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Singapore Slung : BG Pathum United 4-2 Port

 

10 man Port slumped to their first defeat of the season at the BG Stadium.

 

Team News

 

After completing 90 minutes, with his usual mid-match treatment session thrown in at the weekend, it would appear Ports “porcelain” shot stopper Rattanai, is again on the shelf with an injury. Worawut returned in goal, and the rest of the lineup was unchanged from the win over Khon Kaen United. To my amazement, Tanaboon was still in the midfield despite getting sent off at the end of the Khon Kaen fixture…Thai League rules I guess? William returned to the bench.

 

 

 

The Match

 

The opening exchanges were pretty bright, Teerasak was putting himself about again and running the channels. His strike partnership with Hamilton follows a very tried and tested formula, Teerasak is the pace and energy, Hamilton lumbers around as the battering ram that holds the ball up.

 

It was BG who took the lead 17 minutes in, a neat corner routine saw the ball played out to the edge of the “D”, before a cross was swung towards the back post where big Singaporian defender Irfan was able to get a free jump against Suphanan to head home.

 

 

Ports evening was about to get worse on 34 minutes though, just as Pakorn was about to take a free kick just inside the BG half, the ref suddenly darted towards the sideline for a VAR review. Sure enough, Tanaboon had been found guilty of throwing an elbow. Only about 30 odd minutes since his last red card, there was another one coming. The more they slowed down the footage, the more innocuous it looked. I’m guessing back-to-back red cards will come with a heftier suspension for him. Siwakorns shoes weren’t so hard to fill in the middle of the park after all. 4 matches in and that’s 3 red cards for Port now. 2 of them from “VAR Elbows”. To keep this match report under 3000 words, I won’t add any more to the weird and wacky way VAR decisions influence Thai matches every week….

 

 

Port were now having to pick their spots a bit more carefully being a man down, relying on counter attacks. Teerasak managed to cut in from the left but scuffed his shot horribly with Hamilton screaming for it on the penalty spot. It brought back horrible memories of seeing Boojindha do something similar up at Korat a few years ago, a moment which pretty much killed his Port career.

 

BG then doubled their lead a couple of minutes before the break with another long cross into the box, this time it was the other Singapore sibling, Ikhsan who was the beneficiary, out jumping Putros with another powerful header to make it 2-0.

 

It was starting to look like a grim evening all round, but just before the break, after Hamilton collided with Irfan,  another BG defender accidentally sliced it back towards the box, Teerasak controlled the loose ball on his chest and unleashed a powerful first time drive beyond the keeper to pull a goal back. Luckily VAR didn’t see anything in the Hamilton/Irfan collision and Port had a bit of hope as they headed in for half-time.

 

In the second half, Port were still trying to pick out counter attacks here and there. The lonely figure of Hamilton managed to hold the ball up long enough to play in Suphanan but his shot was saved. At the other end, Diogo fired in a dipping shot just wide of Wozzas post.

 

Enter Teerasil Dangda on the 66th minute, he may be getting up in years, but Thailand’s most notable number 9 snatched a ball out of the air, unleashing a thunderbastard* 1st time volley to make it 3-1. Of the 6 goals on view today, this was the pick of the bunch.

 

To cap things off for BG with 10 minutes to go, Pakorn would be punished for dicking around with possession in their own half, Conrado nipped in to punish Pakorn and our defence, dropping his shoulder in the box, doing a couple of step overs, before unleashing a curling rocket into the top corner. In celebration, he removed his shirt to show everyone that he hadn’t skipped bicep, triceps, delts or abs day in the last 6 months.

 

In the last knockings, William managed to grab himself a goal. Putros ignored the BG player rolling around on the floor near the byline and simply dribbled around him. The ball being constantly knocked out of play is a huge bugbear in Thai football, so this was easily the best thing he did all day. Putros squared the ball back to William who unleashed a low drive into the bottom corner to reduce arrears to 4-2 just before full time.

 

Final Thoughts

 

The VAR red card didn’t help tonight, but Ports defending was pretty woeful all evening. This was an early yardstick of where Port are in the grand scheme of things, and you can’t help but be envious of the BG squad. A lineup boasting Thai internationals Teerasil Dangda, Sarach, ex-Buriram stalwarts Diogo & Tunez. The Singapore Siblings as their Asean quota both scoring. The Brazilian powerhouse Conrado was only a substitute, despite banging in 53 goals for Khon Kaen and Trat the last few years. Port failed to break through the (Bangkok) glass ceiling again, and it looks like it could be another season where the likes of Khon Kaen, Nong Bua, and Prachuap will be despatched at a canter while BG, Buriram and  Bangkok United will continue to be a cut above.

 

 

Man Of the Match:  A horrible night to try and pick one, it was 5’s and 6’s out of 10 through the whole team. I will go for Teerasak, if only for the goal after making such a meal of his earlier chances, nice to see him keep plugging away and get some kind of reward.

 

Next up for Port is a trip to Nong Bua on Sunday evening. Nong Bua were one of my picks to struggle this year with the losses of Hamilton and Airton moving to the PAT, and they have lost all 5 matches so far. Surely Port isn’t going to gift them their first 3 points?.

 

(*thunderbastard = Powerful shot that bounces off the underside off the crossbar on the way in to the net)

 

Editor Note

 

Thai League craziness means that getting sent off for a second yellow counts as a mere two yellows and not a red in suspension terms, hence Tanaboon being available.

Cobra Dai! : Port 4-1 Khon Kaen Utd

 

 

Port put together another dominant display in the wet at the PAT to send the Cobras packing.

 

Back to the couch!

 

For the third weekend in a row, the weather was going to have a big say in proceedings for Port. I was caught in the deluge at Tero last week, and as the storm clouds moved in again around 5pm, it was looking like another washout was going to be on the cards.

 

Having been sat in the dentists chair for a wisdom tooth extraction that afternoon, I’d been warned not to drink for a while, an early trip to the Sandpit was becoming less of a reality, more so once the anaesthetic wore off and the storm kicked in. AIS play was again going to be my means of seeing the match.

 

Team News

 

There were quite a few changes from the aborted match with Tero, but the team was pretty much the same as the one that faced Prachuap, with Rattanai between the sticks for the first time in a while and Hamilton back from suspension, his presence was missed last week vs. Tero! Kevin was back in the squad.

 

 

 

 

With no let-up in the rain, there was no way the match was going to kick-off on time at 7pm, pictures began to emerge of the food and drink stalls area being flooded. The FA decided to buy a bit of time and review things again after 7pm. To the surprise of most, we were back on again, the pitch was cleared using whatever tools available, the players warmed up around 7:30, and some lines were repainted in front of Zone B, we finally got underway at 8:20pm. The stadium had filled up again surprisingly well, considering the fans had been left out in the rain for an hour (again) while the Thai FA deliberated on playing or not.

 

 

Pic: Port FC Facebook

 

 

 

The Match

 

Port had opted to attack Zone B first again, the pitch was especially boggy in front of the Port dugout. In the first couple of minutes, Suarez was clean through but had his shot saved.

 

Then, the shithousery begins, the KKU keeper going down injured after a ball thrown back from zone B hit him on the head. Although his very job description is blocking the ball, this one triggered a reaction like he’d been struck with a 50p coin. I started to fear this was going to be a long evening if the time wasting was going to start so early on top of the awful conditions. It wasn’t just Khon Kaen to be fair, Hamilton later went down during some corner argy-bargy like he’d been punched in the nuts, but the replay showed this was nowhere near a repeat of Vinnie Jones and Gazza. This kind of thing is embarrassing and doesn’t help endear Thai football to the existing fans or anyone just happening to surf through the channels.

 

The overall spectacle was both great and terrible in equal measures, players slipping over and balls sticking in the mud. Port have always been quite adept at playing in these conditions at the PAT and manage to get the passing just right based on which areas of the pitch are more playable.

 

8 minutes in and Port took the lead, Teerasak managed to lose his defender, then recover from his own slip to slide the ball to a waiting Hamilton to tap home from 10 yards out. Less than 10 minutes later Port doubled their lead, and I was contemplating how much of the Prachuap match report I could copy and paste. Pakorn curled in a free kick from near the touchline of zone A that managed to avoid the wall, and a couple of defenders on the near post. Another sublime free kick from Ports dead ball specialist.

 

 

pic credit: Singhphanakon Facebook

 

 

Khon Kaen did catch Port on the break and thought they’d pulled one back but the linesman’s flag had other ideas.

 

Port were continuing to out run and out fight KK in the wet, the team looks fitter this season, with talk that training is a lot more structured under Coach Cooper. Port should have made it 3 before half-time, Tanasith (who’d replaced Bordin) saw his shot painfully get stuck in the mud, just short of the line, the ball came out to Hamilton, but somehow his shot ended up in Zone B, missing the unguarded net.

 

Port went in 2-0 up at the break, but my fear was that Khon Kaen might come back at us after half-time, due to the state of the pitch. But Port simply carried on as they left off before half-time, pressuring the Khon Kaen defence and managing to pass around them. Teerasak had one struck off after a corner found it’s way to him and he tapped home from a couple of yards out, the offside flag was to deny him. There was also a superfluous VAR check on top of this that dragged on, despite it being clear from the first replay at normal speed that it was still offside. It’s almost as if the guys in the Thai VAR room still enjoy the novelty of pissing around with the super slow-mo and drawing the offside lines on the freeze frame. I’ll say it again, this kind of stuff doesn’t help endear the existing fans or any casual fans tuning in.

 

 

Pic credit: Singhphanakon Facebook

 

 

Teerasak finally got his goal with 15 minutes to go, a counter attack started with Hamilton stealing the ball on the halfway line ended with Pakorn chipping a pass over the Khon Kaen defenders to an unmarked Teerasak to slot home. He’d worked his butt off all game, even chasing back to his own half to press Khon Kaen players, if anyone deserved a goal, it was him.

 

Pakorn completed the rout a few minutes later, curling one into the top corner from the edge of the box with his left foot.

 

Port couldn’t quite complete the perfect day at the office, Logan Paul lookalike Romulo pulled one back in the last minute, after another lengthy VAR check that overruled the Linesman’s offside call. Next, Tanaboon saw red in the last knockings, picking up a needless 2nd yellow, kicking out at a Khon Kaen player deep in the KK half, with Port in no danger at all, and the referee about to blow up anyway.

 

9 goals in the last 2 home games, the new system is bearing some fruit, but it does remain a concern what happens when Hamilton is side-lined. Watching some of his antics last night, I get the feeling he’ll rack up more suspension time as the season wears on.

 

Probably to the relief of the groundsman, Port don’t have a home match again until 2nd October. Port travel to BG on Wednesday followed by another away trip to Nong Bua on Sunday.

 

 

 

 

 

Man of the Match: PAKORN PREMPAK – one of the last survivors of the 2016 promotion team is still a key player after all these years. One assist and two superb goals last night. If this form can continue, Mano must be looking at him for the Thai squad, I’m sure Madame will be in his ear!

 

 

Port vs. Prachuap Report: Four Four ****ing Two = 5-2

 

 

 

After the drab 0-0 opener with Lamphun, Port truly got their season out of the starting blocks with a 5-2 squashing of Prachuap, on a very wet evening at the PAT.

 

Team News:

 

 

Negueba was missing from the squad, presumably injured or sick. One of “the twins”, Thitathorn was in at left back, with Suarez in the midfield alongside Tanaboon. Hamilton was making his full debut alongside Teerasak up top. In this age of tactical complication, were we playing a simple 4-4-2? Had Scott scribbled down the team on the back of a Marlboro packet?

 

 

My Matchday Experience (or lack thereof)

 

Getting around Bangkok can be a pain in the arse at the best of times, throw a heavy rain storm in to the mix and you’re totally screwed. The rain started around 5pm with the match kicking off at 7pm. Around half 6 and the rain was still falling, I was still stuck at home, sat on the couch in my newly purchased away shirt, losing all hope of reaching the stadium a) on time and b) dry!

 

Realising my plan of seeing a Friday night game at the PAT was quickly dissolving, I decided to watch at home with a cold Leo from the fridge, but quickly discovered the match was not going to be for free on the AIS platform. As I wrote in my season preview on the Chonburi site, after the last few years of alienating the fanbase, the last thing the Thai League product needs is to be putting so many games behind a paywall.

 

While I pondered giving my laptop every digital disease possible in the search for a slightly more verboten streaming source, my girlfriend managed to purchase the AIS Thai League package on her phone. I had no desire to watch the match on her Samsung Galaxy, and luckily it was quite easy to “push” the video through to my TRUE box, and the quality was actually half-decent and didn’t cut out. Also, with my current condo having a surround system, I could now hear the musings of the Zone B screamer coming from the speakers behind my sofa.

 

My Dad used to referee in the local Sunday league back home, and the very simple check for games going ahead most winter weeks usually involved attempting to roll the ball a few meters, if it couldn’t roll, that was it – Game off. In Thailand however, the yardstick for a match postponement seems much higher, many a time, games have gone ahead in spite of almost slapstick conditions. Last nights match was no exception here, and it kicked off on time at 19:00. I have applauded the decision to have the season run August – May instead of February – October, we’re still going to catch some of wet season, but hopefully just the arse end of it.

 

Due to the tomfoolery with activating AIS detailed above, my view of the match for the first few minutes was the livescore.com ticker, I’d missed Captain Tanaboon unleashing a 25 yard piledriver to give Port an early lead.

 

I thought Port had doubled their lead around 20 minutes in with Pakorns cross making it’s way through to the industrious Teerasak to tap home. However, for not the first time in the evening, VAR was about to poop the party, judging that Tanaboom had committed a foul in the build up.

 

It is always weird to see Port kicking towards Zone B in the first half but there must have been some logic here as the swamp that was forming at the PAT was clearly harder to defend at the Zone B end and Port were coming forward in wave after wave. A few minutes after being denied a second goal, Port did double their lead.

 

I had been screaming at the TV for Port to put the ball on Hamiltons head at every opportunity, this tactic had served Nong Bua so well last season. Pakorns corner kick did just that, with Hamilton in space on the penalty spot, nodding it in to the bottom corner. A few minutes later, Port seemed to put the contest beyond doubt with Bordin picking the pocket of a lone Prachuap defender on the halfway line, breaking away into counter attack with Prachuap players still chasing back. He squared the ball to Teerasak who rounded the keeper only to see his effort cleared off the line by a defender at the last second. The ball rolled out to Pakorn who crossed it back in, this time the woodwork was to deny Teerasaks shot, but the rebound fell to a grateful Bordin, who fired home from 6 yards to cap off an attacking move that he himself had started off.

 

Teerasak was putting in a great shift, but was again denied a goal after executing a great drag-back which left Aris chasing his own shadow, leaving him a free shot that dipped just wide of the post. Port rounded off the first half rout a couple of minutes before half-time with another corner into the box, Hamilton again had the space and time to take a running jump at it, unleashing a powerful header to make it 4-0.

 

 

 

 

With Port attacking Zone D in the second half, they found themselves with a bit more defending to do in front of the boggy Zone B end, and Prachuap pulled a consolation goal back on 65 minutes. However, Port went straight up the other end to restore the 4 goal advantage. Hamilton had done all the damage with his head in the first half, but we were starting to see what we could do with his feet too, a few minutes before the 5th goal, he’d seen a low shot pushed away by the Prachuap keeper. When he next had the ball near the penalty area, 2 Prachuap defenders instantly began to move in on him like he had some kind of magnetic pull. Hamilton gave them “the eyes” and played a no-look pass to Bordin, who now had the freedom of Klong Toey to stroke it in to the bottom corner. Prachuap still had a little bit of sting left, and reduced arrears to 5-2 on 74 minutes with a nice little move of 1 touch chipped passes that ended in Samuel Rosa volleying in from close range.

 

With 10 minutes left, VAR would rear it’s ugly head again. Hamilton and Aris had been tussling most of the game, and it was decided that this time, Hamilton had landed an elbow. His debut had been almost perfect, but was now going to end in an early bath. At full speed the incident looked pretty innocuous, even when they slowed it down to less than a snails pace, it still didn’t look that malicious. Big Aris certainly made the most of it.

 

 

The rest of the match fizzled out with Port holding on quite easily, We did end with 10 vs 10 though. Prachuap introduced a sub who was yellow carded, and then red carded all in the space of 5 minutes after being sent on. The match had already been long since settled, a fantastic night for Port, soured by the controversial red card.

MAN OF THE MATCH

 

 

 

Bordin Phala – There were plenty of contenders on this rain sodden evening. 2 goals for Hamilton, Pakorn had 3 assists (2 from corners), but Bordin was doing a lot of the heavy lifting in all of the attacks in open play Port were putting together, grabbing two goals himself. With his groundings in Futsal, you wouldn’t think a wet Friday night at the PAT on a heavy pitch would be his kind of match, but he seemed to thrive in the conditions, oft making a mockery of the Prachuap defence. While they were left looking like “Bambi on ice”, slipping and sliding around. Bordin was looking like both Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean rolled into one….on ice.

 

Teerasak also deserves a mention for putting himself about and was unlucky not to be amongst the goals himself. It’s hard for Thai strikers to get game time and goals to their name, but I think he has the most potential to get double figures this year, excuse me while I get my tin hat at the ready and say I think he’ll go further than former Sandpit cult hero Arthit “Pele” Boojinda.

 

After missing the first game through illness, Hamilton will now sit out again with a suspension. I’m hoping he’ll get an extended run in the team, in the 6 years I’ve been going to Port, the foreign striker spot has been somewhat jinxed. Heavy is the head that wears the crown…..Thiago Cunha, Kalu, Boskovic, Heberty, Boli and Bonila have all failed to deliver goods on anything resembling a consistent period, Josimar was the best of a pretty rotten bunch, but it always felt like he was only a “Plan B”, and not someone they wanted to build the team around.

 

This is the most hopeful I’ve felt about a striker signing since Boskovic, and for 80 minutes yesterday, it felt like we’ve finally solved the striker conundrum, and with Teerasak as his foil, we could actually have a fun striking partnership. Sometimes modern football is overly complicated, it’s nice to go back to basics.

 

Play 4-4-****ing-2.

Launch the ball at Hamiltons head.

Job done.

Port Dusit All Over Again. Another Manager Fails To Fix The Seemingly Unfixable

Another day another self-inflicted backwards step for Port. This morning it’s been announced that coach Dusit has resigned after the recent poor run of form. The official line is that Dusit decided to walk after starting the season with 4 wins 3 draws and 4 defeats, which failed to meet the goals set for the season. A position you could believe. However once again it’s a coach failing to make a noticeable change at Port. In this case, the one who won the league last season. As Port go on doing the same things as under every previous manager. Maybe the problem isn’t with the manager but goes a little deeper. Coach  Sarawut “Oud” Treephan, cements his position as the new Jadet, stepping in to replace the man who replaced him preseason. Port play Racthaburi this evening at 7pm which makes the timing of this coming out evening odder. Good luck to Dusit where ever he goes next, its bound to be less of a circus than Port and hopefully his hands aren’t tied like you suspect they were over the last few months.

The clubs official statement is linked below.

Worawut Saves! : True Bangkok United 1 – 1 Port FC

The latest Bangkok derby was an edgy affair, played out in a raucous Thammasat Stadium, with Port running off into the night with a point earned by a late penalty save by Worawut Srisupha. In season’s past, this was normally a fixture where Port would capitulate but they stood toe to toe for much of the game and gave a better account of themselves than last week’s draw with Police Tero.

 

Much of the improved football was due to coach Dusit’s insightful team selection. Clearly, he had worked out from last week that he didn’t have the personnel to play the formation that won him the championship at Bangkok Glass. ‘Baresi’ Namvech was the fall guy in defence, dropped for left back Jaturapat, which helped pair up Dolah and Rochela more closely as 2 traditional centre backs, and in came Siwakorn for the much maligned Tanaboon to add a little more guile in the midfield. This reshaping of the defensive line and holding midfielders was key in helping the attacking quartet of Bordin, Suarez, Pakorn and Bonilla play more direct and effective football.

 

Port started the brighter team and in the fourth minute, Pakorn played an early long ball down the right channel for Bonilla, who drove into the box with intent and fired a deflected shot off Thai ‘international’ Bihr that hit the crossbar. At the other end, ex-Port bête noire Heberty flashed a free kick past the Worawut’s post, then headed over from close range. 36 minutes in and Port snached the first goal; Bordin played a searching ball along the left wing for Suarez to chase but the smart money would be on Bihr to see the ball out. The tricky Spaniard tenaciously wrestled Bihr off the ball and raced into the box to square to Freeeeeeeeeee Nelson Bonilla to slot home his first goal of the season from close range.

 

Nelson Bonilla celebrating his opener.

 

A deserved lead but United didn’t take long to equalize. Roared on by the famous Thammasat atmosphere in their next attack, they worked a long ball into the box to midfielder Thossawat who squared the ball to our old friend Heberty but was denied by a swift intervention from Siwakorn. The ball remained in play on the left and Vander Luiz, a constant threat all match, took possession just on the edge of the box. He then preceded to pull Siwakorn’s pants down with a simple turn and fired the ball into the far top corner. For all the quality of the finish, questions must be asked as to why Siwakorn didn’t hoof the ball into touch in the first place and then allow Vander to go past him with a simple yet deadly piece of skill.

 

The niggly football in the first half was replaced with a much more expansive style of play in the second with both teams happy to attack. Port had several chances with little end product, the closest a corner in the 63rd minute which Dolah met but couldn’t direct towards the goal. Then United took control of proceedings, regularly bearing down on the Port goal but thankfully most chances were wasted by their new striker Anthony Carter. If I was the owner of Bangkok United I would be scrambling around for the receipt from his transfer because I would definitely want a refund after his poor showing.

 

Always a bit of spice to BKKU V Port. Wisarut goes in on Bordin.

 

Then the match defining moment; the 85th minute saw yet another United attack and Carter managed to nudge the ball back to the advancing Heberty. He took a touch and then fired the shot at goal, only for Dolah to block it with his left arm. Cruel on the defender who was having an excellent game up until then but it was a clear penalty and to his credit he didn’t complain to the referee and disconsolately accepted his fate. Heberty, who let’s be honest didn’t make many friends during his time as a Port player to put it mildly, stepped up against Worawut, a goalkeeper who hasn’t had a solid start to the season to put it very mildly as well. The crowd, hushed but expectant for the winning goal, watched Heberty run up to the ball and crack a powerful shot to his right but not out of range for the save. Worawut guessed correctly and dived left, punching the ball away with both hands. The punch was good enough for the onrushing Anon to spoon the rebound over the goal. The crowd was truly silenced but it cued pandemonium from our redeemed keeper, who is known to enjoy an on pitch celebration of his own saving prowess. Both sides huffed and puffed for the remaining minutes but to no avail and the referee called time on an entertaining second half.

The save and moment of the match as Worawut denies Heberty

With 24 hours to reflect on Port’s performance the only way to view it is positive; a much improved team selection prompted more effective football which, granted it wasn’t perfect, showed what the team is capable of. We displayed grit and determination during some of the tougher moments of the match and held our own in the on pitch battles. I’ve seen Port battered for 90 minutes in this fixture previously and although we couldn’t replicate the smash and grab victory of last season I feel there are better things to come after this match. 2 draws from our first 2 matches is hardly breathtaking stuff but we’ll take it and search for a victory in the next match.

Missing penalties in successive matches would put quite a dent in any normal ego, we suspect Heberty however will be fine.

MOTM: Worawut Srisupha

 

He bloody saved a late penalty from Heberty! Who else was it going to be?

 

“Look at his face, just look at his face”. Worawut with another classic reacion.

 

 

 

 

Siv-a Me Timbers – More aggression required in midfield Bangkok United v Port Preview

 

Another weekend: another game! Thai football is back, and all fans will be hoping for a much improved performance on matchday two. Personally, I was left with mixed emotions after the opening game of the season, largely due to the fact that I was quite proud of how we’d recovered after finding ourselves 2-goals down. My annoyance: the fact that we’d been 2-goals down in the first place. Considering that the club had the advantage of a somewhat competitive pre-season due to the Asian Champions League, there should be no excuses for some of the performances that we were forced to endure.

There were close to a handful of players who let us down on the weekend, and although I’d like to name them, I think it’ll be quite noticeable who I was less than impressed with when selecting my preferred team for the weekend.

 

Coach Dusit with issues to address in training.

 

For a moment though, let’s travel back for the ‘key moments’ of our game against Police Tero:

5’ – A sloppy pass from Tanaboon results in a cheap turnover, with Evandro receiving a penetrating pass from Honey. Port players jog casually in their attempts to close him down, nobody actually moves towards him to block his route to goal, and the Brazilian lets rip from range. 1-0, and whilst it was a good strike: Worawut should’ve done better. It went straight over his hand!

22’- After Bordin was unable to connect with a Pakorn cross/shot a little bit earlier, a lovely cross from Bonilla is met by the head of Sergio Suarez. It wasn’t the most powerful header that you’ll ever see, but it was placed perfectly, and it was a deserved equalizer for us. This would be the only moment of the game that you’d notice Bonilla actually on the pitch for us, apart from him appearing to almost cause the Tero players to erupt later in the game.

24’ – He’s done it once already: surely he won’t do it again..? Every time I watch this back, it just makes me angrier. The tracking of him from Tanaboon when Evandro received the ball was… pathetic. He’s not even sprinting, trying to catch him, and simply put: it was unacceptable. Again, I think that a defender should’ve broken the line to try and shut him down, but this was an even better strike than the first. Nothing Worawut could do about this one, it was a cracker.

29’ – VAR is called upon for the first time. Personally: I didn’t think it was a penalty. Firstly, I’m not sure about the contact, but more importantly: Sergio was never reclaiming possession of the ball. The right decision was made, so all the “Port get dodgy pen, after dodgy pen” conspiracy theorists can put away their tinfoil hats.

32’ – Hands down some of the worst goalkeeping that I’ve seen in the past 5-years, and it enables Tero to double their lead. I won’t talk about this too much, as it just makes me want to throw my laptop out the window. At least my decision to call Honey a key player for Tero in my season previews was vindicated! 3-1.

40’ – A decent ball in from Roller eventually ends up at the feet of Bordin, who has an effort on goal. Ekkachai attempts to block the ball, and in my opinion, his arms are far enough away from his body for it to be a penalty. Let me be clear: 5-years ago this wasn’t a penalty. The rule changes, interpretations, and all the other nonsense that has crept into the game have made this a penalty, and although I’m glad we got it… it’s still somewhat farcical to me.

44’ – So the VAR and subsequent protestations took 4’: what a great addition to the game it is! Anyway, the pen from Rochela was bang average, and the ‘keeper knocks it into the post. Cue a goalmouth scramble, and we’ve got ourselves back into the game at 3-2.

54’ – Bordin forces a good save out of the Tero ‘keeper, Roller gets the scraps, cuts it back to Sergio, who places the ball brilliantly into the back of the net. 3-3, game on, and if the fans were in the stadium: an atmosphere that would’ve made the Tero players crumble.

 

That’s the end of the goalscoring action, and though there were other moments worth noting, I probably delved too much into the game already. My apologies! I only hope that Dusit had a fair few stern words for the players in the change-room after the game, because although we came back to draw: those are the games we need to be winning if we’re to have any chance of silverware this season. Do I think silverware is likely? Not really, no, bar maybe a cup competition. Do I hope we win the league: of course! I’m just trying to be realistic, and although we now have a good coach in the dugout, there’s still the issues that we’ve been speaking of on the terraces since I began going to games in 2016.

Let’s touch upon Bangkok United in their game against Chiangmai United for a moment. Firstly: their away jersey looks horrendous. Secondly: the goal they conceded was as comical as the 3rd goal we conceded to Tero. Thirdly; Heberty might’ve scored a nice equalizer, but he took the ball off his teammate’s foot in order to do it: meaning he’s still extremely selfish. Fourthly: his penalty miss was a delight, so thanks Nont! Fifthly: Heberty scored the winner, which gets a major BOOO from me. He’s shown more emotion for Bangkok United in 1 game this season than he ever did for us. My memories of him in a Port jersey, are just of him sulking, shooting from 40-yards at least 4-5 times a game, and popping up with a few goals… he still looks like he’s sulking for Bangkok United.

 

 

Nont saves!

 

 

WHAT I WOULD LIKE TO SEE FROM US AGAINST BANGKOK UNITED

Simply put: better organization. I’m hoping that the majority of our work on the training pitch this week is focused on our defensive shape, as we all know how capable we are in front of goal. The goalscoring potential in this team isn’t an issue in the slightest, and on another day… we score more than 3 against Tero. We hit the woodwork, forced a few saves, and so on. Our attack isn’t our weakness at all. It’s what we’re doing at the back that’s the main concern for me, and I’m confident that over time… it’ll be fixed. I do think that we’ll need to make some changes mid-season to fix it properly, and I’m of the opinion that Dusit will be looking forward to the mid-season transfer window very much.

All I ask of the lads against Bangkok United is they just look competent defensively. Track your runners, shut the opposition players down before they’ll shoot, and my god: PLEASE don’t concede from a set-piece for a little while.

Oh, and if we can give Heberty a bit of stick over the 90’, that’d be great too!

 

HOW I’D LIKE US TO LINE-UP

 

GK – Watchara or Rattanai. Basically: anyone but Worawut. Let him sit on the pine for a few weeks.

 

RCB – “Baresi” [Worawut]. Shift him over to the right side.

CB – Dolah. Charge him with organizing the backline, and allow him to break the line if someone is going to shoot from range.

LCB – Thitathorn. Natural left-sided player, get him in the XI, and place some trust in him.

 

RM – Roller. No complaints about his performance at all.

CM – Siwakorn or Kannarin. Never start Tanaboon again, hopefully, that performance was enough to convince Dusit to sell him again.

CM – Go. Whilst it wasn’t his best performance, he was much better in the second half in my opinion. He’s still a quality player, and if we don’t ask him to babysit his midfield partner: we’ll be better off.

LM – Bordin. He was a delight, but PLEASE OH PLEASE, NEVER SUB HIM FOR NURUL AGAIN. In my opinion, it’s time to ship Nurul out: he’s finished.

 

AM – Pakorn. HOW GOOD WAS HE!? I’ve never seen him in such good shape… EVER. I thought he was great in the ACL, and I thought he was good on the weekend too. His set-piece delivery and crosses were threatening most of the time.

AM – Suarez. The amount of times he’s gotten us out of a mess is remarkable. A great performance, he’s the first name on the team sheet.

ST – Nelson [begrudgingly]. His assist was nice, but if he could actually be a menace for 90’, that’d be great. He’s [probably] auditioning for his spot in the second leg, and his performance against Tero wouldn’t have helped his cause.

 

IN CONCLUSION

With the game to be played at Thammasat Stadium with no fans in attendance, I’m assuming that the best port of call to watch the game will either be at home, or at The Sportsman. I apologize for the long write-up, the somewhat “rant-iness” [yes, I made up a word] of it all, and I hope to see us get 3-points on the weekend! It should be a good game to watch, and I only hope that Thitiphan doesn’t make us regret not getting a deal over the line for him during the transfer window with an imperial performance against us. Regardless: susu Tarua!

The match will be shown live on AISPLAY (possibly limited to AIS network users) and NNU-5 at 18:00 on Sunday 12 Septermber, 2021. Fans are not allowed to attend the game, so the best way to watch with fellow Port fans is to head to The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13  who will show the match on a big screen.

you all knew it was coming

 

 

 

Despite Holding On, Police Cut N Run With A Point: Port FC 3 – 3 Police Tero

 

 

 

Port opened the season against a Bay City Rollers themed Police Tero side. Come full time any fears the arrival of pragmatic coach Dusit, would stop Port matches being entertainment were put to bed, as the sides produced an enthralling 90 minutes, with the spoils ultimately shared.  The fun started with the arrival of the team sheet, as Dusit began his mission to bring back the good times to Klong Toei by springing a few surprises from the mega mix of a Port squad. The biggest being the absence of Siwakorn (16) from the matchday squad, presumably injured. With his normal central midfield spot, alongside Go (8) going to Tanaboon (17). As expect Dusit deployed his a wingback system with the central defensive roles going to Rochela (22), Dolah (4) and Worawut-Baresi (24), Roller (33) came in at right wingback and Bordin (10) was surprisingly deployed in a more defensive role than normal on the left. Supporting Bonilla (9) were Port’s two standout performers of the evening in Pakorn (7) and Suarez (5).

 

Police Tero- Criminal away kits

 

For Police one former Port cult hero, Arthit “Pele” Boodjinda, started while the other Anon was nowhere to be seen. And it was their side who would make the first decisive play of the evening, Isaac Honey collected a misplaced Port pass and from on halfway played a ball to Evandro Paulista, who was in rather too much space between the Port defence and midfield, the Brazilian carried the ball forward unchallenged and from 25 yards unleashed a swerving a shang-a-lang of a shot to the left of Worawut(36). 1-0 Police.

There after Port began to apply the pressure and were rewarded in the 23rd minute, as some neat work by Bonilla evaded three Police defenders, giving the El Salvadorian the space to place an exquisite cross onto Suarez’s head, who guided the ball into the far corner. 1-1. Anyone thinking Tero’s first was just a case of early season rustiness and Port would kick on and to the expected victory, was to be disappointed. As the cobwebs were on show again just a minute later, as Evandro Paulista thought I’d do it again and worked his once upon a star success for the second time, scoring from near identical build up, this time he received the ball inside the centre circle and was again allowed to advance unchallenged towards the Port box, before unleashing a drive from slightly further out and sending the ball into the other side of the Port goal. It was an angel baby of a strike, only let down by the sight of a man just shy of his 34th birthday unironically doing the Ronaldo celebration.  2-1 Police.

 

It was one of those nights where Sergio Suarez was flying

 

If Worawut could be given the benefit of doubt for the first two goals, Tero’s third, on 32 minutes, was a classic howler. In my season preview, l spoke about each of our keeping options being flawed, with Wozza the biggest has always been coming for crosses and here it showed again as ball and keeper were like strangers in the wind as he ran into a group of four Port defenders marking only one Police attacker and succeeded in only flapping the ball into space on the edge of the six yard box. Where it was a case of on the money (Isaac) Honey as the unmarked Ghanaian showed his noted attacking ability, sending a bicycle kick into the unguarded net. 3-1 Police.

Port again took control of the game, pushing for the goal that would get them back into contention. They were rewarded when with 5 minutes left in the half, Roller’s cross evaded everyone in the middle and was collected by Bordin, who shot for goal, with a Police defender, diving to block it. Before the ball has sailed wide, the appeals started. As soon as the review was confirmed and the first replay shown, it was easy to see why. The ball clearly strikes Ekkachai’s outstretched arm. Here we go VAR moan one of the season, sadly l suspect numerous more to come.  The issue is, why it takes nearly four minutes to agree upon the obvious and get the penalty taken. That’s before we get on to what should and shouldn’t constitute handball and the issue of consistency when you add the handball penalty VAR reviews against Maungthong and Buriram for similar in the league.  Considerably shorter and less enraged than normal, that’s either progress or acceptance of this deeply flawed system. Back to the game. Rochela stepped up and fired his spot kick to the left, keeper Kittipong was able to get a hand to it and steer it onto the post but el capitán was Johnny on the spot, getting to the ball first and steering it home. 3-2 Police at halftime in one of the more entertaining halves for neutrals.

The second half saw Port again dominating proceedings and they were rewarded inside 10 minutes, as a Bordin shot was parried by Kittipong, the attempted clearance fell to Roller, whose debut whilst not quite Rollermania, still showed plenty of promise. The ex Ratchaburi man pulled the ball back to Suarez on the edge of the box, who span away from his marker and fired home. All square 3-3.

On a typical Saturday night at the PAT, with this match unfolding, the place would be rocking and the crowd playing their part, as the home team went on the hunt for a winner. As it was Police found themselves holding on in front of empty stands. There would be chances at both ends, with Worawut earning at least one “super save” from the commentators, something I’m glad remains with coverage having moved to AIS. Suarez was denied a deserved hattrick as the merest flick of Kittipong’s palm sent the ball onto the woodwork. Go would then lay on two opportunities, firstly for Nurul (13) heading the ball to the diminutive substitute, who may have been offside but avoided the need for a VAR check by fluffing his lines for 7 yards out unmarked. Before in injury time, Bonilla didn’t quite have the electric wheels required to get on to a through ball from the Korean, which would have left just the keeper to beat. Add in a free kick on the edge of the box for the impressive Pakorn and there were chances to claim all three points. The match however finished with Evandro Paulista clearly thinking the way l feel tonight I might as well go for a third long range spectacular but it was a case of there goes my baby as it sailed well wide to end the match.

A what could have been moment for Nurul

 

A disappointing result but at this stage of the season all we can do is keep on dancing, show the required dedication in training this week, ensure as a group the lads don’t stop believing and hopefully we’ll have a magic feeling at fulltime in the weekends trip to Bangkok United. It’s far too early to pass judgement on the Dusit era and even a defeated out in Rangsit would be too early for calls to see him back on the street. Give him time and the results will come. After all 90 minutes into his time at Port, we’ve conceded nearly a quarter of the goals his BG team did in a season, things surely improve. It was also the first time a Dusit led team have conceded three league goals in just under 3 weeks shy of two years – the last team to do it were Ayutthaya United in T2, hopefully, he can go as long before it happens again. With all our expected rivals at the top of the table dropped points bar the one we face next, there’s still everything to play for.

 

 

Man of the Match – Sergio Suarez.

New season same Sergio Suarez, long may it continue.

 

And finally, incase you missed it, a great shot from the Klong Toei VIP section.

,

The Sandpit 2021/22 Big Guess Up – Port

On many levels, it was a closed season much like the majority in the Pang era for Port. As the club went out and purchased the league’s best available attacking option. Once again failing to address the fact that it’s an out and out goalscorer we needed and not another attacking midfielder/winger/second striker to add to an already overstocked squad.  So, in came John Baggio from Sukhothai, perhaps they didn’t realise the diminutive Malagasy preferred role, as we went into the ACL campaign with him as our main attacking option and Nelson Bonilla (9) dropped from the squad. And who knows if he’d found the net rather than the crossbar when presented with a golden opportunity two minutes into his debut against Hong Kong’s Kitchee, perhaps his Port career and the ACL campaign would have worked out differently. As it was, it would prove to be the end of the “Oud” era as Sarawut Treephan paid with his job for failing to grasp possible the best chance we’ll get to advance to the knock out stage of the continental competition anytime soon.  I liked Oud and though there were moments where we showed signs of trying to play some more cerebral football but it’s hard to defend a guy when his tactics, as they were by the latter stages of that Kitchee game, are reduced to firing long balls up to a bloke who’s a mere 5ft2 tall. Besides for once when presented with a golden opportunity, the Port board took advantage and made a shrewd move. As in came Dusit Charlermsan.

 

John Baggio Port’s short time star

 

 

Head Coach – Dusit Charlermsan

 

There’s been plenty written about what happened at BG Pathum United leading up to Dusit’s departure but when a manager wins you the league for the first time, to send him packing to one of your minion clubs, rather than just making him step aside in the short term, due to the licencing requirements of the ACL group stage, it should come as no shock he takes it as a bit of a slight.  BG’s loss is Port’s gain, as rather than having to still turn up at Leo stadium, to managing the Bunnies cast off, kids etc of Rajpracha in T2, Dusit moves into central Bangkok to take charge of Port.

Under him BG won the league last season looking untroubled. They were unbeaten while the competition was still alive and conceded just 13 goals and kept 18 clean sheets over the season. Playing a system built on a rock solid back five. Added to that goals regularly came from set pieces, an area where Port has been sub par in recent years, so hopefully, we see an improvement there.

It’ll be interesting to see how Dusit sets up his Port team. The defence at BG was fairly fixed, will he again settle on one preferred lineup and use it when available or mix things up? In the middle of the defence, the el capitán Wheel of fortune has landed on “in” twice in a row, for the first time in a while, so David Rochela (22), keeps his place for the league campaign. I can see him playing in the middle of the three CBs. There are a multitude of options to play alongside him, the physical presence of Elias Dolah (4), the effortless libero stylings of Worawut “Baresi” Namvech (24), Tanaboon Kesaret (17) offers more going forward and could get plenty of times against lesser teams, then there’s Adisorn Pomrak (20) and twins Thitawee (2) and Thitathorn (3) Aksornsri who will be looking to establish themselves at the club beyond their advertising work.

 

Dusit in his first spell managing Port

 

 

The wingback/fullback role presents two distinct and different options on each side. Nitipong Selanon (34) and Jaturapat (15) offer more defensive stability, however, in Kevin Deeromram (23) and Philip Roller(33) we have two great wingback options who will trouble anyone in the league going forward. Roller arrived from Rathaburi over the closed season, having finished last season as the top scoring Thai, all the more impressive as he did whilst playing wingback. Sadly Kevin starts the season recovering from surgery but ultimately when everyone is available, I hope we play the more attacking options.

The keeper situation still hasn’t been addressed and we go into the campaign with Watchara Buathong (1), Rattanai Songsangchan(18) and Worawut Srisupha (36) still vying for the starting spot. All three are decent and you’d suspect walk into a starting role at more clubs in the division than not. Yet all are flawed and you’d hope we’d at some point see one kick on or sign a top keeper.

The midfield pair of Ko/Go Seul-Ki (8) and Siwakorn (16) are firmly established and l don’t see them being displaced come the start of the season. They are ably supported by understudies Charyl Chappuis (6) and Kannarin Thawornsak (31), who again in a sign of the depth of the squad at Port would be a starting pair at most clubs outside the “big 5”. The attacking options at Port are somewhat more bohemian that fits the image of a Dusit team. I’ve got no idea how he fitting the plethora of talent at his disposal into a team. You imagine that Sergio Suarez (5) will be a starter, having developed into one of the league’s star performers in the years he’s spent in Klong Toei. The Bordin (10) Kevin combination down the left is always enjoyable to watch and get the better of the vast majority of teams. There’s also Pakorn Prempak (7) who appears in the best shape of his time with the club and scored one of the goals of the ACL group stage. All supplemented by a battalion of flair in Tanasith Siripala (11), Nurul Sriyankem (13), Nattawut Sombatyotha (45) and the returning Sansarn Limwattana (69).

Not often you get a Port preview with no mention of the fans or PAT atmosphere

 

Key Player – Nelson Bonilla

The one area where Port are light on numbers is in the striker department. Adisak Kraisorn has had to return to Legoland (thoughts and prayers fella) and Yannick Boli has moved on to Chiangmai United. In comes experience Thai league performer Javier Patiño (30) another of our annual raids on Ratchaburi. I expect him to be primarily used as a backup. As it will be Nelson Bonilla having been resurrected to the squad who starts most games. At his best Bonilla is deadly, the kind of cold blooded finisher seldom seen in Thailand. Sadly the last couple of seasons have been beset by injuries. Whilst there have been flashes of return to the levels seen for Sukhothai, they’ve not lasted for a run of games. If the El Salvadoran hitman finds his way back to that form for a prolonged period, combined with Dusits nous, this after all is a manager who topped the league at the midpoint last season relying solely on the attacking prowess of Chenrop Samphaodi and Siroch Chatthong, then Port are well on route to a successful season.

 

 

One of the best goals in recent years at Port, captured in a great shot by Allie Suwanrumpha

 

My Prediction – I’m the party pooper as Port aren’t.

 

 

I’d love to be writing that we’ll end up champions here but I just can’t. That said l still think there will be massive progress this season. Especially if certain outside forces at the club focus their attention on more international matters and let Dusit get on with the job he knows how to do and they don’t. Its not impossible we surpass the more fancied BG and Buriram but l think its more likely we ended up third, edging out Chiangrai and Bangkok United in the battle for the ACL spots.

 

 

Every Little Thing Port Does Is Magic : Port Vs Police Tero FC Preview

 

 

Watching all the recent pomp and fanfare global sports channels force down our throats at the beginning of a football season, it’s hard to get excited about the return of Thai football, especially given the ongoing pandemic and the inept manner the authorities have handled it but here we are. It’s back and from this weekend until late May there will be 240 games to decide which team is top of the pile. Originally scheduled to be played in Buriram, Port’s first match is now back at The PAT thanks to the recent drop in COVID-19 cases but sadly no fans will be allowed in to roar on the mighty lions of Khlong Toei.

Police Tero…… Criminal Merch.

 

Our opponents this weekend represent a national organisation doing excellent public relations work in recent weeks to win over the hearts and minds of ordinary Thai folk – it’s Police Tero. If you’re able to cast your mind back through the thick COVID haze you might remember the farcical scenes at last season’s clash when the generator’s blew and a dour, laboured 1-1 draw was converted into a 0-2 defeat awarded by a panel at the Thai FA. Great times, but a lot has changed since then (the new electrics for starters) and Port fans should be feeling a little more positive about the forthcoming fixture. More on that later, first let’s take a look at some of the key men in red and black representing the boys in brown.

 

Isaac Honey

 

For me a class act in defence, normally operating as a full back but happy to maraud forward, Honey is one of the top defenders in the league and also captain of the team. 13 goals in 30 goals is a great return and underlines how dangerous he will be. It’s a position that has evolved into a much more offensive role over time and offers opportunities for overlaps and an additional attacker in quick breaks. Thinking about how offensive Port’s full backs like to play, and possibly a new formation for this season, will Honey be able to tie up our attackers and bomb forward? He likes the ball in front of him (and open space behind opposing full backs) so hopefully we will press him early.

 

Isaac Honey versatile defend, attack, point at the correct side of his shirt.

 

 

Arthit ‘Pele’ Boodjinda

 

A sandpit favourite from his time as a Port player, very much in the ‘marmite’ category, Pele has gone on to establish himself in the Police starting XI and get called up to the Thai national team. What he lacks in technical ability is made up by his physical approach to forward play. His style is similar to an old fashioned number 9 from decades past but it does reap rewards, and he bagged a goal against us in the return fixture last season. Let’s hope his ex-teammates get a better hold of him this time around.

 

The boy Pele in training

 

 

The Home Team

 

It’s all change in the hot seat and last year’s championship winning coach Dusit Chalermsan is at the helm guiding Port this year. Unceremoniously dumped into BG’s feeder club before the AFC group stages due to a lack of coaching credentials, La Pang seized the opportunity and brought him to Khlong Toei. His Glass team was pretty exceptional, losing only one match all season and, more importantly, getting the best out of his squad. Can he work his magic here? Well he has already left a mark on the squad by dropping diminutive Malagasy wide man Baggio and bringing club captain Rochela back in from his barren spell in the wilderness. Striker Bonilla has signed on for another season and in comes seasoned Filipino Javier Patino to bolster the attack. The group stages of the AFC have hopefully served as a decent form of pre-season and Dusit has since had a chance to implement his ideas on the training ground.

 

Going by his tactics from last season (solid back 3 and 2 strikers) and squad selection, we could be moving to a new formation, perhaps a 3-4-3 or 3-4-1-2. Our attacking options are still a little thin on the ground so we could see 2 attacking midfielders supporting Bonilla up top. Pakorn’s stock increased from several strong performances in the AFC matches and could partner Suarez in the hole, or maybe Dusit will select the technically more skillful Bordin. The fullback selection will also be interesting as we now have 4 decent players fighting for the 2 spots. Recent signing Philip “Paint” Roller is the form man and should play on the right with Jaturapat hopefully getting the nod over one of the Thits.

 

Prediction: Port win by the odd goal. Let’s say 2-1.

 

The game kicks off at 1730 on Sunday and can be viewed on AISPlay. Whileif you fancy watching with fellow Port fans why not head along to the Sportsman on Sukhumvit Soi 13

 

 

Ports Route to ACL Knockout Qualification

There was a spell last night with BG Pathum a goal down to Viettel, added to Ratchaburi’s hard faught 0-0 draw with Korean’s Pohang Steelers and Chiangrai’s back to back 1-1 draws with J League’s Gamba Osaka, that the recent results of the three other Thai teams looked like getting Port chances of reaching the knock out stages of the ACL champions league back into a favourable position. As it would turn out the Thai champions would show their superior class in the second half and secure a 3-1 win over the Vietnamese champions. Great for them and Thai football but what does it mean for Ports chances?

 

Why it Matters? 

With 5 groups and 8 spots in the knock out stage for each half of the AFC Champions league, not every 2nd place team advances, think of it as the Euros evil twin. As such only the three best  second places teams go though. With the Western half of the competition having completed their group stage, we can see that 10 points was enough to advance (although Al-Sadd were left erm sadd as they failed to advance despite achieving 10 points and equal goal difference with Al- Hilal who had scored more goals and advance in hilal-rious fashion).

If Port win their remaining two fixtures v Kitchee and Guangzhou they can achieve 10 points, will it be enough? The West side featured a lot more draws than the East has so far, finishing with 18 draws from the 60 games (30%) played while the East has seen just 6 from 42 games (14.28%), so plenty more points taken out of the equation. Conversely there were less teams at the bottom of the Western groups who would fail to take points off the teams at the top. Its perhaps better to look at each group in the East and try and second guess what will happen. No easy task as those at the top have shown themselves happy to rotate their squads and with qualification assured its only more likely that some decide to give lesser squad members a run out.

 

Group F 

With 4 games played Ulsan top the group already on 12 points that will surely see them advance. While second place BG have 9 points with fixtures against the Korean serial ACL participants and K League bridesmaids, along with a very winnable fixture with Filipino runners up Kaya, that should see them to 12 points and advancement regardless of the outcome when the groups top two meet on Sunday.

 

 

Group G  

One of the groups with a second place team Port can hope to surpass. There’s one game left to play, Nagoya have 15 points and have advanced to the knock outs, second place Pohang Steelers have 10 points and a goal difference of +4 going into a final game v Nagoya tomorrow. Nagoya’s Yuki Soma is part of the Japanese Olympic squad and may have left to quarantine and maximise his involvement in build up games for that squad, for the rest of the team there is no fixture for 10 days, will they rotate and what will their level of motivation be? We have to hope for a Nagoya win and if they were to throw in a few goals to help close the Koreans advantage of six in goal difference over Port that would be great. A result for Pohang and they can’t be surpassed.

 

 

Group H 

With 4 games played this group remains wide open. Jeonbuk are top with 10 points, with Gamba Osaka second on 6 and Chiangrai third on 5. The second and third place teams have Tampines Rovers of Singapour to play and should collect wins. While the remaining fixtures see Jeonbuk play Chiangrai then Gamba in the last round of games. This is a poorly performing Gamba side, who have flopped in this seasons J league, compared to preseason expectations and find themselves 18th, just one place above relegation, although they have played less games than their rivals due to games cancelled due to covid cases in the squad earlier in the season and their ACL participation. Chiangrai as ever have been hard to beat and were the better team by some distance v Gamba last time out. Its not beyond the realms of possibility they can win both their remaining games to finish on 11 points. However Jeonbuk will be favourites to win both their remaining games, a situation to Ports advantage as should that happen the second place team from this group is almost certain to be eliminated.

 

Group I 

How do you stop one team out of their depth being cut a drift at the bottom of a group? Simple, have two teams well below the normal standard of ACL group stage participants, mix in the best team in the region in Kawasaki and in Daegu a decent Korean team and you have nothing to see here relative to the qualification situation.  The top two are yet to concede to United City or Beijing Guoan, whilst averaging more than 6 goals per game against them. There’s more chance of Muangthong making next years ACL than top two not collecting 12 points and an insurmountable goal difference from their games v the bottom two and both advancing (regardless of the result when they meet on Thursday).

 

Group J

Our group, we need to win both our remaining fixtures starting today against Kitchee and see a swing of 6 goals v Pohang on goal difference.

The final round of games see us face Guangzhou and Kitchee face Cerezo Osaka. The possibility of Kitchee being beaten today and then taking 3 points from a Cerezo team of squad players, fading pops stars, kit men and the bus driver* would see us consigned to 3rd place. Even a draw could be enough for the team from Hong Kong as the final standings are determined by head to head record and then head to head goal difference. So a single goal win for Port today, would see Kitchee finish second with a draw against Cerezo. Quite simply we need two big wins and to hope for a few results to go our way.

*some of these people aren’t registered and can’t play.