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Tom’s Transfer Talk – 7 Dec 2016

Port could be keeping hold of just one or two of their foreign players from last season, if Thai news reports are to be believed.

Thiago Cunha (10) left under a cloud with five weeks of the season still remaining. His final kick – perhaps his most accurate of the season – was aimed at the dressing room door rather than the goal, which incidentally he had struggled to find all season.

He was followed out of the door by Wagner Carioca (35), a player who many hoped would remain at PAT Stadium after a string of impressive displays in the second half of the season.

Now there are rumours that Rodrigo Maranhao (29) and Genki Nagasato (18) have also not made the cut.

Genki Nagasato

Genki Nagasato

Maranhao made an electric start to the 2016 season, scoring at will and looking every inch a TPL player, but his form faded markedly throughout the year and he found himself in and out of the starting XI in the final weeks of the season.

Genki, on the other hand, was not known for his match-winning displays but for his high workrate and consistent 7/10 performances. He featured in many positions across the midfield and attack without ever really making any of them his own.

It would seem that Jadet Meelarp – or perhaps an even higher power – are demanding more from their foreign contingent, and will be looking to the transfer market to add more firepower to the squad in their bid to secure TPL survival in 2017.

In a surprise twist, it is also being suggested that Renan Oliveira (25), who made just a couple of appearances last season, could remain at the club along with Captain and star player David Rochela (22). As Oliveira has not been seen at training of late, The Sandpit would be shocked if he was kept on, but stranger things have happened in the unpredictable world of Thai football!

Wanchalerm Yingyong, 23

Wanchalerm Yingyong, 23

In confirmed transfer news, 23 year old midfielder Wanchalerm Yingyong has joined on loan from big-spenders Chiang Rai, and in not-quite-confirmed-yet-but-pretty-close news Spanish playmaker Sergio Suarez will likely sign on the dotted line any day now, making him the first foreign signing of the season.

Thai attacking midfielder Pakin Kaikaew, who boasts an impressive record of 13 goals in 96 games over the last four seasons for TPL rivals Bangkok Glass, is also believed to be on the verge of joining, although as always The Sandpit will wait patiently and keep refreshing Madam Pang’s Instagram page until there is real confirmation.

Thanks to Sven from Thai-Fussball for some of the gossip, as without his work I would have almost nothing to steal and pass off as my own!

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Spit in the Sandpit: Cold Turkey

Hi. My name is John Spittal. Proud Port FC supporter since 2013. I am excited to share with The Sandpit my observances, beliefs and more importantly my biases about Port FC, and the sport of soccer…soccer? Whoops sorry, I just gave away my Canadian upbringing. I call these little writings..Spit in the Sandpit

Dear fellow Sandpitters. I don’t know if you will see me at the season home opener in February. The reason is I may have succumbed during this unbearable wait. The excruciating wait to watch my beloved Tarua play a meaningful match at PAT stadium.

You say it’s only two more months; I say two more months might as well be two more years. How bad is my withdrawal you ask? Well, I think I have forgotten what a football looks like! What is even more distressing is I have joined that fraternity of Thai Premier League referees in forgetting the rules of the game. When I see the distinctive blue and orange Port FC shirt on the streets, I run up to the startled supporter, clench his shirt with both my hands and openly weep. You hate to see a grown man cry? Then tell the TPL schedule maker about it.

I honestly can’t remember when was the last time I saw the local lads at PAT. Let’s see, I think it was pre-Cambrian age, way way back to the pre-Brent McGrath age. I have even forgotten why I hate Muangthong United….oh….wait, it hasn’t been THAT long. It’s all coming back to me. Thank you MTU, the thought of you has triggered how willing I am to wait months and even more months to see my Port FC. Go Tarua!

MATCH REPORT: Port FC 4-1 Thonburi University

Port got pre-season up and running with a low-key friendly win against Thonburi University on Saturday. The Sandpit, along with a couple of hundred fans, watched Port run out 4-1 winners in an unusual match played over three thirds.

Trialist Saër Sène opened the scoring for the Khlong Toei Army in the first period, before Todsapol (6) and then Ekkaphum (8) profited from the excellent wing-play of Pakorn (9) to put Port 3-0 up. Thonburi fought back with a smart freekick, before Sène capped a successful trial by rounding off the scoring in the dying minutes.

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In the first period of the match, Port fielded a combination of trialists and squad players. Young ‘keeper Rattanai (17) enjoyed a meteoric rise last season, winning a starting berth and making his debut for the Thailand Under 23 team. He looked comfortable, despite not having much to do, as Port controlled the game against their unfancied opponents without ever really looking likely to score. It took a mistake to break the deadlock. Thonburi passed the ball dangerously across their own goal and Sène pounced, intercepting the ball and showing composure in front of goal to give Port the lead.

In the second period Port fielded what looked like Meelarp’s first choice team. A front four of Sène, Genki (18), Ekkaphum (8) and Pakorn (9) turned up the heat, playing with more fluidity and creating chances consistently. Pakorn showed his class midway through the period, when he earned a freekick and delivered an inch-perfect cross which Todsapol (6) met with a textbook downward header, leaving the Thonburi ‘keeper with no chance. Port soon made it 3 as Sène flicked a clever pass through to Pakorn who, instead of opting to shoot from a tight angle, squared to the better placed Ekkaphum. On his weaker right foot, the fan-favourite made no mistake with a cool side-footed finish.

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Thonburi, determined not to go home empty-handed, scored a clever goal that they will remember for a while, but Worawut in the Port goal will want to forget. The Thonburi midfielder shaped to cross, but curled a delightful lob over the head of the Port ‘keeper, who was caught out of position. The ball ricoched off the far post and into the net, ensuring that the visitors could celebrate a goal if not a positive result.

15272343_1475582245789796_4163520404342404121_oIn the final period Meelarp sent out a Port team comprised of mostly trialists who played out an uninspiring 30 minutes until Sène once again underlined his credentials with a goal in the final seconds of the game. Unfortunately, all we can tell you about the goal is that it was well-applauded by the home fans, as we were on our way off to The Sportsman, where we would bump in to Captain David Rochela.

One of the stars of last season’s successful promotion campaign with his consistent rock-solid defending and invaluable leadership, Rochela proved to be as nice a guy off the pitch as he is a formidable defender on it.

We will be bringing you more pre-season match reports in the coming weeks in preparation for February 11th, when the long-anticipated 2017 season is scheduled to get under way.

 

Photos by Tim Russell

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Tom’s Transfer Talk – 4 Dec 2016

Rumours of comings and goings have been dominating discussion among Port fans in recent weeks. The Sandpit can confirm that Rodrigo Maranhao (29), despite talk of his departure, turned out for the first team in Saturday’s friendly, but compatriot Wagner Carioca (35), who announced his departure earlier in the week, was not involved. Despite his dominant displays at the heart of Port’s midfield last season, the combative midfielder has been deemed surplus to requirements for the coming season, but will continue to train with the team as he looks for a new club.

Sergio Suarez, 29

Sergio Suarez, 29

Talk of his replacement has repeatedly centred around Sergio Suarez. The 29 year old former Las Palmas and Songkhla midfielder was spotted running laps around the pitch by The Sandpit’s eagle-eyed scouts, seemingly confirming rumours that he is set to join the Klong Toey Army for the 2017 season.

In other rumours, French trialist Saer Sene scored twice in Port’s 4-1 friendly win against Thonburi University, potentially putting him in the frame to lead the line next season. Playing in a position that no Port player has really made his own over the last two seasons, the towering physical forward staked his claim with a composed finish to put the Klong Toey Army 1-0 up. He showed some skill with a deft flick in the build up to the third goal, but in the latter stages missed two chances that he probably would have expected to do better with. He found the target again at the death to round off the scoring, but The Sandpit was busy buying beer at the time.

Captain David Rochela, speaking exclusively to The Sandpit when we bumped into him outside The Sportsman later that evening, commented that the trialist had been with the club for two days,and that turnover of trialists has been fast and furious. We think that Coach Jadet Meelarp will likely want to see the striker face a tougher defence than that offered up by Thonburi before making up his mind.

Think I’d Better Call Me Nan: Undercover in Nakhon Pathom

Following the latest outbreak of hostilities with those lovely people at Muangthong Utd, Port fans once again found ourselves locked out of the last three games of the season. But having already booked two minibuses for the away jaunt to Nakhon Pathom, we decided to stick it to The Man and go there anyway, and it turned out to be the most memorable game of the season.

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Some Muangthong merchandise is discovered en route

A few cold beers in the bag for the journey (I always vow not to drink on the bus but there are few sights more tempting than tiny beads of condensation forming on a can of Leo as it’s removed from the fridge, and I rapidly cave in), we embark for Nakhon Pathom in a two-bus convoy. Whilst bus two apparently have a Northern Soul party, we spend the journey coming up with new Port songs, generally on the themes of Hockers’ hat, our friends at Muangthong and their myriad deficiencies, or Keith calling his grandmother and eating nachos. You had to be there.

Our pre-match drinking plans are thrown into confusion when it transpires that our mooted venue is in fact a nightclub and doesn’t actually open until 10pm, but on arrival in Nakhon Pathom we find a suitable restaurant and are greeted with looks of terror by a waitress who had clearly planned to spend the afternoon staring at her phone rather than serving food & beers to 20 farang football fans.

The palatial surroundings of Nakhon Pathom Stadium

The palatial surroundings of Nakhon Pathom Stadium

Pre-match bracers consumed, we head on to Nakhon Pathom Stadium and do our best to arrive discreetly, given the fact that our presence is officially illegal. We’re not wearing Port colours – lower-division English football shirts are the order of the day – and as we park some distance away from the main stand we’re convinced we might just pull this off. Until we open the bus doors, step out and are greeted with shouts of “TARUA!” from the local kids. Fuck.

The Grassy Knoll

The Grassy Knoll

We notice a conveniently-placed grassy knoll behind one of the goals, which becomes a Plan B should we fail to negotiate tickets, but we needn’t worry, as the baffled ticket office girl, who looks as if she’s never seen a foreigner before, takes our money and hands over the tickets with glassy-eyed incomprehension, and we’re in.

The friendly, horizontally laid-back stewards (so laid-back they disappear at half time) in the opposite stand tell us we can bring in cans and bottles as long as we don’t throw them on the pitch – they’ve obviously met Port fans before – and so we send one of the buses to the local Sewen to stock up.

Transformers - Port Fans in DIsguise

Transformers – Port Fans in DIsguise

The home fans clearly know who we are but seem to find our presence more entertaining than confrontational, and as the game begins, 3 more Port fans in disguise shuffle in, identify us as compadres, and come to sit with us. Making a total away following of 23. We may be keeping quiet, but the home fans around us aren’t and – expertly led by Thailand’s youngest ultra, a shirtless 8-year old kid – they make a wonderful racket.

Amazingly, it didn't actually rain!

Amazingly, it didn’t actually rain!

The game itself is fairly forgettable. Port go 1-up in the first half and pound the home team’s goal without increasing their lead, then it all goes tits-up in the last few minutes with Port inexplicably pushing forward and leaving huge gaps at the back which Pathom exploit – twice – with the last kick of the game bringing a winning goal. 2-1. Bollocks.

At the final whistle wonderful things happen, as the home fans stand up and give us all a round of applause, which is a very moving moment that brings a tear to my jaded old eye, and provides a welcome reminder that, despite the unpleasantness of our recent visit to Muangthong, Thai football is generally a very friendly affair. We sing a few Port songs outside the stadium, and then return to the vans for the journey home, the usual 2 hours of drinking, singing and multiple toilet stops.

A wonderful, unexpected away trip and one that none of us will forget for a long while. Thanks as usual to Keith for organising the buses, and of course to the fans and stewards at Nakhon Pathom for making us so welcome. We look forward to returning – when they come up to the TPL of course…

 

Kenny’s Klip

 

Bargains To Be Had at Club Shop

The Port FC club shop has just announced a sale on shirts and other accessories from the 2016 season, with discounts ranging from 10% to 50%. I assume anything that remains unsold will be given away as a season ticket benefit as with the horse logo umbrellas and caps this season. But if you fancy one of those nice black away shirts, or one of the rather unpleasant green ones, it seems now would be a good time to go & buy one.

The shop is open 09:00-16:30 Monday to Friday.

Contributors Wanted!

The Sandpit is run by a team of enthusiastic unpaid volunteers who ask for little more out of life than cold beers before the match, 110% during it, and maybe more cold beers afterwards. We cannot run this site alone so we’re looking for:

Writers

Want to write a match report, an article about an away trip, an opinion piece about the goings-on at the PAT, or a simple news or transfer rumour story? Send it over, and provided it’s not libellous, and conforms to basic standards of grammar, spelling and punctuation, we’ll post it.

Photographers

We’re not looking for Cartier-Bresson standard shots here, but if you’ve got some good pictures (or videos) from Port games, whether they’re of the match or the fans, then please share and we’ll happily credit you.

Sponsors/Advertisers

Want to promote your business to literally dozens of Bangkok-based expats? Send us an email and we’ll send you our advertising & sponsorship rates.

 

If you want to get involved in any capacity, email timmyruss@gmail.com. We cannot offer payment for your contributions but pre-match beers are a distinct possibility.

End of Term Report: Jadet Meelarp

After a great start to the season Port faltered. The early form was built on very good individual performances saving a disjointed team. Coming up to mid-season Port stuttered throwing away a two goal lead at Bangkok F.C. and losing to Prachuap at home. The 2016 season that was meant to be a procession turned into a promotion battle. Another old shark Masahiro Wada, did a fair job at the end of last year nearly saving Port. He just wasn’t able to gel a squad of very good individual players together.

 

The Jadet Meelarp appointment wasn’t met with much approval, most fans wanted to see our old coach Dusit tempted away from a mid-table Prajuap F.C. Jadet’s poor record at PTT didn’t inspire any confidence. The 2016 PTT team picked up a bit after Jadet left, only to slip back with a criminally poor run at the end of their season. Suggesting he might have been managing to hold a poor team together.

 

The new manager effect helped out Jadet he came in with a couple of good wins. Then away to a strong Thai Honda team Jadet had fans shaking their heads when our Japanese winger was played in defence. The schoolboy error had no real logic to it, Gengki isn’t that good even playing where he should be. Out of position he was all over the place. Port lost, Thai Honda and Ubon UMT started to cement the top two spots and things looked difficult for Port.

 

After this hiccup Jadet took a bit more control and with a couple more wins, we were back on track. Port were playing a less disjointed game but still fighting for promotion. Misfiring Thiago wasn’t happy and attacking midfielder Pakorn often Port’s saviour with winning free kicks was intent on never passing the ball after he made 5 yards. The height of Pakorn’s arrogance and poor temper came when he booted the ball into Zone A in reaction to getting subbed. This tantrum lost possession for Port. Jadet came out in the press saying he needed to stop throwing his toys out of the pram if he wanted to stay in the team. Fair comment and he seemed to calm down the situation.

 

One reason to expect good things from Jadet was his history of managing Thiago, but he was used to Thiago 2015. However the new model 2016 Thiago expected to get played even without the goals. Thiago probably ended up doing the best thing he could do, helping his old friend Jadet by walking out the broken door. Was this a masterstroke from Jadet? I doubt it. I think it was probably just a result of Thiago threatening to leave, and Jadet not caving in to his demands to start every game. This exit gave us the chance to bring back another foreign player. The replacement was a holding midfielder Wagner. He added a bit of back bone to the team and rescued a bit of team spirit. Wagner was exactly the player Port needed. Why we got rid of him mid-season no one knows.

 

Jadet binned off the FA Cup Game against Sukothai playing a team of subs. I never like seeing this, but it did pay off. The next game saw Port win 2-1 home against a recently promoted Ubon UMT team. This left Port only needing one point from the last two games. Jadet has a record he can be happy with. It wasn’t his team but he came in and did a decent job.

 

Jadet has just been confirmed as Port’s new coach for 2017. Will he get to build a team? I doubt it. Madam Pang’s management group will probably search out a group of marquee names again, rather than building a team. Under the new Madam Pang regime, I’m not sure the Coach has that much control over who they bring in. And most coaches aren’t normally around long enough to find out how to put a team together. I think he’s a fair choice for 2017. We are better off with someone who is used to the set up under Pang. He will have to make it to Songkran next year to equal the longest serving manager of the Pang era, Masahiro Wada’s lengthy ten month spell. I’m interested to see if Chonburi have a new coach down the line. Considering Port’s hiring policy maybe Therdsak will come along to replace Jadet in 2018.

Farewell Thiago Cunha

When Thiago Cunha was announced as Port’s first new signing for 2016 hopes were high. Despite all the annoying play acting everyone saw this as a big name, and maybe a sign of more big TPL players to come. Thiago always a threat, even at 31 years old he could get 19 or 20 goals a season in the TPL. Surely he would get a hatful in Division 1? We sat around and tried to work out exactly how many goals he would get. 20 in the TPL equals 30 in Division 1? Seems about right maybe even 40? What’s the Division 1 goal scoring record again? That’s bound to go.

Early on in the season you give a striker with his background a bit of leeway, so a slow start wasn’t a massive problem. Unfortunately early on we saw the first of many stretchered trips Thiago would take to the sideline. We slowly realised this was not likely to be a record breaking year. I kept my misguided faith in him longer than most. I still thought he was worth a starting place up to about 10 games in. After a long goal drought it was more hope than expectation. In Thiago’s favour I don’t think he was 100% fit from the start. Port thought they were getting a bargain and Thiago probably thought he could get away with playing at 80% fit in Division 1, his leg injury seemed to be a constant problem. Chonburi you can consider yourself very lucky you didn’t get to see Thiago version 2016.

When you’re not scoring goals you overthink things. Thiago took an extra touch when previously he would have just hit balls first time. He missed goals he could’ve scored blindfolded in 2015. This saw him sidelined more and more as the season went on. Was there some light at the end of the tunnel? When he chipped the Maungthong keeper to put Port 1-0 up in the first leg of the League Cup, he had his moment of glory. For once in the 2016 season PAT Stadium went crazy for Thiago and for a moment everything was going to get better. Unfortunately it was just one moment.

When you are getting 20 goals a season you can dive all over the place and shout the odds. Teammates and fans will always forgive you. However when you’re not, you are just annoying the hell out of everyone. Thiago ended up getting 5 goals in 21 games. Towards the end of his time at Port he drifted on to the bench, deservedly so. He ended up leaving 5 games before the end of the season. Exactly what happened we don’t know, but the last act of Thiago at PAT Stadium was kicking the dressing room door and cursing his old Chonburi friend Jadet Melarp. If a player deserts your team 5 games before the end of the season, it’s normally shite. Oddly his exit ended up having a more positive effect on the team. Now he’s in Mumbai I just hope they get Thiago 2015 scoring regularly, not Thiago 2016 breaking doors.