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ASEAN Scouting Report: Goalkeepers

 

This is the first of a new series of articles in which I’ve identified 25 players who could in theory be brought in to fill Port’s two spare ASEAN quota slots. All of these players are dual nationality, with most sharing European and South East Asian ancestry. We’ve seen a host of players of a similar ilk come to Thailand and find great success, and it has been bewildering to me that since the 3+1+3 quota has been introduced more clubs haven’t jumped to take full advantage. With just a little scouting – the sort that  a bloke with no scouting background only using free online resources could do – clubs could potentially identify ASEAN players who could be as influential as any foreign player in the league.

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Tom’s Transfer Talk: Kanarin In

 

Port are reportedly close to signing young box-to-box midfielder Kanarin Thawornsak. The 22 year old has been on the books at Ratchaburi since 2016, but has been loaned out every year of his stay. His latest loan spell was with Sisaket, who enjoyed a superb season, only narrowly missing out on promotion despite being docked 12 points. Kanarin played 31 times, scored 3 goals and most impressively managed a Siwakornesque 12 yellow cards. He’s also played for Thailand at all youth levels, although he has yet to be capped by the senior team.

Whilst signing decent young players is generally not a bad idea, there’s absolutely nothing to suggest that Kanarin will get a look in at Port, with there being numerous better options in midfield. His arrival would almost certainly spell the end for Anon Samakorn, who will presumably find himself still further down the pecking order.

 

 

There’s also a far more vague story doing the rounds, which is most likely a figment of some bored writer’s imagination. Doumbouya, who Port have been linked to this off-season, will apparently be joining ‘a big club in Bangkok’. Depending on your definition of both ‘big club’ and ‘Bangkok’, that could be several teams. Whilst I think there is a decent chance that Doumbouya will end up joining a big team in Bangkok, it isn’t because of this rumour.

 

 

Finally, there are also murmurs that Nurul could be on his way after a poor second season with Port. He lost his starting place to Bordin, and after a horrible missed chance in the FA Cup final and the arrival or fellow winger Thanasit Siripala, Nurul leaving – with any luck on loan – could be the right solution for both parties. I’m sure Chonburi would jump at the chance to have him back, and it would seem to be the right move for his career.

 

The Sandpit’s Goal of the Season 2019: Suarez Cashes In Chip

 

Sergio Suarez’ nonchalant chipped finish against Trat has earned him his second Sandpit award in as many years, following up his Player of the Year award in 2018 with the Goal of the Season gong in 2019.

 

 

1st Place – Sergio Suarez (38%)

 

 

It may not have been one of the more important goals, but boy was it stylish. The Spaniard is well known for being one of the most talented foreign stars in the league, and he showed off his incredible vision and technique with a high, looping finish which 38% of Sandpit voters chose as their pick of a very competitive bunch. The Trat ‘keeper was about as close to keeping it out as any of the other goals on our list were to catching Suarez’ strike: nowhere near.

 

2nd Place – Bodin Phala (14%)

 

 

There’s an understandable history of Port goals against Muangthong faring well in our polls, so it is perhaps unsurprising that Bodin’s wonderful long-range strike in the away fixture against Muangthong picked up 14% of the vote, which was good enough for second place. It was a goal of great import in that it gave Port the lead against their bitter rivals in a game we would go on to win, but it has to settle for second best in our poll.

 

3rd Place – Sumanya Purisay (12%)

 

 

Taking the final spot on the podium with 12% of the vote was the best goal from Port’s memorable FA Cup run. Scored in the 3-2 victory against Chiang Rai by a player who didn’t stand out all that often in 2019, but put in an absolutely outstanding performance on the day: Sumanya. Picking the ball up in the centre circle, Sumanya bamboozled Chiang Rai’s midfield and defence, scything straight through them before wrong-footing the ‘keeper with a calm right-footed finish. It ended up being a crucial strike, with Port almost letting a 3-0 lead slip, but doing just enough to hang on for the win, thanks in large part to Sumanya.

 

Mission Accomplished: Tom’s 2019 Season Review

 

It’s been quite a season for Port. Third place and a cup win represents our best effort in at least 20 years, and there’s plenty of acclaim to go around. Port’s owners have invested heavily in the team, the fans have come out in numbers we haven’t seen in recent years, the players took the fight to win the league down to the wire and after a nail-biting final we ended up with an FA Cup to show for it all. It’s a good time to be a Port fan! Here’s a look back at a few things that made this season special.

 

Match of the Season

 

There were some great league games this season, with my pick of the bunch probably being the two 3-2 wins over Chonburi and Suphanburi and the 2-0 home victory against Muangthong.

In all three games the final goal was scored by a Port striker with a point to prove. First Arthit showed the damage he could do as an impact sub with the winner against Chonburi, then Boskovic belied his deteriorating form to snatch the game late on against Suphanburi, and finally Josimar made up for a shocking earlier miss by blasting in a beautiful goal from outside the box, making the game safe against Muangthong. All three goals sparked wild celebrations, not just for their significance in their respective games but for giving us hope that our strikers were going to turn the corner and make a big impact on our season. The degree to which that happened is not the point; in the moment we believed, and that’s what made them so enjoyable.

None of these three matches scoop the award, though. We did after all win some silverware this season, and I’m plumping for the most hard-fought win on our road to glory: the 5-4 penalty shootout victory against Bangkok United.

 

 

Was it a great game? No, by the time the heavens had opened we were practically playing in a swimming pool, and the standard very much reflected that. There’s something about standing outside for hours in a torrential downpour, though, that makes victories that much sweeter when they eventually materialize. Captain Siwakorn saw red, putting Port a man down with the whole of extra time to play. We survived. Worawut made that stunning save with his legs, slicing his back open on the goalpost in the process. If the ball had gone in, that was probably that. His replacement Rattanai went in to the shootout facing off against the finest stopper in the league, and against all odds won his duel. Don’t even get me started on Rolando’s outrageous penalty.

An amazing evening at Army stadium, where Port put us through the wringer, but ultimately defied the odds to set Port up for their first FA Cup win in a decade.

 

Away Trip of the Season

 

I had it as ‘best game’ in our mid-season review, and I don’t think it was topped by another away trip in the second half of the season. The 3-2 away win against Chonburi had it all, and although the trip to Buriram was certainly memorable for many reasons, the feeling of helpless anger brought on by a loss against Buriram’s 14 men is no comparison to the elation felt after a late Arthit winner.

 

 

Goal of the Season

 

The polls are still open, with Sergio Suarez’ gorgeous chip against Trat currently out in front by a mile. It wasn’t even my favourite chip of the season, nor was it my favourite of Suarez’ goals. Nurul’s lofted effort against Chainat was the cheekier chip for me, whilst Suarez’ long range banger against Buriram held far more significance.

I’m in a massive minority though, and my choice for winner isn’t even in the top 5 according to the popular vote. I’m going for Josimar’s volley against Chainat, which featured wonderful buildup between the Brazilian, Bodin and Suarez, before an emphatic finish from a tricky position. First, Go’s freekick was flicked on by Bodin, before Josi took it on his chest and backheeled it back to Bodin. The Fresh Prince laid it off for Suarez, whose chipped pass found Josimar with barely any goal to aim at and a goalkeeper fast closing down his angle. Unphased, he took it first time, blasting it goalwards and finding an unlikely gap. From my spot in Zone B, Josimar was so close to the byline that I couldn’t even see him connect with the ball, but I sure as hell saw it nestle in the back of the net, and promptly joined in the slightly shocked celebrations. What a screamer.

 

 

Player of the Season

 

This is just an impossible call for me. By my reckoning, several players have been in the running for player of the year at various times, with no one standing out quite enough to take the award.

  • Worawut had some absolutely outstanding moments after winning his place mid-way through the season, and after his cup final heroics I thought he was in with a real shout. Unfortunately a couple of sub-par performances in the last few games somewhat sullied his earlier form, and he fell out of contention for me.
  • Dolah became leader of the back 4, earning his way in to a seemingly never-ending string of teams of the week, as well as some pundits’ team of the season. He even managed to get a long-overdue call-up to the national team squad, making his debut when he came off the bench against Congo. His steady performances gave Port the confidence (ill-advised confidence, one might argue) to dispense with the services of Captain Rochela in the second half of the T1 campaign, and he will go in to 2020 one of the first names on the team sheet.
  • Nitipong was once again unerringly consistent, also earning a spot in most pundits’ team of the season and forcing his way in to the national team setup. His consistency prompted our readers to vote for him in droves, as he won our poll comfortably. I’m not sold that he’s done any more than Dolah, Go or Suarez to earn the award, though.
  • Go crowned his season in the best possible way during Port’s FA Cup Final triumph. He provided a masterful assist for Suarez’ winner and was chosen as MVP, reinforcing his status as one of the top foreign players in T1. His consistent performances at the base of Port’s midfield were crucial in Port’s improved defending, and I think the South Korean can take as much credit as anyone else for Port’s most successful season this millennium.
  • Siwakorn was superb in the first half of the season, and was among those to force his way in to national team contention. His link-up play with Go and Suarez was excellent, and he really carved out a role for himself in midfield. I’m going to have to call him out on not producing enough, though. Playing in a more advanced role than go, Siwakorn scored twice and only managed one assist, while the South Korean scored three and assisted four. He just has to do more with the ball going forward for me.
  • Bodin looked like the favourite in this race until the last month or two, when his confidence faded and the goals and assists dried up. He’s still finished with a pretty damn handy nine goals and six assists, but if he’d kept the electric form he’d shown earlier up for a little while longer I think the Fresh Prince would have won. He’s shown us what he can do, now he’s got to show that he can sustain it.
  • Suarez is always in contention, and I think at times we’re guilty of taking the Spaniard for granted. He was used in an unfamiliar position up front at times, and even when he was in his favoured role he often had little to work with in front of him. His cup final winner was no more than he deserved for another excellent campaign, and his 13 goals and 9 assists were absolutely crucial in firing Port in to third place. Great work once again, Sergio.

It’s a shared award, then. I had seven players in contention at various times, and there are still four that I find it impossible to choose between. Congratulations to Dolah, Nitipong, Go and Suarez for their excellent contributions.

 

Most Improved Player

 

 

Bodin takes this one at a canter. The Fresh Prince’s extraordinary close control and his shooting from distance were outstanding, and he’s got a lot to do next season to prove that it wasn’t a fluke and that he can maintain the same form for an equal or longer period of time.

 

Most Disappointing Player

 

Unfortunately despite Port having a successful season there are a few candidates for this award.

  • Nurul isn’t 100% to blame for his decline, as it was brought about by Bodin’s superb performances. It’s tough sitting on the bench and having to produce in 15 minute bursts, but we still needed to see more from Nurul than he did in his cameo appearances. His embarrassing attempt to finish off the cup final was the final nail in his coffin, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him loaned back to Chonburi next season with Thanasit coming in.
  • Pakorn had by far his worst season in a Port shirt. I’ve always used numbers to defend him in the past, but this season I’m going to use them to beat him over the head.
    2017 – 36 apps, 6 goals, 18 assists
    2018 – 38 apps, 7 goals, 14 assists
    2019 – 28 apps, 6 goals, 3 assists
    Sorry Pakorn, but that’s just not going to cut it.
  • Boskovic, in contrast to Nurul, is entirely to blame for his poor half-season. The Monenegrin combined a stubborn refusal to enter the penalty area with abject laziness in his last few games before being dropped, and for me thoroughly deserved to be let go for the second leg. What a waste of money.
  • Unfortunately we replaced one flop with another, as Blackburn was brought in to the squad at Boskovic’s expense. The Panamanian couldn’t even nail down a place in the team, making most of his appearances from the bench. His return of five goals was actually very useful, but his performances were pretty poor. There were a couple of moments from El Toro that save him the ignominy of taking this award though, namely his magnificent bicycle kick against Suphanburi and his outrageous penalty against Bangkok United.
  • Does Chenrop even count as a disappointment if I already knew he was going to be absolutely useless?
  • Tanaboon, just because he’s so highly rated. His performances weren’t terrible, but they were in no way befitting a player getting in every national team squad. Whereas he always had Thitipan to babysit him in midfield in the past, this season he relied on Dolah to win the headers and the tackles, while he flounced around passing the ball sideways. He did perform well in the FA Cup Final, but he’s going to have to do much more to convince me he’s worthy of a place in our starting XI.

 

 

I’m picking a winner this time. Boskovic was among the highest paid players in the league, but became the latest in a long line of players to fail miserably to lead the Port line. Was he playing in his best position? No. Could he have at least tried to perform the role given to him? Yes. He didn’t.

 

BG’s Saturday Night Fever: Port FC vs. Ratchaburi (FA Cup Final Preview)

 

It has been a season of thirds. A triple layer hamburger, topped and bottomed by a light and fluffy, expertly toasted bap, laced with a tasty, tangy sauce and garnished with an innovative leafy salad, seasoned with a hint of balsamic. In the middle, though, an unappealing, flavourless patty, stodgy in places and miserably failing to satisfy that initial promise. This has been Port’s season in a cardboard box. An explosive start, a laboured, clueless middle, redeemed by a late, often thrilling bid for a first League title. And now comes the dessert, a dish to sweeten the Port season and one which they must devour with gusto.

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Melo Mood: Port FC vs. Samut Prakan City Preview

 

 

 

 

When the dust settles in a few weeks and we take stock of this season, matches like our quick capitulation to Samut Prakan City in June will be the real reason why we didn’t pull off the impossible title dream, not the inept/corrupt referring that marred the championship shoot out last weekend, which made me into a Thai meme and the target of conservative Thai internet warriors (fun times). So this weekend’s final league match of the season at The PAT might be a bit if a dead rubber to some but it’s also the chance to get sweet revenge, consolidate 3rd place and more importantly a chance for players to stake a claim for their cup final place.

 

Samut Prakan City

 

Samut Prakan, formerly known as Pattaya United, have surprised many on their debut season. At times jockeying for position at the top of the table playing stylish, counter attacking football under Japanese coach Tetsuya Murayama, their form fell off a cliff after beating Port, losing 8 out of their 15 league games since then. Interestingly, they have only had one 0-0 all season so chances are there will be goals in this one. Let’s meet the star players shall we?

 

Players to Watch

 

 

Wonderfully named Brazilian attacker Ibson Melo (71) has been their best performer since his arrival from the Portuguese league. I like the cut of his jib; he is adept playing up front but seems better as a second striker, linking up counter attacks or providing the finish himself. 14 goals in his 24 game career at SPC is a decent return and he’ll surely give our defenders something to think about, especially with his positioning. Our back line has been consistently punished by attacking players drifting between the midfield and defensive lines so he will be a threat.

 

 

Just behind Melo will be the energetic Teeraphol Yoryei (19); a young central midfielder with natural attacking instincts and a bright future ahead of him. His form this season has been one of his side’s plus points; not only does he contribute with goals (8 so far this season) he has also weighed in with several assists and highlights Murayama’s high-tempo tactics when transitioning rapidly from defensive positions.

 

The Home Team

 

With one eye on November 2nd Choke will probably hope to give several players a rest and others a run out to see who’s up for the final. Bodin (10) has been very flat in recent matches when compared with his outrageous early season form, Pakorn (7) has been, well, ‘Pakorn’, and Nurul (31) has barely had a sniff this season. Kevin (97) has shown good form since his return from injury but Choke might want to keep him under wraps and give the very dependable Steuble (15) a chance at left back. Siwakorn (16) is suspended after picking up his 8th yellow card of the season against Buriram. Up front, Josimar (30) is cup-tied so he might get a chance to finish his season with a goal or 2, alternatively that spot might go to the pedestrian, lethal from half a yard ‘Tony’ Blackburn (99). Who knows? Who cares? It doesn’t really matter who gets selected for this match; as long as they all get through the match injury and suspension free that’s all that matters.

 

Prediction

 

Going out on a limb on this one. 5-2 Port. I’ll probably miss most of the goals boozing outside anyway.

 


 

The match will be shown on True Sports 2 at 18:00 on Saturday 26 October, 2019. For those who can’t make it to PAT Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound. Don’t forget to wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.

 

FA Cup Final Moved to Leo Stadium

 

The Thai FA have upped the stakes in their quest to make as much of a mess as possible of the FA Cup Final, today announcing that the game will be moved from Army Stadium to BG Pathum Thani’s Leo Stadium. Yes, the Chang FA Cup Final will be held at Leo Stadium. Whatever will we drink?

If you’ve been frantically searching Wikipedia for details on the new location, don’t believe your lying eyes. Leo Stadium did used to have a capacity of roughly 16,000, but since renovations changed it to an all-seater stadium that capacity is now just 9,000. There’s no word on exactly how much the allocations will be, but you can be sure that with such a small capacity, a big chunk of Port fans will not be sitting in the Port ends.

The one thing the Thai FA haven’t yet managed to muck up is Port’s opponents, though. We’re still playing Ratchaburi, and that means we’re still big old favourites to lift the cup, and playing in front of 3 stands and a small forest in Pathum Thani doesn’t change that.

The relocation gives us a chance to revisit a watering hole we haven’t seen in more than a year; The Rabbit Bar had better stock up, because Port fans are coming and we’re thirsty.

Now that we’ve had our stadium moved, we can expect tickets to be on sale any day now. although of course there’s still no official word on when. We’re keeping our ears to the ground, and we advise you to do the same. See you in Pathum Thani on November 2nd!

 

TGIF – Port Ponder the Impossible Dream: Port FC 3-0 Nakhon Ratchasima FC

We will open with a Pub Quiz Trivia Question: “When did a professional football match start with a corner?”

Just when you thoughts matters in Thailand couldn’t get any zanier, with the clock starting at 3 minutes, Pakorn (7) was sent to the corner spot in front of Zone B to set the game in motion.

All this, in a week in La-La Land that saw:

  • A serious debate on whether a Minister of Parliament, convicted and sentenced to death for arranging the murder of a rival, should be allowed to retain his MP status
  • Being a ‘Pretty’ deemed a legitimate job title (where I come from, being called a ‘Pretty’ would see you conferred with a National Trust preservation order).
  • A large group of Thai students photographed, sitting an exam, wearing full-face crash helmets.
  • Thailand’s deputy public health minister suggesting a way to alleviate the devastating haze blanketing the south of Thailand is by using shorter or smaller joss-sticks.
  • General Prime Minister Prayut proclaiming that Thailand is a “Fully functioning Democracy”.

This could actually be a first for Thailand. I have googled similar situations with obscure questions such as, “Has a football match ever started with a corner?” or “Does a replayed, abandoned match need to start with the same situation with which it ended?” Games have often been re-started in the exact minute in which they were aborted but I can find no evidence of anything similar to the Port re-start. This is great news for our beleaguered nation; it could become the Regional Hub of Abandoned Football Games. Thailand likes Hubs.

What was evident was that both teams had to start with as close to the original starting eleven as possible, which meant that Dolah (4), although currently suspended, played, as he wasn’t suspended for the original game.

For a Friday night it was a decent crowd that welcomed the clear skies and the start of a run of five games that could make this a truly memorable season in the history of our beloved club. Port started the game reveling in playing on a dry, firm surface while Korat plodded hesitantly as though they were still knee deep in flood water. It should be noted that, from that first corner, Pakorn’s centre/shot had been parried, thereby sadly ending any speculation that this could be the quickest ‘unofficial’ goal in footballing history.

Port totally dominated play in the first half with some standout performances: Suarez was in his, ‘catch me if you can’ mode: twisting, turning, linking play with some delightful, audacious touches; Siwakorn (16) and Go (8) supplying the more functional but equally effective range of passes. Josi (30) led the line superbly, making himself available as a target man, and posing a constant threat to a Korat defence, which was in disarray from the start.  At the back, Dolah and Todsapol (6) looked generally comfortable, apart from one almost costly Dolah pass across the box, while Worawut (36) pulled off key saves at key moments to deny Korat any kind of foothold in the game.

After close efforts from Pakorn and Josimar, Port opened the scoring in the 22nd minute when a deliciously floated cross from Nitipong (34) was met by a header by Josi that defined the word, ‘towering’; the Brazilian somehow almost climbing above the rising ball to power home past the outstretched fingers of the Swat Cats’ Thai-American keeper, Samuel Cunningham (89). More on him later.

Six minutes later, Josimar eluded two dozing Swat Cat defenders to latch on to a Siwakorn through ball to set himself free for a one-on-one with Cunningham, calmly dispatching the ball in front of a rabid Zone B to double Port’s lead. In a frantic, remaining 15 minutes, Pakorn, Bodin (10) and Josimar all went close to extending Port’s lead before Cunningham thwarted two more one-on-ones with Josimar and Bodin, saving from the latter with his legs after a delightful exchange of passes in the box. The Swat Cats slunk off to lick their wounds but Port should really have been out of sight. The only injury scare of any note during the first half was when your correspondent was wrestled to the ground by the over-exuberant celebrations of his fellow Sand-Pitters. Fortunately, his lucky woolly hat softened any contact with the terracing.

 

 

The unfortunate Cunningham had been subjected to a constant tirade of ‘good natured’ abuse from the foreign fans behind the goal (must be some kind of goal-keeper baiting British tradition) so he must have been mightily relieved to take up his spot in front of Zone D, only to find that his fan club had followed him, only now within earshot. You have to admire him though – he took it all (this time) without response, and produced one or two decent saves that kept the score down to a reasonable figure. It was not his fault he had a train-wreck of a defence in front of him.

Port continued to pile on the pressure but without seriously threatening Cunningham’s goal: Go firing wide from outside the box and Suarez tamely lifting the ball into the keeper’s arms from close range after the keeper had parried Bodin’s rasping drive. On 57 minutes, Kevin (97) replaced Pakorn, with Bodin switching to the right wing. Korat were finally making inroads into the heart of Port’s defence, forcing two fine saves from Worawut. Then, in the 73rd minute, Dolah was somewhat harshly adjudged to have brought down Henry (11) in the box and, suddenly, a game that we should have been winning comfortably was under threat. However, this time it was Worawut who emerged as our penalty hero, diving low to his right to keep out Henry’s somewhat under-hit spot-kick. Port were reprieved.

Nurul (31) came on for a largely disappointing Bodin in the 76th minute. He had often over-run the ball and his final pass or shot selection was not always the quality we had seen earlier in the season. He remains, however, a huge talent.  The final change was made after 82 minutes: Rolando Blackburn (99) replacing Steuble (15), the classy Filipino/Swiss player once again demonstrating what a very fine footballer he is.

Two minutes earlier Korat had been reduced to ten men after Kitsada Hempivat’s (33) reckless lunge at Nitipong saw him deservedly receive a second yellow card.

On 84 minutes, Suarez, much to the relief of an increasingly frustrated crowd, put the game beyond reach with an accomplished finish after Cunningham had parried Nitipong’s cross cum shot. It was a victory well earned but one which should have been sealed much earlier. Never mind, it edges Port closer to what could be a climactic finish to the season.

 

 

The Sandpit had been in fine form all night, displaying a heady blend of culture and philistinism, from this writer’s erudite pre-match conversation with Tim on the life of French poet Arthur Rimbaud (see Korat abandoned match report) and his sojourn in the historic Ethiopian city of Harar, to Cunningham’s bear-baiting on the terraces.

Not wishing to be outdone by his Colonial cousins, John Spittal, in a moment of cultural and artistic enlightenment (for a Canadian anyway, it seems) likened the symphonic harmony between Go and Suarez to a violin and a cello, though obviously not in that order. John was later to downgrade from Renaissance Man to Caveman when he promised (or should that be threatened) to streak naked across the pitch should Port secure the T1 title with a victory in their last home game against Samut Prakarn.  This introduced a slightly homo-erotic atmosphere into the Sandpit, further enhanced with Tommy Duncan’s admiring evaluation of Jim’s beautifully shaped nipples.

Friday Night Football – don’t you just f**king love it!

 

Man of the Match

As the report suggests, there were several contenders but I am going to go for Josimar. His early goals put Port on the road to victory and he led the line superbly in the first half, coming so close to a well deserved hat-trick on several occasions.

 

Take Two: Port FC vs Nakhon Ratchasima FC Preview

 

Let’s try this again. It’s Port vs Korat this Saturday Friday. Both teams go into this match with something to play for. At the top of the table, Port have closed the gap to Buriram and Chiang Rai to just 5 points. A win here and Port will be be just 2 points from moving into either of the two top spots. At the bottom, Korat’s late 4 goal blitz last week moves them in a slightly more comfortable position, but they still need a couple of good results to avoid getting sucked back in to a relegation scrap.

With four matches to go it’s definitely time for a(n out of date) graphic showing the run in situation. We’ll start with our visitors.

 

 

Korat are at the top of the pack, but they look to have one of the most difficult run-ins along with Chiang Mai. Korat should be saved by their last two games against Chainat and Sukhothai, but I’m sure they would dearly love to get a point or more at the PAT. One point would mean a lot to them in the chase for safety so we can’t expect too much from them. Korat showed in the home match with Doumbia (11) bombing on and Lee Won-Jae (15) holding it together at the back that they had enough to match Port for 80 minutes with 11 vs 11 before the Adisorn (13) red card. This side might be intimidated by the crowd but they won’t be too scared of their opponents.

 

 

 

Port are back in with a fighting chance in the table. We still need Chiang Rai and Buriram to slip up twice in the run in, and while that’s not impossible, it’s more likely we will slip up ourselves. The Bangkok United away match killed off Port’s chances in the league for me. I would love to be proven wrong, anyway. We will see.

I think Port will be undone by the consistency of others around them at the top as much as Korat will be saved by the inconsistency of others around them at the bottom.

Korat’s terrible recent form has put them in the danger zone. After four losses and one draw, Korat threw out man mountain manager Joksic. Their new manager is Chalermwoot Sa-ngapol. In his playing days he was once described as the “Thai Glen Hoddle”, a great player with crisp passing and a pristine mullet.

 

 

He is now a solid journeyman manager. He has not made any comments about the previous lives of disabled people thus far. In the last three years he’s gone from Sisaket, to Thailand’s Under 19 team, to Super Power, to Sisaket, to Udon Thai, to Sukothai, to Ayutthaya, and now to Korat. Port will be wary of the new manager bounce after Korat stuck four late goals past Samut Prakan City last week. Celebrations were wild, and much of the confidence that had been lost in their recent run of poor form will have been restored in the comeback victory.

 

 

 

Doumbia “Henri”(11) is always going to be dangerous and if given enough room he could snatch a goal. They also have the very impressive attacking midfielder Amadou Ouattara (81), another Ivorian and formerly of PTT Rayong and Navy who has picked up a couple of goals lately. Together with Leandro Assumpcao (7) Korat have enough attacking quality to create chances. Why are they in such a state? Amadou and Doumbia “Henri” are solid choices along with the two centre backs: captain Chalermpong (4) and Lee Won-Jae, but apart from that the team has been mixed and matched in an attempt to find a winning formula that just hasn’t materialised . Port are clear favourites but we have to be clinical, we can’t afford to go a goal down to a team that would love an opportunity to park the bus.

 

Port Side

Tanaboon (71) will not be joining us on Friday, as his first haul of four yellows sees him suspended. We were a little unsure about whether this suspension would hold after the postponed game, but the Thai League website confirms that it does. This finally provides us with a look at who Choke’s second choice is in the league squad. Todsapol (6) should surely get the nod here, but I would’ve played Todsapol over Tanaboon anyway. Suspension may just lead us into improving our starting 11. Although Todsapol is a quality player it’s been so long since he has had a full competitive match so there has to be a worry about his match fitness.

Suarez (5) is match fit having sat out the victory over Chiang Mai with a swollen ankle, and Sumanya (11) has also been pictured in training, although he does have some strapping on his leg which could indicate that he isn’t quite 100% yet.

Despite picking up his 8th yellow card last week, Dolah (4) will be playing. His second suspension will kick in for the Chainat game on Wednesday. Alongside him at the back, Kevin (97) appears to have played his way back in to the starting XI with two magnificent performances. The youngster needed to raise his game with Steuble (15) providing stiff competition, and he has done just that.

 

Tom’s Predicted Line-up

Our revised preview is a team effort, so here’s my predicted line-up. Choke may well have an entire squad to choose from. Intriguing.

I don’t think Choke has much love for Pakorn (7). He has been forced to start with him a couple of times, but Pakorn hasn’t been at his best, and has been subbed off early. This could mean a return to the kind of system Choke favoured in his first few games with Josimar (30) on the right. If Sumanya is fit, he may will put him in attacking midfield with Suarez up top and Blackburn (99) missing out.

 

 

Prediction

Port should be good enough to take advantage of a team in a downward spiral. Port to win 3-1.

 

A Final Note

 

The last match took place in the long shadow cast by the tragic minibus crash, involving Korat native Spider Ming. Free food was laid on at the away end of Korat’s stadium and during the mid game rain delay there was a random Home vs Away fan group football song sing off. In the first attempt at this fixture, Port put on some food at the away end to return Korat’s kindness. There will be a friendly atmosphere for this one this week folks. Enjoy the festival of football.

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True Sport 2 and True Sports HD2  at 18:00 on Friday 27 September, 2019. For those who can’t make it to PAT Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound. Don’t forget to wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.

 

Port End 10 Years of Hurt, Turning the Sandpit in to a Moshpit

 

What a result!

Indulge me if you will as I attempt to see through the fog of beers and cheers and try to remember what was a truly enjoyable once upon a (life)-time experience.

If memory serves me correctly, an evenly balanced relatively non-eventful first half sparked into life around the 30 minute mark as Port began to exploit ‘Tongs weakness on the left-side of their midfield and defense. 4 clear cut chances came and went as Port peppered coaches’ favourite ‘danger area’ in and around the apex of the six yard box. (More of this later.)

As is always the case, first touch football tore ‘Tongs defence to shreds time and again only for Port to graciously fail to take advantage, the worst culprit being Josimar who came on as a replacement for Pakorn who got all carried away with the occasion and uncharacteristically tracked back, injuring himself in the process. Admittedly playing out of position on the right side of midfield, somehow the Brazilian striker contrived to scoop a ‘sitter’ over the bar when passing the ball into an empty net seemed the easier option. Cue hands in heads all round and seeds were sown in the back of Port minds that, ‘please god it’s not going to be one of those nights is it?” sprouted around the stadium as half-time arrived with Port in the ascendancy but profligate and still level.

 

 

All the half-time chat was whether Port could maintain their dominance or would ‘Tong, having surely been on the end of a rocket from their management team during the break, come out guns-a-blazing determined to make Port pay for their generosity.

Ten, or was it twelve, or fifteen beer-befuddled minutes into the second half and Port and Josimar finally made amends and sent the sell-out crowd into paroxysms of delirium as a flowing one-touch move (funny how that works eh?) down ‘Tongs right this time ended with an overlapping Suarez pulling the ball back into the perfect place at the apex of the near six-yard box for Sumanya to gleefully pass-smash the ball into the net at the keepers near post. Cue pandemonium in the stands and on the touchline as even the owner, un-missable in her fetching candy-striped pants, joined in the players’ celebration and relief.

 

 

Could they do it?

A brief period of Port ascendancy ensued as they sought the second killer goal, but soon they were visibly tiring, especially Sumanya who had also clearly decided that having scored he could now spend the rest of the game showboating and basking in the glory of his goal.

As Port retreated closer and closer to their own goal allowing ‘Tong to push on dominating possession and territory, supporters hearts crept closer and closer to their mouths. Would they hang on or would ‘Tong fashion a largely undeserved equalizer?

A couple of astute substitutions allowed Port to start threatening on the break and in turn the defence grew in stature, confidence and self-belief as time and again different Port players stepped up to the plate and snuffed out ‘Tongs attacks before they could develop into truly heart-stopping chances.

As the 90th minute approached Port swept forward on the counter-attack and just when it looked like a fast-flowing one-touch move (yet again) had ended with Port losing the ball, the impressively hard-working Josimar nipped in at the perfect time at the edge of the penalty area to calmly curl the ball past an unsighted keeper into the inside of the same near post as the first goal and round off of a truly splendid copy-book counter-attack.

 

 

Krakatoa couldn’t have competed with the eruption from the stands as older fans suffered pulled groins and tweaked hamstrings celebrating the second sweet goal of the game which guaranteed a thoroughly deserved victory and meant the 3 minutes of added time were simply 3 minutes of singing and basking in the glory of a first home win against the hated ‘Tong in 10 years as well as becoming a prelude to several hours of post-match moshing, quaffing and even talking pleasantly to plain-clothesed farang ‘Tong fans who’d had the balls to brave the potentially hostile Port terraces only to witness their team handed a comprehensive footballing lesson and a thoroughly comprehensive defeat.

Yes friends this was one of ‘those’ games, one of those ‘you should have been there’ nights. One that will live long in the memories of those 8,000 or so fortunate fans who went mental from minute one to minute 90 and beyond. Well, for those that can remember it of course.  I think I was there, wasn’t I?

Until the next time.

Now, bring on Bangkok United!