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Nitipong Selan-OFF: Air Force Central FC 3-2 Port FC

 

 

Brevity isn’t in my wheelhouse at the best of times, but today, with Super Sunday’s Double Header on the agenda, I’m going to have to give it my best shot. Sunday’s bumper ticket saw not only Port’s away trip to Air Force, but also Port Futsal Club’s trip to Kasem Bundit University scheduled one after another. The famous Port fan bus, with its’ superhero captain at the helm, was taking in both games, and despite the hefty 80 baht price tag, I thought I’d dip in to my savings for the experience. You know the bus I’m talking about: the one that could probably have solved the Waco stand-off in a couple of hours flat just by pointing its’ speakers at the Branch Davidians and hitting shuffle. Let me sum up the experience as concisely as I can.

 

Godang Stadium, greetings, ball-grabbing, music, beer, selfies, unidentifiable food, dancing, Facebook live, beer, dancing, random plane, whiskey, Kasem Bundit University.

 

 

The Futsal

And just like that we’re at Kasem Bundit University a full hour before kickoff. No sooner had we chosen a patch of grass to colonize with beer, snacks and gratuitous whistling, free tickets from the Birthday Boy Mr. Chairman were being gratefully accepted by the Port traveling faithful. Then it was up to the 12th floor and the University gymnasium where Port’s Futsal Professors wasted no time teaching the Kasem Bundit Younglings a thing or two about how top-class futsal is played.

Within a minute Port were two goals to the good, with classy Brazilian Marcos (10) and Thai national team defender Chaivat (7) pinging two long-range efforts past a pretty useless Kasem ‘keeper. Port continued controlling the game without threatening a great deal before a comedy third goal was gifted to the impressive Anukul (22). The hapless Kasem stopper came at Anukul with something more akin to airborne attempted murder than a tackle, but the Thai forward calmly evaded the pilot-in-training and passed the ball in to an empty net.

A few Kasem players and the linesman provided most of the entertainment to the traveling fans in the second half, as several pairs of glasses were routinely offered to the linesman whenever he passed the Port fans. There were a couple of good old-fashioned pantomime villains in there too, including the dangerous heavy-set Kasem number 8 and his buddy Jahja (Binks), a pasty, gangly looking fella with a shit moustache. Number 8 scored a walloping freekick, Port replied with a couple more goals and Jahja got mercilessly abused for the rest of the game. With Port 5-1 winners however, the home players were warmly welcomed by the traveling support, and Jahja even made his peace with the black-clad Port ultras. Kasem Bundit University 1-5 Port Futsal Club. Easy!

 

 

Happy Birthday was sung to Port’s generous chairman and sweaty shirts were handed out by veteran midfielder Thananchai (17) and exquisitely named new striker Keerati (9), who looks and celebrates just like former Thai national team star Leesaw. With the organizational skills of the one and only Spiderming we were quickly back on the bus and on our way to Air Force. There was more…

 

Beer, shirtlessness, music, videos, dancing, beer, karaoke, pole-dancing, u-turns, Isaan music, whiskey, selfies, Thupatemi Stadium.

 

The Football

And just like that, we arrive at Air Force with barely a couple of minutes to go before kickoff. A traveling car-boot Leo saleswoman provides the only humane alternative to the Chang piss-water favoured by the official sellers, and as beer is allowed inside, we’re straight in just as the action is getting going. It’s an even more makeshift Port XI than expected on display, with Siwakorn (16) – presumably injured – absent from the match day squad altogether. That means a long-overdue first start for Indonesian starlet Terens Puhiri (28) on the right wing, with Bodin (10) and Pakorn (7) rotating between midfield and the left wing. There was also a first league start for on-loan Thai under 23 centre half Worawut Namvech (24), and a number of new faces on the bench. Sammy Slot (11) and Somprasong (14) have made a couple of match-day squads in recent weeks without making it on to the pitch, but Anon (20), Chanayut (99) and Sarawin (48) were all included in a first team squad for the first time.

 

 

Port started pretty sluggishly, unable to impose themselves on an Air Force team short on quality but armed to the teeth with energy. Nevertheless, the opening goal did come as a shock, with a nicely crafted passing move finding diminutive Thai forward Yodsak (9) in space on the edge of the area. I’m sure even Yodsak’s biggest fan wouldn’t have expected what happened next. The forward without a goal in 20 games in 2018 cut in, looked up and bent a sublime, unstoppable finish in to the top right-hand corner. As much as anyone has to justify why they’re being picked ahead of Kayne Vincent, Yodsak most certainly did with that finish. Questions must be asked of Nitipong (34) who was MIA, and Worawut, who was too slow to close down the forward. Wait, what just happened? Air Force 1-0 Port. Bugger.

Things quickly went from bad to worse, too. Boskovic fired wide after Pakorn put a chance on a plate for him, although he was then flagged offside, but Air Force looked the more dangerous side. Speaking of danger, Nitipong then broke forward down the right, and was absolutely annihilated from behind by a savage challenge from midfielder Phichit (28). Both feet were off the ground as Phichit scissored Nitipong like a randy lesbian porn star, but the Air Enforcer was lucky to only see yellow, although clips of his ‘tackle’ could well end up on redtube. The referee somehow got it into his head that someone had to see red though, and if not the assaulter, then why not the assaulted? As Nitipong landed, legs understandably flailing, his left boot caught Phichit in the face, and the ref, making his first but certainly not his last ridiculous decision of the day, gave Port’s mild-mannered right back his marching orders, despite the protests (and by protests I mean abuse) meted out by Boskovic.

With 10 men and down a goal, things could only get better. Oh no, wait, they could definitely get worse. Former Port winger Pinyo (44) played the lead role in the next chapter in Port’s tragic tale, with his weak shot bouncing awkwardly off Rochela (22) and spinning up and over a wrong-footed Rattanai (17) and in off the post. Air Force 2-0 Port. Bastard.

Then somehow, Port started to play. Poor old Terens (28) was stuck playing 2 positions on the right hand side, with Jadet loathe to remove an attacking player and shore up the defence. He stuck to his task admirably though, and although it limited his attacking opportunities Terens did a surprisingly good job at right wing back. It was Kim with the breakthrough, though. Having stormed out of the stadium in search of beer after the second goal went in, I was just passing by a gap in the stadium as The Korean stooped to meet Pakorn’s out-swinging corner and direct it in to the bottom left corner. It wasn’t quite Southgate’s conga line, but it did the job, and Port were back in the game at the half way point. Air Force 2-1 Port. Get in!

A reinvigorated Port took just 3 minutes after the restart to draw level. What?! Don’t we have 10 men? Boskovic put 21 year old Air Force captain Sarayut (23) under pressure with some high pressing and the Buriram loanee panicked, gifting the ball to Boskovic, who showed just how he scored 38 goals last season, lofting the cheekiest of finishes over the keeper and in to the net. Air Force 2-2 Port. Class.

What happened between Port’s equalizer and the outrageous conclusion can basically be summed up like this: Great save, Rattanai! Port’s young ‘keeper has been much less busy this season than in previous years, where he would routinely make match-altering contributions, but with Port down to 10 and both sides going hell for leather, his interventions were required on several occasions. Whether it was because of the linesman failing to flag clear offsides, the referee awarding soft free kicks or Air Force actually mounting an attack on their own merit, Rattanai stood alone a couple of times to keep Port level, with the 10 men really starting to tire.

That tiredness showed in the 86th minute when Pakorn poleaxed a marauding Air Force winger on the edge of the box. You’ll notice that I said on the edge of the box, rather than in it; a detail that the referee and linesman with the help of video technology somehow still managed to miss. Air Force forward Greg Houla (19) vociferously made the completely redundant point that Pakorn’s standing leg had kicked up some turf in the area, but the leg he tackled with looked outside the box. Still, as True’s presumably poorly placed cameras couldn’t definitively overrule the referee’s decision, it stood and Houla stepped up to take the penalty.

Rattanai, not yet done with the heroics, dived to his left and sent the admittedly poor penalty back where it came from, but Houla, struggling to regain control of the ball, hacked it back towards goal. Rattanai might still have saved his second attempt was there not a flailing Kim in front of him, but his brave resistance was finally breached and Port’s unlikely comeback attempt was shot down. Air Force 3-2 Port. Done.

After the final whistle the Air Force team was booed and shooed away from the Port end with chants of “Cheat” and “You’re going down” ringing in their ears. Opposition transgressions and refereeing incompetence are much easier to forgive after a 5-1 win than a 2-3 loss. Port’s players, and Madame Pang in particular, were given a rousing sing-song and a hearty post-game cheer. It may have taken them until they were two goals and a man down, but they mounted a gutsy comeback which could easily earned them all three points on another day. With a different referee. Madame Pang also had one her finest moments on the Port bench when she came storming out of the technical area with a face like thunder looking like she wanted to scratch the linesman’s eyes out. It could have made him any less blind, that’s for sure. Ultimately she was restrained by the best-paid bodyguard in Thailand Boskovic, and was given a soothing lullaby by the Port faithful.

Yet another chance to close the gap on second placed Bangkok United squandered. You wouldn’t have guessed it from the bus ride back, though!

 

Disco lights, karaoke, beer, shirtlessness, celebration, inappropriate touching, song requests, dancing, whiskey, lap-dancing, hastily-improvised earplugs, Godang Stadium, awesomeness.

 

The Sandpit’s Man of the Match

It could only be Rattanai, really. Terens put in a good shift, although his final ball was pretty poor when he got the chance to go forward, Boskovic worked hard and scored an excellent goal, Adisorn (13) ran himself silly, although in one sequence of play he lost the ball and won it back on two consecutive occasions. Muppet.

 

Worrying News Update

Apparently Pakorn collapsed after the game and was taken to the hospital from what may have been exhaustion. We’re hearing that on top of Port’s already packed schedule Pakorn played some kind of match for the police between Wednesday and Sunday. We wish him a speedy recovery and hope that this kind of absurd unprofessionalism isn’t allowed to happen again. Apparently his decision making is as bad off the pitch as it is on it.

 

Dire Bats: Port FC vs. Sukhothai FC, 8 July 2018

Looks like I’m on Sukhothai duty again.

Last time Port were set to face the “Fire Bats,” I raved about this weekend’s opponents, and more specifically their foreign attacking trinity who have 27 league goals and 63 name-letters between them. Since then, my “pundits curse” has hit them where it hurts and they have sunk into the relegation zone, and are already on their third manager of the season. Thank goodness I’m not old enough to gamble.

 

Baggio Rakotonomenjanahary, Nelson Bonilla and Njiva Rakotoharimalala

 

In their previous encounter, both teams didn’t get the memo that the League Cup is irrelevant and went full throttle at each other’s throats, ending in a 4-3 victory for the home side. The game will be remembered for the amount of time wasted by the Sukhothai players as they rolled on the floor (despite being a goal down), and of course the slightly odd attempts at Spanish swearing directed at Salvadoran striker Nelson Bonilla.

Bodin Phala (10) starred in the last game in an attempt to impress Jadet and earn a starting place, and may once again get the chance to do so as Nurul (31) could potentially move into the middle to compensate for the injured Sergio Suarez (5). The Spaniard was crucial in that last game, playing through balls from deep to beat Sukhothai’s high defensive line. His eye for a pass and fluid movement are something rarely found in the Thai League, and will surely be missed in this game.

I would like to think that, given the valuable three points at stake, Sukhothai would approach the game a little more rationally, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. It seems as if the provincial side have already accepted that their defense is an incurable mess, and intend to rely solely on their forwards, who appear to have the combined height of the angry white man screaming on Port’s touchline (who I am told is the goalkeeping coach, which makes the situation even funnier).

In doing my research for this game (which includes at least seven different Wikipedia pages), I came across a description of Sukhothai’s new manager, Chalermwoot Sa-ngapol, which claimed he was the “Glenn Hoddle of Thai Football.” My hopes were quickly deflated when it became apparent that the comment was a reference to his playing style and not his management, which makes me even more confused as to why Glenn Hoddle is the first man to come to mind to demonstrate a player capable of “precise passes.”

 

 

Regardless, Khun Hoddle’s CV isn’t entirely horrible. He did impressively to lead Osotspa to 7th in 2013 keep Sisaket from the drop in 2014 and 2015, but he was somehow involved with both Sisaket and Super Power Samut Prakan in their abysmal 2017 campaigns which saw them both relegated. His last managerial job was Muangthong United B’s…I mean, Udon Thani’s T3 promotion campaign.

In terms of how Port can get at Sukhothai, it seems very clear that this weekend’s visitors are lacking defensive cover. Neither of their center-backs looks particularly impressive; no surprise given that the Fire Bats have the third worst defensive record in the league. Malaysian/Australian midfielder Curran Ferns, who debuted in Sukhothai’s last visit to the PAT Stadium, was supposedly brought in to reinforce the midfield.

In fact, none of their local contingent can really be considered to have any real quality. Nelson Bonilla has won more international caps with El Salvador than all of his Thai teammates have with their nation combined, which speaks volumes at the team’s reliance on foreign players.

However, on their day, the 63-letter forward line can be devastating. 3 goals at PAT Stadium, 3 goals at the SCG, wins over Chiang Rai, Chonburi and even Buriram United – they are a side that shouldn’t be underestimated. Port will need to be on their guard if they want to continue their chase of an AFC Champions League berth, and fans should probably expect a goal-fest once again.

 


 

The match will be shown live on True4U and True Sport 2 at 19:00 on Sunday 8 July, 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.

 

Everybody Loves Rayong: Port FC vs. PTT Rayong, 4 July 2018

 

After the comfortable 5-1 win over amateur minnows Thamuang FC in Port’s first FA Cup game of 2018, Port face a rather trickier assignment in the last 32. PTT Rayong sit atop T2, and have just signed a Brazilian striker who has knocked in 2 goals in his first month with the club. You might remember him, he’s called Josimar! Whilst Josi and The Oil Millionaires are looking pretty slick at the moment, having eased past Ubon Kids City (yes, really) 2-0, there are a couple of reasons they will not be relishing their trip to PAT Stadium.

Firstly, they may top T2, but securing promotion is far from a formality. Both Nongbua Pitchaya and Trat are level on points with them, with Chiang Mai just one back. For a team like PTT Rayong who have been knocking on the promotion door for years, it would seem like the cups really ought to take second priority, particularly when they’re facing one of the form teams in the country on Wednesday, while promotion rivals Trat FC pay them a visit on Saturday. Secondly, Port are at home. No one wants to play Port at home.

 

PTT Rayong

Players to Watch

 

It’s usually pretty tricky to come by good information on teams outside T1, but PTT have got a few players worthy of note.

Top of the list is of course Port’s top scorer in 2017, Josimar (77). The Brazilian who led Port’s attack last season was not without his critics, but there can be little doubt that he is a T1-standard striker. Fortunately, Port’s back line know very well what they’re up against and will be prepared for their teammate’s fired-up return to PAT Stadium. They will know a lot less about his striking partner, though. Dennis Murrillo (11) has spent some time in T1 with Chiang Rai and Osotspa, scoring 9 goals in 27 games, but has really found his feet in T2. He top-scored for The Oil Millionaires in 2017 and has 11 so far this season, and is another one Port would do well not to take lightly.

 

 

The midfield looks rather less threatening. Journeymen thirty-somethings’ to a man, including third Brazilian Wellington Bruno (86) who is the stand-out man. Wellington had one excellent season in T1 with Chiang Rai, but with just a single goal to his name in 2018, it appears his best days are behind him.

 

 

The Oil Millionaires have a useful looking ASEAN player, though. Ryuji Utomo (5) is an Indonesian-Japanese defender, and seems to be the resident hard man, having picked up 4 yellow cards and currently being suspended from league action for a straight red. Then again his Wikipedia page says he likes to read books, so you never know. Along with Koravit Namwiset (27), who was a Thai national team regular under Zico, and former Buriram full-back Anawin Jujeen (6), PTT have a defence that wouldn’t be at all out of place in T1.

 

 

Form

Including their 2-0 win over Ubon Kids City, PTT have won three, drawn two and lost one in their last six. Rather more interesting than their last 6 games, though, is who they face next. Co-leaders Trat FC travel to PTT Stadium on Saturday. It certainly isn’t outside the realms of possibility that key men could be rested with this clash in mind.

 

Port FC

Suarez Injured

 

Port, however, are expected to field another strong lineup. Top-scoring Sergio Suarez (5) is unfortunately unavailable having picked up a knock last week, but Kim Sung Hwan (8), who will miss the T1 visit of Sukhothai having picked up his eighth yellow card against Ubon, will be available for the cup tie. Looking at the surely unnecessary caution that was taken to secure victory against Thamuang, I expect that Port will field a near full-strength XI.

The search for a system that works without Suarez goes on, with the most recent attempt – sticking Nurul (31) up front – being very unconvincing indeed. Whilst Nurul’s pace does undoubtedly cause problems for the opposition, he would be of much more use out wide, while Bodin (10) looks better suited to playing through the middle. In the last round of the cup Arthit (29) started alongside Boskovic (23) up top and notched two assists, although his all-around performance didn’t impress Port’s traveling support. Option three is bringing in Adisorn (13) and pushing Kim further forward. Against a pretty mediocre looking midfield this is certainly an idea worth considering.

Whatever Jadet goes with, Port will be heavy favourites to advance to the last 16. Let’s just make sure we go in to this clash thinking that that’s the case!

 

Predicted Starting XI

 

 

 


 

As with most cup games we’re not quite sure which ones will be on TV, but you can be sure that if it’s on and you can’t make it to PAT Stadium for 19:00, 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.

 

Walking on Broken Glass: Port FC 3-2 Bangkok Glass

 

“It’s a funny old game, Saint” Jimmy Greaves would opine to his co-presenter Ian St. John in almost every show of their longing running football programme “Saint & Greavsie” during the 1980s and early 90s on British TV. Saint would flash one of his trademark grins and with a light chuckle concur “Sure is Greavsie, sure is.” This classic exchange got me thinking during Port’s match with Bangkok Glass; here I am standing on the terraces of PAT Stadium in Bangkok watching a feisty and chaotic football match while thinking about obscure 80s television and another football match being played thousands of kilometres away in Russia.

 

 

Every 4 years we are blessed to experience what is essentially a second Christmas with the family bollocks replaced with glorious football, and in the midst of this the Thai football season is in full swing. So with a vibrant Port enjoying a thrilling season and England kicking off later, the pre-match atmosphere was especially enthusiastic. The news of Bodin (10) replacing the banned Boskovic (23)  greeted well and there was very little concern about our bogey team opposition who are going through an tortuous season in the relegation zone.

 

Credit: Nig Dammusig

 

Port started brightly and Pakorn (7), realising that Glass are a bottom half team this season, decided to go on the offensive and terrorise his markers from the off. In the fourth minute Suarez (5) sent over a great cross and Bodin forced a sharp save from Narit (1). Glass resorted to some crunching tackles to break up our play and cling onto the game but it was only a matter of time until the next chance. Kim (8), much better in an advanced role, dinked the ball wide to Kevin (97) and forced Narit to come off his line. Kevin expertly squared the ball to Nurul (31) but his shot was not fierce enough and Glass captain Matt Smith (4) calmly headed to ball back to Narit. A lucky escape.

Then confusion reigned, with the referee using VAR to award Port a penalty for handball off a Pakorn freekick. Chalermsak (3) was the culprit, with his arm raised to around head when he made the block. He saw yellow, but Rochela (22) stepped up and crashed the spot kick against the post. Port, to their credit, didn’t let their heads drop and continued to work hard. Their tenacity was rewarded in the 26th minute. Bodin, receiving the ball from Kevin, powered across his marker and unleashed a speculative low shot towards the bottom left hand corner. Narit got himself behind the ball but inexplicably allowed it to pass through him and into the net. Bodin respectfully didn’t break out the Fresh Prince moves against his former club, but he must have been delighted to have doubled his tally for the season!

 

 

As if the match wasn’t chaotic enough already, it then descended into farce in the final 5 minutes of the half. Nurul, played clean through on goal by Suarez, was clattered by Chalermsak, who received his second yellow and the following free kick lead to an unmarked Suarez slotting the ball into the net only for it to be unfairly ruled out for offside. Suarez, raging from this injustice, insisted the ref check with VAR but even after consulting the television and viewing a clearly onside goal he decided to stand by the linesman’s decision. Several farang fans, clearly dismayed by this and with the lure of England kicking off in 20 minutes, decided to vote with their feet and bugger off. Justice was finally served seconds later in first half injury time; Bodin seemed to have over-complicated his running into the box, but the ball broke loose and a lucky flick from Kim found Nurul, who made no mistake from a few yards out.

 

 

As is customary, your intrepid reporter missed Glass’ comeback goal at the start of the second half, too busy enjoying his halftime Leo (this season’s total currently stands at 8 goals missed). Glass moved the ball forward quickly and Ariel Rodriguez (7) took advantage of Port’s lack of concentration, making his way into the box and squaring the ball to Anon (27) who couldn’t miss from just outside the 6 yard box. These slips in concentration are something that needs to be worked on during training (as does my drinking speed) as more teams are becoming aware of how fragile we can be from the restart.

Port then edged closer to victory with a pearler of a free kick from Suarez over a less-than-10-yard wall into the top right hand of the goal in front of the Zone B faithful. El Mago is clearly brimming with confidence, ignoring Pakorn to sweep the ball into the net, after which the Midfield Monk had a quiet word with with captain Rochela. We can only speculate as to what as said! The second half continued to be a scrappy affair, punctuated with some hard work from Todsapol (6) and Kevin. Nurul kept making a nuisance of himself but it was obvious Bodin was struggling with his fitness, and Glass tried to take advantage of our fatigue and lack of shape. Their second goal in the 67th minute was scored with ease; Pichit (19) with time and space sent a cross into the box and new signing David Bala (10) sent a header into the bottom corner. Rattanai (17) slipped while trying to readjust his body shape but Bala’s header was too good to keep out.

Jadet sensibly sent on Dolah (4) and Arthit (19) to add some steel in the back line and up front, but Arthit wasted a glorious opportunity in the 80th minute, justifying his non-selection to the starting line up. Port continued fighting up to the final whistle and held on to the three precious points. By now the English contingent was buzzing with news that the Three Lions were 5-0 up and, with the inaugural Rat Bar Dash cancelled due to lack of facilities, we then embarked on a Wacky Races style race to The Sportsman (sponsors of this fine match report, folks). Sadly my car was more Slag Brother’s Boulder Mobile than Peter Perfect’s Turbo Terrific but we managed to make it for the final 20 minutes.

 

The author makes his way to The Sportsman

 

So what to make of Port’s performance? It was workmanlike and full of endeavour, but the goals conceded were terribly sloppy and the opposition should have been played off the park in the first half. Nevertheless, to Port’s credit they hung on and the improbable dream continues. Jadet clearly favours skill over power but in the second half several of our team were suffering from fatigue and this, plus the concentration issues, needs to be addressed swiftly. Also, while VAR may be effective at the world cup finals with an elite team of officials in a TV room with multiple screens and all the technology available at their fingertips, the Thai equivalent is clearly not working and as the level of officiating is still dire I can’t see this being a success anytime soon. Anyway, let’s not worry about this and instead bask in a glory of a wonderful day of football and the joyfulness of sleep deprivation and hangovers at work.

 

Man of the Match: Kevin Deeromram

 

 

In an ugly encounter punctuated with brief moments of skill it would be unfair to give the award to the attackers, although Nurul gave the Glass defenders a torrid evening and almost nicked the award. Honourable mentions must go to Nitipong (34), Siwakorn (16) and Kim but they all faded as their legs became leaden. Kevin’s workrate and quality has been questionable over the last few months but his performance against Glass was of the highest order and one of the main factors in getting his team over the line.

 

Glass Clowns: Port FC vs. Bangkok Glass, 24 June 2018

 

We’ve passed the half-way point in the season, so surely perennial top-halfers Glass have slid in to place in mid-table by now… Wait, what?! They’re still in 15th place, 4 points from safety? The Same Glass who left Port double glazed at Leo Stadium in March? The same Glass with a bullet-proof league record against us? Well, yes, as it turns out cracks have opened up this season, and not even a religion-inspired paint job has been able to revive their fortunes. There is of course still time for Glass to avoid relegation and all the pain it brings, but they will have to turn things around sharpish. Their window of opportunity is quickly closing.

Then there’s Port, who are still sitting pretty in third place, having put on a master-class last weekend, smashing Ratchaburi to pieces. The league table and the form table both point towards a Port victory on Sunday, but that was also the case when Port were cut to pieces by Glass back in week four, and things didn’t turn out the way they were supposed to then!

 

Bangkok Glass

Players to Watch

 

The utter disaster that was Frederic Mendy is no more, and Port will be one of only a few teams to be happy to see the back of him. Mendy reserved one of his only decent performances of the season for us, pouncing on a defensive lapse and firing in a superb goal which Port would never recover from. The goals quickly dried up, though, and once Mendy had been hauled off after just 20 minutes against Chiang Rai (the hysterical laughs of the commentators as a bemused Mendy trudged off was one of the comedy moments of the season so far) it was clear his days were numbered.

Anyway, replacing Mendy is Ariel Rodriguez (7), an excellent little player who has been at Glass for a few years now. The signing of Mendy, however, saw him loaned back to Deportivo Saprissa in his native Costa Rica, where he hit a rich vein of form just before his loan spell ended. Surprisingly since his return, Rodriguez has not gone straight in to the starting XI but has come off the bench twice. Considering that both of those games finished in defeat, it would seem likely that Rodriguez is given his first T1 start of the season against Port.

 

 

The other key man in Glass’ defeat of Port was star agitator Mario Gjurovski, but he has also ended his short, unhappy stint at Leo Stadium. Cue Port fans being partly glad that the bastard can’t score against us again, but partly disappointed that we don’t get to shower him with abuse for 90 minutes. Taking on more creative responsibility, then, will be Glass’ first big-name signing of 2018 and my favourite Thai footballer Thitipan Puangchan (8). Actually, in my previous preview I had some less-than-kind words for Thitipan, who looked like he had spent most of the off-season embarking on a competitive eating career. He’s back to looking more like a sportsman now, though, although in a struggling team his performances have not quite maintained the levels his reached last season.

 

 

Probably partnering Thitipan in midfield for the first time this season will be highly rated (read: overrated) and highly paid (read: overpaid) defensive midfielder Tanaboon Kesarat (5). Poor old Tanaboon picked up a very nasty injury on his last trip to PAT Stadium at the hands, or more accurately the studs, of former Port midfielder Atthipol, and the 24 year old is just now returning to fitness. With regular defensive midfielder and semi-pro Shaggy impersonator Peeraphong Pichitchotirat (23) suspended, it would seem to be the moment for Tanaboon’s return, although facing one of the form players in the league – Sergio Suarez – will be quite a reintroduction to T1 football for the national team regular. Also having just picked up his fourth yellow card is Matt Smith’s (4) central defensive partner Piyachanok Darit (34). This is certainly the time to be playing Glass!

 

 

There are also a couple of new signings worthy of mention. If I’m feeling generous. New Brazilian striker on loan from Khon Kaen David Bala (10) quite frankly looks bang average. For T2. Either BG know something no one else does, or they were really desperate for a cheap striker. Right-winger Sarawut Masuk (14) played a key role in some of Zico’s national team squads a couple of years ago, scoring a couple of important goals against ASEAN opposition. He soon fell out of favour though, presumably when it became clear that he lacks the skill or strength to prosper against high quality opponents. Glass have signed Sarawut from Korat, where he basically did nothing for the first 16 games, then scored twice in the final game of the first leg and secured a transfer. I told you I was feeling generous.

Usual suspects Daniel Toti (20) and Captain Matt Smith (4) need no introduction after their excellent performances against Port in the past, so expect more of the same from these fellas. Glass may not be what they once were, but there’s still quality in this side…

 

 

Form

 

Is this the most underwhelming BG team I’ve seen in my time following Thai football? Quite possibly, and their form doesn’t really give them much hope either. 2 wins and 2 draws in their last 6 doesn’t sound too bad, but they’ve followed that up with 2 losses on the bounce, including a soul-destroying 1-0 defeat to Navy. Yes, Navy. How do you not score against Navy? Ask Bangkok Glass.

 

Port FC

Boskoless

 

Port will have to manage without suspended star striker Boskovic (23) for the first time this season. So, what’s the plan of attack likely to be? Well, there are a few possibilities…

  • The Straight Swap – We do have a hungry young striker waiting in the wings who will be chomping at the bit to lead the Port line on Sunday. Arthit Boonyachinda (29) has just the one goal – a match-winning header against Ubon – to his name, but the powerful forward has put in a few encouraging performances and could easily be chosen to start.
  • The False Nine – Well, Boskovic isn’t your traditional number 9 anyway, but Jadet could decide to replace him with Bodin Phala (10), and have Bodin or Suarez (5) as a kind of false nine. I’m not going to lie, that doesn’t really sounds like Jadet, does it? He could also just bring in Bodin to play in Suarez’ position and push Suarez further forward.
  • The Korean Offensive – Adisorn Daeng-rueng (13) put in another excellent performance against Ratchaburi, and the little man could yet keep his place if Jadet chooses to push Kim (8) in to the attack, with Adisorn and Siwakorn (16) manning the midfield. This was trialed against Air Force and worked well for 45 minutes, so could easily be what Jadet opts for on Sunday.

Elsewhere, Port will welcome Rochela (22) and Siwakorn back in to the team, although neither was really missed in the 4-1 win over Ratchaburi. Todsapol (6) and Dolah (4) both had excellent games, but Dolah will probably keep his place alongside El Capitan. Adisorn was excellent in place of Siwakorn, but have we ever seen the Thin White Duke dropped? No, and we’re beginning to suspect we never will!

The rest of the team picks itself, with Rattanai (17), Nitipong (34), Kevin (97), Pakorn (7), Nurul (31) and Suarez assured of their places in the team.

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True Sport 6 at 18:00 on Sunday 24 June, 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.

 

Magnificent: Port FC 7 (Seven) – 1 Royal Thai Navy FC

 

The Lions of Khlong Toey roared to their fourth successive victory, ruthlessly dispatching a woeful excuse of a Navy team, playing the type of football we know we are capable of, but rarely get to see. The result also keeps us at the head of the chasing pack in 3rd, standing us in good stead for the second half of the season. If Bangkok United or Buriram have a dip in form, an on-form Port could well pounce and push on up the table.

This was my first game as a paying supporter since the Chainat 10 incident when I decided to use my GCSE in Spanish to tell Rochela what I truly thought of his and the team’s performance. Since then Port have responded to the criticism with the maximum possible total of points, with certain players putting decent shifts in and not letting their heads drop once they concede. I’ve been on a brief sojourn in Europe since then so it got me wondering if I was the Jonah in the situation and maybe I should stay away from the PAT just in case?

 

 

 

Well, the first 45 minutes truly dispelled the notion that I was cursed with an assured display of attacking football that somehow only finished 3-1 at half time. Within 10 seconds Pakorn (7) was driving towards the full back, who clearly thought defending was optional, setting up Suarez (5) for a tame effort. Minutes later Suarez and Nurul (31) again conspired to miss before Rochela (22) scared everyone by almost putting the ball into his own net. Then in the ninth minute Nurul went for his customary dive when he clearly could have got a shot away. Very quickly it was becoming clear that Navy were lambs to the slaughter, with Pakorn and Suarez dancing around their midfield like they didn’t exist and Siwakorn (16) indulging in a little jogo bonito more than once.

The goals were inevitable and the first came in the 22nd minute with some good work between Nitipong (34) and Pakorn on the right flank. Pakorn’s cross was inch perfect for Suarez to nod in at the near post with the hapless Intharat (19) jumping too late. Navy then started to show a little initiative, especially Amadou (81) and Vitor Junior (10) who asked questions of our defence, leading to a few speculative long ranges efforts, the third forcing a smart tip over from Rattanai. Then came the controversy; a Pakorn free kick from deep found Rochela, who got a bullet header on target but straight at Intharat. Now, to say that Intharat was already having a bit of a stinker would be an understatement, and true to form he spilled the shot under him, but did he manage to get both or one hand on the ball on the goal line before Dolah (4) stabbed it in? TV replays suggest both hands but from my viewpoint, and only 2 Leos deep, I saw only one but you know what? Fuck ‘em; they then proceeded to throw all their toys out of their pram complaining and remonstrating to the referee and his assistant. Chief toy-thrower Intharat then had to suffer the indignity of returning to his besieged goal to receive some choice words from the Zone B crowd.

 

Dodgy ‘keeper number one

 

Port continued to pile on the pressure and were rewarded with a third goal in the 42nd minute from flat track bully Pakorn. Buzzing down the left flank, he cut inside part time full back Chalitpon (35), looked up at goal and fired a lofted shot that looped over the hapless Intharat from 20 yards out. Hold on – have I used hapless already? Ah yes, so let’s go with doomed. There was still time for Navy to pull one back to their credit; Amadou cut into the Port area and worked his way to the byline and delivered a fine cut back across goal that Quak (22) could not miss. So, halftime and with almost all the momentum with Port the half time chatter was more about how many we would score rather than if Navy could pull level.

Now your intrepid reporter was too busy discussing the finer points of the first half outside the stadium to witness the first goal of the second half and Port’s fourth. Kim (8), clearly fancying his chances of getting on the scoresheet, advanced into the box and forced a corner. Pakorn’s delivery found Nurul, whose dangerous flick on flashed across the goal and was volleyed in from inches by Boskovic (23), who up until then had shown a lot of effort but little end product. Sadly, the inept Intharat had been hauled off at half time after his less than stellar performance and was replaced by the equally underwhelming Wanlop (27) who like his predecessor was a mere bystander. Port by now knew that they could make this very ugly for Navy and adjusted their team shape accordingly; as a unit they played 10 yards further upfield, Kim and Siwakorn joining the attack at will, with Boskovic floating deep and out on the wings and Suarez operating as a false 9. The next goal was only 5 minutes away; Siwakorn robbed the ball in midfield and powered forward, releasing Suarez who strode into the box unchallenged and cut back for Boskovic to fire into the net.

Then a profound moment; my American companion with her scant football knowledge asked me if the Navy players are actually sailors or real footballers. It certainly gave me food for thought; maybe these players would be better if they jacked in their day jobs and sailed off to the high seas? Maybe the club should sign some actual sailors? Would they do a better job than this bunch? Navy are easily the poorest team I have witnessed as a relative newbie and many veteran supporters were inclined to agree. One fellow supporter described them as a team of mannequins but I think that’s doing a disservice to all hard working mannequins around the world. For me it was like watching a cemetery but the bodies hadn’t been buried yet. Ubon and Air Force Central should hang their heads in shame for being below this rabble too, and that question was probably my Navy highlight of the second half.

And there was more to come. Pakorn lost possession out wide but won the ball back with very little pressure and sent a cross to the far post which found Rochela, clearly done with his defensive duties for the day, and nodded it in past the flapping Wanlop. By now it was wave after wave of port pressure, with Bodin (10) putting in an impressive 30 minute appearance. He looks a great player and hopefully Jadet will use him more often over the coming months as he’s wasted on the bench. Pakorn, who was substituted soon after, clearly dines out on weaker teams and is a Jadet favourite but Bodin has the skill and talent to become a more complete footballer. Then came the champagne moment that will definitely be among the candidates for goal of the season. Kim, still with an eye for goal, played two one twos (two one twos FFS! You couldn’t make it up) with Suarez, bamboozling the Navy back line and bursting into the box to calmly dispatch the ball into the bottom right hand corner. It was a goal of great simplicity and beauty and a fitting way to wrap up such an exemplary performance.

 

A rare sighting of Thailand’s no1 expat football fan amongst the riff raff

 

So that was that and it was time to the return from Zone D (very nice atmosphere there in my opinion) to the sandpit for the celebrations. Of course there were drums, flares, leo (AKA Khlong Toey champagne), and a rendition of my favourite song (Muangthong hua kuay) but this time there was a bonus moshpit for those inclined to throw themselves about.

So it’s happy days right now. The recent return to form has vindicated Jadet, who has cut out the drastic tactical measures and fine-tuned the shape of the team and the positioning of individual players to get the best out of them. Kim slots into a 3 man central defence with ease and pushes the team higher up the field so Nitipong and Kevin can join the attack without having to worry about defensive duties, giving Pakorn and Nurul more options. The midfield 3 are more comfortable with their positioning, especially with Siwakorn playing a little more to the right of central midfield to allow Kim to surge forward when he feels like it and not crowd out Boskovic and Suarez. Suarez is now thriving as a false 9 and I’m sure bigger clubs will come knocking at some point, plus Boskovic (née Russell) has had a magnificent run of goals with 6 in the last 3 games. He isn’t the number 9 we were expecting and I’m always shouting at him to get into the box but if he continues this form I’ll keep schtum. So next up is a trip to Chonburi, followed but The Scum at home; 2 games we must view as winnable to keep up the chase, and you can guarantee the PAT will be rocking come derby day.

 

The Sandpit Man of the Match: Sergio Suarez

 

 

A lot of fine performances; Siwakorn’s industry, Pakorn’s tormenting and Bosko’s quickfire double but the man who gave Navy the most nightmares during the match and probably for the coming weeks in their sleep was Sergio Gustavo Suarez Arteaga. Relishing his role as a false 9 and understanding the positioning of his strike partner, Suarez has developed into a player of great quality in recent months, destroying Navy’s defensive set up time and time again, plus two one twos!

 

Money Can’t Buy Me Love: Port FC vs. Chiang Rai Utd, 28 April 2018

 

Port and Chiang Rai have both had stop-start campaigns so far in 2018, and both will be looking to bounce back after dismal defeats on Wednesday. Port put in their worst performance in over a year in surrendering 2-1 to relegation fodder Chainat, while The Beetles ended a streak of 4 clean sheets and 4 victories in their 4-2 loss to Prachuap. Whilst Chiang Rai have some recent form and one of the best defences in the league to give them belief, however, Port are churning out abysmal performances like they’re going out of fashion. Jadet increasingly looks like a dead man walking, and his players are showing absolutely no willingness to get him out of trouble by, you know, trying.

For the first time since I’ve been watching Port, the players were booed off the pitch by a vocal minority and it was plain to see that certain players were extremely unimpressed by what they were hearing from the stands. Well, us fans have been extremely unimpressed by what we’ve been seeing on the pitch for the last few weeks. Here’s why…

It’s not as if we’re not used to seeing abject performances by Port teams. It’s not as if we’re not used to seeing defenders who can’t defend, midfielders who can’t pass and strikers who can’t score. If players just don’t have the ability then that’s one thing, but what we’re not used to seeing and what we won’t accept is players who don’t try. Sure there have been a few lazy individuals over the years, but on Wednesday I could count the players who put in an acceptable shift on one hand, and still have a few fingers to spare. This team is the most talented assembled by Port in recent memory, but if the players don’t care enough to bother putting in the effort, then us fans would happily take hard workers like Genki and Maranhao back in place of prima donnas like Pakorn (7) and Boskovic (23). Why am I singling out Port’s two most productive players of 2018? Well, they are two of Port’s most talented players, but we just don’t care unless they look like they give a fuck. Make forward runs, track back when we lose the ball, go in to challenges like you want to win the ball and we will support you. We don’t care that much if you misplace passes, miss chances or trip over the ball. Work hard for the team, show passion and commitment and the fans will support you. It’s as simple as that. If you want to stand up in front of PAT Stadium on Saturday night with your head held high and the supportive voices of thousands of appreciative fans ringing in your ears, then earn it! If you want to jog around aimlessly for 70 minutes until you’re replaced with players who actually try like Terens (28) and Arthit (29), then prepare for more boos. Those players may be less talented, but I’d rather support them than players unwilling to do the work. Rant over.

 

Chiang Rai

Players to Watch

 

Victor Cardozo (5) is the best centre half in the league, but even that title barely does him justice. The 28 year old man-mountain has also netted 4 goals, and every time he has scored his team has won without conceding. Victor’s defence was the stingiest in the league before Wednesday’s 4-2 defeat against Prachuap, and even now have conceded just 12 goals. Chiang Rai’s three-man back line has not been set in stone, though. Victor has been joined regularly by excellent youngster Shinnapat Leeaoh (36), but the third centre back spot is anyone’s guess. Former Port defender Artit Daosawang (2) could feature, although he appears to have fallen out of favour just as Chiang Rai have got in to their stride in recent weeks. Goalkeeper Chatchai Budprom (1) is also one of the better stoppers in T1.

 

Victor and Shinnaphat

 

Experienced South Korean former international Lee Yong-Rae (8) and the diminutive but solid Thai 23 year old Phitiwat Sukjitthammakul (6) offer the back three excellent protection, regularly displaying the positional discipline that T1 midfielders (and Port midfielders particularly) so often seem to lack. Built on that strong foundation, though, is one of the poorest forward lines in the league.

 

Lee and Phitiwat

 

Cleiton Silva (23) is one of the finest foreign players to grace Thailand’s top tier, but his return to his old stomping ground has not gone to plan. Cleiton has just 3 goals and 2 assists to his name in 2018, and chances that the Brazilian would have dispatched without a moment’s thought a couple of seasons ago are all of a sudden going begging. The ability is there, there’s no doubt about that, but the confidence that propelled him to over 100 T1 goals is nowhere to be found. In other words, he’s Chiang Rai’s Boskovic.

Of Cleiton’s usual partners in crime, Bajram Nebihi (7) is unavailable as he is on loan from Port, so the responsibility for supplying the chances falls mostly on talented young winger Sivakorn Tiatrakul (10). Sivakorn is one of those wingers who insists on playing on the wrong wing (he’s left footed but operates almost exclusively on the right), and whilst he has a lot of talent, his decision making and final ball have, for the most part, let him down in 2018. He has a goal and an assist, but in the advanced role he plays that’s just not enough. The same can also be said of Chaiyawat Buran (18) who has buckets of pace but the touch of a drunk Carlton Palmer.

 

Cleiton and Sivakorn

 

Form

 

Chiang Rai’s last 6 games have seen a run of 4 victorious clean sheets sandwiched between 2 absolute stinkers. After losing 2-1 to Chainat, Chiang Rai bested Bangkok Utd (1-0), Pattaya (1-0), Air Force (2-0) and Buriram (1-0) before slipping to a shock 4-2 loss in Prachuap. Their form is still a darn sight better than Port’s though.

 

Port FC

What’s Less Than a Thread?

 

I said in my Prachuap preview that Jadet was hanging by a thread. Well, I will be somewhat surprised if that thread hasn’t snapped under the weight of Jadet’s laughable decisions by Saturday. I’m sorry, but who the fuck brings on Tana (11), who has been back with the squad for just a couple of weeks, whilst the likes of Bodin (10) and Terens are sat on the bench? A man who is crying out to be giving his marching orders, that’s who.

On Saturday Jadet will be without Suarez (5), unless he recovers from injury sooner than expected, and Siwakorn (16), who picked up his fourth yellow card against Chainat. Jadet will probably take the negative approach by replacing him with defensive midfielder Athibordee (35). Another option is to bring in Bodin (10), but if I know Jadet than just means that he will be shifted to the left and Nurul (31) to the right, while Pakorn (7) puts in an even more ineffectual performance than usual through the middle.

Sorry if I seem pessimistic. Watching 90 minutes of the garbage I was exposed to on Wednesday will have that effect! What would I do? Wholesale changes to the starting lineup, with Siwakorn (16) Pakorn (7), Nurul (31) Boskovic (23) and Todsapol (6) making way for Chaowala (57), Terens (28), Bodin (10), Arthit (29) and either Dolah (4) or Worawut (24). New blood like Port B’s best performer Chaowala is necessary to shake things up, and I would probably include Partchya (56) and Chanayut (99) on the bench for good measure. Buriram gave a debut to a 15 year old in their victory on Wednesday, so don’t tell me that one of Thailand’s top 5 youngsters is too raw to be given a chance. Has the thought even crossed Jadet’s mind? Has it fuck.

 

Suggested Lineup

 

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True 4U at 19:00 on Saturday 28 April, 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.

 

Can Port Kill Prachuap Buzz? Port FC vs. PT Prachuap FC, 21 April 2018

 

KICKOFF HAS BEEN CHANGED FROM 18:00 TO 20:00.

 


 

Port come in to Saturday’s home game against surprise 2018 upstarts Prachuap with manager Jadet Meelarp hanging by a thread. Having lost three on the bounce and seen his side slide from top of the table to seventh in recent weeks, it feels like anything but a win will almost certainly spell the end for the spherical supremo. No fewer than nine T1 managers have been axed in the first ten weeks of the season, so it would certainly be in keeping with the rest of the loopy league to move Jadet back to his comfy chair upstairs and bring in one of the many free agents kicking around.

 

PT Prachuap

 

Hands up who picked Prachuap to be this season’s surprise package… No one? I didn’t think so! A team of bang average players – a couple of excellent foreigners aside – Prachuap have performed to a level far exceeding the sum of their parts so far this season. Bringing in eight players on loan and signing a crop of foreigners with no T1 experience is not usually a recipe for success, but somehow it has worked for The Killer Wasps. How? Let’s see…

 

Players to Watch

 

Unusually, I’m starting my players to watch segment with manager Thawatchai Danrong-Ongtrakul. Why? Well, he used to be a bloody excellent player for one thing, but mostly it’s because the lion’s share of the credit for Prachuap’s rapid rise since 2017 must belong to the former star midfielder. As part of a Thai national team which included Zico (unemployed), Therdsak (unemployed) and Totchtawan (unemployed), Thawatchai could have followed the lead of his former teammates and got a job at a top team with no experience behind him and high expectations.

However, with Zico having been sacked by Port, Therdsak being given his marching orders by Chonburi and Totchtawan the latest to have lost his job at Muangthong, Thawatchai has instead been quietly building his reputation with Prachuap. After signing 20 new players in 2017 his team finished third in T2, before miraculously surging to second in the T1 table this season.

Are they likely to stay there? No, but most had them down as mere relegation fodder this season, so they’re doing a darn sight better than they’re supposed to be doing.

Then there are the players. Striking duo Lonsona Doumbouya (21) and Jonatan Reis (10) have rightly grabbed most of the headlines for their performances so far. Towering Frenchman Doumbouya, who has been kicking around at bog-standard European clubs like Tubize, SKN St. Polten and Inverness Caldonian Thistle in recent years, is your classic number 9. Tall, powerful and with a decent finish on him, he will be the player Port’s defence will be most occupied with. Unfortunately that probably means that Brazilian Jonatan Reis will be in acres of space somewhere else. Still on the tall side but much more pacey and skillful, Reis has had lots of joy playing off the bigger man up front, and as a pair they have notched 11 goals and 4 assists thus far in 2018. Reis has a bit of form in Thailand too, having scored 28 goals for almost-relegated T2 side Kasetsart last season.

 

Prachuap’s Songkran photo shoot is a doozy. Here are Doumbouya and Reis starting us off with a pretty cringeworthy stadium snap.

 

Then there is surprise supporting act Amorn Thammanarn (17). This 34 year old left winger has somehow also managed to bang in six goals, although I’m not quite sure how. How can I put this kindly? He’s a fucking nutcase. Amorn started his season off by scoring Prachuap’s opening goal, throwing his head in to a goalmouth scramble and getting a boot in the face for his troubles. As he ran off in wild celebration blood started to pour from his eye, although he wouldn’t have had a clue unless his teammates had calmly but firmly showed him to the touchline. This has typified Amorn’s season so far, giving rather more than the average 110% for his team. Taking part in every game but completing 90 minutes just three times, watch out for this fella, whether he starts or comes off the bench.

 

The props have arrived, and Amorn is determined to do his best ‘There’s Something About Mary’ impression. As always, full marks for effort.

 

Montenegrin centre-half Adnan Orahovac (22) has a name I’m glad I’m typing rather than saying. He will be partnered by Korean Kwon Dae-hee (19). Prachuap have kept just two clean sheets, but big man Orahovac has also chipped in with a goal and three assists, which I assume have come from set-pieces.

 

Kwon and Orahovac take different approaches to looking uncomfortable. That’s why they’re a good partnership.

 

There’s a bit of a Port connection at Prachuap, too. Wanchalerm Yingyong (31) played a grand total of 45 minutes for Port in 2017, but he has become a mainstay in the centre of Prachuap’s midfield this season. Then there’s winger Yai Nilwong (13) who spent 2010 in Khlongtoey, and has chipped in with a goal and three assists. At 33 years old, this Ekkapoomesque (adj: former Port winger who gets in to good positions then arses it up) winger is one of many of Prachuap’s older players, including his 35 year old brother Sompob (3), 36 year old captain Adul (25) and aforementioned 34 year old winger Amorn, who are enjoying a surprise career Renaissance.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner. It’s most certainly not Wanchalerm though, who looks like he’s walking the plank. Death at sea may well be favourable to this photoshoot.

 

Form

 

On the whole, far better than expected. Prachuap’s last six games have seen them win four, including a stunning 6-1 upset against Muangthong and a 4-3 thriller against Bangkok Glass, draw one and lose one. Their only defeat came against Ratchaburi, and in the only really encouraging news for Port, that 2-1 loss was Prachuap’s most recent game. Even fat Bill managed to score for The Dragons!

 

Port FC

By a Thread

 

Oh dear, Jadet. Oh, dear. Three games, three defeats and ten goals conceded. Port managers don’t often survive runs of form like that. Saturday will likely be his last chance to turn things around, so what has the weighty wizard got up his sleeve?

Well, he will again be without top-scorer Suarez (5), although Kim (8) returns after serving a one match ban. Despite some highly questionable performances of late, Jadet will surely turn to the Korean in his hour of need, with Kim either being used in a defensive role as he has done for most of the season, or a more offensive role as was trialed against Air Force. Maybe the extra week off has allowed him to get back to something like full fitness!

There are many ways Jadet could go in an attempt to revitalize his team. One option that hasn’t yet been tried from the start is a two man strike force of Arthit (29) and Boskovic (23). A blind man could see that the set-up of the team doesn’t favour Boskovic, and Arthit – who has made some promising cameos – is a more natural number 9 who could give Boskovic the kind of service he has so far been lacking. If nothing else, it’s worth a try!

Terens (28) must also have moved in to contention for a start, although it is unlikely that Jadet will drop either Pakorn (7) or Nurul (31).

There’s also the possibility that Jadet will revisit the system he tried from the start against Buriram, with Dolah (4), Todsapol (6) and Rochela (22) as a back three. It worked pretty well, with Dolah being taken off with Port at 1-1 against the champs, so Jadet could reasonably give it another go.

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True Sport 2 at 20:00 on Saturday 21 April, 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. We’re already booked in, so head upstairs and we should be easy to find. Don’t forget to wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.

 

The Divine Mop: Buriram United vs. Port FC, 11 April 2018

 

Port will try to become the first team to defeat clear title favourites Buriram when they travel to the land of depressed husbands on Wednesday. This match couldn’t come at a worse time for Port though, having just suffered back-to-back defeats against Police and Bangkok United, whereas Buriram have maintained their unbeaten start to the season and currently enjoy a four point gap at the top of the table.

Port are also missing a couple of foreign players, with Kim (8) suspended after getting his fourth yellow card against Bangkok United, while Suarez (5) is reportedly out for a month after picking up an injury against Police Tero. Buriram are also missing a key foreign player, with instrumental centre back Tunez (5) having sat out the last 3 league fixtures through injury.

 

Buriram United

Key Players

 

It’s a strong team with too many to choose from, so here’s the lot of them.

33 year old Siwarak Tedsungnoen (1) kept two clean sheets against Port last season, with the fixture at PAT Stadium featuring an absolutely ridiculous point blank save from a Genki header. A model of consistency and Kawin’s understudy at national team level, don’t expect to get anything easy from Siwarak.

Buriram are without key defender Andres Tunez, and haven’t kept a clean sheet in the three league games since his injury. Their back three will be led by Pansa Hemviboon (3), who was my Player of the Tournament for Thailand in the recent King’s Cup. Standing at 6 foot 3, he is a formidable physical presence who doesn’t lose much in the air. Pansa will be joined by South Korean Yoo Jun-Soo (16) and former Port loanee Pravinwat Boonyong (4), who has become a surprise regular at The Thunder Castle this season.

 

Pansa Hemviboon

 

Extremely attack-minded Narubadin Weerawatnodom (13) will be right wing-back, with the more experienced and less bombastic Korrakot Wiryaudomsiri (11) on the left flank.

Buriram have a mix of youth and experience in central midfield, with 20 year old Ratthanakorn Maikami (26) being joined by either one of experienced duo Suchao Nuchnum (8) – who you may remember being bitch-slapped by Lazarus Kaimbi after reportedly calling him a monkey a couple of years ago – or Jakkaphan Kaewprom (10), who made the T1 team of the season in 2017.

Ahead of them will be one of Thailand’s best youngsters Supachok Sarachat (19), who has scored one and assisted two in a promising start to the campaign. The 19 year old has already scored 10 times in 47 appearances for The Thunder Castle, and will try to occupy the space in front of the back four that Aung Thu and Sumanya used to such good effect in Port’s two recent defeats.

 

Supachok Sarachat

 

Remarkably for a team comfortably atop the league, before Buriram’s draw with Sukhothai last weekend, they had only one player who had scored more than one goal. That of course was The Divine Mop: Diogo Luis Santo (40). It’s not just his hair that invites the comparison. The Brazilian spends most of his time sprawled across the floor and has an uncanny knack for finding filth wherever he is deployed. Like a mop though, Diogo is also reliable. And yes, this metaphor is in need of a good rinse. In only one season since he arrived at Buriram have they not triumphed in the league, and this was in no small part due to the fact that he was injured for most of the season. When he is fit, The Divine Mop is guaranteed to clean up. He has done so 11 times in 9 games so far this season, and will be expecting to add to that tally against Port’s lacklustre defence. Never bet against the best striker in the league.

 

Diogo Luis Santo

 

Diogo is joined by Edgar Bruno da Silva (23). Edgar scored his second goal of the season with a well-taken header against Suphanburi on the weekend, but has been far from convincing so far in 2018. He’s one of those players that has turned up at a lot of impressive-sounding clubs but not really seen a lot of action. Like his teammate Diogo, Edgar played for Brazil at youth level, then went on to represent such teams as Sao Paolo, Porto, Red Star Belgrade and Vasco da Gama. More recently representing a slew of average teams across Asia, Edgar is a mediocre T1 striker if ever there was one. His main function seems to be to get the ball to Diogo and watch the master at work.

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 

Form

 

Buriram have spent most of 2018 so far just getting the job done. Experienced winners one and all, they have made a habit of scoring late goals and grinding out results. Their recent last-gasp win against Chonburi was a textbook example. After starting out with 4 wins, Buriram were finally held to a 2-2 draw by Bangkok United, but they went on another run of 3 wins before being held to a 1-1 draw by Suphanburi.

Port, on the other hand… Actually no, I’d rather not. You all know how we’ve been doing over the last couple of weeks, so no reminder is necessary!

 

Port FC

Now or Never?

 

It’s time, Jadet. It’s quite possibly now or never. 9 T1 bosses have received their marching orders in just 9 weeks, and Sir Det could well make that 10 in 10 if Port take another heavy beating. He doesn’t have a full complement of troops at his disposal, either.

With Kim out, Jadet will most likely turn to Adisorn (13) to fill the midfield void, although Athibordee (35) is another realistic option. Athibordee was brought on when Jadet tried to change Port’s fortunes against Bangkok United, but was later subbed off. Ouch. With Adisorn having a barnstorming Buriram battle under his belt from last season, he really ought to be the man Jadet puts his faith in in his time of need.

Further forward there is a bit more of a dilemma. Suarez leaves a hole in the team that no player in Port’s squad is particularly well suited to fill. If Bodin (10) comes in again, then we are likely to see him and Nurul (31) on the flanks and Pakorn (7) playing through the middle, which just doesn’t seem like a great idea. As much as I like Pakorn, that’s not his position. Alternatively, Arthit (29) – who looked lively when he came on – could be deployed as a partner for Boskovic (23) and Port could switch to a pure 4-4-2. Interestingly, when Buriram visited PAT Stadium last season, Port lined up in a 4-4-2 which featured Adisorn in midfield and came away with a point. Rattanai (17), recently restored to the first XI, also kept goal that day, making one of his finest appearances in a Port shirt, while Todsapol (6) made a rare appearance before going off injured.

Whatever Jadet chooses though, the players are just going to have to do better. More discipline will be required at the back, more running in midfield and most of all better finishing. Yes Dragan, I’m looking at you!

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True Sport 2 at 17:45 on Wednesday 11 April, 2018. For those who can’t make it to The Chang Arena, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound. We’re already booked in, so head upstairs and we should be easy to find. Don’t forget to wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.

 

Arrested Development: Police Tero FC vs. Port FC, 1 April 2018

 

High-flying Port travel to under-performing Police Tero on Sunday looking to make it two wins in a week. Police, on the other hand, find themselves second from bottom and are looking for something – anything – to reverse their fortunes and kick-start a campaign in which many tipped them as potential surprise packages. It has been a surprise, but not in the way we thought it might be!

Manager Scott Cooper was absent for Police’s last game – he is currently on ‘leave’ visiting his sick mother (get well soon, Mrs. Cooper) – and it is widely expected that he will no longer be Police manager by the time he returns. Things haven’t gone to plan for a club who seemed to have brought in an excellent manager and supplied him with a much-improved squad. What has gone wrong? Let’s have a look-see…

 

Police Tero

Players to Watch

 

Tero have gone top-heavy in their foreign signings in a big way. Last season’s top-scorer Michael N’Dri (9) has been joined by Brazilian duo Marcos Vinicius (91) and Douglas Tanque (80), and all three seem to want to play as out-and-out strikers. Similar to Air Force, who Port overcame last week, Cooper has had to incorporate three players in to what would normally be two positions, and his tinkering and crowbarring has not produced results.

Vinicius has been the pick of the bunch with three goals, N’Dri – reliable as ever – has come up with two goals, whilst Tanque has just the one. With Cooper absent last week, caretaker manager Darren Reid went with Vinicius and N’Dri, with Tanque sitting out, but seeing as they slipped to a 2-0 loss at Suphaburi, there could well be further changes for Port’s visit.

 

Michael N’Dri and Marcos Vinicius

 

Assisting the SFS’s is a man very rapidly running away with ASEAN signing of the year award. Anyone who had seen Aung Thu (10) play for Myanmar knew that there was serious talent there, but would T1 be too much of a step-up? No, sir! Aung Thu certainly needs a bit more polish to reach his full potential – he gives the ball away like it’s going out of fashion – but it’s a small price to pay for the carnage he wreaks in opposition defences. Fast, skillful and most of all unpredictable, Aung Thu is certain to give whichever Port defender he faces a tough afternoon. The issue for Police is that, with all the tinkering, Aung Thu hasn’t really found a regular home in the side. He’s played right across the front line, so your guess is as good as mine as to where he’ll start on Sunday. I’ve been most impressed with him on the right, but that’s where Thai national team regular and sharp-elbowed yellow card factory Mongkol Tossakrai (17) calls home. Aung Thu is returning from an international break which saw him miss Wednesday’s trip to Suphanburi as he was busy facing off with Macau. I bet Cooper was thrilled about that!

 

Aung Thu

 

Why on earth are there so many players to watch in a team that sits in 17th place?! Next on the list is Thailand’s best young goalkeeper Nont Muangngam (20). Nont has had some surprising competition for his spot this season. After the Thai-Frenchman was forced to sit out against his parent club Chiang Rai, 39 year old Pongpanot (1) impressed enough to stay in the team for a further couple of weeks, before Nont returned on Wednesday. Expect lightning reflexes from the 20 year old. Lightning!

 

Nont Muangngam

 

Finally we’ll look at Port’s former players. Police smartly snapped up Niran Hansson (8) when he became a free agent following his Port exit, and although Hansson hasn’t nailed down a first-team place, he’s seen a hell of a lot more action than the 15 minutes he managed at Port! Hansson is likely to start on Sunday, having played 90 minutes for the first time this season on Wednesday. The sickest of all notes, Pinyo Inpinit (11) was certainly a risky acquisition for Police, with him having suffered injury on top of injury for the last two years, but Pinyo has taken part in five of seven games so far, with all but one being substitute appearances.

 

Form

 

Police have collected just four points in their first seven games. It’s gone like this…

 

 

An average run of fixtures and a horrific points return. Why? Well, it’s very early to be drawing conclusions, but I’m noticing some parallels between this season’s bottom dwellers. The current bottom three are Air Force, Police and Chainat. All three have three foreign strikers in their T1 squad (Air Force being a slight exception as Nigerian-born Jaycee John is an AFC player). Did no one tell them the quota system has changed? Whereas in previous seasons you could have had one more foreign centre back or midfielder along with your embarrassment of attacking riches, this season your Thai players have a lot more responsibility. Now personally I think that, unlike Air Force and Chainat, Police have the quality among their Thai players to get out of trouble, but they’ve got to up their game in a big way. Starting from next week, preferably!

 

Port FC

Bold Predictions

 

Just so you know your previewer has a record of hitting the nail on the head when it comes to Port team selection, here’s an excerpt last week’s preview…

“Fresh off an international break where Bodin (15) showed that he’s not only ahead of Pakorn (7) in the Thai pecking order, but was even brought on before Nurul (31) in the final, it’s got to be about time to give the guy a chance.”

 

 

Two goals and an assist later, Pakorn says no.

Jadet did spring a huge selection shock though, dropping top scorer Suarez (5) for Adisorn (13) and moving Kim (8) into attacking midfield. It paid off for 45 minutes, with Port putting in an excellent first half performance, but as Kim tired and the defence fell asleep Port once again looked better when Suarez was brought on to help retain the ball.

I have mixed feelings about this move. Yes, it worked pretty well against a team rooted to the bottom of the table, but I wouldn’t like to see Kim moved too far away from his defensive duties against better teams. That said, Jadet could reasonably decide to give it another go against Police, before switching back to the tried and tested against Bangkok United and Buriram.

Then there’s Kim’s fitness. After being the target of quite a few nasty kicks on Wednesday, the Korean looked to be hobbling throughout the second half. To be honest, he hasn’t looked fully fit all season. Jadet ought to be considering giving him a rest against Police to make sure he’s ready for the top teams in upcoming games, although there’s no denying that would be a risky strategy.

I’m still far from convinced that Port have got things right at the back. Athibordee (35) continues not to make glaring errors, but Port are conceding goals with him in the team. First choice Todsapol (6) will certainly come straight back in to the side if and when he is fit, but Dolah (4) is also well worth considering against a big, physical forward line.

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 

Oh, And One More Thing…

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True Sport 2 at 19:00 on Sunday 1 April, 2018. For those who can’t make it to Boonyachinda Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match with sound if you ask them nicely. Mention the Sandpit or wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.

 

Podcast

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!