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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.

 

Air Farce: Port FC vs. Air Force Central FC, 28 March 2018

 

Port welcome Air Force to Klongtoey on Wednesday with some popular old faces set to make well-received returns to PAT Stadium. Of course it makes it easier to applaud opposition players and managers when they’re clear underdogs; indeed, despite possessing some enviable foreign-made offensive weaponry, Air Force have completely failed to get off the runway in 2018. Having sat forlornly at gate 18 for the first 5 weeks of the season, Air Force finally started taxiing in the right direction in week 6, but Port will be trying to make sure that their first flight is postponed for a few more days while Klongtoey’s finest sweep pig’s blood and pungent fish water from the runway. But enough about the walk home through the market, let’s talk football.

 

Air Force Central FC

Players to Watch

 

At the start of the season, many were speculating that Air Force would have one of the most fearsome forward lines in T1, and why not? With Renan Marques (14) fresh off a 27-goal season for Chonburi, Leandro Assumpcao (10) a 26-goal season for Sisaket and Muangthong and Jaycee John (22) scoring 10 in just 12 appearances for Bangkok United as he returned from injury, there was certainly reason for optimism. This bunch aren’t exactly spring chickens, though. At a combined 99 years old, this forward line has seen better days, but Port should certainly be weary of players with as much ability as this bunch. If and when they do fire up the jet engines, they will take some stopping.

 

Renan Marques and Leandro Assumpcao

 

It’s also worth mentioning that all three have seldom been used simultaneously. Manager Sasom has made like Ranieri and tinkered unyieldingly with his squad in an attempt to find the perfect formula, and it’s fair to say that his experimental alchemy has, so far, blown up in his face. Marques, Assumpcao and John have started together on just one occasion – a 2-0 loss against Pattaya – and between the three of them, they have managed just three goals in 2018. If I had to guess, I would say that after securing a 2-2 draw in their last outing, Sasom will stick with Marques and Assumpcao, with John being brought off the bench in the second half.

 

 

Then there are Port’s old flames. Manager Sasom is still a well-liked figure in Klongtoey, and he has called on his Port connections to bring in the likes of former Port captains Kiatjaroern Ruangparn (now retired) and Jirawat Makarom (7), as well as the most recent arrival: legendary winger Ekkapoom Potharungroj (36). Jirawat has been in and out of the team in central midfield, but Ekkapoom has played a part in every game to date, starting three and coming off the bench in the other three. Both players are largely as we remember them: polar opposites of eachother. Jirawat often struggles for pace in midfield but is capable of excellent quality given the opportunity, whereas Ekkapoom is a hard-working speedster who creates great opportunities for himself which he almost always squanders. Both are 32 years of age. I’m noticing a pattern here…

 

Jirawat and Ekkapoom

 

And right on cue to upset the narrative is Montenegrin centre half Aleksandar Kapisoda (5). Air Force captain and a reliable, physical presence at the back, Kapisoda has played every minute of the campaign so far, and is a relative spring chicken at the age of 28. It’s not every day, or indeed possibly ever before, that T1 has seen two Montenegrins face off, but Boskovic (23) vs. Kapisoda should be a key battle on Sunday.

 

Aleksandar Kapisoda

 

Form

 

There isn’t much to say that I haven’t said already on the form front. Air Force have scored just three times, making them by some distance the least potent attacking team in the league. They have lost to Sukhothai (1-2), Ratchaburi (0-1), Muangthong (0-1), Ubon (0-1) and Pattaya (0-2), before finally taking a point at home against fellow strugglers Chainat (2-2) in their last outing. So much for all those 4-3s we were expecting from the Eagles this term!

 

Port FC

Stick or Twist?

 

Jadet, me old mucker. Listen, big fella. Sooner or later, you’re going to have to give the Fresh Prince a start. 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. Fair enough, last season there was very little depth in Port’s squad, and it made a lot of sense to stick with the same XI whenever possible, but money has been spent, the squad drastically improved and there are now legitimate attacking options that are worth being tried for 90 minutes, not just 25. And don’t even get me started on The Flash (28)!

The only other potential change to Jadet’s XI is once again at the back. I expect that when Todsapol (6) returns to fitness he will return to the centre of Port’s defence, but as always with Todsapol, that could be next week or next year. Athibordee (35) hasn’t done a lot wrong since he’s been brought in, but I’m not going to be persuaded that a 5 foot 10 midfielder is anything other than an emergency stop-gap.

The rest of the side should remain as-is, with Port looking to bounce back after letting a 2-1 lead slip away to the ten men of Sukhothai a week and a half ago. They would do well to follow the lead of their B Team, who got back to winning ways in T4 by overcoming Airforce Robinson FC 1-0, with young superstar Chaowala Sriarwut (57) scoring in the first half to take his tally for the season to four. Time to mend some fences, fellas!

 

Predicted XI

 

I’m feeling brave. When I feel brave, I’m almost always wrong. Unfortunately, when it comes to predicting lineups, fortune decidedly does not favour the brave.

As we’ve seen a tactical innovation or two in recent games, with Port adopting distinctly different formations with and without the ball, you get two lineups for the price of one today. Firstly, here’s Port without the ball…

 

 

And when Port win the ball and Kim has waved his arms about a bit and shouted at a couple of people…

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True Sport 2 at 20:00 on Wednesday 28 March, 2018. For those who can’t make it to PAT 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.

 

Port Pluck Three Points from the Eagles: Port FC 1-0 Ubon UMT

 

 

After Port’s glass was shattered by the Rabbits last week the faithful were hoping for a decisive win in this week’s match against Ubon to cement our case as contenders.

With health scares for all three first team keepers, it was great to see Worawut (36) starting with Rattanai (17) in reserve. One surprise in the lineup saw Athibordee (35) lineup at center back next to Rochela (22). With Wuttichai (8) out injured and Yossawat (32) on loan, Piyachart (99) was the only ex-Portman in the Ubon lineup.

 

Game Summary

 

From the opening whistle Port were the aggressors, with Ubon managing very little possession. The Ubon keeper was tested early with Kim (8) ripping a shot at him 3 minutes into the game. Soon after Bole (23) fired a great cross that was just a bit too far for Suarez (5) to reach. Within a few minutes we had our first use of VAR at PAT where a play was reviewed for might have been a possible handball offense. [Ed – someone in Zone B suggested that a Suarez elbow was under review, but we’re not sure either.] After about a minute of review time the crowd began to get a bit restless. Guess they share Tim Russell’s view of VAR! And after the delay… nothing happened and the game resumed.

Port’s dominance continued with Ubon conceding a few corners, one coming when the Ubon Keeper flubbed a kick that was intended to give possession back to them after one of the first of many feigned injuries. The rest of the first half was more of the same; Port dominating possession, taking it wide, attempting a cross, and coming away with nothing.

Ubon’s one opportunity came at the 40 min mark when Worawut was forced to make a save from an on-target Aguinaldo (9) header off a Piyachart free kick.

The second half started with more of the same with the addition of endless time wasting due to “cramps” and other assorted “injuries.” For Port it was again possession, cross, miss and corner, miss. At 70 min Bodin (10) replaced Bole and immediately created a chance, which was of course again missed. Two more subs were made before injury time, Panpanpong (19) for Kevin (97) and Arthit (29) for Nurul (31). With the 5, minutes, which could have been 10 with all the Ubon “injuries,” of injury time running out Arthit electrified the home crowd with an on-target header into the top left corner of the net off a Pakorn (7) corner. The joy and relief among the PAT faithful was immense.

 

 

My Observations

 

Athibordee was a pleasant surprise at center back. A midfielder by trade, he was drafted this week to try and shore up a rather shaky back line and he did quite a nice job.

Ubon were abominable. As our resident Rottingham Crotchspur supporter Tim Walker observed, Ubon started wasting time from the 27th minute. Faking injuries, enough cramps to reanimate Lux Interior, the keeper delaying the kick, etc., etc. And to add to it, we allowed them to do it by kicking the ball out of bounds when one of their players went down. I am still flabbergasted that teams choose to kick the ball out of bounds before the ref blows the whistle. I really think if teams stopped doing this we’d see less of these incidents that occur all too much in Thai football. Port were not totally innocent as Nurul and Suarez each had a few dives during the match. Nurul goes to ground way to easily and would do far better staying on his feet, especially in the box. No wonder so many potential local fans shun the league in favor of the EPL. Watching a poor English side park the bus for 90 min is preferable to the mess we saw at PAT.

A win is a win. We’ll take it. Good teams win or draw when they don’t play well. But in this case, well, we kind of did play well, but were unable to capitalize on our many opportunities, which was a replay of last week’s second half. In all honesty the Port offense is very predictable; take the ball outside, cross it, try to score. Lather, rinse, repeat. And just a few matches into the season, I am sure other teams know our style and are prepared as Ubon was to defend against it. We are winning, but it is our superior talent that is carrying us, not our teamwork or our game plan. We can ride this only so far as we saw last week. We should have been up 2-0 at the half this week and scored another two against this very poor side in the second half, but instead we were left waiting for the miracle that occurred in the last minute, which truthfully is not a very convincing way to play and does not inspire confidence. For a talented squad, creativity is very low and I really don’t see that changing under the current regime. We’re a good team in a league with lots of mediocre teams. We can stake out a high finish on talent and individual effort alone, but if we want to get to the top, we’re going to have to play a different brand of football; one that we have never seen from a Port side. One that the top teams play. After watching two of those teams, BU and Buriram play each other Saturday night, I think Port have a ways to go before we can really consider ourselves contenders for the throne.

 

Port FC Man of the Match

 

 

Man of the match should go to the player who made the difference in the game, and that could only be one player, Arthit Boodjinda, the only Portman who was able to hit the target against a dismal Ubon side. It was a very good header.

 

Song of the Match

 

From The Cramps!

 

 

Podcast

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