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In The Suph: Port FC vs. Suphanburi FC Preview

 

The precariousness of Port’s unlikely bid to snatch the final ACL spot from under the noses of rivals Muangthong was brought sharply in to focus on Wednesday night, with Buriram crashing out of the League Cup to underdogs Bangkok Glass. Port need Buriram to prevail in the other cup – the FA Cup – meaning that the final ACL qualifying spot will be passed to the team who finishes third in the league. It’s never ideal to have to rely on other teams, but at least there is still a chance. Port got back to winning ways with a 4-0 victory over an under-strength Korat side, and were relieved to see Muangthong slip to a comfortable 0-3 defeat at the hands of Buriram, which brought Port back to within 2 points of third place. Muangthong still have Bangkok United to play in a key final-day fixture, meaning Port can still hang on to some slim hopes of qualification if they can string four wins together against this week’s opponents Suphanburi, then seaside clubs Navy, Chonburi and Pattaya.

 

Suphanburi FC

Players to Watch

 

I had nothing but harsh words for Cleiton Silva (22) after the first couple of months of his highly anticipated return to Thai football yielded just a handful of goals, and a whole lot of poor performances. Since being loaned out to Suphanburi, however, the Cleiton of years past has once again found his shooting boots, and the Brazilian has hit 7 goals in just 9 appearances. When he’s on form he’s deadly, and right now he’s on form.

The only man probably not overly chuffed with one of Thai football’s all-time great strikers pitching up in Suphanburi is compatriot Romulo (9). Very much the focal point of Suphanburi’s attack in the first half of the season, Romulo plundered 7 goals and looked in good nick. In the 9 games that both Brazilians have started since the mid-season break, Romulo has added just one more to his tally.

Making up for Romulo’s dip in form has been one of the few half-decent forwards in Thai football, and man with two many an’s in his name: Chananan Pombuppha (10). Chanananan was the main man up front for the Thai under 23 team before they were rubbish, but as almost all promising Thai strikers have been, Chananananan has been converted in to a winger/attacking midfielder. Playing just behind Romulo and Cleiton, Chanananananan has finally started finding his feet, scoring 4 and assisting 1 in his last 5 games. Port would do well to task a defensive midfielder with watching his forward runs and making sure he doesn’t have the opportunity to shoot from the edge of the box. Maybe Anononon (20) would be up to the task, if only he were returned to the starting XI.

 

 

They’re not all just strikers, either. Suphanburi can look to the Thai Ronaldinho – Tanasith Sripala (11) – to create chances for the forwards, although he doesn’t produce the quality that he is capable of nearly as much as he should.

A much more consistent presence in the midfield is another one who just doesn’t want me to pronounce his name properly. Japanese midfielder Takafumi Akahoshi (37) is in to his second season in Thailand, and does a solid if unspectacular job in the heart of midfield. He will be fresh and raring to go having missed the last game through suspension.

At the back, Thai league veteran defender Anderson dos Santos (3) has been in the game as long if not longer than any other foreign player around, and can be relied to put in a solid shift in Suphan’s back 3. Alongside him will be a useful young Thai centre back appropriately named Suphan (26) and some bloke who I’ve never heard of called Tinnakorn (33).

 

 

 

Form

 

Suphanburi’s form is very much mid-table, although with 5 going down their league position still puts them in with an outside chance of relegation. Their last 6 games have seen 2 wins, draws and losses. The two one-goal defeats came against Buriram and Sukhothai, the two draws against Muangthong and Ubon UMT and the two wins against Air Force and Ratchaburi. Suphanburi are a decent side capable of upset wins, but equally capable of shocking defeats. It’s not a lack of ability in their squad that’s got them in to trouble, rather a lack of consistency. They’re not bad on the road though, having lost just 4 all season on their travels. The question is, will coach Pairoj have the guts to play the attacking system which has got the best out of Cleiton and Chananananananan in recent weeks, or will he revert to a more defensive system to try to stymie Port’s attack.

 

Port FC

Young Pele

 

 

Speaking of that attack… He may not have gotten on the scoresheet last week, but Arthit (29) still providing a compelling argument for his inclusion in the first XI. He created one excellent chance for himself with a superb turn, shimmy and shot, and he again tested the Korat ‘keeper with a deft outside of the boot flick. More important than his chances to score, though, Arthit just played like a real striker, attempting to hold the ball up at the right times and getting himself in to the box at the right times. His positional discipline allowed Boskovic, Suarez and Pakorn to drift around as is their wont, and the team – poorly drilled under coach Jadet – gained structure by having a more natural centre-forward to lead the line. Give him another go Jadet, please! If only so we can enjoy watching him trying to overcome his limitations in talent with blood and thunder attacking for another week. Arthit did pick up a knock last week but, just by looking for the only bloke wearing his shorts as if they were a thong, we can confirm from the following picture that Arthit is in training, and so ought to be fit to start.

 

 

Another man who we can apply the same logic to also enjoys a tight pair of shorts. Anon (20) has mysteriously missed out on the last two match day squads, despite being one of Port’s best players in recent games. We really hope Jadet has not lost faith in the youngster after being involved in a few defeats during Port’s tough run of fixtures, as Anon was often the brightest spark during those most challenging games. We know he’s fit now (that’s him on the far left of the same picture) so there are no excuses for not picking him again.

Nurul (31), towards the front of the shot on the left, is the final outfield injury doubt, and although we know that he’s fit, he could miss out on selection if Arthit starts and Boskovic (23) is once again deployed on the left wing. He didn’t do too badly at all in that position last week, and would have provided Suarez (5) with a sublime assist had the Spaniard been able to hit a barn door from a foot out.

Dolah should return to the team (4) after serving his ban for picking up his 7th and 8th yellow cards in infuriating circumstances 2 games ago, but Rattanai (17) is still on the injury list. Quelle surprise.

 

Predicted Lineup

 

Yes, yes. I should know better than to have the slightest faith that Anon will be picked. Expect to see Siwakorn (16) starting again. At least he had a decent game last week, for a change.

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True4U and True Sport HD2 at 18:00 on Saturday 22 September, 2018. For those who can’t make it to PAT Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound. Don’t forget to wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.

 

Watch Out, Beetles About: Chiang Rai United vs. Port FC Preview

 

Port travel to Chiang Rai on Wednesday looking to turn around their worst run of form so far in 2018. Port’s last 6 league games have seen just 1 win, 3 draws and 2 losses, and they have slipped below bitter rivals Muangthong for the first time in months. Chiang Rai on the other hand have improved markedly in the second half of the season, and will be looking to close the gap to Port to just 1 point with a victory.

 

Chiang Rai United

Players to Watch

 

The main man for Chiang Rai is captain and certified brick shithouse Victor Cardozo (6). The best defender in the league has even managed to net 7 goals, including the opener in Chiang Rai’s 3-2 win over Prachuap last week. Dolah will have to maintain his excellent form of late when defending the big man, who is sure to be a threat from set-pieces. Chiang Rai’s back 3 will also contain the excellent youngster Shinnaphat Leeaoh (36), one of the more impressive up-and-coming defenders in Thailand.

 

 

On the left flank, Thai under 23 captain Suriya Singmui (30) will also be a solid presence defensively as well as a threat going forward. He was preferred to Port left back Kevin for the Thai Asian Games squad, just one of the many laughable decisions that got coach Worawut sacked as Thailand crashed out in the group stages. Still, Suriya is a very good player.

 

 

In midfield will sit the solid, dependable duo of South Korean Lee Yong-Rae (8) and Phitiwat Sukjitthammakul (6) who have combined for just 2 goals and 4 assists all season, but have provided excellent protection for the defence, and are rarely caught out of position.

 

 

Up front is the man who has really turned things round for The Beetles in the second half of 2018. Cleiton Silva arrived for big money at the start of the season carrying a huge reputation in Thai football, and was widely thought of as a safe bet to score 20 goals minimum. Well, Cleiton came, saw and ran off with his tail between his legs, and in came a player who was little more than a laughing stock in his first few games of 2018, Bill Rosimar (9). Since shedding a few pounds and finding his feet in Thai football, Bill has become one of the more dangerous forwards in the league. He has 5 goals in 9 games since making the switch. He will be fresh, having missed last week’s win as he was serving a one game ban for picking up 4 yellow cards.

 

 

Form

 

Only slightly better than Port’s, actually. Chiang Rai have won 2, drawn 2 and lost 2 in their last 6, although their 2 wins have come against 2 teams who Port have recently failed to overcome – Prachuap and and Chainat. Surprising draws against Air Force and Pattaya and understandable losses to Buriram and Bangkok United round out their last 6.

 

Port FC

Pakorn Out

 

Port will not be starting the same XI that has failed to win either of the last 2, as divisive winger Pakorn (7) misses out with his first suspension of the season. Nurul (31) is also a doubt, having just recently recovered from a serious injury and been withdrawn at half time on Wednesday. If there’s any risk at all, please just leave the little guy out. Coming in ought to be Bodin (10) and one of Terens (28), Chakrit (9) or Somprasong (14). Terens can only play if one of the other foreign players miss out, so either Chakrit or Somprasong are more likely. Jadet should probably also consider starting last week’s goal hero Arthit (29) and moving Boskovic out wide. It’s not like he ever plays through the middle when he’s on the pitch, anyway.

I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but the midfield problem just won’t go away. After bringing him off in the last 2 games, it must surely be time to drop Siwakorn (16). Anon (20) has proved much more effective when he has come on, and is a breath of fresh air with his tough tackling, meerkat-like awareness and crisp passing. Just do it, Jadet!

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 


 

The match will be shown live, although the channel is yet to be confirmed. Kick off is 17:45 on Wednesday 12 September, 2018. For those (and I assume there will be quite a few) who can’t make it to Singha Stadium up North, 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.

 

Panta Devils Welcome Khlong Toey Army: PT Prachuap FC vs Port FC Preview

 

Football’s coming home. After an enforced absence of 5 weeks, during which the Thai Under 23 team forcibly argued the case for not having a Thai football season at all to allow maximum preparation time for yet even more abject early departures, Port are back in action, although home ground on this occasion is more likely to be the Sportsman Pub.

This is another trip that I had carefully planned out in my head: back from East Timor, suitably reinvigorated by a thrilling home game against Buriram, then winding my way down south, via Hua Hin, for a glorious football weekend at the seaside. The season had gone on for so long without a hint of a change that we thought maybe, just maybe, this time there would be no disruption. It was not to be, so my deckchair will be replaced by a bar-stool, no doubt amongst other frustrated adventurers.

In reading several articles analysing the Thai U’23’s early exit, amongst the reasons given was, ‘lack of preparation time’. This does not bode well for future disruptions. Complaints were also made, and they may have a point, about the lack of decent Thai strikers at T1 level. Most teams, even outside the top six, opt for SFS’s (no need to explain), thereby limiting the development of local goal poachers. No doubt the FAT, in their ‘wisdom’, will come up with the perfect, inexplicable solution.

I had thought that the Thai Football Association was pretty unique when it came to bizarre, last minute, administrative decisions. That was until last week.

‘The Copa Libertadores second-leg game between Santos of Brazil and Independiente of Argentina was abandoned after police clashed with the home (Santos) crowd – who had been told only 12 hours before kick-off that rather than being level on aggregate they were actually 3-0 down.’ (BBC News)

This was, apparently, the result of an offence involving a suspended player three (yes, 3) years previously. Anyway, it was enough to spark off riots during which the police employed batons and percussion grenades to keep the enraged Santos fans at bay. Eventually, the game was abandoned with Independiente going through to the next round. It would be fascinating, and not a little scary, to imagine the scenes at PAT if a similar decision was made before a deciding game against Muang Thong. ‘Blood in the Sandpit’ the headlines ring out.

Port are finally back in competitive action on Wednesday with a tricky trip to Prachuap. The Killer Wasps have made a rapid rise from Regional League 2 since their founding in 2011 and, after a slight mid-season blip, have maintained their early season form to sit just 4 points behind Port in 5th place.

As Tom quite rightly pointed out in his preview for the reverse fixture, their main threat will come from the trio of Jonatan Reis (10), Lonsana Doumbouya (21) and Amorn Thammanarm (17) who have, incredibly, shared 39 of the 45 goals Prachuap have scored this season; Reis topping the list on an impressive 20 goals. I make no apologies for highlighting them again. Given this, the battle between this trio and our centre-backs and holding defensive midfielders will be crucial, which is why, fitness levels willing, I might go for a back three.

 

 

If Port have a fully fit squad available, although Nurul is probably still a doubt, I would fancy Anon and Siwakorn to get amongst them while Dolah and Captain Rochela, joined by Todsapol, will have to be at their most alert. I might go for this slightly defensive starting line-up, although Nitipong and Kevin offer options going forwards on the wings.

 

 

Pakorn, Bodin and Nurul (if fit) options for a quick change from the bench.

This is the first of our last 8 games which will determine if the joyful optimism at the start of the season was justified. In reality, the highest we can probably achieve is third place, which, in normal circumstances would see us just miss out on the AFC Cup qualifying place. However, I believe there is a possibility that should Buriram, champions elect, also win the FA Cup, the qualifying place that would earn, will be given to us. I stand to be corrected but, if true, what better incentive could there be for a rousing season finale?

In assessing those games, home wins against Chainat, Nakhon Ratchasima, Suphanburi and Chonburi have to be a given, while away wins at Navy and Pattaya are eminently do-able. That leaves the two difficult away matches at Prachuap and Chiang Rai, where I think we will drop points. Being eternally optimistic, we can look to get 18 points out of our final games. Obviously, the games against Prachuap and Chiang Rai (6 points adrift) will be vital, with both rivals for that third slot. However, it is in our hands, let’s grab it!

For those nerdy train-spotter types who like to anxiously fixate on the possible outcome of these things, like me, here is a quick guide to the 3rd place contenders run-in, assuming, of course, that Bangkok Utd do not implode. Chiang Rai could negate all of this by winning the FA Cup but their heavy game load in both Cups definitely puts them at a disadvantage.

 

Port

Muang Thong

PT Prachuap

Chiang Rai

Prachuap (A)

Chonburi (H)

Port (H)

Buriram (A)

Chainat (H)

BEC Tero (A)

Chiang Rai (A)

Prachuap (H)

Chiang Rai (A)

Ratchaburi (A)

Chonburi (H)

Port (H)

Nakhon Ratchasima (H)

Buriram (H)

Navy (A)

Bangkok Glass (A)

Suphanburi (H)

Chainat (A)

Nakhon Ratchasima (A)

Navy (H)

Navy (A)

Sukothai (A)

Chainat (H)

Ubon (H)

Chonburi (H)

Pattaya (H)

Suphanburi (H)

Nakhon Ratchasima (A)

Pattaya (A)

Bangkok Utd (H)

BEC Tero (A)

Chonburi (A)

 

A note on the main heading: The Panta Devil (I have added the plural, as I assume there are more than one of them) is/are the official Prachuap fan group who often provide information and welcomes for visiting fans. Quite what a Panta Devil is and its association with Killer Wasps I have yet to determine. But, if you are going to Prachuap and see a Panta Devil, please say hello. A rudimentary google search came up with the disturbing image at the top of the page.

For those of us who actually work for a living and cannot afford the luxury of a midweek trip to the beach, the game will be shown live in The Sportsman Pub on Sukhumvit Soi 13 at 8.00 p.m. Wear your Port shirt for discounted food and drinks.
Ta Rua!

 

PT Prachuap FC v Port FC

Wednesday 5 September 20:00

 

Jadet’s Big Bogey: Bangkok Utd vs Port FC Match Preview

 

After getting their season back on track against Police Tero last Saturday (albeit slightly fortuitously), Port travel to Rangsit this Sunday to face bogey team Bangkok Utd in a game with potentially huge ramifications in the race for the second AFC spot. Mano Polking’s side sit in second, just 3 points above Port after a recent dip in form. Not that form really matters in this one – Port habitually get battered by Mano’s team, having lost the home game this season 3-0 and having shipped 15 goals in 3 games against the Angels last season. My first away Port away game was at Bangkok Utd in 2015; we lost 1-0, and little did I know that that would be as good as it got.

 

The Form Guide (Last 5 T1 Games)

BANGKOK UTD: WDLLD

PORT FC: WLDWW

After a slow start, BU hit a purple patch of form and stormed up the table, topping it at one point. But their recent form has not been great, with defeats against Pattaya in the league and minnows Ranong in the League Cup proving particularly disappointing. However, they got back in the groove on Saturday with an impressive win against Chiang Rai, and on their day they’re by far the best footballing side in the division. Port, wracked by injuries & suspensions and no doubt mindful of their recent appalling record against the Angels, will not be looking forward to this one at all.

 

The Opposition

To get the lowdown on Port’s opponents this Sunday, I had a chat to one of BUFC’s few farang followers, Matt Jenkins…

How did you become a Bangkok Utd fan?

When I arrived in Bangkok 5 years ago, I was getting a fix of EPL on Saturday nights at a great time, in a good bar somewhere. But I missed the buzz of the buildup on the day, travelling to the ground, discussing with mates team selections and possible outcomes , a dodgy burger somewhere, and a read of the programme, and sticking a couple of bets on etc. I just missed ‘going’ to the football.

A mate suggested going to a game in Bangkok and I jumped at the chance – he’d been to watch Bangkok United FC play before (when they were playing at Thai Japan), so I joined him and another pal for the match… he rest is history!If I had done a bit more research, I’d have realised that Port FC was 10 mins from my home and had a big expat following. In fact even Dave Barraclough was trying to tempt me down early days. Though I’ve come to enjoy being only one of a small number of farangs that go to Bangkok United.

Tell us about Bangkok Utd’s season so far. Are you unhappy or unhappy with the way it’s gone? What would you consider to be a successful season?

Absolutely – Impossible not to be unhappy with the start to the season, breaking records for winning streaks, and playing some great football. The last few weeks have been tough, but was to be expected once the run had come to an end. Frustrating thing is, that we haven’t been ‘well beaten’ in games since then. We have just played poorly with an unbalanced / non settled side due to injuries. I think during our winning streak we made about 3 changes only to the starting line up. A successful for season for us will be holding second place now – it does feel funny that 3 weeks ago we were top of the league and in both cups, and that small blip has hurt morale. We hopefully turned the corner after the weekend, with one of the best team performances I have seen from us in a while. New players seem to be finding their feet.

Like Port, you’ve hit a bit of a slump recently. How do you account for this?

Injuries , not getting decisions our way, the week in Buriram where we went out on pens in the cup, and then lost 2-1 in the league game, in what was possibly the most biased refereeing display I have ever seen, a couple of our more creative players seemingly downing tools for a bit, playing needless passes, and pointing at others when they are the ones that need to create a bit of magic for us. Our back 4 changed more than a Nana short time hotel’s bedsheets in the last month, injuries to Mika, then suspensions for Everton, and trying to get the balance with Puttinan/Ekkachai on the left.

Which Bangkok Utd players should we be worried about?

For me , Everton has probably been our player of the season so far. Vander Luis is still very dangerous on the ball and can go past players in a flash. And depending which Dechmitr turns up, there is also a threat there. He probably put the best performance of any BUFC player I have seen this season in again Port at your place, but he’s way too inconsistent and doesn’t decide to control enough games.

Hoping our back 4 starts to get settled again soon, we looked so good and in control when they are all fit and available. We also have a keeper that will be pumped from his last game against you guys.

…and who are your weak links, if any?

Can’t tell you guys that 🙂 What I do like is that Mano brought in some good players mid season, and 100% will provide competition and cover for our weaker areas.

Most fans of other clubs have a bit of manager envy when it comes to Mano Polking. Do BU fans feel the love too?

Yup 100%. Settled, honest, communicative on Twitter with fans. His new contract couldn’t have come soon enough for me, and the club have done well to sign him on for a long term contract. For me also, the back room staff deserve a lot of credit, his team behind him are absolutely superb and engaging, and it’s that unity I think that allows Mano to focus on the team.

On the reverse, you mentioned on Twitter once that you have a bit of stadium envy when you visit Port. How hard is it to watch your team in a largely empty Thammasat? What more can your club do to get bigger crowds?

Ha…I remember writing that. That envy still applies (from a getting to the ground perspective, and the actual ground itself). Look I was probably a bit hard on Thammasat when I wrote that, we moved seats a few times, and tried different areas, and the view is better (but by no means great).
Its just too big for our fan base. I’m baffled why they open all 4 sides of the ground…putting the away fans in one of the sides (segregated) would create a better atmosphere.

I’ve been to a fair few away games this season (with some huge ground envy! Bangkok Glass & Ubon Ratchathani in particular) and we have some of the best and most loyal fans I have ever seen anywhere…we just dont have many of them. For an area the size of Rangsit/Thammasat I’m baffled as to why more people don’t attend to be honest. We do a good job on social media to promote the games and update news in both English and Thai.
The natural thing to want is a return the city, and a new ground, but we have to be realistic, attendances of 3000-4000 aren’t going to justify that.

Maybe if the club could scoop a decent EPL pre season friendly opponent it would raise some overseas following/awareness, that would hopefully trickle down to the locals.

How do you rate Port’s 2018 side? Which players are you most worried about?

You’ve crept up out of nowhere in the last few weeks, with some solid results.
I’ll be honest when we played you at your place, I wasn’t that blown away with your side, I though Terens looked good when he came on, and Nurul was clearly a good player.

But now Sergio is finding goals, and Boskovic is up against his old side, we will have some worry with your front line for sure. Will be a very different story from the last game.

Ex-BU striker Dragan Boskovic hasn’t scored as many goals for Port as he did for you guys last season. Why do you think we’re not quite getting the best out of him?

I was gutted and surprised when Boskovic left BUFC to be honest – he was so brilliant for us. He was a target man with good service, but could also create goals from nothing. He was the number 9 up there alone almost. I think he’s sharing that front line now at Port FC, and that’s become a little more difficult to adapt to perhaps? He’s always a threat, and I can 99% guarantee he’ll pop up with a goal on Sunday!

First half of the season , I looked back and thought – We got good money for him, and maybe it was his time to leave. The last few games we have played, I’ve reconsidered and actually feel he may have thrived in this current BUFC team.

Please share your recommendations for visiting fans on Sunday – pre-match food, drinks etc.

University area – so beers are limited (BYO) , the area out the front of the stadium (opposite side to the away fans) , is always good pre-game, with some decent food vendors, and drink sellers willing to sell some ice for those carried-in beers. I’ll be there on Sunday, so 100% come and say hello.

And finally, score prediction please?

Predicting a game full of goals as you try to chase us down, and we try to cement that second place. (Also depends on which colour shirt we go with)

Bangkok United. (Vander Luis, Everton, Pokklaw) 3-2 Port FC (Boskovic (no celebration) & Nurul) (Nurul’s injured, so guess that makes it 3-1! Ed)

 

Port Lineup

Injuries, suspensions and cup-related fixture congestion are forcing Jadet, never normally one to fiddle with his players (as it were), to dig deep into his squad at the moment. Saturday’s win over Police Tero saw three players making their Port debuts, and Sunday’s game could see a similarly unfamiliar lineup with Nitipong suspended, and Nurul (and possibly Dolah) still injured. Luckily though Port came through the tricky trip to Trat unscathed. Top league scorer Suarez limped off in the latter stages of the Tero win but played the full 90 minutes at Trat so will almost certainly start. Having recovered from his exhaustion (and has there ever been a less likely candidate for exhaustion at Port?) Pakorn should take his place on the right, meaning Bodin can move to the left and the Panpanpong/Kevin experiment can be consigned to the dustbin of footballing history where it belongs. The only uncertainty is in midfield – with Siwakorn and Adisorn available, will Jadet bring one or both of them back, or will he stick with Anon, who made a very impressive debut on Saturday? Adisorn started the cup win at Trat but was replaced in the second half with Anon, which proved the spark to Port’s spectacular comeback, so I suspect the youngster will keep his place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sandpit Predicts

Port are just not playing well at the moment and so, given our missing stars and our history against Bangkok Utd, I can only see more of the same this Sunday. 3-1 to BU.

 

Bangkok Utd vs Port FC, Sunday 29 July 19:00. If you can’t go to the game, or prefer watching football without the aid of a telescope, it’ll be shown on True, or you can join us at The Sportsman to watch on a big screen with beer discounts for anyone wearing a Port shirt.

 

Trat’s the Way: Trat FC vs. Port FC Preview, 25 July 2018

 

Port travel to Thailand’s eastern border this Wednesday trying to avoid another disastrous cup shock and keep their FA Cup dream alive. The game sets up very similarly to Port’s last 32 victory over PTT Rayong. Trat are also engaged in the same tight race towards the top of the T2 table, and seem likely to put league before cup, potentially resting some key players with Sunday’s clash against in-form Army United in mind. They sit just 2 points above fifth placed team Chiang Mai. Meanwhile, Port are still struggling with injuries, although with main man Sergio Suarez back in the side and the emergence of some rather useful talent in Port’s ranks last week, these worries are not as serious as they have been of late.

 

Trat FC

Players to Watch

 

Former Scummer and Thai league veteran Milan Bubalo (7) is the most eye-catching name, but it turns out that Brazilian striker Barros Tardeli (37) is the key man. Tardeli, top-scorer for Trat last season with 18, has already equalled that total in 2018, making him T2’s top scorer by a cool 5 goals. Don’t take your eyes off former T1 star Bubalo, though. After spending just shy of 2 months with Trat, he has already notched 7 goals in the league. And 4 yellow cards. Typical. Quite the forward line.

 

Barros Tardeli and Milan Bubalo

 

Behind them, Japanese midfielder Yuki Bamba (23) has 5 goals, whilst centre back and captain Hiromichi Katano (4) has many years of experience, including 2 seasons with T1 Sukhothai behind him. There are no Thai players who particularly catch the eye, although with a strong foreign spine, and under the stewardship of former Port favourite Dusit Chalermsan, Trat will be no pushovers.

 

Form

 

This lot love a goal-fest. They’ve scored 19 in their last 6 league games and conceded 12. In just 6 games! They really, really love a goal-fest. The pick of the bunch was a 7-5 victory over Kasetsart, and in total they have won three, drawn two and lost just the one: a 5-2 defeat against league leaders PTT Rayong.

 

Port FC

Options

 

Worawut (36) will probably continue in goal after playing most of Port’s cup games in both FA and League Cups, although with the stakes getting higher each round and Rattanai (17) turning in two spectacular performances in recent weeks, it could go either way.

Port will be happy to welcome Nitipong (34) back in to the fold, after stand-in right back Chakrit (9) put in a less than convincing performance in his absence. Nitipong still has two more games to sit out in the league, but is available in the cup. Dolah (4) is also returning to fitness, and although it would certainly be nice to have back in the side with certified big bastard Bubalo leading the Trat line, Todsapol (6) is surely the best option on Wednesday.

In midfield, Anon (20) announced his arrival in Khlongtoei with a picture-perfect midfield performance. Calm, solid and intelligent with and without the ball, this 20 year old is a much more technically proficient defensive midfielder than Adisorn (13), and is a less creative but more dependable option than Siwakorn (16). The Thin White Duke is likely still out with a mystery injury, meaning that Jadet will have to choose between Adisorn and Anon to partner Kim (8). With Buriram and Bangkok United coming up in the league, whoever plays against Trat is probably the one Jadet sees as less important.

Going forward, Jadet engaged in a bit of creative team selection last week by picking Kevin (97) on the left wing and dropping Panpanpong (19) in to defence in his place. After the two had stepped on eachother’s toes to 45 minutes however, normality was restored. Expect two wingers to be playing on the wings on Wednesday, with Bodin (10) a dead cert, and Terens (28) probably his most likely partner. Pakorn (7) really should be rested after his recent bout of exhaustion, with Chakrit (9) and Somprasong (14) providing alternative options. The latter, another former Leicester and OH Leuven trainee, is the dark horse by virtue of Anon’s impressive debut. Who knew that training with top flight European teams for years makes you a rather useful player?

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 


 

The TV situation for the last round was a complete disaster. An official stream was promised but it never materialized, so I ended up watching most of it on the Facebook live stream of a fan in Zone B. This time it’s apparently on True Sport 6 and True Sport HD 4 and kickoff is at 18:00. The Sportsman will show it on a big screen if you ask them, and wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount. 

 

‘Mare Force: Air Force Central FC vs. Port FC, 15 July 2018

 

Port will look to bounce back in the league after Air Force ended their 7 game unbeaten run with a shocking upset in the League Cup on Wednesday. Whether you look at league position, squad strength or form, Port are massive favourites to take 3 points home from Thupatemi Stadium, although a much improved performance from a squad really starting to struggle with injuries and suspensions will be needed.

 

Air Force Central FC

Players to Watch

 

We all know how these Croats love to overachieve. Aleksandar Kapisoda (5) is your prototypical T1 foreign defender and the leader of the Air Force back line. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that, with the exception of a couple of loanees, he’s the only player in their entire squad who deserves to be starting for a T1 team. He’s 6 foot 3, dangerous coming forward from set pieces and ought to be well acquainted with Elias Dolah by the end of the evening.

Speaking of those loanees, the headline names are Ernesto Amantegui (13) and Sarayut Sompim (23). Ernesto surprisingly lost his place in Bangkok United’s back line this season after excelling for them in 2017, but has played every minute for which he’s been available since joining Air Force mid-season. He’s a Thai-Spanish left sided player who can play at full back or on the wing, and has experience in Spain’s third tier. 21 year old Sarayut is on loan from Buriram, who he has yet to make his debut for, has also been ever-present since joining in June. The youngster has even impressed enough to be made Air Force captain in recent games. Expect stiff resistance at the back from Sarayut and Kapisoda.

 

Kapisoda, Ernesto and Sarayut

 

There will also be quite a few familiar faces in Air Force shirts this Sunday. Expect to see Kayne Vincent (10), re-signed from T2 after Air Force’s big-name signings flopped, lumber around up front looking disinterested. At least one of former Port stars Ekkapoom Potharungroj (36), Pinyo Inpinit (44) and Jirawat Makarom (7) should also get a run-out off the bench. Pace and unpredictability are the name of the game for Ekkapoom and Pinyo, whereas Jirawat is an expert from dead-ball situations.

 

Vincent, Ekkapoom, Pinyo and Jirawat

 

Finally, Frenchman Greg Houla (19) is a bit of a wildcard. The attacking midfielder is just a few games in to his first spell outside Europe. He has played for a load of teams that I haven’t heard of, including a few, like Les Herbiers VF, that I suspect might be made up. He’s scored once in 5 games since joining last month.

 

Greg Houla

 

Form

 

Awful. Just awful. Many (myself included) picked Air Force to stay out of trouble this year after signing Leandro Assumpcao, Jaycee John and Renan Marques, but things have gone worse than anyone could have imagined. All three have left and 5 points have been accrued all season, making Air Force unlikely but legitimate contenders to ‘beat’ Super Power’s record low 6 points in 2017. They’ve lost 11 on the bounce, too. Ouch.

 

Port FC

Injuries and Suspensions

 

The one thing undoubtedly in Air Force’s favour is that they’re playing Port at the ideal time. Not only have they just enjoyed that morale-boosting success in the League Cup, but Port are reeling from injuries and suspensions too.

Todsapol (6) misses out having picked up his fourth yellow cards against Sukhothai, which wouldn’t ordinarily be a big deal, except that Dolah (4) will also miss out through injury. Another big name also joining Suarez (5) and Dolah on the sidelines is Nurul (31), who is expected to be out for around 2 months with a knee injury. Bugger. Arthit (29) was also withdrawn having picked up a knock on Wednesday, but we have no idea how serious his injury is.

 

No-Brainer

 

Rather than creating a dilemma for Jadet, though, this might just make things a bit simpler. He doesn’t have a lot of options at his disposal, so experimenting with Rochela (22) or Bodin (10) in midfield this week is pretty much off the table.

Expect Worawut Namvech (24) to make his fist league start of the season, having played 45 minutes in the cup on Wednesday. The youngster on loan from Chiang Rai is a great prospect, although his two appearances so far this season have consisted of a mistake leading to a goal away against Ratchaburi, and being withdrawn at half time on Wednesday. I have faith that the sturdy centre half will find his feet given time, but he’s got to take chances like this when they present themselves. Playing alongside El Capitan rather than Todsapol this time out might just help him out a bit.

In midfield, the trio of Adisorn (13), Siwakorn (16) and Kim (8) picks itself. With the shortage of defenders meaning Rochela must move back in to defence, Nurul’s absence meaning that Bodin is a shoo-in on the left wing, and Arthit likely being injured, moving Kim in to an advanced role would seem to be the only viable solution.

Pakorn (7), Bodin and Boskovic (23) will be tasked with making things happen going forward, something which they have struggled with in the absence of key man Sergio Suarez.

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True Sport HD2 at 19:00 on Sunday 15 July, 2018. For those who can’t make it to Thupatemi 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.

 

Dire Bats: Port FC vs. Sukhothai FC, 8 July 2018

Looks like I’m on Sukhothai duty again.

Last time Port were set to face the “Fire Bats,” I raved about this weekend’s opponents, and more specifically their foreign attacking trinity who have 27 league goals and 63 name-letters between them. Since then, my “pundits curse” has hit them where it hurts and they have sunk into the relegation zone, and are already on their third manager of the season. Thank goodness I’m not old enough to gamble.

 

Baggio Rakotonomenjanahary, Nelson Bonilla and Njiva Rakotoharimalala

 

In their previous encounter, both teams didn’t get the memo that the League Cup is irrelevant and went full throttle at each other’s throats, ending in a 4-3 victory for the home side. The game will be remembered for the amount of time wasted by the Sukhothai players as they rolled on the floor (despite being a goal down), and of course the slightly odd attempts at Spanish swearing directed at Salvadoran striker Nelson Bonilla.

Bodin Phala (10) starred in the last game in an attempt to impress Jadet and earn a starting place, and may once again get the chance to do so as Nurul (31) could potentially move into the middle to compensate for the injured Sergio Suarez (5). The Spaniard was crucial in that last game, playing through balls from deep to beat Sukhothai’s high defensive line. His eye for a pass and fluid movement are something rarely found in the Thai League, and will surely be missed in this game.

I would like to think that, given the valuable three points at stake, Sukhothai would approach the game a little more rationally, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. It seems as if the provincial side have already accepted that their defense is an incurable mess, and intend to rely solely on their forwards, who appear to have the combined height of the angry white man screaming on Port’s touchline (who I am told is the goalkeeping coach, which makes the situation even funnier).

In doing my research for this game (which includes at least seven different Wikipedia pages), I came across a description of Sukhothai’s new manager, Chalermwoot Sa-ngapol, which claimed he was the “Glenn Hoddle of Thai Football.” My hopes were quickly deflated when it became apparent that the comment was a reference to his playing style and not his management, which makes me even more confused as to why Glenn Hoddle is the first man to come to mind to demonstrate a player capable of “precise passes.”

 

 

Regardless, Khun Hoddle’s CV isn’t entirely horrible. He did impressively to lead Osotspa to 7th in 2013 keep Sisaket from the drop in 2014 and 2015, but he was somehow involved with both Sisaket and Super Power Samut Prakan in their abysmal 2017 campaigns which saw them both relegated. His last managerial job was Muangthong United B’s…I mean, Udon Thani’s T3 promotion campaign.

In terms of how Port can get at Sukhothai, it seems very clear that this weekend’s visitors are lacking defensive cover. Neither of their center-backs looks particularly impressive; no surprise given that the Fire Bats have the third worst defensive record in the league. Malaysian/Australian midfielder Curran Ferns, who debuted in Sukhothai’s last visit to the PAT Stadium, was supposedly brought in to reinforce the midfield.

In fact, none of their local contingent can really be considered to have any real quality. Nelson Bonilla has won more international caps with El Salvador than all of his Thai teammates have with their nation combined, which speaks volumes at the team’s reliance on foreign players.

However, on their day, the 63-letter forward line can be devastating. 3 goals at PAT Stadium, 3 goals at the SCG, wins over Chiang Rai, Chonburi and even Buriram United – they are a side that shouldn’t be underestimated. Port will need to be on their guard if they want to continue their chase of an AFC Champions League berth, and fans should probably expect a goal-fest once again.

 


 

The match will be shown live on True4U and True Sport 2 at 19:00 on Sunday 8 July, 2018. For those who can’t make it to PAT Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound. Don’t forget to wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.

 

Glass Clowns: Port FC vs. Bangkok Glass, 24 June 2018

 

We’ve passed the half-way point in the season, so surely perennial top-halfers Glass have slid in to place in mid-table by now… Wait, what?! They’re still in 15th place, 4 points from safety? The Same Glass who left Port double glazed at Leo Stadium in March? The same Glass with a bullet-proof league record against us? Well, yes, as it turns out cracks have opened up this season, and not even a religion-inspired paint job has been able to revive their fortunes. There is of course still time for Glass to avoid relegation and all the pain it brings, but they will have to turn things around sharpish. Their window of opportunity is quickly closing.

Then there’s Port, who are still sitting pretty in third place, having put on a master-class last weekend, smashing Ratchaburi to pieces. The league table and the form table both point towards a Port victory on Sunday, but that was also the case when Port were cut to pieces by Glass back in week four, and things didn’t turn out the way they were supposed to then!

 

Bangkok Glass

Players to Watch

 

The utter disaster that was Frederic Mendy is no more, and Port will be one of only a few teams to be happy to see the back of him. Mendy reserved one of his only decent performances of the season for us, pouncing on a defensive lapse and firing in a superb goal which Port would never recover from. The goals quickly dried up, though, and once Mendy had been hauled off after just 20 minutes against Chiang Rai (the hysterical laughs of the commentators as a bemused Mendy trudged off was one of the comedy moments of the season so far) it was clear his days were numbered.

Anyway, replacing Mendy is Ariel Rodriguez (7), an excellent little player who has been at Glass for a few years now. The signing of Mendy, however, saw him loaned back to Deportivo Saprissa in his native Costa Rica, where he hit a rich vein of form just before his loan spell ended. Surprisingly since his return, Rodriguez has not gone straight in to the starting XI but has come off the bench twice. Considering that both of those games finished in defeat, it would seem likely that Rodriguez is given his first T1 start of the season against Port.

 

 

The other key man in Glass’ defeat of Port was star agitator Mario Gjurovski, but he has also ended his short, unhappy stint at Leo Stadium. Cue Port fans being partly glad that the bastard can’t score against us again, but partly disappointed that we don’t get to shower him with abuse for 90 minutes. Taking on more creative responsibility, then, will be Glass’ first big-name signing of 2018 and my favourite Thai footballer Thitipan Puangchan (8). Actually, in my previous preview I had some less-than-kind words for Thitipan, who looked like he had spent most of the off-season embarking on a competitive eating career. He’s back to looking more like a sportsman now, though, although in a struggling team his performances have not quite maintained the levels his reached last season.

 

 

Probably partnering Thitipan in midfield for the first time this season will be highly rated (read: overrated) and highly paid (read: overpaid) defensive midfielder Tanaboon Kesarat (5). Poor old Tanaboon picked up a very nasty injury on his last trip to PAT Stadium at the hands, or more accurately the studs, of former Port midfielder Atthipol, and the 24 year old is just now returning to fitness. With regular defensive midfielder and semi-pro Shaggy impersonator Peeraphong Pichitchotirat (23) suspended, it would seem to be the moment for Tanaboon’s return, although facing one of the form players in the league – Sergio Suarez – will be quite a reintroduction to T1 football for the national team regular. Also having just picked up his fourth yellow card is Matt Smith’s (4) central defensive partner Piyachanok Darit (34). This is certainly the time to be playing Glass!

 

 

There are also a couple of new signings worthy of mention. If I’m feeling generous. New Brazilian striker on loan from Khon Kaen David Bala (10) quite frankly looks bang average. For T2. Either BG know something no one else does, or they were really desperate for a cheap striker. Right-winger Sarawut Masuk (14) played a key role in some of Zico’s national team squads a couple of years ago, scoring a couple of important goals against ASEAN opposition. He soon fell out of favour though, presumably when it became clear that he lacks the skill or strength to prosper against high quality opponents. Glass have signed Sarawut from Korat, where he basically did nothing for the first 16 games, then scored twice in the final game of the first leg and secured a transfer. I told you I was feeling generous.

Usual suspects Daniel Toti (20) and Captain Matt Smith (4) need no introduction after their excellent performances against Port in the past, so expect more of the same from these fellas. Glass may not be what they once were, but there’s still quality in this side…

 

 

Form

 

Is this the most underwhelming BG team I’ve seen in my time following Thai football? Quite possibly, and their form doesn’t really give them much hope either. 2 wins and 2 draws in their last 6 doesn’t sound too bad, but they’ve followed that up with 2 losses on the bounce, including a soul-destroying 1-0 defeat to Navy. Yes, Navy. How do you not score against Navy? Ask Bangkok Glass.

 

Port FC

Boskoless

 

Port will have to manage without suspended star striker Boskovic (23) for the first time this season. So, what’s the plan of attack likely to be? Well, there are a few possibilities…

  • The Straight Swap – We do have a hungry young striker waiting in the wings who will be chomping at the bit to lead the Port line on Sunday. Arthit Boonyachinda (29) has just the one goal – a match-winning header against Ubon – to his name, but the powerful forward has put in a few encouraging performances and could easily be chosen to start.
  • The False Nine – Well, Boskovic isn’t your traditional number 9 anyway, but Jadet could decide to replace him with Bodin Phala (10), and have Bodin or Suarez (5) as a kind of false nine. I’m not going to lie, that doesn’t really sounds like Jadet, does it? He could also just bring in Bodin to play in Suarez’ position and push Suarez further forward.
  • The Korean Offensive – Adisorn Daeng-rueng (13) put in another excellent performance against Ratchaburi, and the little man could yet keep his place if Jadet chooses to push Kim (8) in to the attack, with Adisorn and Siwakorn (16) manning the midfield. This was trialed against Air Force and worked well for 45 minutes, so could easily be what Jadet opts for on Sunday.

Elsewhere, Port will welcome Rochela (22) and Siwakorn back in to the team, although neither was really missed in the 4-1 win over Ratchaburi. Todsapol (6) and Dolah (4) both had excellent games, but Dolah will probably keep his place alongside El Capitan. Adisorn was excellent in place of Siwakorn, but have we ever seen the Thin White Duke dropped? No, and we’re beginning to suspect we never will!

The rest of the team picks itself, with Rattanai (17), Nitipong (34), Kevin (97), Pakorn (7), Nurul (31) and Suarez assured of their places in the team.

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True Sport 6 at 18:00 on Sunday 24 June, 2018. For those who can’t make it to PAT Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound. Don’t forget to wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.

 

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.