Posts

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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Fire Bats With Dire Tats: Sukhothai FC vs. Port FC Preview

 

Port embark on their first away trip of the season this Wednesday looking to do what they couldn’t last year and leave Sukhothai’s Talayluang Stadium with all 3 points. After last season’s debacle if we leave without one of our players having assaulted an official it’ll be a significant improvement.

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Number 1 vs The 1 Year Olds: Port FC vs Samut Prakan City Preview

We are top of the league, said we are top of the league… Well it is only week 1, but better to be top than bottom of the league. This week Port face the 1 year olds of Samut Prakarn City (est. 2019). The match kicks off at 5.45 p.m, Saturday 22nd February and is on True Sports 2.

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Mai Pen Rai: Port FC 2-2 Chiang Rai Utd (Port win 12-11 on penalties)

Port scraped through a bruising encounter with Chiang Rai to book their place in the Leo Cup Final, which will be played on Tuesday. Chiang Rai were moments away from progressing until Port converted a late penalty, after which we went on to tuck away an astonishing 12 more in a marathon penalty shootout. Chiang Rai’s new Brazilian Mailson (11) was the fall guy. Not picked in the starting XI, Mailson looked poor after coming on, before missing the target entirely with two woeful spot-kick attempts. Not a good start for Thin Bill’s replacement.

 

 

The game started as you would expect any tie involving Chiang Rai to start. Both sides kicked eachother. A lot. Dolah (4) opened his account early, accidentally stepping on Chaiyawat Buran (26), who you may remember (Dolah certainly does) got the big man sent off a couple of years back with some particularly egregious foul play. Chiang Rai had their sights set on Port’s creative talents, with both Bordin (10) and Suarez (5) appearing to be targeted with persistent kicks and tugs.

In between the kicking, diving, pushing and foul language some football did eventually break out. Adisak (9) blazed wide from a tricky angle early on, then headed over from close range after a dangerous corner from the left, before grazing the post after the ball was gifted to him with the defence and goalkeeper out of position. It was not looking like his day, once again.

Despite Port looking like marginally the better side though, all it took was one lapse to turn the tables. Rochela (22) committed himself and was beaten far too easily, allowing Bill (9) a clear waddle at Worawut (36). Even as slow and rotund as he is, he had the time and space to pick his spot, and Worawut’s finger tips weren’t quite strong enough to keep his composed finish out.

 

 

Port responded with a substitution. Suarez (5), after picking up a knock in the last round, was withdrawn, hopefully as a precautionary measure. In his place, Tanasith (11) was given the chance to impress with the first team. He added an urgency and attacking endeavor to Port’s game that was lacking with Heberty (37) slowing the game down on the right. The Brazilian was once again looking lethargic and, frankly, continued the trend of being one of Port’s worst players throughout pre-season.

After half time, Port continued to press with Tanasith providing the spark, and the little man soon provided Adisak with a chance that surely even he couldn’t botch. Tanasith danced on to Heberty’s pass down the right, removed the ‘keeper from the equation with a deft chip and presented Adisak with an open goal from a couple of yards out. Port’s oft wayward striker finally put to bed his run of missed chances, getting above his marker and finding the back of the net. Hopefully that will have done his confidence some good!

 

 

Port failed to maintain concentration and kick on, though, immediately allowing Chiang Rai to re-establish their lead. Nitipong (34) and Dolah allowed Chaiyawat a little too much time after a well-weighted ball down the left, and the forward struck a vicious left footed effort towards goal. He hit it well, but Worawut won’t be happy to have been beaten by his effort, which went straight over his head and in to the back of the net.

Port didn’t look particularly likely to level the game, with multiple substitutions from both sides breaking up the flow of the game, but a stroke of fortune did eventually lead to a very late equalizer. Heberty’s freekick was cleared to Chenrop (39), and his attempted cross struck the arm of Chiang Rai forward Somkid (17). The referee didn’t see it initially, awarding a corner, but after receiving word from his linesman a penalty was correctly given. Brinner (5) and several other players harangued the referee and delayed the taking of the penalty for several minutes, and Chiang Rai even brought on apparent ‘specialist’ penalty stopper Saranon Anuin (1) to up the ante. Heberty, entirely nonplussed by the nonsense going on around him, coolly converted, and the tie went straight to a shootout.

 

 

Port immediately set about trying to lose, naming their entire back 4 among the first 5 takers. Todsapol (6) and Dolah (4) both missed the target, but Brazilian winger Mailson followed suit before former Port midfielder Tatchanon (7) slipped and saw his effort saved by Worawut. A remarkable succession of successful penalties followed, with all of the sudden death takers converting without much hassle. Goalkeeper Worawut’s penalty was arguably the pick of the bunch, finding the bottom corner with unerring accuracy.

 

 

With one round completed, the teams were allowed to reorganize, and Heberty was first up for Port to convert his third penalty of the evening, then Athibordee entertained the crowd, pointing to his spot before duly dispatching his effort exactly where he had pointed to. Eventually, after a few more successful efforts from both sides Mailson stepped up to settle the tie in Port’s favour, hitting the worst penalty of the night miles over the bar. In an entertaining subplot, last-minute Tim Krul wannabe Saranon failed to lay a glove on any of Port’s 14 penalties, proving unsurprisingly that tactically changing your ‘keeper at the last minute only works if said goalkeeper actually knows how to save penalties.

All in all, an enjoyable finish to a pretty poor game for Port. We didn’t really deserve to win, the likes of Bordin, Heberty, Adisak and Rochela continued to struggle for form, but at least Port will have another competitive game before the start of the season. Our opponents will be none other than Muangthong, who overcame Prachuap in another shootout in yesterday’s late kick off.

First of course is the Thailand Champions Cup tie with Chiang Rai at the SCG this Sunday, with the Leo Cup game to follow at Leo Stadium on Tuesday.

 

Kicking Off With a Leo: Port FC vs. Nakhon Ratchasima FC Preview

 

I’m still reeling from Port’s disappointing AFC Champions League exit at the hands of Ceres Negros on Tuesday, so you’ll excuse me if I let a particularly virulent strand of pessimism colour this preview. Whisperings from the Port camp had already set alarm bells ringing in my head, and now having had a chance to look at Choke’s boys in action I’m exponentially more concerned.

I’m previewing the Leo Cup Clash with Korat here, but I’m also talking about the trajectory Port are taking with 2020 in mind.

Before I lose my mind and let loose though, here’s a brief (I promise) look at the opposition.

 

Nakhon Ratchasima FC

Players to watch

 

Not too much has changed for Korat in 2020. Key attacking duo Leandro Assumpcao (7) and Amadou Outtara (81) have remained. Leandro is a dead ball specialist and a deadly finisher in and around the box. Port defenders will want to keep the ball away from his left boot when he’s within striking range. Amadou Outtara is a winger with devastating pace who has always impressed me when I’ve seen him, although he’s hasn’t quite managed to deliver as many goals as one might expect given how dangerous he looks. He’s good, but perhaps his end product could be better.

 

 

They will likely be joined in the attack by Chitchanok Xaysensourinthone (10), a Thai-Laotian winger born in Switzerland, who has been kicking around Thailand for a few years but never quite nailed down a starting spot and been able to make his mark at a T1 club. He’s one of those who has always had potential, but as yet hasn’t quite delivered as much as he could. He’s a strong, physical presence in the forward line though, and shouldn’t be underestimated.

Straight in to Korat’s XI in their Leo Cup opener was a little-known midfielder who has been kicking his heels at one of Thailand’s top clubs for a couple of years now. The short-sighted assessment of the aforementioned club meant that the player received far less playing time than his early contributions warranted, but now the shackles are off and he’s straight in to a T1 side’s prospective XI for the coming season. Well done Anon Samakorn (99), us Port fans hope you get a real go at it this year with the Swatcats.

 

 

Then there’s Samuel Cunningham (88). A player Port fans love to wind up, he can expect his devoted followers to say hello from Zones B and D in a quiet PAT Stadium this Thursday. We’ve missed you, Sam.

 

Form

 

They drew their first round match with T2 side Khon Kaen FC, before edging the tie on penalties.

 

Port FC

Ajax My Ass

 

Right, I’m done delaying the inevitable. It’s colonoscopy time, boys, and this one is not going to be brief.

Let’s start from the back. We’ve always said that Worawut (36) is too flappy and punchy from crosses, so his blunder against Ceres wasn’t a surprise. It shouldn’t really effect our judgment of Port’s first choice between the sticks, as everyone makes mistakes, so we’re left saying once again that Port have three decent ‘keepers by T1 standards, but none quite feel like T1 winners. I’ve advocated in the past for Port to spend big and bring in one of these 5 ASEAN goalkeepers, who would all represent an improvement on Port’s stoppers, and that message hasn’t changed. Either that or a really top Thai goalkeeper.

Then there’s the defence. Nitipong’s (34) end product was poor, and Kevin (23) didn’t seem to be on it at all on Tuesday, but we know they’ll be back as Port’s first choice full backs in 2020, and rightly so. In central defence is where I have issues. The Rochela (22) question is back once again. He looked sluggish to say the least against Police, and Choke chose to drop him altogether against Ceres, opting for Dolah (4) and Tanaboon (71) in the middle. For the most part (I missed the first 10 minutes of the second half) they did well, but I’ve had the chance to watch the highlights now, and it’s a terrible error from Tanaboon that led to the corner from which Ceres got the decisive goal. Dolah’s solid performance only served to further underline that the only question should be who partners him at the back.

 

 

My thoughts on this: if your foreign centre back isn’t even getting in the XI, you need a different foreign centre back. Simple as that. On Tanaboon, I thought he looked good in general, but the mistake was typical of a player for whom decisiveness has never been a strong point. A couple of decent performances – one at DM in the FA Cup Final – are not going to assuage my doubts. Same old problems here.

In midfield, Port didn’t do anything ostensibly wrong. Go (8) moved the ball around beautifully as usual, but we were outmatched for intensity. Schrock (12) and his boys wanted it more than us, and that’s a shame to see in such a big game. Still, losing this battle isn’t the end of the world, and we know Go and Siwakorn (16) will be back stronger.

I would normally differentiate between players who played different positions across the forward line at this point, but since Choke has decided Port will be T1’s Ajax there’s really no knowing who is supposed to be playing where. Pakorn (7), Bordin (10), Heberty (37) and Suarez (5) were the forwards, but none seemed to have much idea where they should be or what they should do.

 

 

Pakorn was spotted at right back, right wing, left wing and even centre forward. Pakorn. You know, the chunky lad whose only skills are freekicks, corners and playing right wing. Pakorn was probably the most threatening of the front line, so obviously he was the first to be substituted. Bordin looked like he’d had a lobotomy gone wrong over the break, in which both his brain and hair were accidentally swapped with the least talented member of a Korean boy band. His decline since the mid-way point of 2019 is ever more concerning. Heberty had a shocker, looking far too concerned with doing everything himself, despite being unable to actually do anything himself. His freekicks were shocking, his shooting was shocking, and his selfishness was the cherry on top. He has to fit in to this team, rather than bend it to his will. Suarez played pretty well in all, trying to stick to the task he has once again been stuck with, despite the fact that playing up front is nowhere near his best position. He did miss a headed chance you’d expect him to stick away, but he was far from the only one guilty of that.

 

 

The substitutes did improve Port going forward, but not enough to make the breakthrough. Adisak (9) gave the attack a focal point when he came on, but his finishing was predictably lackluster. He had two chances, with a tricky headed opportunity which went narrowly wide and a big chance clear through on the ‘keeper which he wasted through being painfully indecisive.

 

 

Tanasith (11) was a breath of fresh air on the left, hugging the touchline and making darting runs in behind, but his finishing was also found wanting at the crucial moment, when he shot through a crowd of bodies, only to pick out the man on the line.

 


 

So, the areas that we are really going to learn something from in this Leo Cup tie are the centre of defence and the attack. A decision must be made on whether Rochela or Tanaboon is going to partner Dolah. If it’s Rochela then hopefuly he’s still up to the task, but if it’s Tanaboon, then a new defender must be signed. A foreign centre back would be preferable, but Port could also opt to bring in a top Thai centre back and use their foreign player elsewhere.

Speaking of which, the one thing this team needs, and indeed has needed for a very long time, is a striker. A foreign striker. Josimar (30) is still on the books. Injured, but on the books. Maybe bringing him at Rochela’s expense in is once again an option worth considering. As long as we don’t play him out wide again. Looking further afield is another option, but at this point in the transfer window we’d likely be looking at another risky signing, which could easily go the way of Rolando Blackburn, and no one wants to see that again. Adisak could make a case for himself if he bangs in a few goals today, but let’s face it, that’s not a likely scenario. Does anyone know if Pele has gone to Police yet?

 


 

Kickoff is at 18:00 at PAT Stadium, and the game will also be broadcast live on True4U.

 

Top Dolah: Peter’s 2019 Season Review

 

In a 2019 with some serious ups and downs on all levels, it all still ended with some silverware and a top three league finish. Adding to that, another championship title with only a golden goal away from the double in the futsal, and it becomes clear that the Lions of Khlong Toei are top of the food chain when it comes to kicking a ball about in the Kingdom of Thailand. Remembering this one was quite the enjoyable little afternoon activity.

 

Game of the season

 

 

Muangthong away, T1. No away fans allowed as Port traveled to Legoland with the opportunity to shove our fiercest and most despised rivals deeper into the bottom end of the table where they truly belong. Still, some of us made the journey to the rural north in neutral colours (well, Toby more or less) and were treated to an evening of football we’ll remember forever. Two fantastic goals, the first a long range effort from Bordin, who was arguably the best player in the league at that point, the second when Nitipong, of all people, put the finishing touch to a team effort of passing play that made for the most perfect counter attack I’ve seen since starting to follow Thai footie. Sure, they pulled one back late in the game but the gulf in class was hammered in by Pakorn all by his lonesome making most of the opposition look like pre-schoolers to see out the final moments of the match.

 

Goal of the Season

 

Suarez. Like most of my fellow Sandpitters, my vote went to the exquisite chip against Trat. Now, there are different ways to value goals. Importance, aesthetics, or a combination. But, as the only real contender to this one in my mind, the aforementioned second goal away to Muangthong, was so questionably left out of the competition I didn’t even have to think twice about it. The level difficulty and technique displayed by our top scorer would have edged it in the end anyway.

 

Player of the Season

 

 

Dolah. After such a fantastic season, there’s intense competition for this award. The popular vote, far from undeserved, went to Nitipong “Consistency” Selanon. In the absence of a proper striking option, Sergio Suarez led the offensive line, often from an unfamiliar position as a so called “false 9”. Go Seul-ki always made everyone around him look much better. But Elias earned the title in my book, through the improvement in his game from previous season, not only by finally settling into the role of centre-back, but becoming a true leader and being forced to keep the defence together, even when paired up with and having to carry a central midfielder with a severe phobia of any physical contact around for much of the season. Then, topping it all off with a Thai NT debut. Kudos, my Swedish brother.

 

Disappointment of the Season

 

 

Alexandre Gama. Even though I’m still fuming about what was supposed to be, and started out, as a dignified ceremony to celebrate the memory of five of the clubs’ most dedicated supporters but ended up as what can only be described as perversely self-indulging behaviour from “someone”. Even though hearing the very face of corruption in the sport I love congratulate Thailand on becoming the first country in the region to taint the game with the farcical phenomenon that is VAR has scarred me for life. Even though some bizarre mid-season experimenting with our formation coincided with a poor run of form that ultimately cost us the league title. I refuse to make anything remotely connected to Port FC my disappointment of the season in a year where we finished 3rd and won the FA Cup. My nomination therefore befalls Alexandre Gama. Wasn’t it enough to turn Chiangrai into what is possibly the most repulsive unit ever to step on the football pitch? You had to go and save Muangthong from relegation just to add insult to injury? Really? Talk about getting on the wrong side of history…

 


 

For all the faults we bitch about week in and week out, the results still point to the club heading in the right general direction. With just a little bit of well-considered work in the transfer market *pause for snickering* to fill our foreign player quota with a clear first choice striker next year, along with some managerial freedom in team selections *pause for guffaw*, we should be well equipped to make an even better push for the title next year. Now let’s all just sit back and calmly observe the ever predictable Thai silly season activities.

 

The Sandpit’s 2019 Port FC Goal of the Season Poll

 

Port’s most successful season this millennium saw us top-score in T1 with 55 goals, while a further 17 were netted on the road to FA Cup glory. Add in 2 more goals in Port’s short-lived League Cup campaign and The Sandpit’s Goal of the Season panel finds itself with 74 goals to narrow down in to a short-list of just 10.

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BG’s Saturday Night Fever: Port FC vs. Ratchaburi (FA Cup Final Preview)

 

It has been a season of thirds. A triple layer hamburger, topped and bottomed by a light and fluffy, expertly toasted bap, laced with a tasty, tangy sauce and garnished with an innovative leafy salad, seasoned with a hint of balsamic. In the middle, though, an unappealing, flavourless patty, stodgy in places and miserably failing to satisfy that initial promise. This has been Port’s season in a cardboard box. An explosive start, a laboured, clueless middle, redeemed by a late, often thrilling bid for a first League title. And now comes the dessert, a dish to sweeten the Port season and one which they must devour with gusto.

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FA Cup Final Ticket Info Released

 

The long, arduous wait for FA Cup Final tickets to go on sale is apparently nearly over, with a combination of information from the Thai FA and Thai Ticket Major suggesting that tickets will be on sale starting from 10:00 on Monday 21st October.

9,000 capacity all-seated Leo stadium was announced as the venue a few days ago, before a brief panic ensued when Thai Ticket Major pulled the event info and we all thought ‘here we go again.’ Now with all signs pointing towards Pathum Thani and the information online showing the zones and prices of tickets, we’re pretty sure that we’re all set.

 

 

Tickets are evenly split between Port and Ratchaburi fans, with Port fans occupying zones W3 (150 baht), W6 (100 baht) and S (80 baht).

Follow this link to buy tickets online, or alternatively buy directly from a Major outlet near you. You’ll probably need to be pretty quick, with far more Port fans expected to turn up than there are tickets available in the Port zones.

 

 

Happy hunting, and we’ll see you in Pathum Thani!

 

Podcast

The Portcast Episode 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?

Our first guest on our return to the airwaves is Peter Sheppard. As well as contributing to The Sandpit, Peter also writes a blog in both Swedish and English about football in Asia. You can find the excellent Far East Football here.

In this podcast, recorded in the traditionally tipsy fashion, we cover a wide range of topics, in search as always of what makes us football fans tick, and why Port is the special club we all know it to be.

 

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!

 

 

The Portcast Episode 3 pt1: The Coming of Zico

 

The Portcast is back baby! In Episode 3 pt1 we welcome Port’s new big-name coach, discuss the toe-curlingly embarrassing shambles that was the June transfer window, and have a good laugh at our old friend Thiago Cunha. If you’ve noticed a higher level of discussion and professionalism about The Portcast this time, it’s only because one of us was stone cold sober for medical reasons. This will not happen again so make the most of it.

 

 

The Portcast Episode 2 pt3: Think About the Future

 

In yesterday’s Portcast post we enjoyed Tom’s stats quiz, in which Tim secured a triumphant victory over Dom. Today we look forward to the second half of the season and predict how Port will fare, as well as speculating as to what the June transfer window may have in store. Enjoy, and keep an eye out for Episode 3 coming soon!

 

 

The Portcast Episode 2 pt2: Statto’s Quiz

 

 

In yesterday’s Portcast post we looked back on the first half of the season. Today we dive into the nerdy world of football stats as Tom ‘Statto’ Earls quizzes Dom & Tim on some Port FC facts & figures. Will Dom’s Sangsom-addled brain get to grips with the numbers, or will Tim’s brand loyalty to Port shirt sponsors Leo guide him to victory? Listen to find out, and play along…

 

The Portcast Episode 2 pt1: Halftime

 

The Portcast is back, with not one, not two, but three new ‘casts this week. We recorded Episode 2 on Friday night and what with the excitement of Muangthong v Chiang Rai on the TV, and copious amounts of Leo and Sangsom, we got a little carried away and ended up talking for over an hour. So we’ve split Episode 2 into 3 parts.

In part 1, we take a look back at the first half of the season and discuss the best (and worst) moments, including our favourite matches, goals, away fans and more. Look out for parts 2 & 3 coming later this week.

 

The Portcast Ep1 (Pilot) – The Season So Far with Special Guest Josimar Rodrigues

 

Welcome to the pilot episode of The Portcast, our hopefully regular Sandpit podcast on all things Port. We plan to feature regular discussions, match previews/reviews, interviews and more, though I suspect most episodes will involve Tom, Dom & Tim sitting around talking bollocks.

In this first episode, we discuss Port’s 8 matches so far with our special guest, Brazilian striker Josimar Rodrigues. Please make allowances for the sound quality, and for the fact that Josimar and Dom are not as audible as they might be (which of course makes a change in the latter’s case) – we’re new to this podcasting lark and learning as we go along.

If you have any ideas for, or want to take part in, future podcasts, please let us know. In the meantime, happy listening!