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Port’s Foreign Signings – A Statistical Analysis

 

I was standing around in The Sandpit after the home game against Nakhon Ratchasima when, as often happens, an unusual claim was made that piqued my interest.

“Do you know how many foreign players Port have signed from clubs outside Thailand? One. Rolando Blackburn.”

Now, as with most unusual claims it was immediately obvious that this wasn’t accurate, but seeing as the club itself has almost certainly made no effort to analyze their own transfer dealings, I thought I’d do the hard yards for them and run some numbers.

What I ended up doing was a little more comprehensive than I originally intended. First, I used the three articles that myself and Marco had written (foreign strikers from 2009-12, foreign strikers from 2012-18, foreign midfielders from 2012-18) about Port signings and collated the data with a little help from Wikipedia and Transfermarkt. Then I found this excellent list of Thai League Foreign Players on Wikipedia which gave me a few even earlier players I’d never head of. Vietnamese defender Lương Trung Tuấn who joined Port in 2004, anyone?

I ultimately settled on a sample size of 53 foreign signings from which to draw my analysis. It’s not a huge number, but it’s an almost exhaustive list of foreign players who have joined Port since 2009 with a few notable extras from before that time period. Only a few players, for which I could not find sufficient information, were left out. I think with this number, drawing conclusions from differences of a few percentage points is probably not worthwhile, but we can be reasonably happy that some of the clear trends are unlikely to be anomalous.

There are only two data points I used, which were the nationality of the player and the country they played in immediately before joining Port. This basically gave me two separate groups of analysis:

  • The countries Port most commonly sign players from
  • The nationality of players that Port sign

Within these two groups, I separated my findings in to 3 sections.

  • Overall (the total %)
  • Before Pang (the % before Pang’s tenure)
  • With Pang (the % during Pang’s tenure)

So, what did I learn after messing around on Microsoft Excel for a couple of hours?

Well, it’s fair to say that Rolando Blackburn is not the only Port foreign player to have been signed from abroad. In fact, foreign players signed from abroad account for 62% of Port’s foreign signings. Before Pang’s tenure it was 65% and during Pang’s tenure the number drops slightly to 58%.

 

Overall62%
Before Pang65%
With Pang58%

 

What has changed somewhat is the areas from which Port have bought these players. Dealing with continents rather than individual countries makes more sense to me here, so here is the breakdown of the continents from which Port have signed their foreign players.

 

Foreign Players signed from Thai clubs

 

Overall38%
Before Pang35%
With Pang42%

 

Foreign Players signed from Asian clubs (not including Thailand)

 

Overall36%
Before Pang41%
With Pang26%

 

Foreign Players signed from South American clubs

 

Overall9%
Before Pang3%
With Pang21%

 

Foreign Players signed from European clubs

 

Overall13%
Before Pang15%
With Pang11%

 

 Foreign Players signed from African clubs

 

Overall4%
Before Pang6%
With Pang0%

 

Arranging the numbers differently shows the key trends more clearly.

 

Foreign players signed from…Before PangWith Pang
Thai clubs35%42%
Other Asian clubs41%26%
South American clubs3%21%
European clubs15%11%
African clubs6%0%

 

With Pang, Port have signed significantly more players from South America. Wagner Carioca, Renan Oliveira, Rodrigo Maranhao and Rolando Blackburn all signed for Port under Pang’s stewardship, whereas only the legendary Leandro Oliveira had signed directly from South America before. Even that signing comes with a massive asterisk, as Dusit Chalermsan, Port coach at the time, already had first hand knowledge of Leandro from his and Leandro’s earlier spells in Vietnam. He was a known quantity from his time spent in South East Asia, even though he stopped off in Brazil on his way from Vietnam to Thailand, and Dusit signed him with a view of building his team around the Brazilian maestro.

 

Rodrigo Maranhao, one of the stars of the 2016 promotion campaign

 

So, what conclusions can we draw from this? Does it mean Port have enacted some sort of scouting system under Pang to identify players in the Brazilian second and third tier who could be successful in Thailand? Stop sniggering at the back!

No, it’s a trend mirrored by the league as a whole. The number of foreign players in the league has fluctuated over the years due to quota changes, but ultimately the number of foreigners clubs can sign from any country has been cut markedly.

In 2014, teams could have six foreigners of any nationality in their squad, plus one additional player from an AFC country (6+1). In 2015, this was reduced to four from any nationality, plus one from an AFC country (4+1). In 2018 the number of foreign players from any country was cut further to three, plus a player from an AFC country and a player from an ASEAN country (3+1+1). In 2019, the current quota, teams can again have three players of any nationality, one from an AFC country and now three from ASEAN countries (3+1+3).

While the number of quality foreign imports has been decreasing, the amount of money available to be spent on them has increased, due to the growth of the league. This has led to the significant rise in the number of arrivals from South American clubs we see above, in place of those in financially weaker areas like Asian and African leagues. Port are simply following a trend which I’m pretty sure exists among most clubs, and the league as a whole.

 


 

The nationalities of the players Port have signed – our second set of numbers – really helps us complete the picture.

Footballers who end up plying their trade in Thailand are for the most part a nomadic bunch. A majority of African and South American players who have signed for Port have done so from outside the continent of their birth, so to better understand some of the fundamental changes in Port’s recruitment trends, let’s look at nationalities, arranged again by continent.

 

Foreign Players of Asian nationalities

 

Overall30%
Before Pang35%
With Pang21%

 

Foreign Players of South/Central American nationalities

 

Overall26%
Before Pang18%
With Pang42%

 

Foreign Players of European nationalities

 

Overall25%
Before Pang21%
With Pang32%

 

Foreign Players of Australasian nationalities

 

Overall4%
Before Pang3%
With Pang5%

 

 Foreign Players of African nationalities

 

Overall15%
Before Pang24%
With Pang0%

 

Again, let’s look at the same numbers in a different table.

 

Foreign players from…Before PangWith Pang
Asia35%21%
South/Central America18%42%
Europe21%32%
Australasia3%5%
Africa24%0%

 

The same trend plays out in these numbers, with a very clear uptick in the signing of South American players. This time it is also accompanied by an 11% increase in the signing of European players, which is another similarly more attractive demographic of players to clubs with more spending power.

With a marked increase in South American and European signings, we must also see decreases in other areas, and this is most stark in the signing of African players. Whilst it’s obvious to anyone who remembers watching football 5-10 years ago in Thailand that the number of African players has decreased significantly, Port not having signed a single African player in the Pang era is still surprising.

This season the biggest spenders in the league brought in Modibo Maiga, whilst mid-table Trat went for African players in all 3 of their foreign player slots. One of them, Lonsana Doumbouya, is the top scorer in the league, and overall there are still 9 African players plying their trade in T1, although surprisingly they are spread across just 4 teams. It seems unlikely to be an anomaly that Port have not signed a single African, but the reasons why this is the case are unclear with the data I have at my disposal.

 

Lonsana Doumbouya, Adefolarin Durosinmi and Bireme Diouf, all of Trat FC

 

Signings of Asian players have similarly seen a decline. Under the 6+1 quota system from 2014 and earlier, Port used to regularly have two or three South Koreans on the books, but with the quota change to 4+1 in 2015, most T1 teams scaled back and only had 1 Asian foreigner in their squad, with Port being no exception.

Since then the rules evolved again though, with one and then three new spots opening up to players from ASEAN countries. Under the 3+1+1 quota in 2018, Port used their ASEAN spot to sign Terens Puhiri of Indonesia, but Terens then returned to his former club and Port didn’t bring in another ASEAN player, Martin Steuble, until the mid-season break of 2019. At this point the quota had already changed to 3+1+3, with Port failing to take advantage of any of those ASEAN spots for the first half of the season. This has to be seen as a big oversight from Port, and next season we should really see a significant increase in ASEAN players joining the club, making full use of the 3 available quota spots. ASEAN leagues may be of a lower standard than T1, but the signing of Steuble has shown us that there are players capable of making an important contribution, even in a side pushing for the T1 title.

 

Conclusions

 

In drawing conclusions from Port’s transfer business, we have to be able to recognize who has been successful and who hasn’t. In our list of arrivals from Thai clubs in the Pang era, we see names like David Rochela, Sergio Suarez, Josimar, Dragan Boskovic and Go Seul-Ki. Names like Kayne Vincent, Thiago Cunha and Bajram Nebihi remind us that not all domestic deals have turned out as hoped, but for the most part the Thai market has yielded far more successful signings than the foreign market. There are examples of successful signings from abroad, such as Rodrigo Maranhao, Martin Steuble and Kim Sung-Hwan, but these are far outweighed by relative failures like Andrija Kaludjerovic, Serginho, Renan Oliveira, Matias Jadue and Asdrubal Padron.

 

Asdrubal Padron, who injury prevented from making a single appearance for Port

 

It looks very much as though we are doing 58% of our shopping in the less fruitful foreign market, and only 42% from the more predictable domestic market. This is a trend that must be addressed if we want to increase the consistency of our foreign acquisitions.

Another area I find surprising is the dramatic reduction in players from Africa, not just at Port but the league as a whole. John Baggio and Lonsana Doumbouya have been the poster boys in the last couple of seasons for how successful African players can still be in T1, but all four clubs who have African players on the books at the moment will be very happy with their contributions. Brazilians may have brought the league lots of flair and more than a few great players, but the standard of football in many African countries is still significantly superior to the standard in Thailand. There are still lots of players who could be brought in at relatively low cost for potentially great rewards.

 

John Baggio of Sukhothai

 

Both Baggio and Doumbouya are African players in the domestic market who, whilst they won’t come cheap, ought to be within Port’s price range in the coming off-season. We would do well to look hard at the possibility of signing both.

In the Asian market, Port should also be looking to increase the number of acquisitions of ASEAN players who can fill the remaining two quota spots which will be available, assuming that Steuble stays with Port next season. The signings of Michael Falkesgaard and Dang Van Lam, by Bangkok United and Muangthong respectively, have shown there are quality half-European goalkeepers available in this market. Also, the success of young Vietnamese players in international football should also be prompting T1 clubs to look in to the possibility of bringing some promising Vietnamese youngsters to Thailand. I don’t have enough knowledge of half-European half-ASEAN goalies or Vietnamese youngsters to suggest any names in particular, but a little scouting could really go a long way in finding top quality foreign players who could have a massive impact at Port.

 


 

Will the club will take heed of any of this, or run their own similar analysis in order to evaluate the success or otherwise of their transfer business? No, probably not. Will I now be able to say “I told you so” to no-one in particular next time we bring in a predictable flop from the Honduran third tier? Yes, yes I will.

 

Chainought: Port FC 4-0 Chainat Hornbill

Port soared to a second consecutive home win and clean sheet as they ripped apart the Chainat defense for a comprehensive 4-0 win.

The Hornbills flew into Bangkok nested firmly in the relegation zone but it was Port who looked to have crooked wings in the first 20 minutes of play. Chainat, fondly known across Thailand as the cheating bastards, showed initiative straight out the gate.

 

First half

 

Wednesday evening at the PAT always makes for a good night but from the outset it felt more like a friendly match. Long lines at the ticket box delayed the arrival of most supporters and those who managed to see kickoff were sitting down. Port were untidy and sluggish, giving the ball away at nearly every pass. Yet the class of our high priced attack nearly paid off in the fifth minute. Bodin’s (10) unrivaled speed got loose down the left flank and slid a square ball to Suarez, (5) whose blast from 12 yards smashed against the crossbar to no avail. A promising chance gone missing and the crowd would have to wait another thirty minutes for a similar opportunity.

Energized and fresh from the clean upcountry air, Chainat took control of possession and looked the better team going forward. A few careless tackles from both sides produced early yellows and an anxious feeling wafted across the stadium. In the 20th minute center back Todsapol (6) came out the wrong end of a good tackle with a sore lower back. Minutes later he was replaced by new boy Piyachanok (2), on loan from BG for his first action in Port colors. His initial touch brought jeers and laughter as he went through our own midfielder Go (8) to get to the ball.

Port continued to look ordinary after 30 minutes with the only real bright spot being the work ethic of right back Nitipong (34). He was all over the pitch and carried the load of the back four in the first half. Chainat’s large Brazilian striker Ricardo Santos (11) was fouled 40 yards from goal (he’s their only player I’ll mention by name because the others were insignificant from this point on). Not a big deal but he took issue with the foul, pushing the ref out of the way to scream in Nitipong’s face. Our brave little number 34 shrieked back with a vengeance and this seemed to ignite the crowd.

Having woken the sleeping giant, Chainat were now on the back foot. Midfielders Siwakorn (16) and Go played the ball into wide positions to spread the defense thin with Kevin (97) and Bodin running rings around their midfield. In the 42nd minute Suarez had two chances, only to shoot straight at the keeper on both attempts. Two minutes of added time and most had gone for a toilet break or to replenish a beer. Both teams hinted on a retreat to the locker room but Nitipong had other ideas. He played the ball forward and it skipped off a few heads before eventually getting to Bodin on the wing, a beautiful cross later and Go thumped a header to the back of the net to open the scoring. Halftime and relief was in the air.

 

Second half

 

Chainat came out of the locker room tattered and tired as they had put it all on the line before half time.  Port were passing at will and moving the ball to all corners of the field, but seemed to find all scoring chances coming from that aforementioned left wing position. Eight minutes into the half a moment of magic from Josimar (30) doubled the lead. Bodin tapped a quick square ball to Josimar who sent Bodin into the box with a back heal. Bodin again sent the ball square to Suarez. He chipped the ball into the six yard box to catch the end of Josimar’s run behind Bodin. Josimar volleyed with his left foot from an incredibly acute angle to beat the keeper for a wonderful goal.

Chances were now arriving every few minutes with Josimar nearly doubling his total on a few chances that seemed much easier than Port’s second goal. The boys were cruising at altitude when a poor pass from Suarez nearly saw Chainat cut the lead in half. Sumanya (11) and Blackburn (99) came on and made an immediate impact.  A little give and go between the two sent Blackburn into the box but he over ran the ball, Sumaya followed him in and cleaned up the mess sliding a left foot strike past the keeper for goal number 3.

 

 

The PAT was rocking deep into injury time and all eyes were again on Bodin down the wing.  His pass rolled across the top of the box, Blackburn dummied it and Suarez smashed a left foot laser to the top corner. Great result for a great hour of football. Port are in form and set out on an epic trip to Buriram in two weeks time. Two games to go, two points off the top, a cup final next month and a storybook season for the faithful of Klong Toey. What more could you ask for?

 

The Sandpit’s Man of the Match

 

 

In his previous stint with Port, Josimar was always known to score in spurts. When one goal came, it was often followed by a month or more of confident, free-scoring play. Luckily for Port, Josimar seems to have hit a spurt with just a few more games remaining in the season. If Josimar can keep his form and his confidence up for three more games and bang in a few more finishes like the magnificent angled sledgehammer he clobbered in yesterday, Port are surely odds on to get our hands on some silverware!

 

Great Wall of Chainat: Port FC vs. Chainat Hornbill Preview

 

Against all the odds, Port have leaped back into the thick of the title race, sitting two points off the top with just three games remaining in the season. As a result, this game is going to be one of incredible stakes for both teams. While the Klongtoei side need a win in pursuit of their first league title, Chainat will also need three points to remain in T1 for a third consecutive season.

Port’s opponents have a transfer budget that would see them struggle to get out of T2, let alone survive in T1, and is roughly equal to the amount Port spent on signing Sumanya Purisai (11) from Bangkok United. However, the Hornbills have bridged the gap in quality with tactical discipline and a scouting team capable of unearthing gems from lower divisions. They have proven to be unlikely giant killers this season, taking three points off Buriram, Muangthong and Bangkok United at home with a varied press designed to stop teams from getting into their passing flow. With their desperate hunt for points, they are unlikely to roll over and will aim to get at Port’s heels with the same aggression.

 

The Manager

Dennis Amato

 

 

The catalyst behind the club’s success has been their coach, Dennis Amato. Formerly a youth coach at Bayern Munich, he was contacted by Chainat during his time as a scout running a training camp in Thailand. In his first season at the club, Amato turned a side barely hanging on to their promotion hopes into T2 champions, and did well to stay in the division despite the league’s downsizing which saw five teams get relegated last season.

His aim to play a pressing game to get in his opponents’ faces is an admirable pursuit considering the quality of his players, but has struggled against his fellow relegation battlers who tend to default to bus-parking when the going gets tough.

You can read a previous interview I conducted with him after this fixture last season for more information about his style and background.

 

Players to Watch

Ricardo Santos (11) – Brazil – Striker – Age 32

 

 

Unlike the other ageing Brazilian forwards in this league, Ricardo Santos offers an incredible amount to his team off the ball with pressing and selfless movement. Capable of finding the net as target man up front, Santos also runs the channels like someone half his size would, and is confident taking players on. I personally believe he is among the most underappreciated players in the league, and should be given far more credit for his off-ball sacrifice that has been crucial for his side this season.

 

Jaturapat Sattham (18) – Thailand – Left Back – Age 20

 

 

Port fans should definitely keep their eye on Jaturapat Sattham. A complete unknown before the start of the season, the 20-year-old put in a string of incredible performances, including a man-of-the-match shift in a 2-1 home victory against Buriram. In the injury-induced absence of Port’s Kevin Deeromram (97), Jaturapat has also established himself in the Thai U23 National team. The youngster has proven to be an invaluable asset to Chainat, and is already replicating those performances for the young War Elephants. Seeing Kevin and the man vying for his spot as Thailand’s most promising young left-back on the same pitch will be interesting.

 

Chatmongkol Thongkiri (22) – Thailand – Central Midfielder – Age 22

 

 

Another recently capped U23 international, Chatmongkol Thongkiri is the Hornbill’s engine room in the middle of midfield. While not as consistent as the aforementioned Jaturapat, he is a key player in the middle that Port will need to close down if they want to stop counter-attacks from being launched. He recently earned a call-up alongside Jaturapat for the upcoming 2019 SEA Games.

 

Port’s Team

 

The Klongtoei lions have been on fine form of late, following up an FA Cup semi-final win over Bangkok United with six points from six against Korat and Chiangmai.

However, this game will likely be a tougher task due to the absence of defensive stalwart Elias Dolah (4), who is out with a suspension. This likely means that Tanaboon (71) will partner Todsapol (6) in the back line.

In midfield, Go Seul-Ki (8) is likely to start alongside Siwakorn (16) and behind Sergio Suarez (5). In an incredibly unpopular opinion, I think this setup is problematic for a few reasons. Go is by far the most complete midfielder in the squad, and among the best in the league, but has been pigeon-holed in a defensive role due to the personal ambition of Siwakorn and his desire to involve himself in attacking play.

I’ve been a vocal critic of captain fantastic but he’s proven me wrong a few times this season. Ideally though, I’d have someone defensive behind Go, such as Fox Hunt academy graduate Anon Samakorn (20) – or Tanaboon, if Dolah was fit. This would allow Go to push into more dangerous areas and carry the ball beyond Chainat’s first line of pressure with a safety net behind him, and also allow Kevin Deeromram (97) to get up the left flank and expose Chainat’s weaker right side. But in reality there isn’t even a 1% chance of that happening. No point changing a winning formula, after all.

Here’s my predicted lineup for the match:

 

 

Prediction

 

Port are on solid form and played with confidence last time out. Should be a routine three points if the pressure of the title-race doesn’t overwhelm them. I expect the home side to collect all three points in a tight match.

 

Port 2-1 Chainat

 


 

The match will be shown live on True Music at 18:00 on Wednesday 2 October, 2019. 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.

 

Double Dreaming: Chiang Mai 0-2 Port FC

Port travelled up to Chiang Mai’s adopted home ground in Chiang Rai after Port’s incredible penalty shootout win over long time bogey team Bangkok United in the FA cup semi-final on Wednesday. This game was never going to live up to that dramatic spectacle, but a win was needed to try and keep Port within touching distance of the top of the table. Most Port fans were expecting a win against arguably the poorest side in the league in bottom of the table Chiang Mai, also known as Chiang Rai reserves. However, we all knew that Port could experience a Chiang over and needed to avoid ruining our title hopes by failing to win here. This one will not go down as a classic, but at the end of the day we got the much-needed win. Now, I don’t want to get your hopes up too much and I’ll whisper it quietly but, Port are still in with a chance of doing the FA cup/league double this season.

Avoiding some of the busier bars in Bangkok due to the rugby, I joined a few of the Port faithful and settled down with a Leo to watch the evening’s entertainment. Port started with a pretty strong line up, the only two changes from midweek being Josimar (30) and Blackburn (99) starting for an injured Suarez and an ineligible Rochela. A surprise inclusion was Kevin (97), who after being injured for so long and playing in the midweek fixture I assumed would be given a rest. The biggest shock came from Chiang Mai who decided to drop their three foreign forwards: Caique (7), Eliandro (9) and Azadzoy (10). This one seemed like it should be a walkover.

 

 

However, the first half left a lot to be desired. The main talking points were how it seemed like Blackburn was born offside and how strange it looked to see Chiang Rai’s stadium so empty. Port had more of the possession and were arguably the better side, but it was overall a pretty drab first half. The aforementioned Blackburn did have the ball in the back of the net early on in the first half. A great cross in behind the defenders from Pakorn (7) found a free Blackburn to head it past the Chiang Mai keeper Narit (1). Our celebrations were short lived however, as it was correctly ruled offside.

A few minutes later Kevin put a lovely ball into the box that was cushioned down into Blackburn’s path by Josimar, only for it to be smashed into the side of the net and once again ruled offside. I’ll let Blackburn off for his offsides due to his cheeky penalty on Wednesday. Chiang Mai were limited to long range shots that never really threatened Worawut (36). 0-0 at the break and not many chances created. We couldn’t help wondering if Port were going to throw away a golden opportunity to close the gap at the top.

The second half started much the same as the first and after 58 minutes Port made their first change, bringing on Steuble (15) for a very quiet Pakorn (7), meaning that Kevin was pushed forward. This move surprised me as it seemed like a defensive change, but I was soon made to eat my own words as Port’s football seemed to greatly improve. The first chance of the half came after Josimar had a decent effort from distance well saved by Narit. Eventually the deadlock was broken after a good bit of football. After a few passes that started at the back with Tanaboon (71), Go (8) fed the ball into Blackburn in the middle of the box and after a nice little turn, he laid it off to Josimar. At this point you’d expect me to say he slotted it home, but instead he smashed it against a Chiang Mai defender’s hand and it deflected into the net. It doesn’t matter how they go in. 1-0 to Port.

 

 

By this point the whole team seemed lifted and it didn’t take long for Port to get another. A few minutes after the first goal, Bodin (10) played a ball into the box that really should have been dealt with by the Chiang Mai defence. It wasn’t and the ball fell kindly to Kevin on the edge of the box who was able to slot it into the bottom right corner. Great finish. 2-0 to Port.

Chiang Mai’s best effort came in the dying moments of the game as Worawut made a fine save to deny Chiang Mai’s Chotipat (21), but in general this was a poor performance from the hosts (if you can really call them hosts). Based on this display they’ll do well to stay up.

Overall, this wasn’t a vintage performance from Port, far from it, but at this stage of the campaign a win is a win, it doesn’t matter how we get them. Port have a game in hand and a win on Friday against Korat will see us just two points behind the league leaders. As I’m sure you’re very well aware, we also have the small matter of the FA cup final on the 2nd November. I had to put a bit a sensationalism in the headline, but if you ask me if I really think we’ll do the double, the answer is a definite ‘no’. But is it possible? We can dream.

 

The Sandpit’s Man of the Match: Kevin Deeromram

 

 

It’s easy to pick a goalscorer for man of the match, but I genuinely feel he was the best player on the pitch for us today. Kevin didn’t have much to worry about defensively but looked great going forward particularly in the second half. He put in some decent crosses and it was an excellent finish for his goal. Great to see him playing well after so long on the side lines. Long may it continue!

 

FA Cup Chiang-Over? Chiang Mai FC vs. Port FC Preview

 

Port’s scarcely believable penalty shootout victory over Bangkok United may have put Port fans’ heads in the clouds, but both fans and players are going to have to have to come back down to earth and adjust to a very different reality for Sunday’s away clash against Chiang Mai.

Wednesday’s victory, against a team most fancied to overcome Port, was a victory against the odds, not to mention against a team who we hadn’t beaten in… well, forever pretty much. It was also in front of thousands of vocal Port fans cheering their team come rain or… well, just rain really. The Lanna Tigers are bottom of the table, playing in a stadium which may as well be empty, and there is unlikely to be much of a traveling contingent in the stands. We’ve all seen Port defy the odds against superior opposition before crashing and burning against teams we should be beating comfortably. Overconfidence seems to be as much part of our DNA as Leo and shit strikers.

Having said that, Chiang Mai are well and truly there for the taking. Let’s see why.

 

Chiang Mai FC

Players to Watch

 

Top of my list has to be Brazilian striker Eliandro (9). This monster of a forward is practically bursting out of Chiang Mai’s very attractive shirts, and doesn’t mind throwing his weight around. After an electric start to the season though, Eliandro has slowed down considerably, and isn’t playing with the same free-scoring confidence we saw from him when he burst on to the T1 scene. I could say the same about Mustafa Azadzoy (10), the Afghan forward who usually plays as a no.10 has similarly slowed down after an excellent start. Rounding out the front three is one of the nine (yes, 9) loanees from sister club Chiang Rai: Caique (7). Signed by Chiang Rai, presumably just so he could be loaned to Chiang Mai, Caique has netted 3 times in 8 games since his arrival. I haven’t seen enough of him to give much of a judgment, but just looking at the numbers it’s a respectable return for a struggling team.

 

 

When I saw that Chiang Mai had signed Nattawut Sombatyotha (11) from Ratchaburi in mid-season I thought he’d do an excellent job for them. He’s probably not playing as far forward as he’d like, but he’s still nailed down a first team place and scored twice since his arrival. He’s also rid himself of that horrible blonde mop and looks normal again, which helps. Nattawut is best deployed as an attacking midfielder, but with Chiang Mai basically already having three up top he’s had to fulfil a role with more defensive responsibility.

 

 

Speaking of defensive responsibility, most of that falls on Brazilian centre half Evson Patricio (30). He’s one of those defenders who it’s quite hard to judge based on the fact that he’s playing with a load of dross at the back. The most recent of that dross is actually former Port squad player Worawut Namvech (34), who has started the last few games at centre back, but may not be fit having been withdrawn before the half hour mark last time out. Well, I say he may not be fit, just look at him…

 

 

In goal, Nont (20) has fallen out of favour after failing to perform consistently, so the more experienced Narit (1) has stepped in.

 

 

Form

 

The last 6 games look like this for Chiang Mai. They’ve taken two massive wins from 4 home games, but having failed to get on the score sheet in the last 2 games, they are still big favourites for the drop. The real worry is their failure to score, which has not really been a problem for them all season until now. They’ve got plenty of attacking talent, but have been conceding goals for fun all season, as they have done in each of their last 6.

  • Prachuap 2-0 Chiang Mai
  • Chiang Mai 0-1 Suphanburi
  • Chiang Mai 5-1 Korat
  • Chiang Mai 1-3 Trat
  • Chiang Mai 2-1 Chonburi
  • Chainat 2-2 Chiang Mai

 

Port FC

Feet on the Ground

 

Port need to approach this game with as much professionalism as they can muster. Changes should be made from the side who triumphed in the cup, both to make sure the XI who take the field are fit and raring to go, and to make sure players are fresh to face tougher opposition in Port’s tricky run-in.

Suarez (5) is likely to be an enforced change, with the Spaniard sporting an extremely swollen ankle after an extremely dirty tackle from Peerapat on Wednesday. Josimar (30) and Rolando (99) are both available to lead the line, with Josi raring to go after being cup-tied, and Rolando still grinning like a Cheshire cat after making a mug of Falkesgaard in the penalty shootout. What. A. Finish.

One of Go (8) or Siwakorn (16) should probably be due a rest, but Choke may be nervous removing either of the two, who are among the most consistent players in the team.

Likewise at the back, sitting out Dolah (4) seems unthinkable, and Choke doesn’t seem to be able to bring himself not to start Tanaboon (17). I’m sure we could get away with giving Nitipong (34), who put in an astonishingly hard-working performance, a well-deserved breather. Steuble (15) could cover at right back, with Kevin (97) or Panpanpong (19) stepping in on the left hand side.

In goal, Worawut (36) got a nasty cut on his back making an incredible save from Jaycee John, but we’re not sure if he’ll have recovered in time for this one. Rattanai (17) put in an assured performance in his absence, keeping out his second and third penalties of the season in the shoot-out, and as we don’t tire of saying, Port have three no1’s at our disposal anyway. Worawut can take as much time to recover as he likes with both Rattanai and Watchara ready and able to step in.

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True4U and True Sports HD at 18:00 on Sunday 22 September, 2019. For those who can’t make it to Chiang Mai, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound. We’re expecting a big crowd (in the pub, not the stadium) so get there early to bag the best seats. Don’t forget to wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.

 

Army Stadium Ready For Battle: Bangkok Utd vs. Port FC, FA Cup Semi Final Preview

 

Port march to Army this Wednesday in what is sure to be a decisive battle. This is a cup tie with everything riding on it for both sides. The Angels have come close to lifting cups in recent seasons, before being vanquished at the death. Their widely acclaimed manager Mano Polking has announced his imminent departure, although we’re not yet sure if a cup success would reverse his decision or encourage the club to go all out to reenlist him. They’re out of touch in the league, meaning it’s do or die in the cup. Meanwhile, Port are considerably closer but still look to be just out of range for an assault on the league title, and after being denied an AFC qualifying berth by a shock FA Cup result last season, have their sights set on redemption.

So, who are the favourites? The league table suggests that Port are the team to beat, having accumulated an extra point in one fewer game than Bangkok. The head-to-head results tell a different story, with this season’s clashes swinging in The Angels’ favor. The historical record is even grimmer reading for Port. Recent form too tells two opposing stories. Port’s form is better over the last 6 games, although our only defeat in the last 6 came against… you guessed it, Bangkok. Player availability is another area throwing us curve balls. The injury lottery has given Port a massive boost with Bonilla being stretchered off after just 8 minutes in the Angels’ 1-1 draw on the weekend. His leg is in a cast, so unless there is an elaborate hoax at hand, he won’t be starting. Meanwhile, Pakorn and Kevin have just returned to fitness for Port. On the flip side, Port will be without two forwards who are ineligible to represent Port in the FA Cup, leaving Rolando as the only recognized striker in the squad.

Enough with the imponderables and maddening speculation, though. Let’s meet the players.

 

Bangkok United

Players to Watch

 

He was man of the match in their last outing, and with Bonilla being unavailable, Michael Falkesgaard (1) could once again be the key figure for the opposition. I tire of singing his praises, but what else can you do when you see the annoyingly handsome stopper get in the way of everything Port send towards his goal? There were a few moments in the last meeting between the two sides where he took risks with the ball at his feet, which is the only thing I can point to as a potential vulnerability. Come on, pull an Enckelman!

 

 

I’m not as much of a fanboy of Vander Luiz (8) as many Thai football observers seem to be. He doesn’t produce enough (5 goals and 1 assist in T1 in 2019), and although he does bring a lot of creativity to the team, if you want to win the league I’m not quite sure that Van is the man to fire you there. Having said that, this is the cup and he won a couple of them with Chiang Rai in 2017. And he was man of the match last time we played Bangkok. So, my opinion that he’s a bit overrated means nothing, and he’ll probably play a blinder.

 

 

As we well know, the star boys have plenty of depth behind then at Bangkok, too. Chananan (20) is cup-tied but Jaycee John (22) is the most natural like-for-like replacement for Bonilla, while young speedster Anon Amornlerdsak (27) is an option in a different system. He’s dangerous on his day. In midfield there’s the likes of Pokklaw (10), Anthony (6) and everyone’s favourite ref-puncher Sanrawat (29). The perennial big game bottler was an unused sub on the weekend, which makes me think Mano is saving him up for this one. Everton (3) and Manuel Bihr (4) are a solid pairing at centre half, and I haven’t even mentioned some other top tier T1 stalwarts like Tristan Do (7) and Mika Chunuonsee (16).

Regardless of which XI takes the pitch, we always know that Mano comes in to matches against Port with a plan, and that usually puts his side a step ahead of us. One thing he apparently can’t plan for is his own team’s ill-discipline, though. Red cards in big games have plagued Bangkok in recent years, so Port’s best shot could be to really take the game to their opponents physically, and see if they have the mental fortitude to keep their cool in the heat of battle.

 

Port FC

El Capitán Regresa

 

As I alluded to earlier, there are a few differences between Port’s squad in the league and cup. The big boon for Port is that El Capitan Rochela (22) will once again take to the field in what could potentially be his last game in Port colours. Whilst Tanaboon (71) has conned most of T1 in to thinking he’s a decent defender, anyone who has watched Dolah (4) make 10 times as many tackles and win 10 times as many headers over the last couple of months knows otherwise. Rochela is available, he will start and Tanaboon will hopefully drop to the bench. We’ll take that. The risk is that Choke tries to crowbar him in at DM, meaning that Go (8), Siwakorn (16) and Suarez (5) are all shunted forward a place with Rolando missing out. I’m not the Panamanian goal-hanger’s biggest fan, but I’m picking him for this one and hoping for the best.

There are also a couple of forwards who aren’t available, and one who is. Josimar (30) and Chenrop (39) are cup-tied after representing Police Tero and Trat respectively earlier this season. With Pakorn (7) back on the right flank, Choke will be able to choose between Suarez and Rolando up top. The Spaniard has played OK, although he hasn’t reached the prolific heights of last season, whereas Rolando has been largely rubbish but has popped up with a couple of big goals, most notably in the FA Cup win over Muangthong. The Panamanian may not be much use in the build-up, but get the defender to pass the ball to him or give him a sniff of goal in the 6 yard box and you see a striker’s instinct that Port don’t otherwise possess.

Kevin (97) approaching full fitness will also give Choke a tricky decision to make at some point, but I think we can all agree that throwing Kevin in for a match of this magnitude after a lengthy lay-off would be a bit mental. Steuble (15) keeps his place for the moment, and we look set to have very healthy competition at left back going forward.

 


 

This may not be one many fans are feeling optimistic about, but remember we went in to the last two rounds against Muangthong and Chiang Rai nervous as anything, yet overcame poor form and ascendant opponents to advance. This team has heart, and we’d be mad to think we don’t have a decent shot of overcoming Bangkok.

 

Predicted lineup

 

 

You’ll notice Rolando’s rather unconventional positioning inside the six yard box. Damn the offside rule Rolando, you’re standing there until the ball magically appears in front of you and that’s that.

 


 

The match will probably be shown live on True Sport 2 or True4U (still awaiting confirmation of the channel) at 19.00 p.m. on Wednesday 18 September, 2019. For those who can’t make it to Army Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound. Don’t forget to wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.

 

Port’s Non-Starter XI

 

After Port’s mid-season, featuring a spate of off-the-wall signings, I thought I’d try and cobble together a team of players who now could feasibly fail to register a single minute of T1 action between them in the rest of 2019. Why? Partly because I’ve got nothing better to do today, and partly to make the point that after cutting the squad down to a manageable size a couple of seasons ago, it has once again swelled to the point where it’s hard to see how many players are ever going to get a game, and if that’s the case, what are they doing there? The amount of players currently registered for T1 action is 29, while a further 2 (incidentally probably the two highest paid players in the squad) are only available for cup action or not at all. There are also 7 players out on loan, taking the tally to 38.

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Third vs. Turd: Port FC vs. Muangthong Utd Preview

 

This week’s outstanding if nerve-wracking cup victory over Chiang Rai was arguably our best performance of the season, but Port will need to put in another considerable effort against their fiercest rivals to keep up the pace at the top of the table this weekend. 2 wins and a draw in our last 3 league games can’t hide the fact that we have flattered to deceive recently and the team selection shows there is still a lack of tactical awareness from the coaching staff.

And so it’s that shower of absolute bastards from Nonthaburi who come rolling into town this weekend and it couldn’t have come at a better time for them. But relax mate, you might counter, it’s a derby innit? The form book goes out the window. Well, the scumbag’s form book is so heavy with positive momentum it would be hard enough just to pick up the damn thing let alone chuck it. Also, don’t tell me to relax.

It was all so hysterically funny only a few months ago when those inept mugs found themselves stuck in the relegation zone and going through several managerial changes. Port even managed to rock up to Legoland twice and ran off into the night with 2 victories; firstly their third consecutive league victory in 3 seasons and more recently an absolute mugging in the last 16 of the FA Cup thanks to gifts from pretty boy Chappuis and the gargoyle-esque Teerasil (See above. Truly a hauntingly ugly man; I would hang his picture above the fireplace to keep the children away from the flames). But 7 wins and a draw in their last 8 league matches tells a different story and they now find themselves sitting comfortably in 6th position. Their away form is still a bit patchy (W2 D3 L6) but they are only 4 points off Port who only the good lord knows how still sit in 3rd position.

 

Ones to Watch

Heberty Fernandes

 

 

 

Heberty. Heberty. Heberty. Say his name 3 times and you develop an Irish accent but that’s where the joke ends. The Brazilian/Timorese attacker is their star performer, drifting ominously around the final third and popping up with key goals. On top of his 7 goals this season he’s racked up 8 assists and generally lifts the team’s all round performance. You could argue that if you stop him, you’ll stop the whole team, which I’m slightly inclined to agree with, so our full backs and defensive midfielders will have their work cut out tracking him around the pitch.

 

Alexandre Gama

 

 

If one individual is responsible for their return to form and march up the table then it has to be their Brazilian manager. A serial silverware winner for both Buriram and Chiang Rai, Gama has already taken an underperforming talent pool and molded a team that can play adventurous football in a 4-3-3 or 3-5-2 formation. My real reason for putting him in here is that he is also an absolute shithouse manager; every single time I have watched one of his teams in the flesh, he has walked onto the pitch to remonstrate with the match officials and most of the time he gets what he wants. With no away fans traveling to the PAT this weekend expect some dark arts from the bench if the chips are down.

 

The Home Team

 

The midweek cup performance will have given Choke/Spencer/Madame Pang (delete where applicable) a headache for team selection. Clearly width supplied by Bodin (10) and Pakorn (7) is the key to this team, and out of nowhere the usually woeful Sumanya (11) put on a high quality show which will surely justify his selection. This means Suarez (5) will probably find himself playing as a false 9. Or maybe the fear will creep into the training staff’s thinking and they opt for Josimar (30), back after being cup tied, who will defend more than Pakorn. Maybe. Probably. Rochela (22) will take his place in the stands after being cut from the league squad so either Tanaboon (71) or Todsapol (6) will come into the centre of defense. Most farang supporters prefer the latter but we all know Madame has her favourites so the ex-Glass man will probably get the nod.

 

 

Prediction

 

4-2 Port and I miss one, maybe 2 goals. You heard it here first. Cheers!

 


 

The match will be shown live at 18:00 on Sunday 11 August, 2019. For those who can’t make it to PAT Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound. Don’t forget to wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.

 

Port Stamp Out Beetles to Give Their Fans a Semi: Port FC 3-2 Chiang Rai

Arriving at the PAT this evening with the drab 1-1 draw at Prachuap fresh in the memory, my expectations for the evening were somewhat low. They were lowered even more when Chiang Rai announced a full strength side, followed by Port’s team sheet showing no out and out striker, plus the continued selection of Sumanya. I was itching for a more simple time when the “gaffer” would just hand in the team sheet on the back of a fag packet and we’d just play 4-4-f**king-2! …At least El Capitan was restored to the team, for what could potentially be his last match at Port.

 

 

With Port now a few games into the Choke experiment, I still wasn’t sure what was actually changing and what his master plan is in terms of the teams tactics and style, the system was still very similar to Jadet’s with the only real difference being Josimar round pegged into a very square hole on the right flank. After all the out and out fuckery during the transfer window to bring in a striker and ditch the one we already had, Roland “Tony” Blackburn (99) was again to be sitting on the bench.

 

First Half

Port were very quick out of the starting blocks with Suarez (5) forcing a save from the Chiang Rai keeper in the first minute of the match after a neat pass from Sumanya (11) allowed Sergio to unleash a low drive towards the bottom corner. This intense opening from Port would continue with Steuble (15) hanging in a nice low cross on his right foot (does he even have a left?) which Go (8) stooped in to head off the post. Ports early pressure finally paid off in the fifteenth minute when the much maligned Sumanya finally put in a decent corner that wrong-footed the Chiang Rai defence and deflected into the net with Dolah (4) in hot pursuit of a final touch.

Five minutes later, Sumanya produced his finest moment in a Port shirt this season, although to be fair, his highlight reel for 2019 prior to tonight could have easily fitted on a Vine clip (if that platform was still going…). He picked the ball up just inside the Chiang Rai half and charged through the centre into the penalty area, shaking off pursuing Chiang Rai defenders before calmly slotting it into the corner past the onrushing keeper. It was certainly the first time this season I can recall seeing this image on the Port scoreboard…

 

 

A couple of minutes later and Suarez almost killed the contest dead, latching onto a stray pass from the Chiang Rai keeper and unleashed a rasping thunderbastard of a shot from 25 yards that hit the underside of the crossbar and came out again. Port kept this tempo up for the rest of the first half and Chiang Rai didn’t know whether they were coming or going. Every time Bodin (10) had the ball, the Beetles’ back line had no real answers except to foul him. The Chiang Rai defence were being pressed in their own half and given no time on the ball. “Friend” of the Sandpit and full-time pantomime villain (fat) Bill (9) was being kept very quiet, especially after an early challenge from Dolah….”a reducer” as Big Ron used to call them.

As the half-time whistle went, it was still hard to take in what had just happened. A Port team that have looked out of sorts ever since the Buriram game had just played the current 2nd place team off the park with Sumanya actually having a big impact on the game.

 

Second Half

Attacking Zone B, Port continued with the same pace as the first half. Pakorn (7) had a free-kick right at the start of the second half which whistled just wide of the post. A few minutes later and Port went up to a 3-0 lead. A free kick was worked out to the wing where Martin Steuble floated in an absolute beaut of a cross for Suarez to leap up and head into the bottom corner. A quick look around the terrace confirmed the goal had indeed come in Toby Time ©. This was getting almost too easy, but this is Port after all… Chiang Rai went straight up the other end with a quick counter attack, A bouncer of a cross evaded the Port defence and Worawut (36), leaving Big Bill with a tap in at the back post.

Back up the other end and Pakorn had a free-kick cleared off the line but Chiang Rai were starting to work their way into the game, the shithousery was beginning to dial up with their entire bench seemingly up off their seats and in the linesman’s ear in front of Zone A, joined by Big Bill who at one point, seemed more interested in protesting on the touchline than actually running around on the pitch. As Chiang Rai began turning the screw more, a handball was awarded against Dolah in the penalty area and up stepped Bill with the penalty to move us into squeaky-bum time. The onset of nerves were not helped by the substitutions, the excellent Bodin was withdrawn for Tanaboon (71) with Pakorn making way for Nurul (31). While Pakorn had redeemed himself somewhat this evening, his replacement Nurul went on to have somewhat of a stinker, blowing chances for Port to put the tie beyond doubt. With just over ten minutes to go, Worawut produced a great save after a free-kick took a wicked deflection on the way through that could so easily have wrong-footed him, yet he produced a great save to keep Port in the lead.

Just as fears of operation f**k-up were creeping in, Chiang Rai’s shithousery finally caught up with them. William (11) was given his second yellow for taking out Go right in front of zone C. With Chiang Rai down to ten, Port were able to get back to doing what they did so well in the first half. Quick passes, neat one-twos and stretching the play. But… as we’d withdrawn Pakorn, Bodin and then Suarez (for Rolando), the replacement attack wasn’t quite up to the task of adding a fourth goal.

There was a sight to behold on injury time as Steuble ran the ball out of defence, pursued by Bill, who soon ended up flat on his face and probably blew a couple of arteries in the process of trying to chase down Steuble in the first place.

The full-time whistle signaled the end of a fantastic performance from Port, who now go into the semi-final draw with Buriram, Bangkok Utd and Ratchaburi.

 

 

The Sandpit’s Man of the Match

My heart says Bodin, who was unplayable in the time he was allowed on the pitch tonight, but I will have to go with Sumanya. I never thought I’d be saying that at all this season! His performances all year have ranged from ref shoving, to anonymous, to flat out awful….tonight he actually looked the part as Ports attack dominated the first half. A key assist in the first goal and a stunning second goal, it goes without saying he needs to turn in more than one of these performances a season.

 

Just Plain Rayong: PTT Rayong 1-0 Port FC

 

Pressure makes diamonds” opined one of our travelling party as we discussed Port’s current situation on the way to the Meccano-esque PTT Stadium. The rest of the suitably lubricated gentleman and additional beer monitor carefully considered this statement until I offered a well thought out counter-argument; “pressure can also make you piss yourself.” Wise words indeed but sadly I was proved right as Port continued their alarming dip in form that has seen them go from top of pile to mid-table mediocrity and possibly something much much worse.

It all started so well with a midweek cup victory against The Scum which many had hoped would propel the team back to some decent form and retake the initiative in the league. None of our rivals had pulled away from the chasing pack and Port could take heart that it wasn’t just us fucking about. Also it was set up as a cracking away day; a bit of beach action followed by an early evening kick off at a decent stadium, so this had expanded from your normal football trip to 2 minivans, an additional car and several others on the Thai coach.

 

 

The highlight of the day was Bang Saray beach; a beautiful spot at a good arm’s length from Pattaya that isn’t too overcrowded and a great place to spend a few hours doing sweet FA. We split into 2 groups; those who wanted to eat in chairs (and sand-phobic) and those who prefer to be a little more horizontal while they dine. Moving between the 2 groups, it was a charming afternoon and really we should have stayed all day there if we had known what “entertainment” was in store for us. On a side note, my afternoon was rudely interrupted by a rogue mussel that made me evacuate the contents of my stomach and get a standing ovation from our group upon leaving the roadside toilet; a touching moment I will never forget.

 

 

The first half was a tepid affair only punctuated by 2 things; Bodin’s (10) behind the halfway line shot that keeper Peerapong (30) tipped onto the crossbar and someone spotting a reasonably attractive woman in the home stand which prompt a group of us to wave furiously at in a desperate effort to get her attention. Oh, Rayong’s Big Scary Bastard Victor (5) missed a tap in from a set piece. The lack of quality from both sides was clearly evident and many of us voted with our feet to nip off for very early beers.

 

“Hello, you!”

 

The second half was not much better; the game’s only moment of quality was the goal. Dennis Murillo (92) was given time and space due to Martin Steuble (15) being out of position and he sent a delicious curling shot into the far top corner over Worawut (36). Jadet, sensing the knives sharpening, sent on Pakorn (7) for the totally ineffective Sumanya (11) and Josimar (30) for the woeful Blackburn (99) and things got a little better. Pakorn’s shot forced a smart save and seconds later the ball was fizzed across the box by no Port player could turn it in. Then Josimar missed our best opportunity, running smartly onto a free kick which he placed the wrong side of the post.

And that was that, Port fell to yet another defeat with a performance of zero merit in a game that was frankly painful to watch. Jadet’s diamond formation offers nothing; Siwakorn (16) is uncomfortable playing to the right, Bodin doesn’t have license to roam in order to effect play and Sumanya, effectively the same player as Suarez, has been playing bollocks for far too long and doesn’t justify a starting place. Players we normally depend on like Dolah (4) and Suarez (5) aren’t performing to their usual standards and the new players seem pretty “meh”. Steuble had been solid but was at fault for the goal, Tanaboon (71) seemed very nervous at centre back and “El Toro” Blackburn put in a 1/10 performance and that’s me being very generous. We might as well have played with an actual bull up front. Credit to Dolah for talking to the fans at the service station after the match and also Watchara (1) who said a very brief hello to me and the missus. We must also call out Go (8) who swerved us when he saw a large group of us in Burger King; not cool and I hope you were gutted you didn’t get your whopper.

By the end of the weekend it was confirmed that Jadet has been relieved of his coaching duties and shunted upstairs, just like the ill-fated Zico experiment, and in comes Choketawee Promrut as coach while Spencer Prior becomes team manager. Again it looks like Madame wants to experiment and keep Jadet around as an insurance policy in case it all goes south, but something, anything needed to be done to stop the rot. New people bring fresh ideas to the table and hopefully there won’t be too much meddling in the background (stop laughing at the back), although 3 senior roles means there are already a lot of cooks ready to spoil the Port broth and Madame and her lackeys are standing right behind them armed with extra ladles.

 

Man of the Match: No One

 

Nope, none of them deserve it. I’m not even going to give it to the fans because all we did was bitch and moan then bugger off to drink outside. The opposition were just as bad and Murillo isn’t getting it for the goal because he was an absolute shithouse with a top knot. It was that bad an afternoon.

 

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