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Redemption ‘Thong? Muangthong Utd vs Port FC Preview (FA Cup)

 

Port play bitter old rivals Muangthong this week, the big question on everyone’s mind was would away fans be allowed at “The theatre of relegation screams”. Now we know tickets to the away end will not be available for sale. This Tuesday afternoon it was announced Port will show the match on a big screen opposite Zone A. Anyone that was there will remember the fiasco that was Port’s last attempt to screen a game. Nice water park fun, but not having the feed then goggling for new dodgy online feeds to show the match was a complete joke. I’m assured it will be better this time, but we all know how tits up this can go. Wednesday is a Buddhist holiday in Thailand so officially there are no sales of alcohol allowed. Previous Buddhist holidays have been slightly observed at PAT Stadium with bottles of Leo hidden respectfully behind the Coke and Sprite but available if you should feel the need.

The Old Enemy

The new manager Gama has steadied Muangthong’s relegation plummet with wins at home to Trat, Prajuap Away, and a solid 3-2 win vs Bangkok United at SCG. However Friday night’s 1-1 draw in Chiang Mai was unconvincing with big questions still to be asked about whether they’ve really turned the corner. With only a 2 points between them and the drop zone they could easily be dragged back into the relegation mire.

Looking at their attack it is a shock they were ever down there in the first place. With Teerasil (10)and Heberty(7) they have the two of the most experienced strikers in T1, Teerasil may be well be past is best but Heberty is still a potent force and they are still the club’s two biggest threats, they have with 4 and 5 goals respectively. Hopefully some players might be rested for the Cup, but this is unlikely with Muangthong having played the Friday night match. I think with the half decent mid season signings Gama will be taking this game pretty seriously.

Mid season has seen centre forward Derley(87) brought in he has scored one in his three starts, but most Muangthong fans will still be thinking of the nightmare vision of him managing to steer a header past the half open goal from 5 yards away against Bangkok United. After Derley fell on his backside in the next decent attack it was the other new Brazilian import Bruno Gallo(88) that smashed home the first goal to start the fight back against Bangkok United. Gallo looks to be a good a strong central midfielder. Likely to do well in the Thai League. Port will be looking for Go to boss him around a bit in the centre of the park.

When one looks at Muangthong one cannot forget to mention Chappuis (23), he has a very nice haircut.

Muangthong have been up and down with their performances but they tend to have a better game against the bigger clubs. The form that saw them beat Bangkok United and hold Port through most of a tight 2-1 loss means at home they are still a worry. And Port’s recent form is so worrying that I’ve decided to exchange my “2019 League Champions” T-shirt, for my “2019 nice not to worry about relegation isn’t it” T-shirt.

 

Boskoing, going, gone

Although Boskovic(23) is out of the league squad he is still training at Port and is likely the most overpaid “holder of Jadet’s umbrella” in the league. Latest news suggests he’ll be on his way before the end of the transfer window and is unlikely to play. Rochela(22) has just recently got the bombshell that he’s out of the squad and it is possible but very unlikely he’ll be skipping on to the pitch for the team that just handed him a big shit sandwich saying thanks but no thanks in the second leg. Tanaboon(71) is likely to have played for Bangkok Glass in their first round FA Cup loss to Bangkok United so probably won’t be available.

Jedeath or Glory

After the League Cup exit and a run of poor form Port are holding out for the FA Cup to be our main shot at a trophy in 2019. So I’d expect a full squad or maybe only a couple of changes if players picked up a knock on Saturday.  Siwakorn(16) was asking to be subbed off towards the end of the match so there might well be a problem there. The matchstickman might well be slight but he always wants to play 100% for every minute of every game.

Three at the back

The three port keepers have always been fairly similar for me but with Rattanai(17)getting the start in the last two matches I think Watchara(1) deserves to be back in between the sticks. Not sure why he’s been absent his form’s been fine, at least as good as other options with better distribution. Unless he has been sidelined by a minor injury we should see him return.

Steuble(15) impressed in his first full match at Port a little out of position at times but looked good going forward and did the basics well. The positional play should improve with a couple more starts. A decent left back, good cover for Kevin and a good asset as possible cover for Nittipong. Not his natural position over on the right but he has played there before.

Pakorn’s (7) arguing with the crowd last match should seem him dropped for Nurul(31). When the laziest man on the pitch complains because fans are telling him to chase a ball he could’ve got on, he should sit out. Apologise all you like but you’ve been doing this for four years. You’re only lucky fans haven’t got on your back more than this. Great free kicks, laziest player in the league.

Rolandomar

Up front I can see why you rest a player who’s just come off a 25 hour flight and just getting used to his first plate of som tam n’ sticky rice. But if he wasn’t ready why have him on the bench? If he was ready to play, then 10 minutes at the end of the match when we’re trying to break the deadlock was an ideal time to bring him on.

I’m sure we all want to see what Blackburn (99) can do. But is he ready for a full match? I think it’s a better idea to give him half a match to ease him into the oppressive humidity of Thai football. I’d start with Josimar(30) then sub on Blackburn in the second half. “Josi? You say no, no, no we want Rolando in there!” Well, Josimar had great game last time he was in the Legoland stadium it holds no fear for him, if anything a stadium that has banned Port fans might just be somewhere Josimar could relax a bit.

STOP PRESS Cup Tied Up

Whenever I press publish one of these articles something always pops up. I have forgotten Josimar played in the FA Cup for Police in the early rounds. Even back up option Chenrop is also Cup tied. So with Artit already gone to Chonburi Blackburn is the only forward we have. That being said Jadet could still choose Suarez. If Port ever needed a miracle now’s the time. Cometh the hour cometh the Panamanian man, Rolando Blackburn to the rescue!

I’ve also read Boskovic will be off in this transfer window but a couple of online stories suggest he might play one last game for Port. But there is a big question mark by that.

Watchara (1)

Nittipong(34) Dolah(4) Todsapol(6) Steuble(15)

Go(8)

Nurul(31) Suarez(5) Sumanya(11) Bodin(10)

Blackburn(99)

Finally I’m going to stop saying with cheery Sang Som fueled optimism, “well we’ve still got great players, I think we can still win by a couple of goals if everyone sharpens up a bit.” I’ve said this for the last four games in a row. For Wednesday, in the cold light of day I’ll say, I hope we do well but this form is not giving me or anyone else much confidence. Come whiskey o’clock on match day I’ll be saying, “but we still do have some great players…..

Prediction

Muangthong 6-7 Port, an away win for Port on penalties.

 

Muangthong vs Port  will be shown on True Sports 3 HD kick off 7.00 p.m. Wednesday 17th July

 

Samut Prakan Pity: Samut Prakan City vs. Port FC Preview

 

Port travel to The M Power Stadium on Sunday looking to round off what has been a superb first leg. The opposition haven’t done too badly, either. Port sit in second place, just a point behind leaders Buriram, whilst Samut Prakan City, sit just 3 points and 2 places further adrift. A win would see them leapfrog Port in the table.

Unfortunately, the build up to this game has been dominated by a series of conflicting and confusing reports on the number and availability of tickets for away fans. We’re hearing that less than 600 will be available to Port fans, and that no extra space will be opened up once that allocation is inevitably sold out. If that is the case, Port fans wearing Port shirts will not be allowed to buy tickets for the home end, so to be sure of getting in one way or another come in neutral colours and be prepared to sit in one of the home sections. Also keep an eye out for further news, as things have already changed several times at the time of writing.

 

Samut Prakan City

SP Dons

 

Samut Prakan City have come in for a lot of stick since their owners uprooted Pattaya United and dropped them a hundred odd kilometers down the coast. Understandably so; The Dolphins’ fans, of which there were a sizable number, have been left club-less. Whilst I share the disdain many have expressed towards Samut Prakan City on social media for this reason, I think there’s more than one good reason to dislike T1’s latest homewrecker.

The M Power Stadium, in which Samut Prakan City are guests, has been home to Samut Prakan FC since 2016, but the club has been playing in Samut Prakan for about fifteen years. They have a small but loyal local fan base, turn out very attractive shirts year after year and have one of the better websites I’ve seen outside of T1, providing all of the information prospective Thai fans could wish for, as well as a forum for fans to share information, lyrics to the club’s songs and so on. Their fans are known as The Fortressians.

 

 

Samut Prakan FC have been as high as the second tier, but currently languish in T4. Their squad featured the Laotian national team captain in 2017, and they were a playoff win away from getting promoted. They ran in to JL Chiang Mai on that occasion, who went on to secure a further promotion in to T2 the next season.

Unfortunately the arrival of Super Power in their backyard in 2017 led to a decline in attendances which continued through 2018. I don’t have their attendance figures so far in 2019, but I’m going to guess the new boys in town throwing around free tickets on the streets of Bang Phli hasn’t helped. Samut Prakan United, another club founded about a decade ago, sank in to the regional leagues and ultimately out of existence last year.

The plight of small, friendly, well-run clubs like Samut Prakan FC are the lesser known victims of the regular comings and goings of clubs who are (if Wikipedia is to be believed) literally run by a country club. They’re actually run by a well-known *ahem* businessman, but people in glass houses and all that!

As Port fans, we all know the importance of a strong connection between the club and the fans in the local community. Clubs like Samut Prakan FC have that, and it’s a shame that when someone who sees the potential for a club in Samut Prakan can simply move their T1 license from one province to another, rather than investing in a well-established club with more than a decade of history.

Anyway, that’s my rant over. Let’s see what these MK Dons are all about.

 

Players to Watch

 

We start with our customary Brazilian. Ibson Melo (71) has been the key man in Samut Prakan’s attack all season, providing the spark and more importantly the goals. 7 of them so far this season. He’s not the tallest or the strongest, but from his position just behind the striker he has scored some key goals both from running at defenders and making late runs in to the box. Since Brazilian lump Carlao (83, who you probably don’t remember from an unremarkable stint at Ubon) has been let go The Sea Fang have had to make do with a Thai striker Chayawat Srinarong (55) ahead of the Brazilian maestro. He’s scored once in 12 appearances, proving for the 798th time that the level of Thai strikers in T1 is utterly appalling. Let’s just say he’s no Arthit. He’ll likely be replaced by Burmese forward Kyaw Ko Ko (10) later in the game. Don’t worry, Burmese strikers are rubbish too.

 

 

My secondary concern from this Samut Prakan team is Thai left winger Picha Autra (37). When I’ve seen this guy play his style has reminded me of Park Ji-sung. He’s slight of stature, but more than makes up for it with tireless harassing of full-backs. He’s not the most talented player you’ve ever seen, but he’s not half bad, and Nitipong should be advised not to try anything too fancy at the back with this fella nipping at his heels. He’s got 3 goals and 3 assists this season, which isn’t too shabby at all. Surprisingly, his return is bettered by attacking midfielder Teeraphol Yoryoei (19). He doesn’t look up to much on paper, and I haven’t particularly noticed him when I’ve watched them, but he must be doing something right.

 

 

The captain is the man who has got a lot of the recognition for this season’s surprise run to the upper reaches of the table. Peeradon Chamrasamee (8) has broken in to the Thai national team in recent months, making some late substitute appearances in central midfield. That shouldn’t be a surprise, he’s got all of the necessary Muangthong credentials. In 3 years with the scum he only managed 8 appearances though, being repeatedly loaned to Pattaya United before permanently signing this season. Peeradon is a very talented player, but I’m not too concerned about Samut Prakan outplaying or out-fighting Siwakorn and Go in the middle of the park.

 

 

They’ve got a pretty decent foreign centre half: Slovenian Aris Zarifovic (27). I didn’t think much of this guy from his early performances, but he’s adapted well to Thai football, winning almost everything in the air and taking an effective if at times agricultural approach on the deck. In short, he’s my kind of defender! Versatile Korean Kim Tae-Yeon (14) will also be a key man at the back, whether as part of the back 3 or in defensive midfield.

 

 

There isn’t a lot of individual talent to worry about here, but Samut Prakan’s strength this season has been continuity. They’ve basically picked the same team all season, and they haven’t had many injuries. Likely this will catch up with them later in the season, but for now they are a fit, well organized, cohesive unit with good team spirit, and they’ll take some beating.

On the plus side for Port, Samut Prakan’s over-performing coach Surapong Kongthep shocked the Thai football community by quitting his job at The Sea Fang a couple of weeks ago, meaning the main reason they have so far performed so well is no longer at the club. This wasn’t exposed against bottom club Suphanburi last time out, but could well be on Sunday.

 

Form

 

They’ve had 4 wins in their last 6 league outings, only losing against Bangkok United and drawing against Prachuap. All 4 wins were secured with clean sheets. Tidy.

  • Samut Prakan City 1-0 Chainat
  • Muangthong 0-3 Samut Prakan City
  • Samut Prakan City 1-1 Prachuap
  • Bangkok United 2-1 Samut Prakan City
  • Samut Prakan City 2-0 Korat
  • Suphanburi 0-1 Samut Prakan City

 

Port FC

A Dolah Short

 

The headline team news is that Port will be without Elias Dolah (4), with the big man having picked up his fourth yellow card of the season against Buriram. Go (8), who picked up a knock against Sukhothai, is expected to be fit to play, while Kevin (97) is also back training with the first team, although we’re not sure if he is match fit just yet.

 

 

This ought to mean that we see the same XI who started against Sukhothai, but with Todsapol (6) partnering Rochela (22) at the back in place of the man who hasn’t missed a minute of T1 action as yet this season. Jadet’s Rochela experiment, which comes up once or twice every year, once again failed against Buriram, with the Spaniard looking predictably out of place in midfield. Quite why the Spherical Supremo thought that he was going to do a better job in there than either Adisorn (13) or Anon (20), who were both available for selection, is beyond me. Still, it’s behind us now, and we can look forward to a return to normality, and with any luck a return to winning ways in the league.

 


 

The match will be shown live on True at 19:00 on Sunday 23 June, 2019. For those who can’t make it, 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.

 

Weeping Angels: Port FC vs. Bangkok United Preview

 

I can’t very well start this preview without first addressing the tragic events that unfolded on Wednesday morning. A bus carrying a group of Port fans to the away cup fixture with Nongbua Pitchaya was involved in a deadly accident, killing 5 people and injuring 3 more. Among those in the Port bus were fans that will be familiar to any regular visitor to PAT Stadium. The tireless leader of Port’s fan club who we all know as Spiderming has passed away. Saman, who carries his Pakorn banners with him home and away week in week out is in critical condition. Doubtless other fans will have seen or had personal relationships with others in that bus, and their absence will touch each and every one of us. Every Port fan contributes in his or her own way to the community that all of us know and love, and after this terrible accident that community will never be the same.

Rest in peace to those who passed away. Condolences to their loved ones, and the Port community as a whole. Those still in hospital, we wish you a speedy recovery.

There will be a service before the game on Saturday to commemorate those who have passed, starting at 17:00. Port fans are asked to wear black as a sign of respect. There will be a collection to support the grieving families.

 


 

With all that said, what follows is obviously very trivial. It’s never felt more trivial. Nevertheless, we go on with our previews and our match reports because it doesn’t feel right that we should stop what we’re doing in response to this horrific event. Did Spiderming ever stop?

 


 

Port have come through a succession of tests so far this season, and in most we’ve passed with flying colours. The ill-disciplined fiasco at Sukhothai is the only real black mark against us; we’ve shown incredible fortitude in securing a late goal to nick the 3 points away at Chonburi, we’ve gone to the SCG and beaten our biggest rivals, we’ve recovered from a goal down with 15 minutes to play to overcome Suphanburi, and we’ve won comfortably on a wet Sunday night in Chainat. The draws against Chiang Rai and PTT Rayong are the only other games we haven’t won, and in both cases the opposition employed negative, roughhouse tactics to grind out a draw. It happens.

With that said, the latest test Port face is the biggest yet this season. Bangkok United may not be among the top dogs in the table just yet, but in the last two seasons they suffered from a slow start before surging up the table at around this point in the season. They’re also a team with a habit of doing well against Port (our last league win came in 2010), and in recent seasons have come up with some really outstanding performances in doing so. Whether its luck, coincidence, or coach Mano Polking having the edge on Jadet tactically, something needs to change if Port are going to defy the spell The Angels seem to have us under. Maybe it already has.

 

Bangkok United

Players To Watch

 

I’m getting stuck in to this preview with plenty of time to spare, so rather than pick out a few of Bangkok’s top talents, I’ll just go through the team I think Mano is going to pick.

 

The Goalie

He needs no introduction, having produced one of the best goalkeeping performances I’ve ever seen last season at PAT Stadium. Michael Falkesgaard (1) is the top stopper in T1. Just wait ‘til he gets a load of Pakorn’s corners, though!

 

 

The Back 3

This season Bangkok United have gone out and brought in the players they feel like they need to make a back 3 work. Interestingly though, none of those players are themselves part of that back 3. One of the outstanding defenders of 2018, Everton (3) is a key man for The Angels, and one of the best foreign defenders in the league. No problem there, then. His partner is no-nonsense Thai-German Manuel Bihr (4) who, similarly to his counterpart at Port Elias Dolah, adds that extra physical presence without violating the foreign player quota. Bihr is a little more prone to error than Everton, but he’s worked his way in to the Thai national team set-up with a couple of years of solid defending. The third man is where Bangkok have had to experiment to find the right fit. After losing first choice Mika Chunuonsee (16) to injury early in the season, Mano first tried Puttinan Wannasri (5) in that position, before temporarily switching back to a back 4. Most recently Wisarut Imura (37) has been dropped back from midfield to fill in, but the youngster isn’t a natural there, nor does he have a lot of experience under his belt. Whichever formula Mano goes with on Saturday, it’s not ideal. Maybe going with a back 4 and using the system that Bangkok have used to such devastating effect in previous seasons is the way to go. Over to you, Mano.

 

The Wing Backs

Two of the players that Mano did bring in to make his system work are right wing back Tristan Do (7) and left wing back Peerapat Notechaiya (31). Tristan Do is of course a national team stalwart, and on his day he’s probably the best wing back in the league, although he’s not very popular among the Port faithful. Expect him to get plenty of stick on Saturday. Fellow ex-Muangthong full back Peerapat similarly has plenty of national team experience, although I’ve made it no secret before that I think he’s one of the most overrated players in the league. Naturally he must be compared to Kevin. So far in 2019… Kevin (LB): 2 goals, 2 assists; Peerapat (LWB) – 0 goals, 0 assists. Is it too soon to say I told you so?

 

 

The Midfield

I’d be lying if I said I could reliably guess who Mano is going to pick in his midfield. Thai-American holding midfielder Anthony Ampaipitakwong (6) has been wearing the captain’s armband recently, so he’s a dead cert, but alongside him either Pokklaw Anan (10) or Sanrawat Dechmitr (29) could equally get the nod. Both are excellent players, but Port fans will more likely remember Sanrawat for some devastating performances he’s put in against us in the past. I’ve always thought that he’s not a big game player though, so don’t be surprised if he reacts to a tough game by curling up in to a ball and crying. He does it for the Thai national team all the time.

 

The Forwards

Another area where injury has deprived The Angels of a key man in Vander Luiz (8). Anon Amornlerdsak (27) has stepped up in the creative role with some promising performances to help ease the loss, but the youngster still only has a goal and an assist to his name. Not great. Then there’s star man Nelson Bonilla (9). The Salvadorian striker has been impervious to his teammates struggles this season, netting 8 times in 8 starts, and he also stuck more goals than I care to remember past Port for Sukhothai last season. Mano’s biggest dilemma has been who to put up top with Bonilla, or whether to go with an extra creative player. Big new signing Mike Havenaar (9) seems to be the perfect foil for the main man, but the two have not been used together much yet this season, with the big Dutch-Japanese forward struggling for fitness early in the season and scoring twice in 5 appearances since his return. Mano also has many more options at his disposal, like using Sanrawat Dechmitr in a more advanced role, or bringing in one of their wingers Jakkapan Pornsai (13) or Rungrath Poomchanturk (17). Supersub Teeratep Winothai (14) will likely be brought off the bench if Bangkok United are in need of a goal, too.

 

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 

Form

It’s not been good enough so far. Bangkok haven’t won back-to-back since the third gameweek. Since then they’ve lost to Buriram, drew with Korat, lost to Chonburi, beat Suphanburi, lost to Chainat, beat Prachuap then drew with Chiang Mai. That’s 3 losses in 10 games, which is too much for a team with title ambitions. Bangkok have to find consistency, and a couple of injuries is not a good enough excuse. After all, Port have had to deal with the loss of their captain in week 1, and have missed several key men through injury and suspension for various games since. Our squad has coped, and so far Bangkok’s hasn’t.

 

Port FC

Trying To Keep It Together

 

Until Port reserves, who understandably may not have really had their heads in the game, slumped to a 2-3 defeat away at Nongbua Pitchaya in the League Cup, things were going rather well on the field. Jadet still has selection dilemmas to deal with, but his problems are the best kind of problems.

Newly minted national team member Watchara (1) will keep goal once again. He has kept clean sheets in 50% of his games since coming back in to the picture in the tail end of last season. Solid.

Rochela (22), despite nearing full fitness last week, has suffered a setback and will not be available, so Dolah (4) and Todsapol (6) will continue in the heart of defence. With both Kevin (97) and Panpanpong (19) unavailable, third choice Yossawat (32) seems to be in line for his first start of the season (he came off the bench against Chainat) unless Jadet opts to play Adisorn in the position he played a large chunk of Port’s last T2 campaign in. I’ve always been a fan of Yossawat; he’s got an absolutely wicked left foot, and I’ve always thought that he’s a better all-round player than Panpanpong. Here’s his chance to prove it. Nitipong (34) starts at right back. Duh.

Go (8) and Siwakorn (16), who is lucky to be available after narrowly avoiding his fourth yellow card last time out, will continue in the engine room, but ahead of them is where Thai League Manager of the Month Jadet will have to earn his money this week. Thai League Player of the Month Bodin (10) is a no-brainer on the left, but whether or not Jadet opts for Sumanya (11) or Nurul (31) on the right is the big question. Sumanya is a quality player, but he’s not a natural wide man, and this throws Port off balance, with the team so used to having Pakorn (7) hug the right touchline. Nurul, as he showed with his stunning chipped finish after being brought off the bench, is the man for the job on Saturday. Come on Jadet, let the penguin at ‘em!

Up front Boskovic (23) is well and truly in the groove now, and will fancy adding to his recent flurry of goals against his former team, while Suarez (5) will continue providing the ammunition. There’s not a player in Port’s team who isn’t worth their place right now.

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True4U And True Sports HD2 at 19:00 on Saturday 18 May, 2019. For those who can’t make it, 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.

 

The Wasp Killer: Port FC vs. Prachuap Preview

 

Having bounced back from the disappointing 1-3 defeat against Sukhothai, Port will try to make it a perfect week by securing their second home win in a row against second placed Prachuap. The relatively straightforward 4-1 victory over Trat will likely not be replicated on Saturday though, with Prachuap (one mental game against Chonburi aside) having one of the stingiest defences in the league thus far, as well as one of the most prolific forward lines.

 

Prachuap FC

Players to Watch

 

Having weathered the African storm against Trat, Port will be back to facing the more familiar sight of a Brazilian duo up top against Prachuap. I’m struggling with which one of the two is more dangerous, as both Caion (10) and Matheus Alves (7) have been superb in their own ways so far this season. Alves is the more creative of the pair, with his jinking forward runs frequently causing mayhem in opposition penalty areas, but he also has a dangerous shot on him, which Port will really have to watch out for when he drops off his striking partner Caion. Caion is the big goal threat though. He’s one of those strikers who isn’t especially big, strong or quick but seems to constantly get himself in the right positions and find a way to score. Dolah (4) and Todsapol (6) must be weary of giving him any room at all in the box, as one way or another he’ll find a way to score.

 

 

Prachuap were underestimated last season because of an assumed reliance on a different but also excellent forward line of Doumbouya and Reis, but this season it’s been clear there’s much more to this squad. New signing Artyom Filiposyan (16) was a very creative signing who has made a huge impact for them. Whereas just about every team in the league has signed a Korean midfielder or centre back this season, Prachuap opted to look to central Asia and sign Filiposyan, who is an absolute man mountain, and stick him in front of the defence. Such was his physical dominance in week 2 of the season that I picked him out as my player of the week, whilst also noticing an uncanny resemblance, both in aesthetics and temperament, to fellow loud-mouth rule-breaker Alex Jones.

 

 

 

Then at the back there’s Montenegrin centre back Adnan Orahovac (22), who has quietly become one of the best centre backs in Thai football in the last two seasons. He’s been partnered with new Buriram loanee Nattapon Malapun (27) who has impressed so much this season that was a surprise pick to start in Thailand’s upset victory over China a few weeks back. Solid.

 

 

The other top Thai threats are Amorn Thammanarn (17) on the left flank, Chitpanya Tisud (11) through the middle, and even two national team strikers Siroch (35) and Supot (9) on the bench. This side has a lot going for it, and Port are going to have to match or surpass their attacking form against Trat to break through this much more stubborn rearguard.

 

 

Form

 

Second in the table. They’ve put Muangthong, PTT Rayong, Chainat and Most recently Korat to the sword, and been beaten by Buriram and Chonburi. The one thing that Port fans can be encouraged by is that in their three away games so far, they’ve lost two and won one, although in fairness their opponents have been Muangthong, Buriram and Chonburi.

 

Port FC

Learning From Mistakes

 

I dished it out to Port’s players after their immature reaction to adversity in the Sukhothai game, but the worst offenders in the team really looked like they’d learned their lesson on Wednesday. The referee was an absolute disaster, particularly when it came to Boskovic (23), but the Montenegrin showed rare restraint, routinely laughing off the ridiculous decisions given against him. The result was relative calm throughout the team, who responded to the comedy refereeing, as well as Trat’s fortunate equalizer, with a collective coolness we haven’t seen from Port so far in 2019. Full marks, boys.

In terms of personnel, we saw Kevin (97) subbed off early with what looked like a niggling muscle injury, so Kevin must be a doubt for Saturday, but Sumanya (11) will return after serving his one game ban for his red card against Sukhothai. Also pushing for a chance in the starting XI is a Sandpit favourite Arthit (29), who once again not only inspired a flood of Port chances after his introduction, but also had the ball in the net twice (one, which would have would have been a goal of the season contender, was ruled out for offside) in yet another fantastic cameo appearance. The only natural striker in Port’s squad is long overdue a real chance in the league. Come on, Jadet, don’t just wait for the cups.

Who to drop in case of the return of Sumanya or the inclusion of Arthit is the real question though. Bodin seems like the obvious answer to accommodate Sumanya, but The Fresh Prince’s performance on Wednesday was among the best in the team. Leaving Siwakorn (16) out is another option, but one which Jadet has showed absolutely no interest in so far this season.

For Arthit there are also several options, but there were also several top performances from starting players, who would be hard done by being left out. I have found a solution, though. Boskovic has started every game and returned one goal (from the spot) and one assist so far this season. Arthit has plundered two goals from a handful of substitute appearances. Port need to reward good performances to maintain a competitive attitude throughout the squad. It has to be possible to play your way in to the team, and picking Pele for his first start of the season would really show that. Do it Jadet, DO IT!

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 


 

As always, those who like to support our sponsor The Sportsman are welcome to watch the game there on Saturday 6th with the usual big screen, sound and 99 baht Tiger pints on tap. There is also a 10% VIP discount on drinks for those who wear a Port short or mention The Sandpit. Kickoff is at 17:45 on True4U.

 

Gas Panic? Port FC vs. PTT Rayong Preview

 

The question following that fantastic Friday night trip to Chonburi is: shouldn´t we all just stay at home the rest of the season instead of diluting our glass of football with lesser experiences? Especially with Sunday being the first election day, and hence, a dry day in all of Thailand. Well, I for one am banking on the hawkers around the PAT figuring out that the polls close at about the same time the game kicks off and that therefore they should stay open for business. If you want to be sure, going to the shop before the weekend and getting a few cans to bring with you wouldn´t hurt though. But, with Pakorn (7) having a whole night of long shots to make up for after missing Chonburi due to injury, some throats in and around the Sandpit may be better off sticking with tea anyway.

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La Fin: Port FC vs. Chonburi FC Preview

 

Thai football’s biggest inter-club bromance resumes on Wednesday night at the PAT, as Port welcome Chonburi for the final home game of the season. The home side should be buoyed by a 5-0 win at the weekend over Navy, while the Sharks ensured another year of top-flight football thanks to a 3-1 win over Korat.

Having done more than was required of them on Saturday night in Sattahip, the advantage in the battle for 3rd place appeared to be back with us, as the forces of darkness from Legoland went into injury time on Sunday evening lucky to be at 2-2 with Sukhothai, only for substitute Sanukran to pop up with an entirely undeserved winner.  They play Pattaya at the same time as this match takes place. Good luck Pattaya, may you join the long list of teams to celebrate a victory in the away dressing room’s party lounge at Legoland, hopefully a party that stretches into the coming weekend.

Being the last home game you hope the club lays on something to mark the occasion. Back home you might see next season’s kit given an appearance. Given the recent record of Port failing to have kits ready for the start of the season I’ll hold my breath.

 

Our Opposition

 

As ever when playing Chonburi, I got in touch with Dale Farrington to find out whats going on with the Sharks (and save myself messing about on Wikipedia and and Transfermarkt trying to work out who their decent players are).

  • Chonburi secured top flight football for another season at the weekend, a pleasing end to the season?

Not really. Staying up is clearly better than getting relegated, but I don’t think it’s any cause for celebration. If anything, it should be a big kick up the backside to those who run the club. Sadly, I actually believe they think it’s an achievement. A sign of how far we’ve fallen and what little expectations we (they) have these days.

  • Overall a good or bad season for the club and do you expect an improvement next year?

Overall, a bad season. A new coach, who was showing potential and had the side well organised, was forced out after just eight matches and we never really recovered from that. Unless they employ a new coach – who actually knows what they are doing (unlike the current one) – and invest in some new players – preferably decent foreigners – next year will be much the same as this one. Or even worse!

  • Do you still have that goalkeeper who thinks he’s a sweeper, if so will he play and what other players should we look out for?

Chanin (35)? Yes. He’s still here. I’m not his biggest fan, but he has been outstanding over the past few weeks. His saves against Ubon Utd probably kept us up. Watch out for his kicking though. I’d say about 90% of his clearances go straight into touch! Otherwise, the centre backs, Gyeong Min (30) and Kritsada (42) are worth keeping an eye on. The former showed a lot of class before getting injured (he’s only recently returned) and the latter is a promising youngster, who hopefully will go on to bigger things.

 

Chanin Sae-ear, Kim Gyeong-min and Kritsada Kaman

 

  • And finally a prediction for Wednesday? Any chance your players have had a week off and want to donate 3 points to their besties up the road?

A prediction is almost impossible. I never know which Chonburi will turn up – the poor one or the slightly less than average one. If we’ve switched off after Saturday, you could get three or four.

 

Thanks to Dale for answering, especially at rather late notice.

 

Line Up

 

Given Jadet’s noted resistance to change and that his preferred outfield 10 just won 5-0 away from home, I wouln’t expect any changes by choice. Bodin (10), having served his suspension, will probably return to the bench and here’s the standard mention that should Rattanai (17) frame of biscuits be up to it he could start/be on the bench.

 

Form

 

Despite only achieving mathematically safety from relegation with their win last time out, Chonburi have spent most of the season hovering just above mid table.  Their form in 11 games since a defeat to this season’s shock underperformers Rangsit Glass, has seen them win 4, draw 3 and suffer defeat 4 times. 3 of those defeats came against the current top 3 and the other in their derby against Pattaya, while the wins have come against 3 teams currently in the relegation zone and (woeful) Korat. Very much that of a solid mid table grinder. Only twice have they kept clean sheets in that spell, with those matches averaging just under 3 goals (2.91), which is just a tad above the league average of 2.84.

Port’s form is somewhat more unpredictable. The two wins since the resumption have come against a Navy side so poor they make the decision to reduce the number of teams in the top tier look prudent and a Korat team whose survival, could be used to justification a similar reduction next season.  The first half against Suphanburi was encouraging and the result would probably have reversed if we’d found the net in the first half.

 

Prediction

 

If we are serious about third this is the kind of team – mediocre form and with an inability to keep clean sheets – we need to be putting away. As they also have nothing to play for, I’ll go 3-0 Port. Hopefully Dragon Boskovic can bag a brace and pass 100 career goals in Thailand as well.

 


 

True have had to get a bit creative with their choice of channels, what with all of the games being played simultaneously. This means that the match will be shown live on True Tennis HD at 18:00 on Wednesday 3 October, 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.

 

Port Float into Navy to Sink or Swim: Navy FC vs. Port FC Preview

We’re hanging on in there. Just when we thought we were out of it, Muang Thong prove once again that they are just as shit as we are when it comes to sealing 3rd place, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory at Chainat, which makes Saturday’s humbling defeat at the hands of a resilient Suphanburi even more galling.

 

 

This fan-torment from Jadet’s Jesters is almost Shakespearean, “As flies to wanton boys, are we to th’ Port, they kill us for their sport”.  And so, with spirits raised and brimful of eternal optimism, we work out the permutations once again: three ‘winnable’ games while Muang Thong face tricky Sukothai and Bangkok Utd in their closing run.

Talking of which, Sukothai’s 3-2 win at  Bangkok Utd featured a classic hat-trick from Salvadorean international Nelson Bonilla, the first from a seemingly impossible angle and well worth watching – the other two the kind of finishes we have come to expect from the League’s second highest scorer: 24 to Diogo’s 29, but in a much inferior team. Now this is a proper centre forward and one I would willingly swap for our currently flailing Montenegrin. You can see Bonilla’s hat-trick here – it helped to brighten up my Sunday, anyway.

 

Sattahip Stadium

 

So what are our chances at Navy? Our record at the Sattahip Stadium is poor; in fact I don’t recall ever witnessing a victory there in the League, with last season’s fixture ending in a disappointing 2-2 draw, after Port went in at half-time 2-0 up. And I seemed to have written so many Navy previews and match reports that I have run out of nautical puns and quips, so this will just be a straightforward assessment – even the delights of nearby Ban Chang, featured so prominently in last season’s preview, will have to take a back seat.

 

Ban Chang Cheerleaders

 

The corresponding home fixture ending in a pulsating 7-1 victory but this was in the middle of a run of 11 wins in 12 games with only the freakish, mad 3 minutes at home to Muang Thong spoiling the fun. We now go into Saturday off 3 wins in 13, one of those against lowly Trat in the F.A. Cup. The reasons for this slump are discussed ad-nauseum in the Sandpit: lack of fitness, the International break, injuries and suspensions, poor coaching and selection (what has happened to Anon?), lack of motivation, loss of key players’ form; maybe it’s a bit of all of these.

But football matches hang on such fine margins and Saturday was a good example. Port were actually not that bad in the first half, having more of the lion’s share of the game and creating several good chances, some of which would have been converted had it not been for some astounding saves from the Suphanburi keeper. The second half opened in the same way and Cleiton Silva’s headed goal was so out of the blue and against the run of play that it left everyone in stunned silence. The second, shortly after, came as a result of the War Elephants’ new found buoyancy and Port’s sudden deflation.  In fact, the first half was scarily similar to recent ones against Chainat and Nakhon Ratchasima, but in the latter we were gifted an early second half penalty which turned the game in our favour.

There was to be no second half redemption this time. Plus, we had brought on Pakorn, who, after early promise, became, well, Pakorn. It didn’t help either that players who had such an impact early in the season were poor – Kevin being a prime example.

I have just become one of the 63% that want to see Jadet gone at the end of the season and I firmly believe, at last, that the time is right. Even if he now ‘inspires’ us to a third place finish, it will be more down to other teams’ failings than our own brilliance.  A top four finish, although not our best ever (we actually came second in the top flight in 1999) should satisfy even the most pessimistic pundit after the recent yo-yo years, and should prompt further investment, especially if next season is the Madame’s final fling and she wants to go out with a bang, as it were. But I don’t think Jadet is the man to take us that further step.

Back to Saturday: Navy are down already, but with consecutive draws against Port’s top six rivals Prachuap and Chiang Rai, they will be no pushovers. Sailors do have some pride, even if the only young tars present will be those watching from the free seats.

Port, and Jadet, have three games left to make some kind of statement – will it all end in a bang or a whimper?

I am not highlighting any Navy players to watch because I won’t be watching them; this week, I am only interested in how Port perform, although Amadou Ouattara (81) looks to stand out from the crowd with 11 goals and 6 assists. I don’t even have the enthusiasm to poke duck orientated fun at Gabriel Quak (22), who incidentally got the only goal at Port – hopefully he won’t be ruffling our feathers this week. Oh dear, I’ve gone and done it.

 

Amadou (81) and Athibordee (63), who is on loan from Port so should be ineligible against his parent club.

 

For my Port line-up I have gone for the eleven (injuries and suspensions willing) that I sense that the Sandpit would like to see:

Rattanai (is he fit?) [Ed – he’s been back in training this week, but probably not match fit.]; Nitipong, Dolah, Rochela, Kevin; Anon, Kim, Siwakorn (or Adisorn – it’s a toss-up); Nurul, Suarez, Boskovic.

It would be great to see Terens and Sammy Slot on the bench with Arthit. Let’s have a bit of fun at least – Navy is a long way back when you’ve lost. [Ed – Bodin is suspended having picked up his 4th yellow card last week, so there’s a good chance we’ll see at least 2 of these fellas come off the bench.]

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True4U, True Sports 2 and True Sports HD2 at 20:00 on Saturday 29 September, 2018. For those who can’t make it to Sattahip 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.

 

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