it was never going to be an offensive player claiming the plaudits. I’ve recently started tending to give this award to players who show heart rather than skill but Dolah’s performance was a solid combination of both, rarely putting a foot wrong and also reminding his teammates of their responsibilities on the pitch (something we have been sorely missing). Credit should also go to Nitipong, Kevin and goalscorer Arthit for their work but sadly too many players didn’t give the same amount of effort required to get the 3 points.

 

Panta Devils Welcome Khlong Toey Army: PT Prachuap FC vs Port FC Preview

 

Football’s coming home. After an enforced absence of 5 weeks, during which the Thai Under 23 team forcibly argued the case for not having a Thai football season at all to allow maximum preparation time for yet even more abject early departures, Port are back in action, although home ground on this occasion is more likely to be the Sportsman Pub.

This is another trip that I had carefully planned out in my head: back from East Timor, suitably reinvigorated by a thrilling home game against Buriram, then winding my way down south, via Hua Hin, for a glorious football weekend at the seaside. The season had gone on for so long without a hint of a change that we thought maybe, just maybe, this time there would be no disruption. It was not to be, so my deckchair will be replaced by a bar-stool, no doubt amongst other frustrated adventurers.

In reading several articles analysing the Thai U’23’s early exit, amongst the reasons given was, ‘lack of preparation time’. This does not bode well for future disruptions. Complaints were also made, and they may have a point, about the lack of decent Thai strikers at T1 level. Most teams, even outside the top six, opt for SFS’s (no need to explain), thereby limiting the development of local goal poachers. No doubt the FAT, in their ‘wisdom’, will come up with the perfect, inexplicable solution.

I had thought that the Thai Football Association was pretty unique when it came to bizarre, last minute, administrative decisions. That was until last week.

‘The Copa Libertadores second-leg game between Santos of Brazil and Independiente of Argentina was abandoned after police clashed with the home (Santos) crowd – who had been told only 12 hours before kick-off that rather than being level on aggregate they were actually 3-0 down.’ (BBC News)

This was, apparently, the result of an offence involving a suspended player three (yes, 3) years previously. Anyway, it was enough to spark off riots during which the police employed batons and percussion grenades to keep the enraged Santos fans at bay. Eventually, the game was abandoned with Independiente going through to the next round. It would be fascinating, and not a little scary, to imagine the scenes at PAT if a similar decision was made before a deciding game against Muang Thong. ‘Blood in the Sandpit’ the headlines ring out.

Port are finally back in competitive action on Wednesday with a tricky trip to Prachuap. The Killer Wasps have made a rapid rise from Regional League 2 since their founding in 2011 and, after a slight mid-season blip, have maintained their early season form to sit just 4 points behind Port in 5th place.

As Tom quite rightly pointed out in his preview for the reverse fixture, their main threat will come from the trio of Jonatan Reis (10), Lonsana Doumbouya (21) and Amorn Thammanarm (17) who have, incredibly, shared 39 of the 45 goals Prachuap have scored this season; Reis topping the list on an impressive 20 goals. I make no apologies for highlighting them again. Given this, the battle between this trio and our centre-backs and holding defensive midfielders will be crucial, which is why, fitness levels willing, I might go for a back three.

 

 

If Port have a fully fit squad available, although Nurul is probably still a doubt, I would fancy Anon and Siwakorn to get amongst them while Dolah and Captain Rochela, joined by Todsapol, will have to be at their most alert. I might go for this slightly defensive starting line-up, although Nitipong and Kevin offer options going forwards on the wings.

 

 

Pakorn, Bodin and Nurul (if fit) options for a quick change from the bench.

This is the first of our last 8 games which will determine if the joyful optimism at the start of the season was justified. In reality, the highest we can probably achieve is third place, which, in normal circumstances would see us just miss out on the AFC Cup qualifying place. However, I believe there is a possibility that should Buriram, champions elect, also win the FA Cup, the qualifying place that would earn, will be given to us. I stand to be corrected but, if true, what better incentive could there be for a rousing season finale?

In assessing those games, home wins against Chainat, Nakhon Ratchasima, Suphanburi and Chonburi have to be a given, while away wins at Navy and Pattaya are eminently do-able. That leaves the two difficult away matches at Prachuap and Chiang Rai, where I think we will drop points. Being eternally optimistic, we can look to get 18 points out of our final games. Obviously, the games against Prachuap and Chiang Rai (6 points adrift) will be vital, with both rivals for that third slot. However, it is in our hands, let’s grab it!

For those nerdy train-spotter types who like to anxiously fixate on the possible outcome of these things, like me, here is a quick guide to the 3rd place contenders run-in, assuming, of course, that Bangkok Utd do not implode. Chiang Rai could negate all of this by winning the FA Cup but their heavy game load in both Cups definitely puts them at a disadvantage.

 

Port

Muang Thong

PT Prachuap

Chiang Rai

Prachuap (A)

Chonburi (H)

Port (H)

Buriram (A)

Chainat (H)

BEC Tero (A)

Chiang Rai (A)

Prachuap (H)

Chiang Rai (A)

Ratchaburi (A)

Chonburi (H)

Port (H)

Nakhon Ratchasima (H)

Buriram (H)

Navy (A)

Bangkok Glass (A)

Suphanburi (H)

Chainat (A)

Nakhon Ratchasima (A)

Navy (H)

Navy (A)

Sukothai (A)

Chainat (H)

Ubon (H)

Chonburi (H)

Pattaya (H)

Suphanburi (H)

Nakhon Ratchasima (A)

Pattaya (A)

Bangkok Utd (H)

BEC Tero (A)

Chonburi (A)

 

A note on the main heading: The Panta Devil (I have added the plural, as I assume there are more than one of them) is/are the official Prachuap fan group who often provide information and welcomes for visiting fans. Quite what a Panta Devil is and its association with Killer Wasps I have yet to determine. But, if you are going to Prachuap and see a Panta Devil, please say hello. A rudimentary google search came up with the disturbing image at the top of the page.

For those of us who actually work for a living and cannot afford the luxury of a midweek trip to the beach, the game will be shown live in The Sportsman Pub on Sukhumvit Soi 13 at 8.00 p.m. Wear your Port shirt for discounted food and drinks.
Ta Rua!

 

PT Prachuap FC v Port FC

Wednesday 5 September 20:00

 

Southern Discomfort: Southern District FC 3-2 Port FC (Friendly) Match Report

 

 

Hong Kongese club Southern FC overcame a makeshift Port side 3-2 in what for them is pre-season preparation, and for Port a mid-season break. The club, curiously known as The Aberdeeners, fielded a strong team complete with a host of foreigners, while Port fielded a combination of first team, second string and Port B players, with the foreign contingent plus halfies Kevin (97), Dolah (4) and Slot (11) running laps and stretching on the sidelines.

Injured winger Nurul (31) was seen hobbling around, first wearing padding on his knee and then not. He’s nowhere near fit just yet. Rattanai (17) was also spotted looking fragile, but Adisorn (13) was doing some more vigorous training indicating that he is nearing fitness.

 

 

From the off it was clear that Southern were taking proceedings rather more seriously than their opponents, with instructions constantly being barked out by Anglo-Pakistani defender Zesh Rehman at the back, a mystery foreign-looking fella with a Chinese name in midfield and feisty Brazilian forward Souza. While Southern looked dangerous with some direct balls over the top, Port’s play in midfield was a bit tidier if less threatening, with Anon (20) and Siwakorn (16) looking good in the engine room.

Port’s defence looked less than comfortable dealing with Southern’s Brazilian duo up top, with the worst offender being stand-in captain Todsapol (6) who, after getting subbed off at half time against Buriram, had another stinker. His partner in defence was Port B defender Sarawin (48) who actually looked calm in comparison, and dealt with everything that came his way with no frills and no drama.

It was no surprise when Southern took the lead, but Port hit back nearly straight away. A long ball over the top was chased down by Arthit (29), and Port’s second choice striker showed excellent technique with the outside of his right foot to slide the ball in to the side netting.

The rest of the half provided what you’d expect. Anon looking like Port’s best player in midfield, some lovely touches then some awful touches from Bodin (10), Pakorn (7) trotting around and shooting from corners, Jetjinn (15) getting in to good positions then providing awful service and Terens (28) running around a lot to no particular effect.

It was Terens who provided the only other first half drama as he went barreling in to the back of a Southern player in the penalty box with such force that he ended up rolling up his back and over his head, plummeting to the floor with such velocity that he managed to cut his head open in the landing. After some lengthy treatment, poor old Terens was replaced by Somprasong (14), finally getting a chance to strut his stuff for the Port fans.

Somprasong looked feisty in the challenge and played very sensibly with the ball, almost always retaining possession and playing the correct pass, but he didn’t really show the dynamism we were hoping to see, and that he will need to challenge the likes of Nurul and Terens for a permanent place in the squad.

 

 

At half time there were several changes, with more fringe players getting the opportunity to impress. In the case of young forward Chanayut (99) he has done that on a consistent basis whenever he has had the opportunity, and this was no exception. He was probably Port’s best player in the second period, always looking to drive play forward and showing a very promising turn of pace with the ball. Fellow B teamers Pummared (41) and Apisit (45) looked decent if unspectacular in midfield, with Anon moving back in to defence with Todsapol, where he looked… like a midfielder playing in defence. Of course in friendlies it’s worth trying these things out, but in this case the experiment was decidedly a failure.

Southern scored two more goals, after which Port finally decided to start playing again. Bodin came back on rolling-subs style and got Port back in to the game with an absolute screamer from the edge of the area. After a goal mouth scramble the ball came to the Fresh Prince and he took a touch, before unleashing a wicked dipper of a strike which was over the keeper and under the bar before he knew what had happened. If only he would show that kind of killer instinct more often when it mattered!

By way of rounding up, Nitipong (34) attacked a lot, Watchara (1) was mistake-free in goal and distributed the ball well and Chakrit (9) was useless playing out of position (quelle surprise) up front.

All in all, a good result for Southern and a good workout for some of Port’s second and third string.

 

The Sandpit’s Men of the Match

 

 

One from each half. Anon bossed the midfield in the first half, and Chanayut drove Port forward relentlessly in the second, showing good footwork and impressive acceleration.

 

Midfield General Mediocrity: Port’s Foreign Midfielders Since 2012

 

Wikipedia, Transfermarkt, Soccerway, Facebook, Instagram… I shudder to think just how much time I’ve spent on some of these sites while compiling the second in my series of looks back at Port’s foreign players since 2012.

My look at former Port strikers featured rather more of the Thierry Fidgeu than the Leandro; the ridiculous far outweighing the sublime in Port’s perennial problem position. Port’s former midfielders aren’t nearly as bad, although there are some comically poor players to go along with the cult-hero legends. Walking contradiction and certified Spanish omelette Gorka is the perfect example. Occasionally woeful, rarely brilliant, mostly mediocre. Here are Port’s foreign midfielders since 2012.

 


 

Chilean-Palestinian attacking midfielder Matias Jadue was an utterly ridiculous addition to Port’s 2017 squad, which at the time already had more foreigners than could be registered to play in T1. Surprise surprise, Jadue failed to register a single competitive minute in a Port shirt, although he came close when he was named in the starting XI for a cup game against Royal Thai Fleet, before he got himself injured in the warm-up. He had previously played in the top two Chilean leagues, although he didn’t manage to make more than 17 appearances for any one club in his six years there. Next it was PKNS in Malaysia, for whom Jadue netted an impressive 16 goals in 34 games. The move to Port came as a surprise to all, but ended in predictable fashion, with his departure to T2 side Krabi being announced in 2018. Jadue had a thoroughly underwhelming spell at Krabi, who were second bottom of the table when he departed mid-season for Ho Chi Minh City in the Vietnamese top tier. Here’s where things get wild. At the time of writing, Jadue has 6 goals in 8 games, and has absolutely taken V1 by storm. Who saw that coming?

 

 

Japanese left winger Genki Nagasato is a player well-liked by fans and team-mates alike for his enthusiasm and work-rate. He joined Port in 2016 from Ratchaburi, having played for 6 Japanese teams before that, and helped Port gain promotion back to the top flight. In 2017 he found it a little tougher back in the top tier, but once again made an important contribution to Port’s mid-table finish and left with tears in his eyes and his name ringing out among the Port faithful. Genki was never the most technically gifted footballer, but what he lacks in tricks and flicks he makes up for with graft. In 2018, Genki joined recently-founded but ambitious Tokyo United, who are still playing in Tokyo’s regional leagues, but have achieved 3 successive promotions. You won’t find a single Port fan who doesn’t wish Genki the very best in the twilight of his football career.

 

 

This was a strange one. Rennan Oliveira came to Port via Qatar, Greece and his native Brazil, but was the odd man out for most of his time at Port, joining during the 2016 season and never really justifying a place in the squad. As a creative force he was far less useful than Maranhao, and as a defensive force far less solid that Wagner, hence why his time with Port was really just a waste of everyone’s time. As Tim wrote on Facebook at the time: “He brings great hair but nothing more.” Rennan played a few games in the cups, made little impact and was not heard of again until some bizarre rumours suggested that he would be re-signed for the 2017 season. Fortunately that didn’t happen, and Rennan moved back to the Brazilian regional leagues with Sao Bento. After a sideways move to Luverdense, Rennan then secured a move back to Asia with Al -Ain. Wait, what? The same Al-Ain who have dominated Emirati football for decades and reached three AFC Champions League finals? No, a completely different Al-Ain who play in the second tier of Saudi football.

 

 

Wagner Carioca is a strong, combative Brazilian midfielder who spent a tumultuous 2016 season with Port. Brought in at the last minute after the Serginho Incident, Wagner is a player who, besides his brief and unsuccessful dalliance with Port, has spent his whole career in the second to fourth tiers of Brazilian football. When he arrived he looked very impressive, adding strength and guile to Port’s weak midfield, but he found it tough to nail down a regular place in the team with Rochela, Maranhao and Thiago routinely preferred. Wagner was then involved in a very unsavoury incident against Songkhla where, after an insane Thiago Cunha tackle, Wagner appears to have directed racial abuse at Diogo Rangel, who their goalkeeper then restrained with seemingly super-human strength, saving Wagner and Thiago from the batterings they probably deserved. The video can be found here.

Anyway, Wagner was dropped from the squad in the second half of the season, before returning briefly for the last few games after the Thiago Incident (the one where he smashed the door after being subbed off – we appreciate that there were a few) and being released at the end of the season, with mixed feelings from Port fans. Yes, the team did look better with him in defensive midfield, but after his antics against Songkhla, good riddance. After leaving Port, Wagner returned to Macae for a third stint in the Brazilian third tier.

 

 

Serginho’s time at Port consisted of a few friendlies, a suspicious death and possibly an Anelka-esque ride to the airport in the boot of a car. Serginho looked like a promising signing, coming from Daegu FC in the Korean top tier, but looked off the pace in the pre-season friendlies he played for Port after signing at the start of the 2016 season. He was a defensive midfielder who was also tried in central defence, but he didn’t look ideal in either position before a bizarre incident ended his Port career before he had played a competitive game. We don’t know all the details, but apparently there was a tragic fatal accident involving Serginho’s car and a motorcycle. Before we even knew what had happened, Serginho’s contract was cancelled and he left the country in a serious hurry, with Wagner coming in as his replacement. Serginho ended up at Gangwon FC in Korea in 2016, but as far as I can tell has been without a club since the start of the 2017 season, despite being just 29 years old. His Instagram suggests that he plays an awful lot of beach football, although I’m not sure if he is playing competitively.

 

 

Gorka Unda is a talented attacking midfielder, who was a Port player during the 2015 relegation season. Gorka started in the third tier of Spanish football with CF Rayo Majadahonda, but his talent was recognized by a certain Real Madrid (yes, really) who put him in their B team. Unfortunately rather than challenge for a spot in the first team, Gorka was relegated to the C team and eventually released. He went on to play in Spain and Austria, before moving to Thailand in 2014, where he has been ever since. Gorka had a successful season playing alongside one Brent McGrath with Sisaket, before both were snapped up by Port in 2015. In Port’s pretty disastrous squad in that season, Gorka was actually one of Port’s more effective attacking players, despite having the mobility of a large bowl of paella – incidentally, something that the bulky Spaniard looked to have been enjoying a little too much of. His touch and passing could be superb on his day, but it certainly didn’t help the mercurial Madridista that he generally ran out of steam midway through the first half, and that his forwards that season were McGrath, Vincent and Wuttichai. Gorka left Port after they were relegated with some staunch supporters still lauding his creative talents, while others were more than happy to see the back of him. He moved to Khon Kaen in 2016, then after their dissolution he has had short stints with Songkhla, Chainat and now Angthong, who, despite consistently registering top-half T2 placings in recent seasons, Gorka has inspired to a current position of 15th. Out of 15. Gorka can still be seen in PAT Stadium every now and then, as he occasionally pops in to visit fellow Spaniards Rochela and Suarez during mid-season breaks.

 

 

His name is still emblazoned across the shirts of many Port fans to this day. One of the most popular foreign players in recent Port history, Hironori Saruta was a breathtaking winger who on his day could dance through TPL defences at will. He used his speed, balance and low centre of gravity to bamboozle defenders with lightning-fast changes of direction, and as a fan you just knew that when Saruta got the ball anything was possible. Saruta spent the first 3 years of his career in Japan, before moving to Sriracha in 2009, and then spending a very successful 4 years at Bangkok Glass where he notched 30 goals. He joined Port in 2014 and really lit up PAT Stadium, but in the following season he suffered some niggling injuries and didn’t quite find his best form. He moved on to Chiang Rai in 2016, before surprisingly making the step down to Udon Thani in the third tier, who won promotion with former Port trio Saruta, Ali Diarra and Valci Junior all featuring. In 2018, Saruta announced his retirement from football after 9 years in Thailand.

 

 

Ali Diarra is a central midfielder who had 2 stints at Port, firstly on loan from Muangthong in 2013 and then as a permanent signing in 2015. Diarra was a tall, leggy enforcer who was adept at the physical side of the game as well as being a good passer of the ball. In Diarra’s first spell he really earned the adoration of the Khlong Toei faithful, providing a solid platform from which the creative talents of Leandro could be fully utilized. In an anecdote typical of Diarra’s commitment to the cause, Dom tells me about the Ivorian putting in a particularly hard-working shift away at Trat, helping Port secure a crucial win in the push for promotion. When Dom spoke to Ali after the game, it turned out that he had been suffering from diarrhea and really shouldn’t have been on the pitch at all. And so Ali Diarrhea was born! In Ali’s second stint with Port in 2015 he was ludicrously underused, being kept out of the team for the most part by Lee Ho and Gorka. In Gary Stevens’ brief stint in charge Ali was employed as a centre back to pretty good effect, but ultimately it wasn’t to work out for him that season at Port, and he was loaned to Thai Tobacco Monopoly, then BBCU before finally finding a permanent home at Udon Thani in 2017, and moving back to Bangkok FC in 2018.

 

 

Kim Geun-chul was a midfielder who was well-regarded during his stint with Port in 2014. He was a solid, technically sound midfielder who would always give his all for the team, but his impact was limited by fellow Korean Lee Sang-Ho and Saruta, who were often preferred as Port’s Asian foreigners. When he did play he impressed, and when he left at the end of the season the consensus among Port fans was that they would have much preferred to keep hold of him. Alas, he apparently moved on to PTT Rayong, although there is no record of him in their 2015 squad. Kim’s Facebook page tells me that he did in fact play for PTT Rayong and then PT Prachuap, both in the second tier, but the trail then goes cold, suggesting that he probably ended his career at the age of 32 or 33.

 

 

Patrick Reichelt is a German-Filipino winger who played for Port in 2013-14. His career began in the regional leagues of the German fourth tier, but at the age of 24 Reichelt moved to Global FC in the Philippines, and was immediately called up to the Filipino national team. From there he made the move to Port, where he did well in the second tier, although the general feeling was that he was probably not a TPL-calibre player. He showed some impressive skills and trickery during his half-season with Port, but ultimately it was not a huge surprise to anyone when he moved back to the Philippines with Ceros-Negros. At his new club he scored just under a goal a game, which would be a very impressive rate if it wasn’t for the fact that they were winning games 10-0, 11-0 and even 16-0 at the time. Unfortunately, Reichelt suffered a cruciate ligament injury in 2016 and was out of action for more than a year, but is now back in action and playing regular football.

 

 

Ivan Petrovic was an attacking midfielder who spent 6 months of his 20 year career with Port in 2013. Based on what little I can find about his career he seems to be one of the higher-caliber players Port have signed, although that didn’t translate to much success in Khlong Toei. Petrovic began his career in his native Serbia, where his record looked pretty impressive, before moving to Iran, where his career really took off. Wikipedia has Petrovic playing over 200 games, scoring 23 goals and scooping awards such as ‘Foreign Player of the Year’ and ‘Top Assister’. Iranian football clearly saw the best of Petrovic, but at the age of 33 he joined Port and never really got going. From what little is written and remembered about the Serb, he was a decent player with a good pass on him, but he played just 12 games, scoring 3 goals, and no one was particularly bothered to see him move on. His next clubs were Nakhon Ratchasima, Thai Honda and Bangkok FC, after which he moved to Global FC in the Philippines. Much like Reichelt, Petrovic was notching up more than a goal or an assist per game, although his team were regularly sticking double figures past their opponents. In 2017, Petrovic finally called time on a long and successful career at the age of 37.

 

 

Kim Ba-We was a Port midfielder between 2011 and 2013. In stark contrast to Petrovic, this stint with Port may well represent the entirety of Kim’s professional footballing career. This is based on the fact that I can find nothing at all about the man online, except a few social media accounts in which there are hundreds of pictures of his time with Port and no reference whatsoever to any other clubs he has played for. The closest thing we have to news about his departure is speculation on Facebook about him moving to Ayutthaya in June 2013. In the end he did leave Port mid-season, but there is no record of him joining Ayutthaya. For more on Kim’s ability as a player, I direct you to this excellent article by Sandpit contributor Andy Hailstone, who we assume was in possession of a stress-ball while trying to put a positive spin on a man that some have described as the worst foreign player to play for Port in recent memory.

 

 


 

If there are some players you think I’ve missed, first check out my piece on strikers, as some of them played both positions, then leave a comment and let me know who!

 

Last Chance Saloon: Port FC vs. Buriram Utd, FA Cup QF Preview, 1 August 2018

 

Port’s season will likely be defined by what happens in the next two games. Wednesday’s FA Cup quarter final sees the two highest place teams left in the competition face off, meaning whoever wins will be the favourites to lift the cup. Then on Sunday, Port face the runaway league leaders knowing that if they lose, rivals Muangthong could draw level on points. The Scum won’t leapfrog Port as they have the inferior head-to-head record, but with tough away trips to Prachuap and Chiang Rai on the horizon, the third place spot that Port have occupied throughout much of the season will be well and truly up for grabs.

 

Buriram United

Players to Watch

 

In my preview of the away clash (click here) to Buriram I covered the whole Buriram lineup, so this time I’ll pick a few new signings and players who have risen to prominence since our last clash.

Osvaldo (17), a Brazilian forward with four caps for the most successful nation in world football history, was the mid-season signing who was supposed to put the league well and truly to bed. Buriram have pulled 9 points clear at the top, but that has very little to do with their new signing, who has yet to get on the scoresheet and has notched just 2 assists in 7 appearances. He’s clearly a player with some pedigree, but he’s far from the show-stopper we feared, and has yet to adapt effectively to Thai football.

 

 

Another mid-season arrival was returning forward Javier Patino (20). Buriram’s ASEAN player scored 35 goals in 54 games for The Thunder Castle between 2013 and 2015, but has struggled with injuries, playing just 4 times since his return. He has just one goal in the League Cup. He did play 20 minutes on the weekend though, so expect him to make an appearance off the bench.

 

 

This fella has been at Buriram all season, but has found himself playing a more important role of late. That role? Could be bloody anywhere. The only positions he hasn’t played have been wing back and goalie. I’m talking about Korean ‘midfielder’ Yoo Jun-soo (16), who throughout the season has played in central defence, central midfield, on the wing and up front. He’s a big unit who is very useful in the air, and has 4 goals and 7 assists to his name in all competitions. The only league game he didn’t start was the shock 0-1 defeat to Chainat.

 

 

Back in April, Buriram decided to start trolling the rest of the league. We’ve all seen teams bringing on youngsters when they’ve got a comfortable lead, but those youngsters aren’t usually sodding Mathayom 4 students. Suphanat Mueanta (54) is just 15 years old and already has 2 T1 goals to his name, although to be fair they came in a 5-0 victory against Air Force when Diogo and his big brother (the relatively prehistoric 19 year old Suphachok) were both just trying to put chances on a plate for him rather than score themselves. Still, score he did, and his international record at youth level suggests that he doesn’t always need a babysitter to find the back of the net. He’s scored 15 goals in 13 games at under 16 level and has recently been fast-tracked to the under 19s, for whom he has scored 2 in 4. Mind you, it would be cheeky even for Buriram to throw him on against Port in the PAT cauldron.

 

 

And I can’t do a players to watch segment without mentioning the divine mop, can I? He hasn’t exactly risen to prominence in the second half of the season, rather he has maintained his altitude 30 thousand fucking feet above everyone else. Diogo (40) is still the most effective striker in the league with 24 goals and 8 assists in 24 league games. Dragan Boskovic and Jaja Coelho may have usurped him as T1 top scorers last year, but you just knew he’d be back with a vengeance, and right now he has a 4 goal lead atop the scoring charts, 10 more than Port’s top-scorer Suarez. He also has 9 yellows and a red in all competitions though, which is what should interest Port defenders. The back line, and particularly hard-man Elias Dolah would do well to remember Port’s 0-0 home draw against the Thunder Castle in 2017, when Diogo received his marching orders on 70 minutes and Port almost snatched a memorable win. Annoy him, get in his face and in a rocking PAT Stadium there’s no knowing how the divine mop will react. He might score a hattrick, or he might throw his toys out of the pram. Either way, it will be entertaining.

 

 

Form

 

Erm, wins wins and more wins. Since their 1-0 loss to Chainat in mid-June Buriram have won 6 on the bounce in the league, and have been unbeaten in both cup competitions. They have had some struggles though, needing extra time to get past both Trang FC in the League Cup and Nakhonpathom United in the FA Cup. Port can only hope that these struggles have led to some fatigue, although with a bigger, stronger squad than Port they are more than capable of shuffling their pack and still putting out a team that will be favourites to win.

 

Port FC

The PAT Factor

 

Arguably, whichever team Jadet picks on Sunday, the most important influence will come from the Khlong Toei Army. T1’s best fans must make PAT Stadium hell on earth for Buriram, inspiring the boys on the pitch and bringing the worst out in their opponents. Last season’s 0-0 draw was a textbook case, when Zone B was so vocal that I barely heard the thousand plus Buriram fans on the other side of the stadium and Diogo ended up seeing red after being tilted by the boisterous Khlong Toei faithful. I’m feeling more confident than I probably should about this game, and that’s why.

Having said that, Jadet still has to not drop a clanger with his team selection. Will he stick with Sunday’s experimental 3-5-2? Maybe, but maybe not. It’s a system which seemed tailor-made to deal with Bangkok United’s exceptional midfield, but might be less effective against the champions in waiting, who have a less dangerous midfield three and rely mostly on the creative brilliance of Diogo.

If Jadet does stick with the same system, he’ll be thankful to be able to welcome Nitipong (34) back in both the league and cup, meaning that we won’t be exposed to Adisorn’s (13) god-awful attempts at attacking again anytime soon. Will Jadet stick with Kim (8), Siwakorn (16) and Anon (20) in midfield or will one of them make way for Port’s little destroyer? Over to you, Sir Det. The rest of the team really pick themselves, meaning that all Jadet has to do if we somehow take the lead again is not sub off key defensive players and bring on luxury attackers like Pakorn (7) and Bodin (10), who are fundamentally unsuited to this formation.

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 


 

This is normally where I’d tell you how to watch the game on TV and direct you towards The Sportsman if you can’t make it to PAT Stadium at 19:00, but this week there are no excuses. Be there. It’s an FA Cup Quarter Final, the biggest club in Thailand are in town and the boys are going to need our vocal support. Tarua Woi!