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Big Game Hunting: Suphanburi FC vs. Port FC, 11 May 2018

 

After a stonking 4-0 win away from home last weekend Port are sure to face a tougher test at Suphanburi Provincial Stadium this Friday. The Swatcats’ almost complete reliance on their foreign striker meant that Port’s defence went largely untroubled last week, but Suphanburi are a much more balanced outfit with a lot more to offer. The War Elephants have gone ten games unbeaten including consecutive victories with clean sheets to boot, so Port will need to upset the form books again to come away with what would be a huge three points for manager Jadet. Port’s boss still looks far from secure in his job with the mid-season break approaching, but beating the likes of Suphanburi would go a long way to convincing the powers that be that he is the man to take Port up to the higher reaches of the table. It’s 3rd vs. 5th. Come on, lads!

 

Suphanburi FC

Players to Watch

 

Well, it wouldn’t be T1 unless the main man was a foreign striker. Romulo (9) is in his first season in Thai football, having played for several clubs in his native Brazil before moving to top-flight Swedish side Hammarby IF. Whilst Romulo didn’t bang in goals consistently he became a cult hero for his hattrick and a few other memorable performances against Kevin Deeromram’s former club and Hammarby’s big rivals Djurgarden. Romulo has continued to cement his reputation as a big-game player for Suphanburi this season by finding the net against top teams like Bangkok United and Buriram, as well as minnows like Muangthong. He’s tall enough to do a bit of damage in the air, and on his day can be pretty useful on the ground, too. Let’s just hope no one has told him Port are a big team nowadays!

 

Romulo

 

Romulo’s supporting cast going forward will be any two of three promising Thai forwards. First – because he’s my favourite – is Tanasith Sripala (11), also known as Taodinho. This Ronaldinho lookalike is fortunately not a Ronaldinho playalike, although he tries his best. He was one of Thailand’s most exciting youngsters a couple of years ago, but hasn’t quite kicked on and added end product to his undoubted ability. Second is Chananan Pombuppha (10). This fella, presumably named by whichever of his parents has a stuttuttutter, started out as an out and out striker, but has been moved on to the wing at Suphanburi. He doesn’t look nearly as useful out there as he does through the middle, but he’s got a good finish on him and is definitely one to watch out for. This third forward is the youngest of the trio, and probably the most dangerous of the bunch on current form. Sirimongkhon Jitbanjong (38) is just 20 years old and has only played a handful of games in T1, but his pace and work rate will certainly be a handful for Port’s full backs. He’s scored two goals in under 300 minutes on the pitch in his breakout season.

 

Tanasith, Chananan and Sirimongkhon

 

Port fans may remember solid holding midfielder Adul Lahso from his red card in last season’s thrilling 3-2 encounter at PAT Stadium, but unfortunately Suphanburi’s hard man has done a knee ligament and is out for the foreseeable future. Taking his place is a man who couldn’t look more different to the diminutive bald Adul if he tried. Naruphon Putsorn (7) is tall with a big man-bun, and interestingly is one of the few Thai players to have plied his trade in the UK. Naruphol played for TNS in Wales, before stints in America and Holland. He has played with Bangkok United and Buriram since moving to Thailand, and he will be partnered by Japanese veteran Takafumi Akahoshi (37).

 

Adul and Naruphon

 

At the back is the familiar figure of Anderson dos Santos (3). The Brazilian centre back has been in Thai football since 2010, and is a hero to fans of former club Chonburi. He’s big, powerful and very dangerous from set-pieces. In a three-man back line Anderson will be joined by the appropriately named Suphan (26) and the recipient of an impressive 7 yellow cards to date Tinnakorn Asurin (33). Siwakorn: meet your idol.

 

Anderson dos Santos

 

Form

 

Suphanburi’s unbeaten run does include an awful lot of draws. Their last 6 saw 4 consecutive ties with Buriram, Muangthong, Ratchaburi and Sukhothai, before they finally got back to winning ways with a 3-0 victory over Air Force and kept the momentum last week by grinding out a 1-0 win over Ubon.

 

Port FC

Is The Swagger Back?

 

One of the most promising moments in the 4-0 thrashing of Korat was Boskovic (23) starting to look confident again. Bole showed his prowess in front of goal with a clinical finish while clean through on the ‘keeper, then – in stark contrast to a week earlier – jumped at the chance to score from the spot. Maybe it’s the return of Suarez (5), maybe it’s the voice of Tim Russell ringing in his ears; whatever it is, the Dragan is breathing fire once again, and that’s what we want to see!

Suarez will have kept his place after returning from injury last week and Nurul (31) scored a crucial goal while looking lively throughout, but what are Port going to do with Pakorn (7)? Well, I wouldn’t mind seeing The Midfield Monk dropped this week for Bodin (10), who has put in a couple of suave performances of late. Despite his unerring inability to miss chances in a laughably predictable way, Siwakorn (16) will once again partner Kim (8) in midfield.

In the defence things are looking very settled. Nitipong (34), Rochela (22), Dolah (4) and Kevin (97) have all made their positions their own, although I’m not sure why Worawut (36) returned to the starting XI while Rattanai (17) was absent from the matchday squad last week. Knowing Rattanai, it’s most likely an injury. Still, both are quality goalkeepers so it matters little which one starts.

Terens (28) is back in training after picking up a knock that his kept him out for the last couple of weeks, but it’s unknown whether or not he will fit in time for Friday.

Dolah, Todsapol (6), Rochela, Boskovic and Nurul are all just one yellow card away from a suspension, so let’s hope they don’t all get booked at once!

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True 4U and True Sport 2 at 20:00 on Friday 11 May, 2018. For those who can’t make it to Suphanburi Provincial Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound. We’re expecting another good turn out at the bar this week, so come along and don’t forget to wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.

 

Robopussies: Nakhon Ratchasima FC vs. Port FC, 6 May 2018

 

Port travel to Nakhon Ratchasima on Sunday looking for something – anything – to banish their persistent away jinx. Statistically our chances look slim. If only away games were counted Port would be in the relegation zone, whereas Korat have won 4 of 6 of their home encounters. Whilst Siwakorn (16) returns from the first of his 3 annual suspensions and Suarez (5) looks set to slot back in to the starting XI, Korat welcome Dominic Adiyiah (10) back to fitness, with their key creative player having missed 5 of the last 6 games through injury.

Manager Jadet has lived to fight another day in the Port hot seat after his side put in a much improved performance last week to take all 3 points from Chiang Rai, although they needed a late penalty to seal the deal. On the other hand Korat coach Milos Joksic – the most spherical of supremos – can be very happy with the form of his side so far in 2018. Having made no big name signings in the off-season, Korat fans could have been forgiven for thinking that their side was under the very real threat of a relegation battle. Instead they find themselves in 6th position just a point behind Port, and the fans haven’t had to suffer through bore draws week after week like last season, either. Indeed the Swat Cats are the only team in the league yet to record a draw, having won 7 and lost 6 in their first 13 games. With Port also having just a single draw to date, we are unlikely to see a repeat of last season’s dour 0-0 borefest in Isaan.

 

Nakhon Ratchasima

Robopussy

 

Before I get on to the usual business of looking at the players, I thought I would take a moment to appreciate the badge of Port’s opponents. We’ve written about their bizarre nickname before, but just look at how The Swatcats’ logo has evolved.

We start of course with an actual Sisawat cat.

 

A Sisawat – or ‘Swat’ – Cat

 

Timid. Then there’s Korat’s first logo, a rather ferocious take on what is just quite a cute little kitty.

 

 

Then shit gets real. The Swat Cat is moving in to the modern age. With its’ straight lines and flawless symmetry this puss-puss is starting to look equally capable of scratching your eyes out and hacking in to your Amazon account to order itself a lifetime supply of Friskies.

 

 

Then there’s the 2018 version. Gone are the sharp fangs and the intimidating glare, replaced instead by robowhiskers and what I can only assume are its’ paws performing some kind of J-Pop pose. It’s most certainly lost its’ menacing edge, but now I’m getting concerned that the 2018 Swat Cat is going to pass the Feline Turing Test and end the world as we know it.

 

 

Players to Watch

 

Right, back to business. Korat’s key man is fresh off scoring a perfect hattrick in just 15 first half minutes last week. Paulo Rangel (9) hasn’t had the most prolific of seasons, but he’s always a threat with his clinical finishing, aerial ability and all around filth. No Paulo, we still haven’t forgiven you for that stamp on Rattanai (17) right in front of Zone B last season. In order to best deal with the big man, Port ought to be starting with Dolah (4) and counting on the big man to win the aerial duels that are Rangel’s bread and butter.

Returning after a month-long injury layoff is former Under 20 World Cup Golden Ball and Golden Shoe winner Dominic Adiyiah (10). The Ghanaian winger who was signed by Milan as a youngster has, as you may have guessed, failed to live up to his potential in a big way. A few loan spells and underwhelming Eastern European stints after being signed by one of the world’s leading clubs, Dominic found himself in Isaan, and is now in his fourth season with Korat. As much as Dominic’s dynamism looks threatening, the end product is rarely realized. This is illustrated perfectly by his performances to date in 2018, in which he has just one goal and no assists in eight starts.

 

Rangel and Dominic

 

Doing a rather better job in the goal department is Thai winger Ekkachai Rittipan (20). This 27 year old winger looks very much like a journeyman squad player, but has managed to notch four goals so far this season, putting him just one behind leading scorer Rangel. He’s not a player I’ve seen before, but on current form he’s one for Ports full-backs to watch out for.

 

Ekkachai Rittipan

 

This lot love a dodgy ‘keeper. Last season it was former Port cheat Weera Koedpudsa who has been banned for life for match fixing, and this season it’s Thai-American Samuel Cunningham (11). What sort of goalkeeper wears the number 11 shirt? Well, maybe I’m being a bit harsh on Cunningham – Korat have one of the better defensive records in the league – but he put in a laughably inept goalkeeping performance when his old team Sisaket visited Port in 2016 when the Zone B crowd laid in to him for a good portion of the match. Fortunately for Cunningham the away fans in the 80th Anniversary Stadium are roughly a mile and half away from the pitch, so he won’t have to worry about them this time around.

 

Samuel Cunningham

 

Other players of note are Korat captain and national team regular Chalermpong Kerdkaew (4), a consistent if unspectacular centre half, and Brazilian central midfielder Antonia Pina (7) who can be a threat from set-pieces.

 

Port FC

Away Blues

 

What on earth are Port going to do about their away form? Well, first and foremost they have to up the intensity. Regardless of what team Jadet picks, the players on the pitch need to show the same desire and commitment that was on display against Chiang Rai last week, as opposed to the dross we were assaulted with the previous Wednesday in Chainat.

Jadet does have some interesting decisions to attend to on the personnel front, though. Bodin (10) put in a superb performance in Suarez’ (5) usual position, while Adisorn (13), Kim (8) and Siwakorn (16) are back to fighting for two positions in central midfield. Dolah (4) and Todsapol (6) are also both in contention in defence, although Dolah ought to have held on to his place with a dominant performance last week.

I expect Jadet will return to what was his favoured attacking formula at the start of the season, which will mean a front two of Boskovic (23) and Suarez with Pakorn (7) and Nurul (31) on the wings.

 

Predicted Lineup

 

OK, so I’ve calmed down a bit after my last effort, in which I dropped half the team and replaced them with youth players. We’re back to a Port team we very well recognize this week.

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True Sport HD 3 at 18:00 on Sunday 6 May, 2018. For those who can’t make it to the 80th Anniversary 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.

 

Bouncebackability: Port FC vs. Ubon UMT, 11 March 2018

 

 

Port will look to bounce back from last week’s disappointing defeat at Bangkok Glass with a victory against mid-table Ubon on Sunday. Ubon has become a bit of a home for abandoned lions, with The Eagles swooping in for precocious yet unwanted cub Yossawat Montha (32), preening lioness Piyachart Tamaphan (99) and the one and only Scar: Wuttichai Tathong (8).

Both Port and Ubon have started the season decisively; neither have yet to register a single draw. Whereas Port leaped out of the gates with three consecutive wins before being pegged back at Leo Stadium last week, Ubon have bounced alternately from defeat to victory, both winning and losing 1-0 and 3-1 in their opening four fixtures. Their latest game saw them overcome a lackluster Air Force 1-0 at UMT Stadium, securing the win in the 80th minute thanks to substitute Thaweekun Thong-on (28).

Whilst Port are clear favourites to take all three points at home, they can expect to face a tough test against Ubon, who have got their points the hard way: with gritty, battling performances. With former Scottish top-tier manager Mixu Paatelainen in charge, don’t be surprised if Ubon set up like British underdogs, put 10 men behind the ball and try and frustrate Port. It will be interesting to see what Jadet has planned if Ubon do try and park the bus.

 

Ubon UMT

Players to Watch

 

Left footed Port loanee Yossawat, who has curiously played three of Ubon’s four games on the right hand side, is ineligible, but both Piyachart and Wuttichai are in contention to start. Piyachart, who really impressed when joining The Eagles on loan in the second half of 2017, has scored already this season, but was dropped last week. With Yossawat unable to play though, he’s probably favourite to start on Sunday. Wuttichai picked up a knock after a T1 Team of the Week performance in attacking midfield against Prachuap and has missed out in the last two games, but Scar is now back in training, and looking to add to his tally of two yellow cards in two games. On that front, I have absolute faith in his abilities.

 

Ubon’s Mane Man and Scar

 

Now on to some actual talent. Angolan forward Aguinaldo (9) will lead the line, and although he has just one goal to his name in his opening four games, he looks pretty useful. Although he’s got the height to do damage in the air, Aguinaldo’s best work is done with the ball at his feet, so Port will need to come up with a much better defensive performance than they managed next week to nullify him. He may be backed up by ASEAN quota player Mark Hartmann (20) – an English-Filipino forward with the likes of Wessex League heavy hitters Blackfield & Langley on his resume.

 

Aguinaldo and Hartmann

 

Ubon’s big team news this week is the return, for the first time in 2018, of Japanese wing wizard Kenta Yamazaki (14). Kenta has been at Ubon since 2015, and has performed at a consistently high level for the last three seasons, with jinking forward runs being a hallmark of his game. With Kevin and Nurul coming at him down Port’s left hand side though, Kenta – who lacks match-fitness – may find himself doing less jinking and an uncomfortable amount of defending.

 

Kenta Yamazaki

 

Ubon have struggled to replace a few of last season’s top players, but they haven’t missed anyone as much as Victor Cardozo. The new foreign defensive player is Brinner (6), who hasn’t done an awful lot wrong, but will be very hard-pushed to match Victor’s excellence at the back or his incredible goal haul, let alone both. The big man netted 20 times in 72 games for Ubon. From centre back. Also in the defence is Thai national team legend – now 35 years old – Suree Sukha (25) who, whilst technically excellent on the ball, could struggle for pace against Port’s free-flowing attack, assuming it turns up this week.

 

Suree and Brinner

 

Port FC

Bouncebackability

 

It’s time to see what this Port squad is really made of. After an abominable first half display against Bangkok Glass, Port came out for the second half and showed that they were capable of out-playing their opponents, but it was too little too late. Now Jadet really needs another decisive win to get Port back on track. Whether he does that by making tactical alterations or simply demanding better performances from his players we shall have to see. First things first, a fit goalkeeper would be nice!

Port have been hit by their first injury crisis of the season, which saw all three first team goalkeepers making simultaneous hospital visits. Thankfully, there has been footage of Rattanai (17) bouncing around the goal in training, although he was later pictured with what looked very much like clingfilm adorning his dodgy shoulder. With the fitness of Worawut (36) and Watchara (1) still in question, Port B stopper Anipong Kijkam (81) could make it on to the bench for the first time, after he was left out in Port B’s last game, presumably as a precaution.

 

Anipong Kijkam

 

Assuming that Todsapol (6) has returned to full fitness (a wildly optimistic assumption by all accounts), it is safe to say (no it isn’t) that he will be lining up alongside Rochela (22) in defence, with Nitipong (34) and Kevin (97) as full backs. It’s set to be a big month for Kevin, who has been called up to the national team for the upcoming King’s Cup, but will have to play much better than he did against Glass to usurp Theerathon in the first XI. The less said about Dolah’s (4) defensive performance the better.

Kim (8) was another of Port’s major under-performers, and will have to put it another authoritative display if he wants to prove that his performance against Muangthong was the rule, not the exception. Siwakorn (16) will, as always, sit alongside Kim in the heart of the midfield.

With Pakorn (7) once again getting overlooked in Thailand’s King’s Cup squad – while Nurul (31) and Bodin (10) were selected – it begs the question… what does Thai boss Rajevac see that we don’t? It’s certainly not a wildly surprising decision that he would choose Nurul ahead of Pakorn on the right, whilst Bodin is competing for a different position altogether on the left, but how is sharp-elbowed Police Tero winger Mongkol Tossakrai still getting in to the squad ahead of Pakorn? To be fair to him, he does have an impressive goal-scoring record at international record, but to compare Mongkol and Pakorn since the start of last season is to compare a player with 9 combined goals and assists to a player with 23. Maybe Rajevac watched Pakorn last week. He was truly awful, but along with Nurul will probably keep his place on Sunday, with Bodin continuing on the bench.

Boskovic (23) and Suarez (5) are dead certs in the attack, and something tells me the Montenegrin is going to be hungrier than ever for a goal this Sunday. After failing to find the net in three games and passing up a huge chance late on last week, it’s time for Boskovic to remind PAT Stadium just what he can do in front of goal.

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True Sport 2 at 19:00 on Sunday 11 March, 2018. For those who can’t make it to PAT Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match with sound if you ask them nicely. Mention the Sandpit or wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount.

 

Run Christian, Run! Port FC vs. Ratchaburi, 24 February 2018

 

There is a bible story that talks of a young German Christian (Ziege) manager taking the first steps on his assent to the footballing promised land, who traveled far to the lands east, for a fat bag of gold coins (one suspects) to lead a mythical sugar dragon and is confronted by a league full of strange beasts, disorganisation and interfering megalomaniac owners. In this very strange league lived a mighty lion who once was shabby and downbeat, even taking on at times the form of a horse and a rather camp dolphin but had recently risen to the top of the local footballing mountain. With the help of its sidekicks the dragon, the flash, the grumpy Spaniard, the calm happy Spaniard and 1990’s Will Smith, the lion had set about slaying all who dared to cross its path. The strange footballing land also had a bunny, a bat, a beetle, a horrible lizard, a shark, a not so camp dolphin, and an elephant amongst others. However, it was the mighty Lion that had recently come to be most feared. First it met the dolphin and with three blows the dolphin was slain. Next was its sworn enemy the lizard. The lion had waited a long time for this moment and savoured his victory, he had won victories over the lizard before but they were bruising affair, this was to be a total victory, tearing the helpless lizard limb from limb, even toying with the poor little lizard as the life faded from it on a glorious Saturday, and the howls of the lion’s famous followers did ring around its den, for although the battle did occur at the lizards dwelling, it was a place no wise man was permitted to visit. Some say that with the battle won and the followers of the lizard falling silent, as they realized that the lion had risen and was again undeniably mightier than their lizard, the roars of the lion’s followers could be heard even though the two dens are many miles apart and even if they couldn’t, it’s on YouTube.

The young manager was filled with fear having seen the lion slaughter the lizard and began to question if this really was the place for him. So, with just days to go before his dragons (none of whom were as mighty as the lion’s dragon, who was the mightiest dragon in the kingdom), were due to face the lion in its den, the young manager asked the lord to help him escape the mighty lion and his now ultra-professional sidekicks. “Save me from the lion’s mouth; From the horns of the wild oxen You answer me.” (Psalms 22.21). (The oxen had been cast out by the other animals for being a bit crap at football and told to spend 40 fixtures and 40 weeks trying to prove itself). The young manger decided to further ponder his position whilst listening to some banging tunes. Luckily being a very modern god, Spotify is the savior’s current go to medium of communication, so the lord did answer the young manager at a crossroads and via shuffle the lord did declare: “dreaming of that perfect home by the sun…Run, Christian run,” for the lord was wise and chose the finest Welsh psychedelic band to have ever walked the earth* to inform the former left back who had traveled as far as Liverpool, Bayern Munich, Milan and some of footballs smaller missionary stations before heading east,  that it was time to high tail it to Suvarnabhumi and see how quickly Lufthansa could get him back to the Fatherland. Thus ends the story of the Christian and the sugar dragon.

Its one of the lesser known bible stories due mainly to having been entirely made up by me in an attempt to make up for having to bin nearly all of the preview I’d finished yesterday. So a series of poor Christian and lions jokes will live forever unused alongside the excellent Captain (playa de las) Americas pun that, given the slim chances of a return to Klong Toey for Asdrubal combining with Super Power making like the son of God at Easter for a game I preview, will never see the light of day in any useful way.

 


 

Or in plain language, Port play Ratchaburi on Saturday at the PAT, 20:00 kick off or if you can’t make it’s on True 4U, True Sport HD2 and various dodgy streams. Ratchaburi had appointed Christan Ziege to be their manager in the close season, however, at some point this week, having already left once, it was decided by the club and/or him that things weren’t working out and his contract with the club was terminated. Oh, and we’re top of the league, having played Muangthong off LEGOLAND Park. We’re also yet to concede a goal this season, and we’re eight games unbeaten in the league including the finish of last season. The last time Jadet took charge of a home defeat was the 6th of May 2017 when Pattaya beat us two nil. So we have nothing to fear. Kinda like being two nil up with ten minutes to go, and we know how that generally turns out for Port!

Ratchaburi

 

Its hard enough to draw any conclusions about teams two games into the season; it’s even harder when they’ve changed manager and when that manager leaves the club, you’re pretty much at a total loss.

 

Christian Ziege

 

Sooooo, Ratchaburi started the season with the least desirable fixture on offer, away at Buriram on a Friday night. Giving a good account of themselves, they kept the scores level ’til the hour mark, before two goals in seven minutes took the points for the champions, despite a consolation penalty scored by Felipe Mendez (20).  Round two saw Air Force Central visit Ratchaburi, again the game was scoreless well into the second half before an own goal was awarded to Chutipol Thongthae (7) for being vaguely nearby when the ball was sent goalward by the Air Force player, securing the win for Ratchaburi.

The Ratchaburi squad underwent somewhat of an overhaul in the closed season as Marcel Essombe moved to Port, who sent him to the BEC Police home for unwanted players and from there he has moved to pastures as yet unknown. Thai national team left back Kevin Deeromram made the same move on deadline day.

They have been replaced by “Bill” (90) a striker from Brazil who has spent the last four years (transferring each season) in the second tier at home, scoring 9, 15, 2 and 10 goals (the 2 occurred while only making 9 appearances). On two occasions he’s been with the champions, only to be moved on without getting the opportunity to play in the top tier. He’s yet to score in the Thai league, but appears to possess a powerful shot. South Korean Soo-il Kang (10) also arrived in the closed season, from Thespakusatsu Gunma who were relegated from the second tier of the Japanese league. A skilled dribbler, he had the most fruitful season of his career last season, scoring 10 goals. Kang too has drawn a blank in his time at Ratchaburi playing on the right, hopefully Deeromram learnt enough in the time they spent together in preseason to keep him in check.

 

Bill and Kang

 

Further attacking options are offered by two half Thai players, Thai-German Phillip Roller (33) who has been used further up the field as a right winger than full back where he started and Thai-Italian Gionata Verzura (16) who arrived from Super Power via Ubon, they’ve started one game each this season. The final foreigner in the group is another Brazilian Felipe Menezes (20) who scored the penalty at Buriram. He will look to exploit the space between Port’s defence and midfield.

 

Roller and Verzura

 

Also arriving was keeper Kittipong (1) on loan for the season from Bangkok United. He was first choice for the Angels last season, but has been moved on in the post cup final shake up. He’ good at getting himself to shots and crosses but somewhat questionable at collecting them. Whilst Pakorn may not enjoy much joy with his shoot on sight policy, others may following up.

The back four has been fairly stable for some time with Wattayuchutikul, (35) who was involved 19 times last season being asked to replace Deeromram at left back. Congolese centre back Joel Sami is captain. He seems a competent foreign leader of a defence, but hopefully we be found wanting against Boskovic and his many helpers.

Port

 

I can see only two spots in the team where a change is possible. Firstly in goal, whilst the decision to make Worawut (36) man of the match last weekend was somewhat of an overstatement of his performance, he was in great form out at LEGOLAND. Combined with a solid performance in the opener, it seems implausible that he’ll be dropped. So even if Rattanai (17) is back to full fitness, I expect his fragile frame will be spending a few more weeks toughening itself up on the bench.

Which brings us to Port’s other man made of biscuits. Todsapol (6) was carried off with what has been reported as a muscle injury, that early in the week was reportedly not serious enough to stop him starting come Saturday or would keep in out for two weeks according to another source midweek.  Dolah (4) came on for the last hour and coped well with all that Herberty and Jaja asked of him. I suspect the weekend comes to soon for Todsapol to start. Thereafter I expect it to be the same team as last week.  Nitipong (34) and Kevin Deeromram (97) have been excellent at the back and equally impressive going forward, Deeromram looked more at ease for a second week of training with the club and enjoyed exploiting the space offered by our out of position right wingers, cutting in. Nitipong (34) thankfully appears to have figured out that defensive side of the game he used to struggle with against all but the weakest of opponents.

 The foreign spine of the team appears to be the real strength of the set up. We know what we get from El Capitan David Rochela (22) and in front of him is Kim Sung Hwan (8), who was superb in the Slum vs. Scum derby, not just with his play but with his organisation. Along with Boskovic (23), these players offer more than just their ability as individual players, as they organise and encourage those around them. The sight of Jadet in discussion with Kim and Deeromram over the tactics board bodes well. We now have players with knowledge and the strength of character to put their thoughts out there mid match.

As noted above Ratchaburi have made it to the hour mark in each of their games this season scoreless. This might be the game when the strength of the Port bench is called to turn the game in our favour late on.

Predicted Lineup

 

 


 

*The Super Furry Animals for the heathens amongst the readership

 


 

The match will be shown live on True 4U, True Sport HD2 at 20:00 on Saturday 24 February, 2018. For those who can’t make it to PAT Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match with sound if you ask them nicely. Mention the Sandpit or wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount.

 

The Queen Bees’ Knees & the Return of a King: Port FC 5-3 Sisaket FC

 

In the end, this was a thoroughly entertaining match to round off what has been, despite some frustrations, a solid season from Port. Any place from 10th–8th is now possible and would represent progress. The last time we went into a season sitting comfortably in mid-table with no excitement of promotion to look forward to, or relegation to fear, was in 2011! So, joining the rest of the Sandpit in Zone B in a carefree, happy, Leo enhanced mood was indeed a rare treat.

The Port line-up raised a few eyebrows but every cloud has a silver lining. Some players were being given, we suspected, a final run-out in a Port shirt, most notably, the often, deservedly maligned Tana (99) and he was certainly to live down to expectations. 33 year old Ittipol (7) is already confirmed to be on his way at the end of the season, and he was also given a final 90 minutes at PAT Stadium.

Apart from some typical left wing raids from Genki (18) and a header which went close from the same player, the opening half an hour was typical of Thai League football: great first touch, fast, neat, incisive passing, tricky wing play, rash tackles and the odd dash of theatrics but, like a Japanese tourist in a Nana Plaza pay-by-the-hour hotel, short on penetration.

It might be an age thing, but at times like this my mind does wander; random thoughts started to meander through my head, though still obscurely connected to the scene unfolding before me:

  • Madame Pang’s legs are far too pale for her to be wearing skimpy shorts on a wet Saturday in November
  • I wonder how much it would cost to rent a flat in the orange and blue painted apartment block behind Zone D
  • I miss seeing the temperature updates on the old scoreboard
  • Is Tana the square root of nothing?

 

 

Then, just as my thinking delved into the existential, a goal of infinite beauty, yet stark simplicity, lit up PAT Stadium in the 37th minute; Pakorn (9) delivering a defence splitting pass for Suarez (5) to race on to and power past the keeper. The Spaniard has been on fire recently and was having another of his better games.

Half-time did nothing to disturb Port’s new-found momentum and, after a couple of narrow misses, on 53 minutes, Genki Nagasato ran on to another through ball to the right of the penalty area and smashed in a shot off the post. Beats ‘working as a waitress in a cocktail bar’, the Sandpit in Zone B reminded him. He had laboured hard for that goal and it was well deserved.

 

 

Three minutes later, Zone B was again in raptures when Todsapol (6) seemed the most likely scorer with a glancing header from a corner. At one point it appeared that Tana was about to claim the goal but the hapless midget would have needed a stepladder to have nodded that one in, so his celebrations were largely ignored.

Port were rampant now and chances came and went, at both ends of the pitch to be fair, with Rattanai (17), who had been superb, pulling off a couple of acrobatic saves to deny Sisaket a consolation goal. Then, in the 73rd minute, came possibly Port’s best worked goal of the season, Suarez expertly side-footing the ball into the net after a rapid exchange of passes in the box, the final assist from the recently introduced Ekkapoom (8): 4-0.

 

Image by การท่าเรือ เอฟซี Port FC

 

Sisaket pulled one back before the always energetic ‘Poom’, who adds more to our attack in two minutes than Tana (whom he replaced) does in 200, was to figure prominently for the 5th goal in the 85th minute; the Sisaket keeper bringing him down illegally after another burst into the box. As soon as the penalty was given, David Rochela (22, or David Roosevelt according to Google Translate) left his place at the back to assume his duties and, despite some muted protest from Josimar, duly dispatched it well out of the keeper’s reach.

 

Image by การท่าเรือ เอฟซี Port FC

 

And that, really, should have been it. Port were leading comfortably, and quite deservedly, after a compelling second half performance. But, just as if to remind us that old habits die hard, Port performed at their most Portsy in extra time, conceding two sloppy goals to give a slightly distorted look to the result. Still, none of us would begrudge Sisaket and their wonderful travelling fans this belated consolation.

So, some home comfort to send the fans away happy, which is more than I can say about the club’s, and Queen Bee Madame Pang has to be heavily implicated in this, feeble attempts to commemorate 50 years of Thai Port football and appropriately reward her worker bees. I did mention this in my match preview, but quite frankly, it has been pathetic. My memory may be playing tricks, but I am sure we have had end-of-season parties on the field outside the club shop in recent years, the two most memorable being the promotion party in 2013 and the relegation party (!) the season before.  For various reasons I am sure, the turn out today was very disappointing, but those of us who were there deserved better.

Still, there was one supreme consolation at the end, which will live long in my memory certainly. King Leandro was in the Sandpit. And looking trim. He shook my hand, signed my shirt and said, in a warm, cuddly tone, “I remember you”. Amazingly, all this after we had just been discussing his Port career over post match beers. Those of you who have read my footballing love letter to him: ‘Leandro, Portrait of an Icon’ will understand my turning into jelly – it was man-love at its finest and no doubt cringingly embarrassing for those who witnessed it. I offer no apologies.  Ratchaburi – here we come!

 

 

Tim’s Man of the Match – Sergio Suarez

OK, I hold my hands up on this one – I’ve spent most of the season criticising Suarez for only showing up for one game every 3-4, but in the last few weeks he’s been absolutely superb, and last night he was magnificent. Two goals, and bossing the game like no player I’ve seen since Zidane tearing Howard Wilkinson’s England a new one in 1999, or the peerless Berndt Schuster silencing Old Trafford for Atletico Madrid in 1991. Admittedly this is a slightly lower level than that but if he can keep up this kind of form then SS (er, maybe not) may be lining up in Port’s midfield next season. And maybe he’ll unblock the Sandpit on Instagram now…

 

Arbeitsverweigerung: Bangkok United 5-1 Port FC, FA Cup

 

No, the Sandpit is not now doing match reports in German, we’ve just run out of English words to describe the ineptitude of most of our players. The German word arbeitsverweigerung is translated by online dictionaries as ‘refusal to work’, but our resident Brummie Hun, Achim, offers a slightly more colourful translation: ‘lazy c*nts’. Quite.

 

Rochela was one of a few who put in a spirited performance

 

Port went for some slightly off-beat team selection, with Nitipong (34) playing out of position at left-back with Jetjinn (51) on the bench and Yossawat (28) not even in the squad. We once again started spectacularly, with a 9th minute Tana (99) freekick being toed past slow-reacting Kittipong (1) by a stretching Genki (18).

Port’s lead was to last all of 3 minutes though, as a cut-back from Mario (20) was clumsily diverted goalwards by Todsapol (6). Worawut (36) was wrong-footed and stood no chance as the ball rolled past him in to the bottom corner.

It wasn’t long before Boskovic (7) put the home side in the lead. Mario was once again the creator. His smart throughball found Jaycee John (22) in far too much space in front of goal. His simple square ball to Boskovic took Worawut out of the game, leaving the clinical Montenegrin with a tap-in. He could have walked it in the goal sipping a glass of champagne had he wished, so lax was Port’s defending.

Port never looked like keeping Bangkok’s advantage at just one goal, though, and it was sadly inevitable when Jaycee John got on the scoresheet. John is one of the finest forwards in Thai football, but remarkably is not even in The Angels’ T1 squad. I assumed he had already left Bangkok, but the Nigerian with a Bahraini passport has actually stuck around just to play in the cup. He looked suitably hungry for goals on this rare return to action, but once again he was helped by some less-than-enthusiastic defending. A cross to the far post by Mika (16) found John un-marked by a ball-watching Todsapol (6) who turned in a particularly wretched all-around display after his man of the match performance against Pattaya. Arbeitsverweigerung!

Port went in at half-time 2 goals down, but it could have been much more. Ten minutes after the restart, number four came courtesy of Thai-Welshman Mika (16), who had been putting it about quite a bit on the right hand side. Never one to shirk a tackle, he had irked the away support a couple of times with strong challenges, but the Port defence made no challenge on him at all as he headed home from a corner. It looked like Genki was supposed to be marking him, but was nowhere to be found as Mika powered home from 10 yards.

Bangkok really took their foot off the gas, content to maintain their healthy lead and save energy for their weekend clash with Muangthong. There was still time for Port to give away their obligatory penalty, though, and it was once again Dolah (4) who was the culprit. This has happened so many times now, it has to be addressed. Dolah is quite often beaten for pace, and decides the best thing to do is bring down whoever is going past him before he gets in to the area. Not a bad idea necessarily, but Dolah overestimates the ability of referees to adjudge that he is in fact fouling them outside the area. I can think of three occasions (against Muangthong on Teerasil, against Pattaya on Stojanovic and against Bangkok on Ede) where Dolah has deliberately fouled players right on the edge of the area, but they have fallen inside the area and the referee has pointed to the spot. Dolah has to re-evaluate his strategy, as it’s clearly not working. In an ideal world the referees would get it right every time, but in reality this is Thailand and they are rubbish. John did the honours from the spot in the 93rd minute to cap a fine man of the match display and condemn Port to a 14-2 aggregate loss over three games in 2017.

 

He’s outside the area, ref…

 

With these away trips to Thammasat stadium in far-away Rangsit the trip back can be a pain in arse after a heavy defeat. Well, not this time. Myself and a few others hitched a ride on the fan bus and let me tell you, this is something you absolutely have to experience! Even after a hopeless four goal defeat, music blared, fans sang raucous karaoke and Spiderming made sure everyone had enough beer to drown their sorrows. Forty baht per can from a massive cooler full of the stuff downstairs. Fantastic. A trip that would otherwise have been spent ranting about substitutions, penalties and rubbish defending was instead spent playing air guitar, bellowing out ‘Sing Jow Tha’ at full volume and having a whale of a time with fans literally dancing up and down the aisles. Imagine what it would have been like if we’d won!

 

All photos from the Bangkok United FC Facebook page.

 

Angels and Alcohol: Bangkok United vs. Port FC, FA Cup Round of 16

 

Port face the former, and traveling fans will most certainly be in need of the latter.

Port can’t be said to have had the luck of the draw in the FA Cup this year. Getting Bangkok United away is about as tough as it gets, although after Sunday’s five goal romp in Pattaya Port finally look to be regaining their confidence. The first half of the season under new-old manager Jadet saw Port score some stunning upset victories away from home at Muangthong and Chiang Rai, so with team spirit once again lifted following the departure of Zico Bangkok United will have to be wary of a re-invigorated Port.

 

Bangkok United

Players to Watch

 

With this being a cup game, it’s very hard to know who Mano Polking will pick against Port. United will certainly need a strong team – Port are not expected to be push-overs – but he will probably not employ all of the resources at his disposal. I have had a look at the team Mano picked on the weekend against Super Power, and am choosing my Players to Watch based on those who didn’t feature in that 4-0 win.

After getting a rest on the weekend, Teeratep Winothai (14) looks set to replace top goalscorer Dragan Boskovic (7) in the forward line against Port. No surprise really, considering that Teeratep, widely known as Leesaw, banged in 4 goals last time Port visited Thammasat Stadium, and was still popular enough among the traveling support to take selfies with the entire away stand. Cheeky beggar. Leesaw isn’t quite in his prime anymore, but Mano has the former national team superstar working harder than ever, and making an excellent all-round contribution. He’s notched up 8 goals and 4 assists too, which is pretty tidy for a player who has spent as much time on the bench as on the pitch.

Bangkok United’s captain Sanrawat Dechmitr (29) is one of the classiest Thai footballers in the game. He plays between midfield and attack, and has supplied much of the ammunition – 13 assists if you’re counting – that Boskovic (7) has used to fire himself to the top of the goalscoring charts this season. He is at the heart of Bangkok’s cultured attacking style, as Port fans may remember after he helped himself to an assist in both of their league encounters in 2017. If Port are lucky, the man who he shares the creative burden with – Mario Gjurovski (20) – could well be given a rest after starting against Super Power on Saturday. Nevertheless, Sanrawat is more than enough to deal with on his own.

 

Teeratep and Sanrawat

 

Never try to say Anthony Ampaipitakwong’s (6) name after you’ve had a couple of beers. This Thai-American holding midfielder made his name in the MLS for the San Jose Earthquakes, before moving to Buriram and then Bangkok United. He doesn’t do anything fancy – seriously, he doesn’t have a goal or an assist to his name in 2017 – but does a disciplined job in front of the back 4 and has a good range of passing. His willingness to do the hard yards, stay disciplined (just 1 yellow card this season) and play the simple passes makes him a rare and valuable commodity in Thai football.

Do try to say this Thai-German’s name after you’ve had a couple of beers. With any luck, you’ll get a top-up! Manuel Bihr (40) is a Thai-German central defender who played in the second and third tier of German football before being signed by Bangkok United in 2016. He struggled for game-time in 2016, but has earned the right to partner Yohan Tavares (32) with some solid displays in 2017.

 

Anthony Ampaipitakwong and Manuel Bihr

 

Form

 

Bangkok enjoyed a stonking run of 8 consecutive wins from the start of the second leg of the season, but a shock 1-0 defeat to Pattaya United put a dent in their top-2 ambitions, before a crushing 4-0 loss to Muangthong effectively wrote them off. Bangkok United now have 6 points to make up on second place Muangthong, but they also enjoy a 7 point cushion over Chiang Rai who are in fourth. Bangkok will still likely continue to focus their efforts in the league, where another Muangthong collapse is not beyond the realms of possibility, and staying above Chiang Rai in the table to secure the coveted play-off spot for the Asian Champions League is also of paramount importance to the ambitious Angels.

 

Port FC

Starting XI

 

Last week’s hero with his sensational dead-ball deliveries, Panpanpong (19), is unavailable for selection against his parent club, but right back Nitipong (34) returns after his league suspension, which is handy as his understudy Meechok (20) is a doubt after getting the shit kicked out of him for 80 minutes by Pattaya. Pravinwat (55) is suspended after picking up yellow cards in the previous two rounds, and Pakorn (9) is out of action for a month with the injury he picked up against Chonburi.

It seems likely that Jadet will continue with the 4-1-4-1 shape that served Port so well against Pattaya, which will mean Rochela (22) continuing in defensive midfield and Todsapol (6) replacing him in the back line. Todsapol made his long overdue return to action with a man of the match display last weekend, where he was magnificent in both defence and attack, and should once again partner Dolah (4), who was unfortunate to give away two penalties against Pattaya’s crafty Serbs. He deserves his share of the blame for having a handful of Stojanovic’s shirt, although that infringement was outside the area, but there was nothing he could done about Jevtic, who was intent on throwing himself to the ground regardless of what was going on around him. At full back, Yossawat (28) should replace Panpanpong on the left, whilst Nitipong (34) should return in place of Meechok on the right.

In front of Rochela will be Siwakorn (16) and Suarez (5), and out wide will be Genki (18) and possibly Tana (99) again. Alternatively, Ekkapoom (8), Jetjinn (51) or Narakorn (29) could be picked in place of the warbling winger, whilst if Meechok is passed fit, he could play at right back with Nitipong on the wing. Up top will be back-in-form Josimar (30), who has bagged 3 goals in his last 2 games, and is once again looking dangerous in front of goal.

 

Predicted Lineup

 

This is not quite the formation I wanted, but unfortunately Eurosport’s otherwise excellent Best XI lineup generator doesn’t offer the 4-1-4-1 formation that Jadet used on Sunday. Just imagine Rochela playing a bit deeper than Siwakorn.

 

 

The match will be shown live on True4U at 19:00 on Wednesday 27 September, 2017. For those who can’t make it to Thammasat Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will be showing the match on a big screen with sound.

 

Can Port Score in Sin City? Pattaya Utd vs. Port FC, 24 September 2017

 

Port return to action on Sunday away against Pattaya United, one of the form teams in the country. Port will be desperately hoping for the famed ‘new manager bounce’, although I’m not sure if that applies as Jadet never left in the first place! The big man’s beaming smile has been the subject of many hilarious memes over the last couple of months, while Zico has repeatedly failed to find his feet at PAT Stadium. With Zico having resigned as promised after the home defeat to Chonburi, Jadet is now back in the hot-seat and we will likely see that care-free semi-retired grin he has been sporting turn more serious, as he tries to push a stalling Port side back up the table. That will not be an easy task against Sunday’s opponents, though.

 

 

Pattaya Utd

Players to Watch

 

Wellington Priori (6) is a tall, rangy central midfielder who had a superb game against Port in the first leg of the season. Strong in the tackle and skillful on the ball, Wellington had it all his way against Port’s diminutive midfield. If Port are going to get the better of Pattaya this time out, thwarting the big Brazilian should be the first order of business.

The Serbs up front. Milos Stojanovic (18) has scored 11 goals and provided 6 assists in 2017. There’s not much to say about him other than he’s very good in the air, and has a half decent shot on him. Most of his goals have come from headers, and most of his assists from knock-downs to his attacking midfielders. I assume. Stats for that kind of thing don’t exist in Thai football, but I would be shocked if it wasn’t the case. His partner in crime – new arrival Aleksander Jevtic (30) – is the same nationality, the same age and just a few centimeters shorter than his teammate. Did Pattaya just try to sign the closest thing they could to Stojanovic? Probably. He’s scored 3 in 6 since arriving, a similar scoring rate to… yeah, you get the picture.

 

Wellington, Stojanovic and Jevtic

 

Picha U-Tra (37) was Port’s tormentor in chief in the 2-0 defeat at PAT Stadium. I’d never heard of this little attacking midfielder before 2017, but he announced himself on the big stage with a brace against Port, before becoming a mainstay in the Thai under 23 team which won the SEA Games last month. He bagged a couple of important goals, too. Picha is very much from the Park Ji-Sung school of attacking midfield. Not particularly skillful or creative, but a constant thorn in the side, and he just never bloody stops running. His two second half goals against Port underline how much he likes to harass tiring defenders in the closing stages of the game. Port’s rear guard must stay alert for the full 90 minutes with Picha around.

Peeradon Chamratsamee (8) is another youngish Thai player to have had a break-through year in 2017. Having had a successful loan spell at Pattaya in 2015 he returned to parent club Muangthong in 2016 where he kicked his heels for a year, before Pattaya secured the 24 year old once again in 2017. Since moving back to the Blue Dolphins, Peeradon has notched 6 goals, 2 assists and even a couple of call ups to the full National Team. Well, he is technically still a Muangthong player after all! With Picha providing the running, Peeradon provides a bit of quality in central midfield.

 

Picha and Peeradon

 

Mongkol Tossakrai (9), as we reported in the mid-season transfer window, was widely thought to have agreed a move to Port, but changed his mind at the last minute and moved to Pattaya instead. Maybe it was the pristine beaches and the promise of a quiet, tranquil life by the sea that persuaded him. Regardless, Mongkol has started all 6 games since his arrival on the coast, including a goal on his debut. Full disclosure, it was 1 of 9 that Pattaya put past Super Power, so shouldn’t really count. Whilst his personal stats haven’t been anything to write home about, Pattaya have enjoyed a stellar run of form since the national team star arrived, scoring 19 goals and conceding just 4. Maybe he knew what he was doing when he spurned Port after all…

I wanted to mention Surachet Ngamtip (77), because he was another player who was on the verge of signing on the dotted line at Port, before moving to Pattaya. Whilst the 26 year old looked like a good signing on paper, apparently Port turned him down based on his medical results. Wait, Port do medicals?! Well, after 4 appearances Surachet suffered a meniscal laceration (or in English, he knackered his knee) and spent the better part of 3 months on the sidelines. The upshot of this was that 6 months later Port ended up signing promising youngster Yossawat (28) from Buriram in his position instead. So… Port made a sensible transfer decision? Knock me down with a feather. Surachet could still make an appearance on Sunday, but he certainly hasn’t had the impact he or Pattaya would have wanted this season.

 

Wellington, Surachet and Mongkol

 

Form

 

Put simply, Pattaya are on fire right now. So much fire that one might even call it a red-light district. 5 league wins from 6 and a goal difference of +16 in the second leg of the season mean that The Blue Dolphins have leaped far ahead of Port in the table. A routine home victory against Not-So-Super Power was followed by a 2-0 win away at Sisaket, where Port discovered that 2 goal leads are not so easy to hang on to. 3-0 wins against Buri’s Ratcha (home) and Suphan (away) rounded off a barn-storming July, before Pattaya came storming back from the break, ending Bangkok Utd’s winning run by condemning them to a 1-0 defeat. Pattaya stuttered a little last week, drawing 2-2 with Navy on the weekend, before Honda held them to a 0-0 draw on Wednesday. Nevertheless, over the last 7 games, this is the second best team in the league versus the second worst.

 

Port

Starting XI – Jadet’s Right Hand Men

 

With Nitipong seeing red against Chonburi and Pakorn (9) hobbling around on crutches after going off injured, Jadet has a selection dilemma on the right hand side.

Last time Port started with a right winger who wasn’t Pakorn, they slumped to a 5-1 loss against Honda, with the one goal coming from substitute… yep, Pakorn. Oh dear. That day, Meechok (20) came in at right back, with Nitipong (34) playing on the wing. Ah. So, on to plan C, then.

It seems most likely that Jadet will shift Genki (18) over to the right, with either Tana (99), Jetjinn (51) or Ekkapoom (8) on the left. Having been frozen out under Zico, Port’s crowd favourite Ekkapoom must be absolutely dying for a run-out!

A return to action for young right back Meechok seems certain, but who Jadet picks on the left is anybody’s guess. I can see the value of bringing in Ekkapoom, whose energy and direct play might be just what Port need to lift their spirits after their horrific run of form. Jetjinn has also looked useful going forward, but having not seen him play on the wing yet, it’s tough to say if he’s in with a shout. What I can’t see the value in is any game time whatsoever for Tana. Ergo, he will almost certainly be the man that Pang, I mean Jadet, turns to.

In other areas of the pitch, it will be interesting to see if Jadet brings Adisorn (13) back in to midfield in favour of Pummared (41). Pummared has been playing pretty well, but Jadet could hardly be blamed for trying to return to the winning formula that served him well in the first half of the season. That will probably also mean that Panpapong (19) keeps his place on the left once again, with Yossawat (28) having to settle for picking splinters out of his arse on the bench. Any other changes are unlikely, with Port’s squad offering the manager very little in the way of options.

 

Predicted Starting XI

 

 

The match will be shown live on True Sport 6 at 19:00 on Sunday 24 September, 2017. For those who can’t make it to Dolphin Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will be showing the match on a big screen with sound.

 

The Artist Currently Known as Prince; The Fall of Zico: Port FC 1-3 Chonburi FC

 

Well what a 24 hours this has been… the club is in turmoil and one win in ten games leaves us now in a relegation fight, make no mistake about it. I was very optimistic and I openly shared this view in the sandpit prior to the game as I really felt that it was time the players showed some balls and played for their manager. The optimism was there right up until the sixtieth minute.

Port matched Chonburi in the first half although it was very clear that they were more menacing on the ball with Prince Amponsah (29) and Nakano (7) operating at a very high intensity but the first real chance of the game came from another Pakorn (9) free kick that crashed off the crossbar. Both teams evened themselves out until a beautiful defence splitting pass from Sergio Suarez (5) sent Josimar (30) racing clear to slide the ball past Chanin (35) in the Chonburi goal. Genki (18) then skied a lovely measured Pakorn pass when he should have done better on his trusted left foot. Port then had two goals ruled offside: the first was clearly off, but the second a – slip pass through to Genki – was touch and go.

 

 

With Port’s heads still in the changing room the self-destruction started. Good link up play from Marques (14) and The Prince led to the latter driving the ball low and hard into the bottom corner. Port rallied and the introduction of Tana (99) added extra spice to our attack and within five minutes of his arrival the aforementioned headed over from eight yards with the defender just doing enough to put him off.

Suarez who had a good game came close a couple of minutes later hooking his shot past the post. With ten minutes to go the potent strike force struck the killer blow this time Prince the provider for Marques who had his first shot excellently blocked by Worawut (36) only for the rebound to fall to his feet and he dispatched into an empty net. The game was now over as a contest and The Sharks were deservedly in front. Nitipong (34) then received his marching orders for a mistimed challenge that, although clearly intentional was not malicious. Two minutes later The Prince caught a cross field ball sweetly on his right foot and drilled it into Worawut’s right hand far post. That was it from me I was overdosing on Leo when the final whistle sounded, all my positivity drained out of me like a mosquito bite!

 

“And then he put Pakorn at right back!”

 

Zico announced his departure in the post-match press conference as expected. What happens next is anyone’s fucking guess! With Pang at the helm we will either have Jadet back, or she will try doing the job herself. This situation needs to be sorted immediately. Actually, looking at our prolific recent record, the process should have started four games ago which feels like last Christmas the way this season has been going!

 

Suphan Main Course: Port FC vs. Suphanburi FC, 19th Feb 2017

 

Port FC face Suphanburi FC at 19:00 on Sunday. Suphanburi finished in a disappointing 10th place in the TPL last year, making them just the kind of team that Port should be looking to take all 3 points from at PAT Stadium if they are going to achieve their goal of a top half finish this season. Here we will take an in-depth look at Port’s opponents before turning our attention to Jadet’s team selection.

Suphanburi FC

Players to Watch

 

Sinthaweechai Hathairattanakool (18) is Thailand’s second choice ‘keeper at international level and, even at 34, is still one of the best in the business. He is an excellent shot-stopper, but is better known for charging off his line and is a classic example of a ‘sweeper-keeper’.

Adul Lahso (19) is a disciplined, no-nonsense defensive midfielder who protects Suphanburi’s back four and very rarely loses possession. He played one season in Japan, and has made 34 appearances for the Thai National Team. Adul will likely be tasked with keeping tabs on Sergio Suarez (5), who will be trying to operate between Suphanburi’s midfield and defence.

Charyl Chappuis (7) is a Thai-Swiss central midfielder with possibly the best range of passing in T1. His ability to pick out a 40 yard pass and land it on a 1 baht coin is reminiscent of Scholes in his prime, although Chappuis’ legion of female fans would probably not be too happy with the comparison. Chappuis’ career has been blighted by injury, but after missing the majority of the last 2 seasons, he is now back to full fitness and eager to impress. Chappuis is not one to be intimidated by the famously hostile atmosphere at PAT Stadium, leaving this cheeky comment on Instagram after we warned him what to expect.

Dellatorre (9) was Suphanburi’s top scorer in 2016, netting a useful but not particularly scary 10 goals in 26 games for The War Elephants. The 1.86m striker looks like a bit of a handful, although the way Rochela (22) and Dolah (4) handled the physical side of Ratchaburi striker Marcel Essombe’s game last week, his size shouldn’t prove too much of a problem.

Thanasith Siriphala (11) is a quick, tricky left-winger who didn’t start Suphanburi’s first game of the season, but looked electric when he came off the bench. Known as Taodinho, (his nickname is Tao, and the dinho comes from his rather more famous buck-toothed doppelganger) he absolutely terrorized Port last time he came to PAT Stadium, scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win for Bangkok Glass. Let’s hope Meechok (20) is fit enough to play 90 minutes at right-back this week, as the prospect of Taodinho running at Nitipong (34) is not one that Port fans will relish.

 

Sinthaweechai, Adul, Chappuis, Dellatorre and Tanasith

 

Form

 

It’s hard to judge form so early in the season, so we will give you a brief account of Suphanburi’s first game of the season. The War Elephants earned a hard-fought 2-1 win against newly-promoted Thai Honda, but looked far from comfortable against a team that is expected to be in the lower reaches of the T1 table. Suphanburi looked good in central midfield with Adul (19) and Chappuis (7) combining well, and dangerous going forward, with Chananan (10), Dellatorre (9) and Madrigal (8) looking sharp. Defensively, however, there was a lot to be desired from The War Elephants, and it was indecision from two defenders that led to Thai Honda taking the lead. They both stood and waited for the other to take control of an innocuous ball across the 6 yard box, and Honda midfielder Peemvit (11) snuck between them to head the ball past Sinthaweechai (18).

Suphanburi always looked likely to equalize though, and it was a peach of a pass that led to the goal. Chappuis (7) showed excellent vision and technique to play a pinpoint ball over the top, and former Thai under 23 striker Chananan (10) did well to beat the keeper with a first time shot from a tight angle.

Suphanburi’s winner came just before half time, as an unmarked Dellatorre (9) did well to connect with a deep corner, sticking a leg out and sending an unconventional finish past Buncha (24) in the Honda goal. Honda will have been disappointed with their defending though, as Dellatorre should never have lost his marker with such ease.

Honda pushed on in search of an equalizer in the second half and the game really opened up, leading to several chances for both sides. Sinthaweechai (18) made a quality save late on to ensure that Suphanburi held on for the win, and they will head to PAT Stadium with 3 points under their belt despite a patchy performance.

 

The Suphanburi Perspective

 

We caught up with Matt who runs the @fcsuphanburi Twitter account to get a feel for how the away side are expecting to do this season.

“This season, for Suphanburi after their poor end to the truncated season last year, a fit again Charyl Chappuis, three Brazilian and one Argentine new imports, there needs to be a lot of samba flair. I am a big fan of second time round coach Sergio Farias. He is a calm and clear tactician who now has at least four members of the squad that he can communicate directly with (his English is very basic). There seems a good mixture of experience (not sure where the 38 year old Rangsan fits in) with thirty year old Adul a stabilising force for the team and keeper Sinthaweechai Hathairattanakool a consummate professional to influence the younger players. The preseason has not been great, but a come from behind win against Thai Honda with Dellatore bagging the winner showed some promise. It is time for him and Chananan to show what they are capable of. Both flattered to achieve last season. Fourth is the new first, so I expect the best case scenario to be that. Title winners are Muang Thong, dark horses are Scott Cooper’s Ubon and a good cup run and fighting for an AFC place would be a good step forward for Suphanburi after the frustrations of last season.”

We also asked Matt to pick out one key player to watch from both sides. From Suphanburi he chose Brazilian striker Dellatorre.

“For Suphanburi, a slimmer Dellatorre has plenty of skill and, if he can improve his work rate and consistency, he will always prove a threat. His ability has never been in doubt, but his fitness and application have let him down in the past. Fitter and thinner, a good run in the team supported by the “Syrian” duo  [Ed – Brazilian duo Marcelo and Gilson have both recently acquired Syrian passports] might, finally, bring out the best in a player of undoubted ability.”

Unsurprisingly, his player to watch from Port was captain and last week’s Port FC Man of the Match David Rochela.

“For Port, I have always felt David Rochela is a touch of class. He has the football intelligence to keep the younger players in a more disciplined frame of mind and the temperament to cope with the febrile atmosphere at the PAT. He should score more goals in a season from set pieces, but he is a real defender’s defender.”

 

Port FC

The Starting XI – Selection Headaches

 

Jadet has some key decisions to make after Genki rescued a point for Port last week against Ratchaburi.

Rattanai (17) should retain his place in goal after an excellent performance on Saturday, while Rochela (22) and Dolah (4) will continue in central defence.

If Meechok (20) has fully recovered from the knock he picked up in pre-season, it’s a no-brainer to bring the youngster in for Nitipong (34) at right back. Whilst Nitipong got forward well against Ratchaburi, his defensive struggles mean he is very likely to be back on the bench.

There is another slightly trickier decision to be made at left back. Piyachart (23) played OK against Ratchaburi, but also seemed to prioritise attack over defence. Panpanpong (19) replaced him in the second half and played with more discipline, but looked poor going forward. With the less-than-inspiring options Jadet has available to him, it is perhaps unsurprising that the club have chosen to dip in to the loan market to snap up Surachet from Chainat on a 1 year deal. We’re unsure whether Surachet will be considered for selection this week, and we are also not certain if Jadet intends to play him in defence or midfield. With Surachet having been at the club less than a week – and attack-minded Suphanburi the opponents – it seems likely that the more defensive Panpanpong will make his first competitive start for Port.

The biggest head-scratcher from the Ratchaburi game was Jadet’s central midfield selection. Siwakorn (16) and Suarez (5) were of course expected to be starting, and it wasn’t a complete surprise to see Piyachat (88) get the nod, but I doubt that a single person in PAT Stadium expected to see Adisorn (13) come off the bench. Is there a reason that Tatchanon (39) or Wanchalerm (40) were not even in the squad? Both impressed far more than Adisorn in pre-season, with Tatchanon in particular looking like a class act in the holding midfield role. With Piyachat injured until the end of the month, we will be very interested to see who Jadet picks. If you’re reading, Jadet, anyone but Adisorn, please!

Pakorn (9) and Genki (18) combined to rescue a point for Port last week, and will surely continue on the wings, but Jadet could ring the changes up front. Kaludjerovic (10) looked a little off the pace against Ratchaburi, despite finding the net several times in pre-season. With new signing Josimar (30) likely to be in contention for a place in the side, Jadet could consider making a change, although we think he’s much more likely to stick with the Serb for now.

 

Predicted Starting XI

 

 

The Key Battle

Suarez vs. Adul

 

 

Suarez will likely be in the same advanced midfield role he played against Ratchaburi, while Adul will be sitting in front of his back four trying to track the Spaniard’s forward runs. If Suarez can find space and time on the ball, and make Adul’s life difficult when Suphanburi have possession, then it could well give Port the upper hand. Alternatively, if Adul can nullify the Suarez threat and dictate the pace of play, then Suphanburi will likely control the game.

 

 

Thanks to Matt from @fcsuphanburi for contributing.