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I Think We’re Alone Now: Samut Prakan City vs. Port FC Preview

 

In the hunt to keep within screaming distance of the relentless “nearly Bangkok” rabbits of BG Pathum United, the Lions of Klongtoey, nearly as relentless of late, make the trip to another “nearly Bangkok” side, the club formerly known as Pattaya United, now Samut Prakan City, or with a wink to the most beloved organisation in the English game, the SP Dons. It will be a short trip into the epicentre of one recent outbreak of COVID-19 that has put the entire league in empty stadium-mode and ruined what was possibly a great away day for many of our readers. Mask up lads!

 

Not sure that counts as a mask, boss.

 

Samut Prakan Dons

 

The new boys did well in their first ever season of football. Especially in the first half of the season, during which we found ourselves with the corresponding fixture right on a great run and lost 2-1. Going 2 down within 10 minutes and only able to pull one back right at the end. They have since seen star striker Ibson Melo move to Sukhothai and aptly replaced him with fellow Brazilian Tardeli, who’s already netted 8 goals thus far in his loan spell from BG and will be joined by another BG loanee in midfielder Toti for the second half of the season. As the league leaders brought in Diogo there was no room for the Spaniard. He’s not the greatest foreign player in the league, but he will definitely strengthen his new team.

 

Toti looking to help his former club on debut for his new one?

 

The Dons are currently sitting pretty in 6th place in T1, the very same spot as they finished in 2019. I must admit I have not seen enough of SP to make any in-depth analysis of their strengths and weaknesses, but looking at last season and what I have managed to catch this year, consistency is key to a side that can put up a fight to any team in the country. The only full game I remember getting into since the league started back up was the 4-1 thrashing of Chonburi two weeks ago. Although the score doesn’t really tell the story of the fairly tight margins I saw on the pitch that night, it is still an impressive win and it came right after travelling to Buriram and winning 3-1, and just before travelling to Trat and winning 4-0, so it’s safe to say we’ll be facing a side that’s in form and full of confidence.

 

Tardeli tries out for the next Zoolander film

 

Port

 

Since BG visited the PAT and Chenrop produced his only decent performance, ever, at his former home to hand us our second defeat of the season, we’ve been unstoppable and the random throwing of money at the most expensive players in the league is bearing fruit with an impressive 8 consecutive wins so SP will not be the only ones in form and full of confidence. The big thing will be to see how our latest big name signing, Ratchaburi top scorer Yannick Boli (94) , fits into the team. As Toby pointed out in his requiem to Heberty’s short time at the club, he may have only been playing for himself but he did back it up with some nice numbers and we all hope Boli will contribute goals without being completely useless otherwise.

 

Boli scores goals and runs about.

 

We’re free of suspension and only Bordin (10) seems ruled out with injury so Oud will have a nearly full squad to, theoretically, pick from. That means Pakorn (7) is likely to be the domestic addition to our otherwise foreign front line and the only question mark left to straighten out being whether Dolah (4) or Tanaboon (71) joins Worawut (24) at CB. I’ll go for Dolah as I not only hold him in higher regard myself, but also want to see the Swedish contingency remain regular starters. Writing this while looking out the window at a winter wonderland covered in the only two days of snow it seems my part of Sweden will see this month, I’m filled with an extra dose of Christmas cheer that leaves me convinced that the last present of the season, will be the one we get from Port tomorrow. 3-1, a brace for Boli and another goal from substitute Adisak (9) wrap up both the match and 2020, means we bring home 3 points to stay in the race when the much awaited 2021 finally rolls around.

 

Predicted lineup:

 

Too much striking talent?

 

As no fans are allowed to attend the game, we’re all watching on TV, the game is on NBT2 in Thailand and 1play around the world, kicking off at 1830 local time.

 

 

Who’s Trat? Trat FC vs. Port FC Preview

 

Another game, another manager.

It might not seem like it, what with the long break and the familiar figure of Jadet having been back at the helm, but by kick-off on Saturday Port will be on their third manager in just 7 games. And once again, new coach Sarawut’s tenure is unlikely to be a long one, with rumours already circulating about talks with Alexandre Gama, Jose Borges, Scott Cooper and just about anyone willing to wear a t-shirt with Madame Pang’s latest slogan on it.

Yes, Port’s enigmatic owner seems to have come full circle, returning to the wild early months of her tenure where she hired and fired 5 bosses in a single season. Assuming Sarawut, who incidentally was the assistant of the first manager Pang fired this season, is only intended to be in place until Pang finds a bigger name, we will soon be at 4 and in touching distance of Pang’s record.

So why was Jadet once again moved upstairs? Well, clearly Port weren’t performing well, despite having what many are saying is the best squad in T1. The problem is certainly not the talent available, so it must be the manager, right?

No. Whilst I’ve never been Jadet’s number one fan, limited as he is in terms of tactical nous and match preparation, he isn’t making signings, and he isn’t even picking the team. So what do you expect him to do? Give any manager in the league this surly, selfish, want-away incarnation of Heberty, a broken Bonilla, an injury-ravaged defence and the inability to do anything with them other then what they’re told, and see how much better they’d do. Also, let’s not forget that Port lost 0-2 in Jadet’s first match in charge because of floodlight maintenance, and were beaten by one of the top contenders (in my opinion) for the title in the other. What a shit-show.

Anyway, that’s my rant for this preview out of the way. Fortunately for Sarawut, our opponents on Saturday are just who you’d want to face in your first game in charge.

 

Trat FC

 

Rooted to the bottom of the table on zero points, and with an even worse goal difference than most people’s pick for last place Rayong FC, Trat look pretty hopeless this year.

It’s not all their fault though, with the club apparently facing severe financial difficulties over the last few months and having to let go some of their best players. There are even reports of the owner putting land up for sale to keep the club in business. There’s been a messy dispute over the contractual situation of their former winger Adefolarin Durosinmi, in which Trat look very much like the side in the wrong, and the contract of Wellington Priori has also been terminated, meaning that Trat are left with just one foreign quota player – Brazilian striker Ricardo Santos (11). A decent foreign striker by all accounts, capable of giving centre backs a tough evening and popping up with the odd goal, Santos will be the main man for Port to watch out for. Their Asian quota player is Mustafa Azadzoy (7) is also a handy attacker.

 

 

Combative former Muangthong and Thailand winger Mongkol Tossakrai (23) is a shrewd loan signing, and young forward Sittichok Paso (44) also comes with something of a reputation, despite failing to score goals almost everywhere he’s been. He’s young and he’s a forward, you see.

 

 

Their goalkeeper, Todsaporn Sri-reung (81) is a capable T1-standard stopper, and in front of him Amani Aguinaldo (12) looks half decent albeit with a pretty poor defence around him and little protection from midfield.

Bottom line is, if we get beat by this lot, we’re in real trouble.

 

Port FC

 

Did I say I was done ranting earlier? Sorry, I lied.

In my opinion Port’s main problem last Saturday was poor individual performances. There is also something missing from the team as a whole, but I’ll get to that later. In a game like this, it will probably just take a couple of decent performances from our forward players to get the job done.

Heberty (37) was, for me, the worst of Port’s forwards last week, and I honestly don’t hold any hope of him turning his form around. He just doesn’t look like he wants to be here, and seems to be playing badly as a protest. He’s that good that he can’t be this bad. I detest his attitude, and I wouldn’t be sad to see us just de-register him and send him back to where he came from.

 

 

Suarez (5) was also having his second consecutive off-day, but we’ve seen enough of the Spaniard to know that his poor form isn’t through lack of effort, and I’m sure he’ll turn it around soon enough. He invariably does.

Pakorn (7) wasn’t great, but he was mostly a victim of Heberty being more Pakorn than Pakorn. Credit to anyone who understood that. As we’ve said ad nauseum Pakorn is too lazy and too selfish, but last Saturday he consistently found himself in good positions only for Heberty to refuse to pass him the ball, preferring instead to take 30 yard pot-shots or using his weaker foot when he could have played Pakorn in on his stronger foot. Please never play them together again, and I know which one I’d pick given the choice.

Bordin (10) was excellent again when he came off the bench. God knows whose idea it was to put him there after being Port’s best player last time out. Starting Kevin (97) on the wing is a workable option against certain opposition, but I prefer to see it employed late on against teams with a tiring full back where Kevin’s pace can stretch the defence.

 

 

Go (8) and Kanarin (31) were uninspiring in midfield, but I have faith they’ll improve with match sharpness. The same can be said of the defence. Todsapol (6) and Dolah (4) both made blunders that we shouldn’t be seeing at a club with ambitions of winning the title, and those errors have to be cut out.

Rattanai (18) was excellent, and without him between the sticks we would surely have lost by more.

 


 

So what can we expect from new coach Sarawut? Well, I assume his remit is to bring back the boring but functional style that Choke employed, but doing so with a believable smile and a ‘Trust Pang’ shirt. Expect less attacking from the full backs, more discipline from the wingers and less fluid changes of position up top. It worked for Choke in the first four games, and against limited opposition, I can see us getting a win here, although I think it might just be by the one goal.

 


 

The match will be shown on True Visions 357 at 19:00 on Saturday 26 September, 2020. With it being a long away trip, we’re expecting out first big crowd since the restart in The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13, who will show the match with sound and a 10% discount on drinks for Port fans. See you there!

 

Assault on Thunder Castle: Buriram Utd vs. Port FC Preview

 

Port are sitting pretty as the league’s pace setters with a 100% record after 3 games, but their first real test of the season looms ominously on the horizon as the Lions of Khlong Toey travel to Thunder Castle (FFS am I supposed to be scared by that name?) to take on Buriram United this weekend.

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Fire Bats With Dire Tats: Sukhothai FC vs. Port FC Preview

 

Port embark on their first away trip of the season this Wednesday looking to do what they couldn’t last year and leave Sukhothai’s Talayluang Stadium with all 3 points. After last season’s debacle if we leave without one of our players having assaulted an official it’ll be a significant improvement.

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Number 1 vs The 1 Year Olds: Port FC vs Samut Prakan City Preview

We are top of the league, said we are top of the league… Well it is only week 1, but better to be top than bottom of the league. This week Port face the 1 year olds of Samut Prakarn City (est. 2019). The match kicks off at 5.45 p.m, Saturday 22nd February and is on True Sports 2.

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A Moment’s Silence: Port FC vs. Nakhon Ratchasima FC Preview

 

Port kick off their 2020 campaign with what looks to be the ideal kind of fixture. A home match against Korat, who are expected to finish mid to bottom half this season, may well allow an under-performing Port to still eke out victory, which is what we need after a less than promising pre-season. Rather than labouring this point once again, I will point you towards Dom’s, Tim’s and my 2020 Previews, which examined our off-season shortcomings in excruciating detail.

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Kicking Off With a Leo: Port FC vs. Nakhon Ratchasima FC Preview

 

I’m still reeling from Port’s disappointing AFC Champions League exit at the hands of Ceres Negros on Tuesday, so you’ll excuse me if I let a particularly virulent strand of pessimism colour this preview. Whisperings from the Port camp had already set alarm bells ringing in my head, and now having had a chance to look at Choke’s boys in action I’m exponentially more concerned.

I’m previewing the Leo Cup Clash with Korat here, but I’m also talking about the trajectory Port are taking with 2020 in mind.

Before I lose my mind and let loose though, here’s a brief (I promise) look at the opposition.

 

Nakhon Ratchasima FC

Players to watch

 

Not too much has changed for Korat in 2020. Key attacking duo Leandro Assumpcao (7) and Amadou Outtara (81) have remained. Leandro is a dead ball specialist and a deadly finisher in and around the box. Port defenders will want to keep the ball away from his left boot when he’s within striking range. Amadou Outtara is a winger with devastating pace who has always impressed me when I’ve seen him, although he’s hasn’t quite managed to deliver as many goals as one might expect given how dangerous he looks. He’s good, but perhaps his end product could be better.

 

 

They will likely be joined in the attack by Chitchanok Xaysensourinthone (10), a Thai-Laotian winger born in Switzerland, who has been kicking around Thailand for a few years but never quite nailed down a starting spot and been able to make his mark at a T1 club. He’s one of those who has always had potential, but as yet hasn’t quite delivered as much as he could. He’s a strong, physical presence in the forward line though, and shouldn’t be underestimated.

Straight in to Korat’s XI in their Leo Cup opener was a little-known midfielder who has been kicking his heels at one of Thailand’s top clubs for a couple of years now. The short-sighted assessment of the aforementioned club meant that the player received far less playing time than his early contributions warranted, but now the shackles are off and he’s straight in to a T1 side’s prospective XI for the coming season. Well done Anon Samakorn (99), us Port fans hope you get a real go at it this year with the Swatcats.

 

 

Then there’s Samuel Cunningham (88). A player Port fans love to wind up, he can expect his devoted followers to say hello from Zones B and D in a quiet PAT Stadium this Thursday. We’ve missed you, Sam.

 

Form

 

They drew their first round match with T2 side Khon Kaen FC, before edging the tie on penalties.

 

Port FC

Ajax My Ass

 

Right, I’m done delaying the inevitable. It’s colonoscopy time, boys, and this one is not going to be brief.

Let’s start from the back. We’ve always said that Worawut (36) is too flappy and punchy from crosses, so his blunder against Ceres wasn’t a surprise. It shouldn’t really effect our judgment of Port’s first choice between the sticks, as everyone makes mistakes, so we’re left saying once again that Port have three decent ‘keepers by T1 standards, but none quite feel like T1 winners. I’ve advocated in the past for Port to spend big and bring in one of these 5 ASEAN goalkeepers, who would all represent an improvement on Port’s stoppers, and that message hasn’t changed. Either that or a really top Thai goalkeeper.

Then there’s the defence. Nitipong’s (34) end product was poor, and Kevin (23) didn’t seem to be on it at all on Tuesday, but we know they’ll be back as Port’s first choice full backs in 2020, and rightly so. In central defence is where I have issues. The Rochela (22) question is back once again. He looked sluggish to say the least against Police, and Choke chose to drop him altogether against Ceres, opting for Dolah (4) and Tanaboon (71) in the middle. For the most part (I missed the first 10 minutes of the second half) they did well, but I’ve had the chance to watch the highlights now, and it’s a terrible error from Tanaboon that led to the corner from which Ceres got the decisive goal. Dolah’s solid performance only served to further underline that the only question should be who partners him at the back.

 

 

My thoughts on this: if your foreign centre back isn’t even getting in the XI, you need a different foreign centre back. Simple as that. On Tanaboon, I thought he looked good in general, but the mistake was typical of a player for whom decisiveness has never been a strong point. A couple of decent performances – one at DM in the FA Cup Final – are not going to assuage my doubts. Same old problems here.

In midfield, Port didn’t do anything ostensibly wrong. Go (8) moved the ball around beautifully as usual, but we were outmatched for intensity. Schrock (12) and his boys wanted it more than us, and that’s a shame to see in such a big game. Still, losing this battle isn’t the end of the world, and we know Go and Siwakorn (16) will be back stronger.

I would normally differentiate between players who played different positions across the forward line at this point, but since Choke has decided Port will be T1’s Ajax there’s really no knowing who is supposed to be playing where. Pakorn (7), Bordin (10), Heberty (37) and Suarez (5) were the forwards, but none seemed to have much idea where they should be or what they should do.

 

 

Pakorn was spotted at right back, right wing, left wing and even centre forward. Pakorn. You know, the chunky lad whose only skills are freekicks, corners and playing right wing. Pakorn was probably the most threatening of the front line, so obviously he was the first to be substituted. Bordin looked like he’d had a lobotomy gone wrong over the break, in which both his brain and hair were accidentally swapped with the least talented member of a Korean boy band. His decline since the mid-way point of 2019 is ever more concerning. Heberty had a shocker, looking far too concerned with doing everything himself, despite being unable to actually do anything himself. His freekicks were shocking, his shooting was shocking, and his selfishness was the cherry on top. He has to fit in to this team, rather than bend it to his will. Suarez played pretty well in all, trying to stick to the task he has once again been stuck with, despite the fact that playing up front is nowhere near his best position. He did miss a headed chance you’d expect him to stick away, but he was far from the only one guilty of that.

 

 

The substitutes did improve Port going forward, but not enough to make the breakthrough. Adisak (9) gave the attack a focal point when he came on, but his finishing was predictably lackluster. He had two chances, with a tricky headed opportunity which went narrowly wide and a big chance clear through on the ‘keeper which he wasted through being painfully indecisive.

 

 

Tanasith (11) was a breath of fresh air on the left, hugging the touchline and making darting runs in behind, but his finishing was also found wanting at the crucial moment, when he shot through a crowd of bodies, only to pick out the man on the line.

 


 

So, the areas that we are really going to learn something from in this Leo Cup tie are the centre of defence and the attack. A decision must be made on whether Rochela or Tanaboon is going to partner Dolah. If it’s Rochela then hopefuly he’s still up to the task, but if it’s Tanaboon, then a new defender must be signed. A foreign centre back would be preferable, but Port could also opt to bring in a top Thai centre back and use their foreign player elsewhere.

Speaking of which, the one thing this team needs, and indeed has needed for a very long time, is a striker. A foreign striker. Josimar (30) is still on the books. Injured, but on the books. Maybe bringing him at Rochela’s expense in is once again an option worth considering. As long as we don’t play him out wide again. Looking further afield is another option, but at this point in the transfer window we’d likely be looking at another risky signing, which could easily go the way of Rolando Blackburn, and no one wants to see that again. Adisak could make a case for himself if he bangs in a few goals today, but let’s face it, that’s not a likely scenario. Does anyone know if Pele has gone to Police yet?

 


 

Kickoff is at 18:00 at PAT Stadium, and the game will also be broadcast live on True4U.

 

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.

 

Storm the Castle: Buriram Utd vs. Port FC Preview

 

Port have had some rotten results against the T1 title chasers this season, but in a league that no one seems to want to win, we’re somehow still in with an outside chance of glory. Two wins for Port, against the champions on Sunday and Samut Prakan the following week, will mean that Chiang Rai can clinch the title if they win their last two games, but if they slip up in either – the second being a tricky trip to Suphanburi – the title will be Port’s. On the other hand, a Buriram win more or less secures them the title, with their final day trip being a dream match-up with Chiang Mai, who will most likely already be down. All three teams have a route to ultimate victory, and all three depend on whether or not Port can storm the Thunder Castle and leave with the only plunder that matters: three priceless points.

 

 

Buriram United

Players to Watch

 

Let’s start with some of the stalwarts. Siwarak Tedsungnoen (1) is in his ninth year between the Buriram sticks, and this year has been rewarded for his longevity by being chosen as captain for both club and country. I remember one stunning performance at PAT Stadium featuring a point blank save from a Genki header that secured a 0-0 draw for The Thunder Castle, but more often than not what you get from Siwarak is consistent, mistake-free goalkeeping. He may be 35, but he’s still one of the top stoppers in T1.

 

 

In defence, Buriram will be led by one of T1’s best and least popular defenders. Andres Tunez (5) is everything that is wrong with Thai football. He turns his size and strength towards aggressive, hateful abuse of officials, before meekly surrendering to any pressure from attackers with pathetic playacting. Think of him as a cross between the physique of Dolah, the temperament of Boskovic and the balance of Nurul. Unfortunately, due in large part to weak Thai refereeing, he is an effective operative, leading the stingiest defence in the league. Buriram have conceded just 23 goals; 8 fewer than Port.

 

 

In midfield, the main man for Buriram has been Hajime Hosogai (7). I’ve been mightily impressed with his work rate, although the Japanese star also shown his creative limitations going forward. He’s just so good at what he does though: harrying, harassing and dispossessing opposition midfielders. In a game where Port’s midfield will be without our leader, expect Hosogai to exert plenty of influence, and make it difficult for the likes of Suarez and Siwakorn to find space in front of the back 3.

 

 

Buriram have shown a lot of faith in youth this season, with the likes of Ratthanakorn (26), Supachai (9) and Suphanat (54) racking up plenty of minutes, but the pick of the young guns has undoubtedly been attacking midfielder Supachok Sarachart (19). He’s netted 10 goals in all competitions, and has made himself an indispensable member of the national team to boot. Supachok can play through the middle or out wide, and has been particularly dangerous cutting in from the left and firing in shots and crosses with his trusty right boot. Perhaps the silver lining for Port could be that Supachok’s exertions across multiple fronts this season really looked to have taken a toll on the young star in the latter stages of the UAE game on Tuesday. He had been kicked all day long, and barely looked to have any gas left in the tank as the game came to a close.

 

 

Supachok’s even younger brother could be leading the line for Buriram against Port, but honestly I have absolutely no idea what Buriram think their best options are up top. They spent massively on Nacer Barazite (39) and Rasmus Jonsson (20), but in the League Cup final it was 17 year old Suphanat Muenta (54) who got the nod, with both foreigners sitting out. In the last 3 T1 games Buriram have gone with three different combinations of the three, with no player starting every game. They may have the element of surprise on their side, but there’s a decent chance they’re the ones who end up being punished for their inconsistency up top. I can just picture Diogo smirking smugly, Malaysian Super League medal in hand, as Jonsson fluffs another shot hopelessly wide.

 

 

Form

 

  • Trat 0-1 Buriram
  • Buriram 6-0 Ratchaburi
  • Buriram 1-1 Sukhothai
  • Muangthong 3-2 Buriram
  • Buriram 1-0 Chainat
  • Korat 2-3 Buriram

 

If ever a set of league results didn’t tell the full story. Their league form may look decent, but add in the stunning FA Cup semi-final defeat to Ratchaburi, who they had just spanked 6-0 in the league, and the League Cup final loss to Prachuap, and you start to see that Buriram just can’t win the big games anymore. Their biggest rivals turned them over in the league, they got dumped out of both cups and now an in-form Port, who haven’t conceded a goal since August, would love nothing better than to snatch the league title from them too. Can they stop the rot?

 

Port FC

No Go Zone

 

Port will be without key midfield man Go (8). The Korean is ineligible as he’s contracted to Buriram, but is also suspended after picking up his eighth yellow card. Besides this though, Port are at full strength. Kevin (97) defied a reported hamstring injury with a lively performance in the 5-1 friendly win against Honda last week, while Todsapol (6) was also fit enough to make an appearance, although he looked a little less comfortable. Todsapol has had plenty of time since then to recover though, and I expect him to start on Sunday, as his inclusion is key to Port’s likely game plan.

It’s a very similar game plan to the one Port employed in the 3-1 defeat to Buriram in the first half of the season to be fair, but with some key changes of personnel. Todsapol and Dolah (4) started in central defence that day, with Rochela (22) deployed out of position in defensive midfield. Port will likely once again shift a central defender in to defensive midfield, but this time we will be moving Tanaboon (71) in to his more natural position, while replacing him with a better centre back. Is it ideal? No, but at least it’s not Rochela in midfield again!

Alternatively, Port could leave Tanaboon in place at the back and try any number of options in midfield. It’s unlikely we’ll see any of Anon (20), Adisorn (13) or Athibordee (35) brought in from the cold, but Sumanya (11) could be given a start with Siwakorn (16) shifted back to a position with more defensive responsibility. This would be a very bold move from Port, especially with Supachok likely occupying the space between defence and midfield. I think we should really have a dedicated defensive player in place there, but going for the throat with an all-out attacking system is another way to go. A draw won’t be enough for Port, so there is something to be said for going all out for the win.

Another sub-plot will be yellow card suspensions, which could mean players missing out on the final day. Siwakorn sits ominously on 7, just one away from his second suspension, whilst Bodin (10) has accrued 3, one away from his first. A yellow for Siwakorn would mean he’s finished for the season, missing both the potentially decisive league game and the FA Cup final, while Bodin – one of Port’s players of the season – would be a massive loss for the visit of Samut Prakan.

 

Form

 

  • Port 2-0 Muangthong
  • Suphanburi 1-3 Port
  • Bangkok Utd 2-0 Port
  • Chiang Mai 0-2 Port
  • Port 3-0 Korat
  • Port 4-0 Chainat

 

Oh, and we won that cup semi-final. Looking good.

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 


 

The match will be shown on True 4U at 18:00 on Sunday 20 October, 2019. For those who can’t make it to The Chang Arena in Buriram, 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.

 

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

 

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

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

 

The Manager

Dennis Amato

 

 

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

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

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

 

Players to Watch

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

Port’s Team

 

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

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

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

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

Here’s my predicted lineup for the match:

 

 

Prediction

 

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

 

Port 2-1 Chainat

 


 

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