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Trat-gedy Avoided: Trat FC 2-3 Port FC

 

 

Seven months. That’s the amount of time since I’ve last taken any football photos as I was in Hong Kong for Port’s last game (away at Buriram, and watched online from there) before Covid threw a spanner into the new Thai League season as well as the rest of the world. The September restart back then seemed like an eternity away, so when it did eventually roll around suffice to say things have not gone to plan so far. Having frustratingly been denied access to the PAT pitch two weeks in a row due to reduced capacity – and therefore reduced (well, zero) atmosphere – in line with social distancing overkill guidelines along with below-par performances from the team and general drama (because it wouldn’t be Thai football without some), apathy was setting in going into the game against Trat FC, a good 6 hour drive away from the capital. Yet one of the best things about being a football fan is the opportunity to engage in some groundhopping and visit places around the country that you have yet been/rarely go to – and of course any excuse to get out of the Bangkok bubble every now and again, even if it’s a bit of a trek across the eastern seaboard just to fundamentally watch 22 guys kick a ball for 90 minutes. If the pandemic has taught us anything it is that nothing should be taken for granted, including the freedom to travel, and with knowing friends around the world are currently under lockdown where they are would absolutely jump at the chance of a road trip right now, I eventually decided to rock up to Ekkamai Bus Station at the crack of dawn. Carpe diem and all of that.

 

 

With the appointment of the affable Coach Oud as the new Team Manager, the prospect of the players bouncing back against a Trat side yet to register any points after 6 rounds appealed to the hundred-or-so other Tarua faithful that also made the long early-morning journey on the disco fan bus. After confirming a place (so I thought) in the media quota for this match with Trat FC’s media team earlier, when I arrived at the stadium all the extremely limited pitchside slots were already filled up (and they were super apologetic about it and tried to find a solution for me and another regular Port photographer, which was appreciated) so decided to go into the away end and try to make the most of it.

 

 

The game itself ended up being quite the rollercoaster with all its dips, peaks, and twists. Adding to the dazy feel was the extremely muggy air that weighed down around the stadium, in which the high humidity levels kept fogging up the camera lenses. After a cagey first half an hour in which both sides had several pops at goal each, Port made the breakthrough with Heberty (37), having already had a couple of attempts, in the 34th minute as he slid in on a cross from Kevin (23) on the left. Trat however quickly hit back minutes later, as they took control of the midfield with Paso (44) latching on to a defense-splitting through ball from Jarunai (29) and emphatically lobbing the ball over Rattanai (18). The fact that he looked substantially offside only further deflated the mood in the away stand.

 

 

Nevertheless, the Klong Toey Army were boisterous again right after the break as Nitipong (34) put Port back in front while they were still re-entering the terraces with their halftime beers. He combined well with Heberty from the halfway line, as they quickly shifted the ball down the pitch before unleashing a right-footer from the penalty arc. Afterwards Trat continued to cause problems for our central defenders, while at the other end Go (8), Adisak (9), and Suarez (5) – wearing the captain’s armband tonight – found themselves thwarted by theirs. Those missed opportunities were rued in the 68th minute when Trat equalised again through a corner, as Rattanai – who was having a solid game with several top saves – lost out in the air to the head of Azadzoy (7). Cue much cursing. Tanasith (11) was subbed on to inject more pace and creativity while Rattanai redeemed himself by denying Azadzoy a second goal with a flying save.

It was a nervy final 10 minutes as both the crowd and the players were getting increasingly agitated, with Go picking up a yellow for kicking the ball away. It was the proverbial kitchen sink time trying to find that elusive winner as the minutes ticked away. Suarez, in true El Mago style as we often see him do so many times, managed to conjure up the goods when it mattered most as he nodded in Tanasith’s whipped cross from close range half a minute before the end of normal time. Cue pandemonium (after a VAR check).

Performance wise it was a very mixed bag overall with plenty to work on in training, but when your team scores a winner right at the very end of an oscillating scoreline and after such a long day, all is well in the moment. And of course, in true Port style, the booming sound system of the disco fan bus filled the night sky immediately afterwards.

 


 

Man of the Match: Heberty Fernandes

A tricky choice as no one really stood out in particular, though Heberty applied himself more effectively this week after much criticism not so much for his ability but his dedication to the cause. Can’t really argue with a goal and an assist, though I know some may disagree. Special mention to Rattanai for pulling off some superb saves yet again.

 

Who’s Trat? Trat FC vs. Port FC Preview

 

Another game, another manager.

It might not seem like it, what with the long break and the familiar figure of Jadet having been back at the helm, but by kick-off on Saturday Port will be on their third manager in just 7 games. And once again, new coach Sarawut’s tenure is unlikely to be a long one, with rumours already circulating about talks with Alexandre Gama, Jose Borges, Scott Cooper and just about anyone willing to wear a t-shirt with Madame Pang’s latest slogan on it.

Yes, Port’s enigmatic owner seems to have come full circle, returning to the wild early months of her tenure where she hired and fired 5 bosses in a single season. Assuming Sarawut, who incidentally was the assistant of the first manager Pang fired this season, is only intended to be in place until Pang finds a bigger name, we will soon be at 4 and in touching distance of Pang’s record.

So why was Jadet once again moved upstairs? Well, clearly Port weren’t performing well, despite having what many are saying is the best squad in T1. The problem is certainly not the talent available, so it must be the manager, right?

No. Whilst I’ve never been Jadet’s number one fan, limited as he is in terms of tactical nous and match preparation, he isn’t making signings, and he isn’t even picking the team. So what do you expect him to do? Give any manager in the league this surly, selfish, want-away incarnation of Heberty, a broken Bonilla, an injury-ravaged defence and the inability to do anything with them other then what they’re told, and see how much better they’d do. Also, let’s not forget that Port lost 0-2 in Jadet’s first match in charge because of floodlight maintenance, and were beaten by one of the top contenders (in my opinion) for the title in the other. What a shit-show.

Anyway, that’s my rant for this preview out of the way. Fortunately for Sarawut, our opponents on Saturday are just who you’d want to face in your first game in charge.

 

Trat FC

 

Rooted to the bottom of the table on zero points, and with an even worse goal difference than most people’s pick for last place Rayong FC, Trat look pretty hopeless this year.

It’s not all their fault though, with the club apparently facing severe financial difficulties over the last few months and having to let go some of their best players. There are even reports of the owner putting land up for sale to keep the club in business. There’s been a messy dispute over the contractual situation of their former winger Adefolarin Durosinmi, in which Trat look very much like the side in the wrong, and the contract of Wellington Priori has also been terminated, meaning that Trat are left with just one foreign quota player – Brazilian striker Ricardo Santos (11). A decent foreign striker by all accounts, capable of giving centre backs a tough evening and popping up with the odd goal, Santos will be the main man for Port to watch out for. Their Asian quota player is Mustafa Azadzoy (7) is also a handy attacker.

 

 

Combative former Muangthong and Thailand winger Mongkol Tossakrai (23) is a shrewd loan signing, and young forward Sittichok Paso (44) also comes with something of a reputation, despite failing to score goals almost everywhere he’s been. He’s young and he’s a forward, you see.

 

 

Their goalkeeper, Todsaporn Sri-reung (81) is a capable T1-standard stopper, and in front of him Amani Aguinaldo (12) looks half decent albeit with a pretty poor defence around him and little protection from midfield.

Bottom line is, if we get beat by this lot, we’re in real trouble.

 

Port FC

 

Did I say I was done ranting earlier? Sorry, I lied.

In my opinion Port’s main problem last Saturday was poor individual performances. There is also something missing from the team as a whole, but I’ll get to that later. In a game like this, it will probably just take a couple of decent performances from our forward players to get the job done.

Heberty (37) was, for me, the worst of Port’s forwards last week, and I honestly don’t hold any hope of him turning his form around. He just doesn’t look like he wants to be here, and seems to be playing badly as a protest. He’s that good that he can’t be this bad. I detest his attitude, and I wouldn’t be sad to see us just de-register him and send him back to where he came from.

 

 

Suarez (5) was also having his second consecutive off-day, but we’ve seen enough of the Spaniard to know that his poor form isn’t through lack of effort, and I’m sure he’ll turn it around soon enough. He invariably does.

Pakorn (7) wasn’t great, but he was mostly a victim of Heberty being more Pakorn than Pakorn. Credit to anyone who understood that. As we’ve said ad nauseum Pakorn is too lazy and too selfish, but last Saturday he consistently found himself in good positions only for Heberty to refuse to pass him the ball, preferring instead to take 30 yard pot-shots or using his weaker foot when he could have played Pakorn in on his stronger foot. Please never play them together again, and I know which one I’d pick given the choice.

Bordin (10) was excellent again when he came off the bench. God knows whose idea it was to put him there after being Port’s best player last time out. Starting Kevin (97) on the wing is a workable option against certain opposition, but I prefer to see it employed late on against teams with a tiring full back where Kevin’s pace can stretch the defence.

 

 

Go (8) and Kanarin (31) were uninspiring in midfield, but I have faith they’ll improve with match sharpness. The same can be said of the defence. Todsapol (6) and Dolah (4) both made blunders that we shouldn’t be seeing at a club with ambitions of winning the title, and those errors have to be cut out.

Rattanai (18) was excellent, and without him between the sticks we would surely have lost by more.

 


 

So what can we expect from new coach Sarawut? Well, I assume his remit is to bring back the boring but functional style that Choke employed, but doing so with a believable smile and a ‘Trust Pang’ shirt. Expect less attacking from the full backs, more discipline from the wingers and less fluid changes of position up top. It worked for Choke in the first four games, and against limited opposition, I can see us getting a win here, although I think it might just be by the one goal.

 


 

The match will be shown on True Visions 357 at 19:00 on Saturday 26 September, 2020. With it being a long away trip, we’re expecting out first big crowd since the restart in The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13, who will show the match with sound and a 10% discount on drinks for Port fans. See you there!

 

Broken Glass Everywhere: Port FC vs. BG Pathum Utd Preview

 

Well this preview was never going to be simple after the farcical circumstances of last weekend; in case you missed it, the stadium generator went on the fritz at the end of the match and turned a dour, laboured 1-1 draw into a default 0-2 defeat and a 50K fine. Maybe we can install an exercise bike next to the power supply and ask Rochela to pedal for 90 minutes to safeguard against these things happening again? Anyway, there’s another home match on the horizon and this time it’s against one of the big guns: BG Pathum United FC or, to the layman, Bangkok Glass.

Glass suffered a surprising relegation 2 seasons ago, a definite case of a team too good to go down, and then proceeded to romp T2 last season. Even though they are newly promoted they have recruited well and are a solid outside bet for the league, but more likely will have some influence over the outcome instead. They are unbeaten so far this season and Port will certainly have to raise their game against this bunch.

 

BG Pathum Utd

Players to Watch

 

Some canny transfers both preseason and during the enforced break have improved their backline. First they brought in Brazilian man mountain Victor Cardozo (5) from the now defunct PPT Rayong who, with 5 years experience of this league, knows how to put himself about and instill confidence in his defence. Next they took advantage of Andres Tunez’s (30) shameful treatment by Buriram United and brought the Venezuelan over to Rangsit during the shutdown of the league. Even at 33 this could be the transfer of the season; a serial trophy winner and master practitioner of the dark arts of defending. Expect the shithouseometer to be fully cranked up to 11 with these two. Ex-Port midfielder Sumanya (10) will probably feature after leaving PAT Stadium following a lacklustre season playing in the same space as Suarez, and will definitely have a point to prove to his former paymasters.

 

You and us both, Victor

 

The jewel in their midfield is Thitiphan Puangjan (8) and stopping his rhythm will be key to a Port victory. Too good for a lower league, Glass wisely loaned him out to the J-League last season and now have him back for this campaign. A big favourite of seasoned hacks at The Sandpit, this guy has great passing range and is a classic box-to-box midfielder. Although a little light on goals, expect to see him driving the ball through the middle and pulling the strings for the front line. Speaking of their frontline, they went all out and poached free-scoring goal machine *checks notes* Chenrop Samphaodi (19) *checks google* from *rubs eyes*… Port FC. Yep, the second coming of Tana was unceremoniously shipped out of Khlong Toei after a stellar 7 appearances and 0 goals. It’s more likely other forwards such as Surachat (9) or Siroch (35) will start but knowing Port he’ll probably come on and bag a goal. Or give us a bloody good laugh with his headless chicken routine.

 

 

Port FC

The PAT Jigsaw

 

Port will hopefully welcome back key personnel for this encounter, with Go (8) returning from his ban for gonad pulverising, plus centre-backs Dolah (4) and Adisorn (20) coming in to strengthen our defence. The rest of the midfield should pick itself barring last minute injuries, but there will be a decision to make up front. Bonilla (99) is clearly weeks, maybe months away from full fitness so do we gamble on him or go for Adisak (9), who despite his detractors has had a decent start to his Port career in my humble opinion. The final decision will of course be Pang’s and Jadet will accept it as normal so key criteria such as form, fitness and tactics will not be considered and the big, expensive foreign marquee signing will most likely start. Whatever the starting XI, a performance better than last week is required from every individual on the pitch as fans will not tolerate more of the same, especially after so much recent investment in the squad.

 

 

This will be my first game back at the PAT which, on the face of it is great, but from my armchair position last week I was struck by the lack of atmosphere generated during the Police match. Sure, a quarter full stadium will never be able to replicate the intensity a full house (with suitably lubricated fans) brings but the constant encouragement/barracking has always been the ace up our sleeve and definitely affects the opposition. Teams might no longer fear coming here, and now free from being under the cosh from start to finish, that might have a detrimental effect on Port’s results. I also need to work out a new strategy for Toby Time© as there will be no beer sellers outside the ground. This might possibly involve stashing cans up a tree (not a natural climber tbh), maybe a sprint to the 7-11 across Sunthon Kosa Road (no bridge anymore so will have to chance it Frogger style) or wear some elaborate MC Hammer style pants filled with delicious, but potentially warm, Leo. Anyway leave that dilemma with me. Football is thankfully back, and let’s pray to the footballing gods, and local electricians, we’ll get 90 minutes this time around.

 

Fuck this, I’m going for a Leo or 6

 

Prediction

Well it has to be better than last week, but the opposition will be much tougher. Can’t see past a score draw at this moment. 2-2.

 


 

The match will be shown on True 4U and True Sports 2 at 19:00 on Saturday 19 September, 2020. For the many of you who won’t be able to get your hands on tickets, 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.

 

I See a Darkness: Power Failure Costs Port

 

Following Sunday’s farcical scenes at the PAT when the season reopening match against Police Tero was abandoned after 87 minutes due to floodlight failure, the FAT handed Port the predicted punishment yesterday – a 50,000THB fine and the win awarded to the away side. You can read a frustrated Tom Earls’ report on the game here. The decision means Tero leapfrog Port in the table and more importantly, in what looks like being the closest T1 title race in years, deprives Port of what could be three vital points come the end of the season.

Even by Port’s standards, 2020 is shaping up to be a calamitous season of poor, misjudged or just downright bizarre decisions. First there was the decision to reduce the stadium capacity by 25% (at a time when the club, having just won the FA Cup, probably had its highest profile ever) by putting in cramped, badly designed seating for one ACL qualifier. Then there was the rather arrogant decision to launch a gold away strip for an ACL campaign that never happened. Then there was the predictable flurry of vanity signings, followed by the shameful treatment handed out to loyal servant and captain David Rochela. And then there was last Sunday, when regular media attendees – including The Sandpit and, more significantly, the guys from Singhphanakon on TV, who have been filming and shooting at Port for years – were refused entrance; Port started with an injured player up front; and, of course, the lights went out causing the game to be abandoned.

I’ve long argued that following Thai football requires a fair amount of suspension of disbelief, a willingness to embrace frequently surreal goings-on, and the occasional bit of nose-holding to cover the stench of corruption, arrogance and certain rampant egos. But what’s happening at Port these days makes it harder and harder to do that. With the talent Port have, a properly managed club would walk the title this season. The fans, and the expensively-assembled squad of quality players, deserve much better from the club’s management, but are sadly unlikely to get it.

 

Suspended Sentence: Port ? – ? Police Tero

 

Ahhh, how I’ve missed Thai football. With it’s flawless planning, military execution and complete aversion to games ending in farcical circumstances, it was just another predictable week where everything went to plan, and everyone went home happy.

The end.

 

 

Wait. Why is everyone singing Happy Birthday?

Well, Thai football did indeed make a predictable return to form on the first competitive weekend of action since March, but as we may have fairly predicted, the football gods got straight about making up for lost time. Firstly, a Buriram player tested positive for Covid, before then re-testing negative, but not before not only Buriram’s game, but the games of everyone they’ve played against in the last 2 weeks, were cancelled. That gave Port the chance to go top of the table with a win against a Police side who had been impressive before the long break.

Having heard in advance that our beloved vendors were not going to be selling their wares at PAT, I took a slight detour from my usual pre-match routine, passing by the rat bar (a little establishment in Khlongtoei market that sells cheap beers along with the chance to get up close and personal with Khlongtoei’s sewer-dwelling wildlife) where I encountered a dejected figure slumped over one of the two VIP tables. Apparently someone hadn’t got the memo that season ticket holders and a couple of hundred fans who queued from as early as 9 o’clock on Saturday morning (for tickets that went on sale at midday) were the only ones getting in.

Still, armed with my season ticket and a bottle of the usual I made my way through the market, ducked and dived through the roadworks and joined the queue to get in to the club shop. With a one-in-one-out policy enforced on the door, I had to wait a few gulps, but pretty quickly got not just my ticket for this game, but also the next. Result!

Discussion in the sandpit was as lively as ever though, with most of the usual suspects holding court in the usual places. Then there was the inevitable fuckery. The Sandpit’s media pass, as well as all of those besides Pang’s personal photographer, were denied entry at the door, leaving several bemused people no way of getting in. Had they been told the hoops they were expected to jump through to gain entry? What do you think?

Still, action on the pitch was just about to get going, and there were some interesting choices in the lineup. Rattanai (18) started in goal as expected, but neither Dolah (4) or Adisorn (20) were fit to start, meaning that experienced stalwart Todsapol (6) and untested youngster Thitawee (2) were paired together at the back. With Go suspended for punching a Buriram player in the balls, Kanarin (31) and Siwakorn (16) started in midfield, and Bonilla (99) was adjudged fit enough to lead the line. Spoiler alert. He wasn’t.

Now I’m at a loss for what to write. 88 minutes of football were played, the score was 1-1, and the lights went out. Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you! The lights on everyone’s phones soon illuminated the stands, and the Khlongtoei faithful joined in wishing the football gods a happy birthday. May they continue to have their wicked way with us.

Loxley behind Zone B, the Port Authority, the apartment building behind Zone D and basically everything except the stadium were all operating as usual, and even the lights over the sandpit were working intermittently. It was just the stadium in darkness.

So what does it mean? Well, Thai League rules state that if the power cut effects only the stadium, as it did in this case, then the club has 60 minutes to get things working before the game is forfeited 0-2. 60 minutes came and went without so much as a flicker of light, so by the letter of the law, Bordin’s (10) stunning strike to put us in the lead and Thitawee’s awful defensive error that led to Police’s equalizer count for nothing. Police will be awarded a 0-2 win. Or will they?

 

 

Well I don’t want to give anyone false hope, but the sceptic in me is still unconvinced that this is going to go down the way it undoubtedly should. What if, in Tuesday’s meeting in which the result is to be ratified, Port and Police both propose playing the last few minutes behind closed doors? Of course that’s not in Police’s interest, but I’m sure it could be made to be in their interest. Stranger things have happened. Will the Thai FA still stick to the letter of the law, with a proposed alternative on the table, knowing that Pang has spent 16 million baht to plug a hole in their budget? This is of course why Pang’s donation to the FA should never have been allowed in the first place, and will be one of the most obvious acts of corruption I’ve ever seen if it does happen. So I hope it doesn’t. But it might. Maybe.

So what did we learn tonight from the action itself?

Thitawee had a shocker. He’s young, it was his first game for Port, and there were some positive signs, but this was a performance he’ll do well to forget about. Better luck next time, fella. Bonilla is not fit. Not even close. He barely managed a sprint in the hour he was on, and should never have been in the squad, let alone starting. Heberty (37) was poor, Suarez (5) had a real off-day and Adisak (9) looked lost when he came off the bench for Bonilla. Port’s only attacker who looked on it was Bordin. Helping out defensively and looking dangerous going forward, he was excellent. His ‘goal’ will be expunged from existence if the 0-2 result stands, but I won’t forget it in a hurry. What a strike! Nattawut (45) made another promising cameo too, and Rattanai produced a superb stop in the first half, but those are the only positives I can muster.

Never mind about the result, whatever happens will happen and hopefully the floodlights will work next week. Most of all, it’s good to be back! The chaos and the uncertainty is part and parcel of Thai football, and it gave us a particularly entertaining evening.

We’re at home next week, and I expect things will be the same. Or different. Who knows? Media pass holders will probably not get in, season ticket holders have got their tickets already, and there will likely be more very early queueing for the remainder on sale. See you there! Maybe.

 

Masks For Goalposts: Port FC vs. Police Tero Preview

 

Finally! The long months of pining for the hallowed gravel of the sandpit are almost at an end. We may be masked, separated and deprived of the moo ping and cold Leo that fuel our howls of disappointment, cheers of celebration and insults in whatever language the opposition keeper speaks, but we’re back.

Well, those of us lucky enough to score one of the 25% of tickets that are up for grabs are, anyway. With season ticket holders already having had the opportunity to reserve their seats for Sunday’s long-awaited return, the remainder of tickets, of which we expect there will be a few hundred, will be sold from 1pm on Saturday. Expect queues the length of Zone C, with a socially appropriate distance between everyone, of course. The club shop will be open on match day, although there will apparently be just 6 people allowed in at a time. It’s football, but not quite as we remember it.

While familiar faces, or at least eyes, will be reuniting in the sandpit for the first time in too long, so too will two clubs who have engaged in quite a bit of business over the last few months. Twin towers Thitawee (2) and Thitatorn (3) moved from Police to Port for a reportedly big fee, with Police struggling to keep the lights on during the break. Young goalkeeper Anipong moved in the opposite direction, and of course on-loan forward Arthit has played a big role in Police’s surprising early season form. Crucially, Pele shouldn’t be eligible to play against his parent club on Sunday.

 

 

Port haven’t just been snapping up the finest Police men money can buy, though. We’ve also brought in one of T1’s finest strikers. Ah yes, this familiar story again.

Of course, at Port it’s never as simple as signing a star striker and reaping the rewards. Drama has been unfolding all week regarding Port’s foreign player registration, in what has basically become a bi-annual festival of stupidity and financial recklessness. This year, it centres on the arrival of the aforementioned Salvadoran striker Nelson Bonilla (99). Just a couple of days before the deadline, it was reported that Port would not be registering Bonilla due to concerns over his fitness, with long time club captain Rochela (22) being restored to the squad. Then, at the very last minute, long-serving Rochela was once again ignominiously dropped, with an apparently unfit Bonilla being given the spot. Meanwhile, Rochela will once again be forced to sit on the sidelines, able to participate only in the FA Cup (there will be no League Cup this season) if he is even registered for that.

Port also ‘strengthened’ at the back with the acquisition of national team defender Adisorn Promrak (20), although the new arrival has spent most of his time in Khlongtoei on the treatment table alongside fellow defender Tanaboon (71). In response to these injuries, Port brought in Sarawut Kanlayanabandit (26) as cover, while big-boned fellow centre half Worawut Namvech (24) has also been restored to the squad after a spell on loan last year. Are you keeping up? No, me neither.

 

 

Finally, left backs Jaturapat and Yossawat as well as central midfielder Chatmongkol have been sent on loan, meaning the T1 squad (which you can peruse on our up-to-date squad page) currently consists of 30 players.

Right, who are we playing again?

 


 

Police Tero

Players to Watch

 

I’ll keep the lowdown on our opposition brief, I promise. They had a very good start to the season, with the twins impressing at full back and Arthit leading the line effectively, but the main danger man has been right winger Greg Houla (7). The quick, tricky winger has provided some moments of magic in an otherwise functional but fairly workmanlike side, although it has been beefed up recently using the money earned from the sale of the twins.

 

 

Gambian born winger Mohamadou Sumareh (13) is a shrewd acquisition, with his Malaysian citizenship allowing Police to register him as part of their ASEAN quota. They’ve also brought in Ivorian forward Marc Landry Babo, who has been scoring goals in Thailand for years, albeit mostly in T2.

The key man at the back is one of the most physically dominant players in the business. Ghanaian Issac Honey (35) can play at the back or up top due to the fact that he’s built like both a sprinter and a bodybuilder. Quite an obstacle for Port’s forward line, impressive as it is on paper.

 

 

Former Port right back Ekkachai Sumrei (5) and veteran left back Mongkol Namnuad (53) are some other recognizable names in Police’s squad, but it’s the African contingent that Port ought to be most wary of.

 

Form

 

Police’s early season success, however was not achieved so much by individual talents as it was operating as a solid unit. I don’t expect Port will have an easy time breaking down a team who will be set up to defend and hit us on the counter. With some pace and power on the opposition wings, we’ll have to defend well at times, as well as take our chances clinically when they come.

They’ve ground out two 1-0 home wins, one against Buriram, and BG are the only team they’ve failed to beat.

 

  • Police Tero 1-0 Buriram
  • Trat 1-3 Police Tero
  • BG Pathum 3-0 Police Tero
  • Police Tero 1-0 Samut Prakan City

 

Port FC

A Embarrassment of Riches

 

Under Jadet there’s one thing you can be pretty sure of. We’re going to line up in our usually 4-2-3-1. Who exactly is going to be in the lineup is a very open question though, with injuries and new signings proving plenty more options for the Spherical Supremo to consider.

In goal the usual choices are all available, but Rattanai (18) has been favoured in friendlies, so I expect him to get the nod. Worawut (36) is of course another option, and if he doesn’t start, he’ll be on the bench. Perennial third choice Watchara (1) will continue to be overlooked, and this year’s fourth choice will be youngster Chatcharin (25).

At the back we have a surprising dearth of options available. Defensive leader Elias Dolah (4) was only fit enough to play half an hour against Bangkok United last week, although we expect him to start on Sunday. Alongside him in the recent friendly was Todsapol (6), but he will almost certainly be replaced by new signing Adisorn Promrak (20), who has also been injured, but could be fit to start. The twins (2, 3) are also perfectly good options, while new signing Sarawut (26) is available in case of more injuries.

At full back Nitipong (34) and Kevin (23) will take up their usual positions, with Steuble (15) a very able backup on the left should Kevin tweak one of those notoriously fragile muscles. Thitawee (2) is the new backup right back, which means he’ll be well acquainted with the bench this year.

In central midfield is where things get very tricky for Jadet. Go (8) didn’t start in the friendly last week, but if he’s fit he will of course take up his place in the XI. Siwakorn (16) is probably the leading candidate to partner him, but there’s also a very strong argument to be made for youngster Kanarin (31). His high-energy performances were hugely impressive early on in the season, and he looked excellent off the bench in last week’s friendly, too. I’d give Kanarin a start, but I doubt Jadet will. Chappuis (17) is also available.

On the flanks, Jadet will most likely opt for Bordin (10) on the left and Heberty (37) on the right, meaning we will be seeing a lot of cutting in from the flanks this season. The relationship between Bordin and Kevin on the left always provides a creative threat, but it looks like Heberty and Nitipong will take a little more time to gel. For me, Heberty is too often slow to release the ball, leaving poor old Nitipong pining for his former partner in crime Pakorn (7), who is positively selfless in comparison to his replacement. Tanasith (11) is another great option from the bench, should Port still be looking for a breakthrough late on.

Suarez (5) will most likely start in ‘the hole’ behind the striker, who could be Adisak (9), Bonilla (99) or even Heberty if Port opt for a more fluid attacking system. Adisak started the most recently friendly, but that was while Bonilla was reportedly on the outs. Now he’s back in he could start, although whether he’s fit or not is a mystery. Adisak will likely make it on to the pitch one way or another, with the forward having notched 2 goals from the bench already this season. Nattawut (45) put on an outstanding late show against BU, and if he makes it on to the bench is an excellent option anywhere across the front line. Port’s is a seriously competitive squad this year!

 

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 

Subs: Worawut (36), Thitawee (2), Thitatorn (3), Steuble (15), Chappuis (17), Kanarin (31), Tanasith (11), Pakorn (7), Adisak (9)

 


 

The match will be shown on TrueSport HD3 at 18:00 on Sunday 13 September, 2020. For the many of you who won’t be able to get your hands on tickets, 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.

 

Thailand Gain Extra Champions League Spot in 2021

 

The Asian Champions League, which Port crashed out of in the qualifying stages this year, is expanding from 32 to 40 teams from the 2021 season. This, along with the fact that Thailand moved past Australia to in the AFC’s club rankings, means that Thailand will go from 1 automatic spot in the group stages and 2 in the qualifiers to 2 automatic spots in the group stages and 2 in the qualifiers.

Therefore, in 2021, the T1 Champions and the FA Cup winners will go straight in to the AFC Champions League group stages, while 2nd and 3rd place in T1 will go in to the qualifiers.

This is obviously good news for Port, although it has come a year too late, as our FA Cup win in 2019 would have meant automatic ACL qualification had it come a year later. Still, with high hopes of finishing towards the top of T1, Port will most likely have a shot at Asia’s premier club competition once again, whether through automatic qualification or qualifiers.

 

 

In related news, the team who shocked Port in ACL Qualification earlier this year, Ceres Negros, will reportedly not be competing when their domestic league restarts. After a few seasons of uncertainty following boardroom legal disputes and financial difficulty, the erstwhile Filipino champions are releasing all their players and will cease to exist. Their last stand in defeating Port and putting up impressive resistance against FC Tokyo was to be their ACL swan song.

 

Jadet Woos Therdsak

 

Jadet is keen for Port to bring in legendary player-turned-coach Therdsak Chaiman as his assistant, according to rumours that started last week.

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The Sandpit’s Player of the Month for February is…

 

Finally, it’s back! Port Player of the Month features are returning to the Sandpit this year, with a new and improved formula.

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Drawbridge Lowered at Thunder Castle: Buriram Utd 1-1 Port FC

With a return flight and accommodation paid in full to travel to Buriram, I was forced to make the reluctantly adult decision to forfeit any sunk costs and remain in Hua Hin as the preparations for my impending move back to the cold Baltic shores of my native Sweden left me strapped for time in a way that didn’t allow for dedicating two full days to attending what suddenly became the final game for Port fans to see our beloved lions in action before the great eastern beer virus of 2020 reduces human society to its final post-apocalyptic state. Despite the promising start to the season I took comfort in the fact that we usually don’t come close to beating Buriram anyway, especially away from home where having the audacity to even threaten to do so is likely to be resolutely dealt with by the officials. Instead I sat down in front of a screen to watch it in the same manner as most working stiffs unable to take a Monday off even for a game of this stature.

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Podcast

The Portcast #22: The Swedish Model

 

No, this week’s guest Peter Sheppard hasn’t taken to strutting his stuff on the catwalk, but he has landed a position working in Swedish football, and he’s here to tell us all about it. How does football differ in one of the world’s most developed countries, with a league nearing it’s 100th birthday, and a developing nation in South East Asia who’s football league is in it’s teen years?

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The Portcast #21: National Team Talk

 

I’m joined by Gian Chansrichawla and Tommie Duncan to talk Thai national team. We consider all the major candidates for inclusion, and eventually agree on a 23 man squad which we think would serve boss Akira Nishino well.

Some big names miss out and some uncapped players make the cut, including a Sandpit favourite.

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The Portcast #16: A Decade of Highlights

 

Tom and Tim are back for another Portcast, and this time we’re laying on an audio-visual experience for our audience.

Hit play on the podcast for a full explanation of what we’ve got lined up, and keep this page open so you have access to all the videos we’ll be watching, so you can watch and listen to the action along with us.

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The Portcast #15: Choked Out with Tim Russell

 

The biggest Thai League news of the season so far is Port and FA Cup winning coach Choke parting ways in unusual circumstances. I talk to Sandpit editor Tim Russell about the shock move, and analyse both Choke’s surprisingly honest interview and the club’s panicked response.

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The Portcast #14: South East Asian Football with James

 

Inspired by being cooped up all day every day, The Portcast was finally able to secure an interview with a guy we’ve been trying to get on the podcast for ever. James has played professionally and been involved with football in a few different capacities across South East Asia. This brings a very welcome perspective to the podcast, which is usually rather narrowly centred on Thailand, and more specifically Port.

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The Portcast #11: Zone F Meets Peter Sheppard

 

The Portcast is back!

It’s been more than a year since our last podcast, but so excited are we with what transpired last season, and with next still season feeling an age away, here we are bringing back our long-form conversations with fans about the fan experience.

What better way to fill the hole left by the off-season than listening to two helpless obsessives talking about what makes the football experience great, whether in the suburbs of Stockholm or the slums of Bangkok?

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The Portcast Episode 10: The Sandpit Meets Sven (Part 1)

 

Yes, it’s been a long time coming, but good things come to wait! Our interview with Sven, the creator of legendary Thai football website www.thai-fussball.com is finally here, so be prepared for some back-in-the-day stories from the Kangaroos of Prague to the Blue Marlins of Sriracha.

Part one features a lot of stadium talk, and a couple of time-honoured debates about Thai football standards vs. European football standards and the social vs. sporting aspect of watching live football.

Then there’s me giving an entirely justifiable torrent of abuse to former Port flop Sompong Soleb for those who just like a good old rant, although the fearless Sven soon turns the tables on us and gives the Sandpit a well-deserved chewing out!

We also discuss Daniel Polomski and Tobias Enkel’s project Football Fans Asia which you can find on their website or their Youtube channel. Their video about a certain Khlongtoei football club is in the making, so make sure to follow their progress.

 

Spit in the Sandpit Episode 1: Season Review 2017

 

As the curtain falls on another season of Port football we now contemplate what and who will it take to improve our beloved Port FC Lions. Port supporter John Spittal spent some time in the Sandpit before last weekends final home match asking fellow Port Importz about the 2017 season and their thoughts on next season… it’s Spit in the Sandpit season review.

Note…Peter Hockley is lovingly referred to as Peter Hockers. I hope he doesn’t mind.

 

The Portcast Episode 4: Zone F Meets Tim Russell

 

The Portcast is back with a brand new feature – Zone F – in which we chat to a different Port fan in each episode and get their thoughts on all things Tarua!

In this first episode, The Portcast’s own Michael Parkinson, Tom Earls, interviews Sandpit founder Tim Russell and finds out about his unlucky orange underpants, his dream of being able to eat meat pies at the PAT, and his man-crush on Genki Nagasato.

If you’re a Port fan & would like to take part in Zone F, drop us a message. And in the meantime, enjoy our latest podcast!

 

The Portcast Episode 3 pt2: The Imaginary Draw at Suphanburi

 

In pt2 of Episode 3 of the Portcast, Dom fights off a randy cab driver, Tim, despite being sober, is convinced that Port got a draw at Suphanburi, and Tom comes over all Nostradamus (rather than ‘comes all over Nostradamus’, which would certainly have made for more interesting listening). Look out for Episode 4 coming up during the 5-week break!