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‘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.

 

Money Can’t Buy Me Love: Port FC vs. Chiang Rai Utd, 28 April 2018

 

Port and Chiang Rai have both had stop-start campaigns so far in 2018, and both will be looking to bounce back after dismal defeats on Wednesday. Port put in their worst performance in over a year in surrendering 2-1 to relegation fodder Chainat, while The Beetles ended a streak of 4 clean sheets and 4 victories in their 4-2 loss to Prachuap. Whilst Chiang Rai have some recent form and one of the best defences in the league to give them belief, however, Port are churning out abysmal performances like they’re going out of fashion. Jadet increasingly looks like a dead man walking, and his players are showing absolutely no willingness to get him out of trouble by, you know, trying.

For the first time since I’ve been watching Port, the players were booed off the pitch by a vocal minority and it was plain to see that certain players were extremely unimpressed by what they were hearing from the stands. Well, us fans have been extremely unimpressed by what we’ve been seeing on the pitch for the last few weeks. Here’s why…

It’s not as if we’re not used to seeing abject performances by Port teams. It’s not as if we’re not used to seeing defenders who can’t defend, midfielders who can’t pass and strikers who can’t score. If players just don’t have the ability then that’s one thing, but what we’re not used to seeing and what we won’t accept is players who don’t try. Sure there have been a few lazy individuals over the years, but on Wednesday I could count the players who put in an acceptable shift on one hand, and still have a few fingers to spare. This team is the most talented assembled by Port in recent memory, but if the players don’t care enough to bother putting in the effort, then us fans would happily take hard workers like Genki and Maranhao back in place of prima donnas like Pakorn (7) and Boskovic (23). Why am I singling out Port’s two most productive players of 2018? Well, they are two of Port’s most talented players, but we just don’t care unless they look like they give a fuck. Make forward runs, track back when we lose the ball, go in to challenges like you want to win the ball and we will support you. We don’t care that much if you misplace passes, miss chances or trip over the ball. Work hard for the team, show passion and commitment and the fans will support you. It’s as simple as that. If you want to stand up in front of PAT Stadium on Saturday night with your head held high and the supportive voices of thousands of appreciative fans ringing in your ears, then earn it! If you want to jog around aimlessly for 70 minutes until you’re replaced with players who actually try like Terens (28) and Arthit (29), then prepare for more boos. Those players may be less talented, but I’d rather support them than players unwilling to do the work. Rant over.

 

Chiang Rai

Players to Watch

 

Victor Cardozo (5) is the best centre half in the league, but even that title barely does him justice. The 28 year old man-mountain has also netted 4 goals, and every time he has scored his team has won without conceding. Victor’s defence was the stingiest in the league before Wednesday’s 4-2 defeat against Prachuap, and even now have conceded just 12 goals. Chiang Rai’s three-man back line has not been set in stone, though. Victor has been joined regularly by excellent youngster Shinnapat Leeaoh (36), but the third centre back spot is anyone’s guess. Former Port defender Artit Daosawang (2) could feature, although he appears to have fallen out of favour just as Chiang Rai have got in to their stride in recent weeks. Goalkeeper Chatchai Budprom (1) is also one of the better stoppers in T1.

 

Victor and Shinnaphat

 

Experienced South Korean former international Lee Yong-Rae (8) and the diminutive but solid Thai 23 year old Phitiwat Sukjitthammakul (6) offer the back three excellent protection, regularly displaying the positional discipline that T1 midfielders (and Port midfielders particularly) so often seem to lack. Built on that strong foundation, though, is one of the poorest forward lines in the league.

 

Lee and Phitiwat

 

Cleiton Silva (23) is one of the finest foreign players to grace Thailand’s top tier, but his return to his old stomping ground has not gone to plan. Cleiton has just 3 goals and 2 assists to his name in 2018, and chances that the Brazilian would have dispatched without a moment’s thought a couple of seasons ago are all of a sudden going begging. The ability is there, there’s no doubt about that, but the confidence that propelled him to over 100 T1 goals is nowhere to be found. In other words, he’s Chiang Rai’s Boskovic.

Of Cleiton’s usual partners in crime, Bajram Nebihi (7) is unavailable as he is on loan from Port, so the responsibility for supplying the chances falls mostly on talented young winger Sivakorn Tiatrakul (10). Sivakorn is one of those wingers who insists on playing on the wrong wing (he’s left footed but operates almost exclusively on the right), and whilst he has a lot of talent, his decision making and final ball have, for the most part, let him down in 2018. He has a goal and an assist, but in the advanced role he plays that’s just not enough. The same can also be said of Chaiyawat Buran (18) who has buckets of pace but the touch of a drunk Carlton Palmer.

 

Cleiton and Sivakorn

 

Form

 

Chiang Rai’s last 6 games have seen a run of 4 victorious clean sheets sandwiched between 2 absolute stinkers. After losing 2-1 to Chainat, Chiang Rai bested Bangkok Utd (1-0), Pattaya (1-0), Air Force (2-0) and Buriram (1-0) before slipping to a shock 4-2 loss in Prachuap. Their form is still a darn sight better than Port’s though.

 

Port FC

What’s Less Than a Thread?

 

I said in my Prachuap preview that Jadet was hanging by a thread. Well, I will be somewhat surprised if that thread hasn’t snapped under the weight of Jadet’s laughable decisions by Saturday. I’m sorry, but who the fuck brings on Tana (11), who has been back with the squad for just a couple of weeks, whilst the likes of Bodin (10) and Terens are sat on the bench? A man who is crying out to be giving his marching orders, that’s who.

On Saturday Jadet will be without Suarez (5), unless he recovers from injury sooner than expected, and Siwakorn (16), who picked up his fourth yellow card against Chainat. Jadet will probably take the negative approach by replacing him with defensive midfielder Athibordee (35). Another option is to bring in Bodin (10), but if I know Jadet than just means that he will be shifted to the left and Nurul (31) to the right, while Pakorn (7) puts in an even more ineffectual performance than usual through the middle.

Sorry if I seem pessimistic. Watching 90 minutes of the garbage I was exposed to on Wednesday will have that effect! What would I do? Wholesale changes to the starting lineup, with Siwakorn (16) Pakorn (7), Nurul (31) Boskovic (23) and Todsapol (6) making way for Chaowala (57), Terens (28), Bodin (10), Arthit (29) and either Dolah (4) or Worawut (24). New blood like Port B’s best performer Chaowala is necessary to shake things up, and I would probably include Partchya (56) and Chanayut (99) on the bench for good measure. Buriram gave a debut to a 15 year old in their victory on Wednesday, so don’t tell me that one of Thailand’s top 5 youngsters is too raw to be given a chance. Has the thought even crossed Jadet’s mind? Has it fuck.

 

Suggested Lineup

 

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True 4U at 19:00 on Saturday 28 April, 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.

 

Can Port Kill Prachuap Buzz? Port FC vs. PT Prachuap FC, 21 April 2018

 

KICKOFF HAS BEEN CHANGED FROM 18:00 TO 20:00.

 


 

Port come in to Saturday’s home game against surprise 2018 upstarts Prachuap with manager Jadet Meelarp hanging by a thread. Having lost three on the bounce and seen his side slide from top of the table to seventh in recent weeks, it feels like anything but a win will almost certainly spell the end for the spherical supremo. No fewer than nine T1 managers have been axed in the first ten weeks of the season, so it would certainly be in keeping with the rest of the loopy league to move Jadet back to his comfy chair upstairs and bring in one of the many free agents kicking around.

 

PT Prachuap

 

Hands up who picked Prachuap to be this season’s surprise package… No one? I didn’t think so! A team of bang average players – a couple of excellent foreigners aside – Prachuap have performed to a level far exceeding the sum of their parts so far this season. Bringing in eight players on loan and signing a crop of foreigners with no T1 experience is not usually a recipe for success, but somehow it has worked for The Killer Wasps. How? Let’s see…

 

Players to Watch

 

Unusually, I’m starting my players to watch segment with manager Thawatchai Danrong-Ongtrakul. Why? Well, he used to be a bloody excellent player for one thing, but mostly it’s because the lion’s share of the credit for Prachuap’s rapid rise since 2017 must belong to the former star midfielder. As part of a Thai national team which included Zico (unemployed), Therdsak (unemployed) and Totchtawan (unemployed), Thawatchai could have followed the lead of his former teammates and got a job at a top team with no experience behind him and high expectations.

However, with Zico having been sacked by Port, Therdsak being given his marching orders by Chonburi and Totchtawan the latest to have lost his job at Muangthong, Thawatchai has instead been quietly building his reputation with Prachuap. After signing 20 new players in 2017 his team finished third in T2, before miraculously surging to second in the T1 table this season.

Are they likely to stay there? No, but most had them down as mere relegation fodder this season, so they’re doing a darn sight better than they’re supposed to be doing.

Then there are the players. Striking duo Lonsona Doumbouya (21) and Jonatan Reis (10) have rightly grabbed most of the headlines for their performances so far. Towering Frenchman Doumbouya, who has been kicking around at bog-standard European clubs like Tubize, SKN St. Polten and Inverness Caldonian Thistle in recent years, is your classic number 9. Tall, powerful and with a decent finish on him, he will be the player Port’s defence will be most occupied with. Unfortunately that probably means that Brazilian Jonatan Reis will be in acres of space somewhere else. Still on the tall side but much more pacey and skillful, Reis has had lots of joy playing off the bigger man up front, and as a pair they have notched 11 goals and 4 assists thus far in 2018. Reis has a bit of form in Thailand too, having scored 28 goals for almost-relegated T2 side Kasetsart last season.

 

Prachuap’s Songkran photo shoot is a doozy. Here are Doumbouya and Reis starting us off with a pretty cringeworthy stadium snap.

 

Then there is surprise supporting act Amorn Thammanarn (17). This 34 year old left winger has somehow also managed to bang in six goals, although I’m not quite sure how. How can I put this kindly? He’s a fucking nutcase. Amorn started his season off by scoring Prachuap’s opening goal, throwing his head in to a goalmouth scramble and getting a boot in the face for his troubles. As he ran off in wild celebration blood started to pour from his eye, although he wouldn’t have had a clue unless his teammates had calmly but firmly showed him to the touchline. This has typified Amorn’s season so far, giving rather more than the average 110% for his team. Taking part in every game but completing 90 minutes just three times, watch out for this fella, whether he starts or comes off the bench.

 

The props have arrived, and Amorn is determined to do his best ‘There’s Something About Mary’ impression. As always, full marks for effort.

 

Montenegrin centre-half Adnan Orahovac (22) has a name I’m glad I’m typing rather than saying. He will be partnered by Korean Kwon Dae-hee (19). Prachuap have kept just two clean sheets, but big man Orahovac has also chipped in with a goal and three assists, which I assume have come from set-pieces.

 

Kwon and Orahovac take different approaches to looking uncomfortable. That’s why they’re a good partnership.

 

There’s a bit of a Port connection at Prachuap, too. Wanchalerm Yingyong (31) played a grand total of 45 minutes for Port in 2017, but he has become a mainstay in the centre of Prachuap’s midfield this season. Then there’s winger Yai Nilwong (13) who spent 2010 in Khlongtoey, and has chipped in with a goal and three assists. At 33 years old, this Ekkapoomesque (adj: former Port winger who gets in to good positions then arses it up) winger is one of many of Prachuap’s older players, including his 35 year old brother Sompob (3), 36 year old captain Adul (25) and aforementioned 34 year old winger Amorn, who are enjoying a surprise career Renaissance.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner. It’s most certainly not Wanchalerm though, who looks like he’s walking the plank. Death at sea may well be favourable to this photoshoot.

 

Form

 

On the whole, far better than expected. Prachuap’s last six games have seen them win four, including a stunning 6-1 upset against Muangthong and a 4-3 thriller against Bangkok Glass, draw one and lose one. Their only defeat came against Ratchaburi, and in the only really encouraging news for Port, that 2-1 loss was Prachuap’s most recent game. Even fat Bill managed to score for The Dragons!

 

Port FC

By a Thread

 

Oh dear, Jadet. Oh, dear. Three games, three defeats and ten goals conceded. Port managers don’t often survive runs of form like that. Saturday will likely be his last chance to turn things around, so what has the weighty wizard got up his sleeve?

Well, he will again be without top-scorer Suarez (5), although Kim (8) returns after serving a one match ban. Despite some highly questionable performances of late, Jadet will surely turn to the Korean in his hour of need, with Kim either being used in a defensive role as he has done for most of the season, or a more offensive role as was trialed against Air Force. Maybe the extra week off has allowed him to get back to something like full fitness!

There are many ways Jadet could go in an attempt to revitalize his team. One option that hasn’t yet been tried from the start is a two man strike force of Arthit (29) and Boskovic (23). A blind man could see that the set-up of the team doesn’t favour Boskovic, and Arthit – who has made some promising cameos – is a more natural number 9 who could give Boskovic the kind of service he has so far been lacking. If nothing else, it’s worth a try!

Terens (28) must also have moved in to contention for a start, although it is unlikely that Jadet will drop either Pakorn (7) or Nurul (31).

There’s also the possibility that Jadet will revisit the system he tried from the start against Buriram, with Dolah (4), Todsapol (6) and Rochela (22) as a back three. It worked pretty well, with Dolah being taken off with Port at 1-1 against the champs, so Jadet could reasonably give it another go.

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True Sport 2 at 20:00 on Saturday 21 April, 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. We’re already booked in, so head upstairs and we should be easy to find. Don’t forget to wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.

 

The Divine Mop: Buriram United vs. Port FC, 11 April 2018

 

Port will try to become the first team to defeat clear title favourites Buriram when they travel to the land of depressed husbands on Wednesday. This match couldn’t come at a worse time for Port though, having just suffered back-to-back defeats against Police and Bangkok United, whereas Buriram have maintained their unbeaten start to the season and currently enjoy a four point gap at the top of the table.

Port are also missing a couple of foreign players, with Kim (8) suspended after getting his fourth yellow card against Bangkok United, while Suarez (5) is reportedly out for a month after picking up an injury against Police Tero. Buriram are also missing a key foreign player, with instrumental centre back Tunez (5) having sat out the last 3 league fixtures through injury.

 

Buriram United

Key Players

 

It’s a strong team with too many to choose from, so here’s the lot of them.

33 year old Siwarak Tedsungnoen (1) kept two clean sheets against Port last season, with the fixture at PAT Stadium featuring an absolutely ridiculous point blank save from a Genki header. A model of consistency and Kawin’s understudy at national team level, don’t expect to get anything easy from Siwarak.

Buriram are without key defender Andres Tunez, and haven’t kept a clean sheet in the three league games since his injury. Their back three will be led by Pansa Hemviboon (3), who was my Player of the Tournament for Thailand in the recent King’s Cup. Standing at 6 foot 3, he is a formidable physical presence who doesn’t lose much in the air. Pansa will be joined by South Korean Yoo Jun-Soo (16) and former Port loanee Pravinwat Boonyong (4), who has become a surprise regular at The Thunder Castle this season.

 

Pansa Hemviboon

 

Extremely attack-minded Narubadin Weerawatnodom (13) will be right wing-back, with the more experienced and less bombastic Korrakot Wiryaudomsiri (11) on the left flank.

Buriram have a mix of youth and experience in central midfield, with 20 year old Ratthanakorn Maikami (26) being joined by either one of experienced duo Suchao Nuchnum (8) – who you may remember being bitch-slapped by Lazarus Kaimbi after reportedly calling him a monkey a couple of years ago – or Jakkaphan Kaewprom (10), who made the T1 team of the season in 2017.

Ahead of them will be one of Thailand’s best youngsters Supachok Sarachat (19), who has scored one and assisted two in a promising start to the campaign. The 19 year old has already scored 10 times in 47 appearances for The Thunder Castle, and will try to occupy the space in front of the back four that Aung Thu and Sumanya used to such good effect in Port’s two recent defeats.

 

Supachok Sarachat

 

Remarkably for a team comfortably atop the league, before Buriram’s draw with Sukhothai last weekend, they had only one player who had scored more than one goal. That of course was The Divine Mop: Diogo Luis Santo (40). It’s not just his hair that invites the comparison. The Brazilian spends most of his time sprawled across the floor and has an uncanny knack for finding filth wherever he is deployed. Like a mop though, Diogo is also reliable. And yes, this metaphor is in need of a good rinse. In only one season since he arrived at Buriram have they not triumphed in the league, and this was in no small part due to the fact that he was injured for most of the season. When he is fit, The Divine Mop is guaranteed to clean up. He has done so 11 times in 9 games so far this season, and will be expecting to add to that tally against Port’s lacklustre defence. Never bet against the best striker in the league.

 

Diogo Luis Santo

 

Diogo is joined by Edgar Bruno da Silva (23). Edgar scored his second goal of the season with a well-taken header against Suphanburi on the weekend, but has been far from convincing so far in 2018. He’s one of those players that has turned up at a lot of impressive-sounding clubs but not really seen a lot of action. Like his teammate Diogo, Edgar played for Brazil at youth level, then went on to represent such teams as Sao Paolo, Porto, Red Star Belgrade and Vasco da Gama. More recently representing a slew of average teams across Asia, Edgar is a mediocre T1 striker if ever there was one. His main function seems to be to get the ball to Diogo and watch the master at work.

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 

Form

 

Buriram have spent most of 2018 so far just getting the job done. Experienced winners one and all, they have made a habit of scoring late goals and grinding out results. Their recent last-gasp win against Chonburi was a textbook example. After starting out with 4 wins, Buriram were finally held to a 2-2 draw by Bangkok United, but they went on another run of 3 wins before being held to a 1-1 draw by Suphanburi.

Port, on the other hand… Actually no, I’d rather not. You all know how we’ve been doing over the last couple of weeks, so no reminder is necessary!

 

Port FC

Now or Never?

 

It’s time, Jadet. It’s quite possibly now or never. 9 T1 bosses have received their marching orders in just 9 weeks, and Sir Det could well make that 10 in 10 if Port take another heavy beating. He doesn’t have a full complement of troops at his disposal, either.

With Kim out, Jadet will most likely turn to Adisorn (13) to fill the midfield void, although Athibordee (35) is another realistic option. Athibordee was brought on when Jadet tried to change Port’s fortunes against Bangkok United, but was later subbed off. Ouch. With Adisorn having a barnstorming Buriram battle under his belt from last season, he really ought to be the man Jadet puts his faith in in his time of need.

Further forward there is a bit more of a dilemma. Suarez leaves a hole in the team that no player in Port’s squad is particularly well suited to fill. If Bodin (10) comes in again, then we are likely to see him and Nurul (31) on the flanks and Pakorn (7) playing through the middle, which just doesn’t seem like a great idea. As much as I like Pakorn, that’s not his position. Alternatively, Arthit (29) – who looked lively when he came on – could be deployed as a partner for Boskovic (23) and Port could switch to a pure 4-4-2. Interestingly, when Buriram visited PAT Stadium last season, Port lined up in a 4-4-2 which featured Adisorn in midfield and came away with a point. Rattanai (17), recently restored to the first XI, also kept goal that day, making one of his finest appearances in a Port shirt, while Todsapol (6) made a rare appearance before going off injured.

Whatever Jadet chooses though, the players are just going to have to do better. More discipline will be required at the back, more running in midfield and most of all better finishing. Yes Dragan, I’m looking at you!

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True Sport 2 at 17:45 on Wednesday 11 April, 2018. For those who can’t make it to The Chang Arena, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound. We’re already booked in, so head upstairs and we should be easy to find. Don’t forget to wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.

 

Arrested Development: Police Tero FC vs. Port FC, 1 April 2018

 

High-flying Port travel to under-performing Police Tero on Sunday looking to make it two wins in a week. Police, on the other hand, find themselves second from bottom and are looking for something – anything – to reverse their fortunes and kick-start a campaign in which many tipped them as potential surprise packages. It has been a surprise, but not in the way we thought it might be!

Manager Scott Cooper was absent for Police’s last game – he is currently on ‘leave’ visiting his sick mother (get well soon, Mrs. Cooper) – and it is widely expected that he will no longer be Police manager by the time he returns. Things haven’t gone to plan for a club who seemed to have brought in an excellent manager and supplied him with a much-improved squad. What has gone wrong? Let’s have a look-see…

 

Police Tero

Players to Watch

 

Tero have gone top-heavy in their foreign signings in a big way. Last season’s top-scorer Michael N’Dri (9) has been joined by Brazilian duo Marcos Vinicius (91) and Douglas Tanque (80), and all three seem to want to play as out-and-out strikers. Similar to Air Force, who Port overcame last week, Cooper has had to incorporate three players in to what would normally be two positions, and his tinkering and crowbarring has not produced results.

Vinicius has been the pick of the bunch with three goals, N’Dri – reliable as ever – has come up with two goals, whilst Tanque has just the one. With Cooper absent last week, caretaker manager Darren Reid went with Vinicius and N’Dri, with Tanque sitting out, but seeing as they slipped to a 2-0 loss at Suphaburi, there could well be further changes for Port’s visit.

 

Michael N’Dri and Marcos Vinicius

 

Assisting the SFS’s is a man very rapidly running away with ASEAN signing of the year award. Anyone who had seen Aung Thu (10) play for Myanmar knew that there was serious talent there, but would T1 be too much of a step-up? No, sir! Aung Thu certainly needs a bit more polish to reach his full potential – he gives the ball away like it’s going out of fashion – but it’s a small price to pay for the carnage he wreaks in opposition defences. Fast, skillful and most of all unpredictable, Aung Thu is certain to give whichever Port defender he faces a tough afternoon. The issue for Police is that, with all the tinkering, Aung Thu hasn’t really found a regular home in the side. He’s played right across the front line, so your guess is as good as mine as to where he’ll start on Sunday. I’ve been most impressed with him on the right, but that’s where Thai national team regular and sharp-elbowed yellow card factory Mongkol Tossakrai (17) calls home. Aung Thu is returning from an international break which saw him miss Wednesday’s trip to Suphanburi as he was busy facing off with Macau. I bet Cooper was thrilled about that!

 

Aung Thu

 

Why on earth are there so many players to watch in a team that sits in 17th place?! Next on the list is Thailand’s best young goalkeeper Nont Muangngam (20). Nont has had some surprising competition for his spot this season. After the Thai-Frenchman was forced to sit out against his parent club Chiang Rai, 39 year old Pongpanot (1) impressed enough to stay in the team for a further couple of weeks, before Nont returned on Wednesday. Expect lightning reflexes from the 20 year old. Lightning!

 

Nont Muangngam

 

Finally we’ll look at Port’s former players. Police smartly snapped up Niran Hansson (8) when he became a free agent following his Port exit, and although Hansson hasn’t nailed down a first-team place, he’s seen a hell of a lot more action than the 15 minutes he managed at Port! Hansson is likely to start on Sunday, having played 90 minutes for the first time this season on Wednesday. The sickest of all notes, Pinyo Inpinit (11) was certainly a risky acquisition for Police, with him having suffered injury on top of injury for the last two years, but Pinyo has taken part in five of seven games so far, with all but one being substitute appearances.

 

Form

 

Police have collected just four points in their first seven games. It’s gone like this…

 

 

An average run of fixtures and a horrific points return. Why? Well, it’s very early to be drawing conclusions, but I’m noticing some parallels between this season’s bottom dwellers. The current bottom three are Air Force, Police and Chainat. All three have three foreign strikers in their T1 squad (Air Force being a slight exception as Nigerian-born Jaycee John is an AFC player). Did no one tell them the quota system has changed? Whereas in previous seasons you could have had one more foreign centre back or midfielder along with your embarrassment of attacking riches, this season your Thai players have a lot more responsibility. Now personally I think that, unlike Air Force and Chainat, Police have the quality among their Thai players to get out of trouble, but they’ve got to up their game in a big way. Starting from next week, preferably!

 

Port FC

Bold Predictions

 

Just so you know your previewer has a record of hitting the nail on the head when it comes to Port team selection, here’s an excerpt last week’s preview…

“Fresh off an international break where Bodin (15) showed that he’s not only ahead of Pakorn (7) in the Thai pecking order, but was even brought on before Nurul (31) in the final, it’s got to be about time to give the guy a chance.”

 

 

Two goals and an assist later, Pakorn says no.

Jadet did spring a huge selection shock though, dropping top scorer Suarez (5) for Adisorn (13) and moving Kim (8) into attacking midfield. It paid off for 45 minutes, with Port putting in an excellent first half performance, but as Kim tired and the defence fell asleep Port once again looked better when Suarez was brought on to help retain the ball.

I have mixed feelings about this move. Yes, it worked pretty well against a team rooted to the bottom of the table, but I wouldn’t like to see Kim moved too far away from his defensive duties against better teams. That said, Jadet could reasonably decide to give it another go against Police, before switching back to the tried and tested against Bangkok United and Buriram.

Then there’s Kim’s fitness. After being the target of quite a few nasty kicks on Wednesday, the Korean looked to be hobbling throughout the second half. To be honest, he hasn’t looked fully fit all season. Jadet ought to be considering giving him a rest against Police to make sure he’s ready for the top teams in upcoming games, although there’s no denying that would be a risky strategy.

I’m still far from convinced that Port have got things right at the back. Athibordee (35) continues not to make glaring errors, but Port are conceding goals with him in the team. First choice Todsapol (6) will certainly come straight back in to the side if and when he is fit, but Dolah (4) is also well worth considering against a big, physical forward line.

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 

Oh, And One More Thing…

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True Sport 2 at 19:00 on Sunday 1 April, 2018. For those who can’t make it to Boonyachinda Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match with sound if you ask them nicely. Mention the Sandpit or wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.

 

Air Farce: Port FC vs. Air Force Central FC, 28 March 2018

 

Port welcome Air Force to Klongtoey on Wednesday with some popular old faces set to make well-received returns to PAT Stadium. Of course it makes it easier to applaud opposition players and managers when they’re clear underdogs; indeed, despite possessing some enviable foreign-made offensive weaponry, Air Force have completely failed to get off the runway in 2018. Having sat forlornly at gate 18 for the first 5 weeks of the season, Air Force finally started taxiing in the right direction in week 6, but Port will be trying to make sure that their first flight is postponed for a few more days while Klongtoey’s finest sweep pig’s blood and pungent fish water from the runway. But enough about the walk home through the market, let’s talk football.

 

Air Force Central FC

Players to Watch

 

At the start of the season, many were speculating that Air Force would have one of the most fearsome forward lines in T1, and why not? With Renan Marques (14) fresh off a 27-goal season for Chonburi, Leandro Assumpcao (10) a 26-goal season for Sisaket and Muangthong and Jaycee John (22) scoring 10 in just 12 appearances for Bangkok United as he returned from injury, there was certainly reason for optimism. This bunch aren’t exactly spring chickens, though. At a combined 99 years old, this forward line has seen better days, but Port should certainly be weary of players with as much ability as this bunch. If and when they do fire up the jet engines, they will take some stopping.

 

Renan Marques and Leandro Assumpcao

 

It’s also worth mentioning that all three have seldom been used simultaneously. Manager Sasom has made like Ranieri and tinkered unyieldingly with his squad in an attempt to find the perfect formula, and it’s fair to say that his experimental alchemy has, so far, blown up in his face. Marques, Assumpcao and John have started together on just one occasion – a 2-0 loss against Pattaya – and between the three of them, they have managed just three goals in 2018. If I had to guess, I would say that after securing a 2-2 draw in their last outing, Sasom will stick with Marques and Assumpcao, with John being brought off the bench in the second half.

 

 

Then there are Port’s old flames. Manager Sasom is still a well-liked figure in Klongtoey, and he has called on his Port connections to bring in the likes of former Port captains Kiatjaroern Ruangparn (now retired) and Jirawat Makarom (7), as well as the most recent arrival: legendary winger Ekkapoom Potharungroj (36). Jirawat has been in and out of the team in central midfield, but Ekkapoom has played a part in every game to date, starting three and coming off the bench in the other three. Both players are largely as we remember them: polar opposites of eachother. Jirawat often struggles for pace in midfield but is capable of excellent quality given the opportunity, whereas Ekkapoom is a hard-working speedster who creates great opportunities for himself which he almost always squanders. Both are 32 years of age. I’m noticing a pattern here…

 

Jirawat and Ekkapoom

 

And right on cue to upset the narrative is Montenegrin centre half Aleksandar Kapisoda (5). Air Force captain and a reliable, physical presence at the back, Kapisoda has played every minute of the campaign so far, and is a relative spring chicken at the age of 28. It’s not every day, or indeed possibly ever before, that T1 has seen two Montenegrins face off, but Boskovic (23) vs. Kapisoda should be a key battle on Sunday.

 

Aleksandar Kapisoda

 

Form

 

There isn’t much to say that I haven’t said already on the form front. Air Force have scored just three times, making them by some distance the least potent attacking team in the league. They have lost to Sukhothai (1-2), Ratchaburi (0-1), Muangthong (0-1), Ubon (0-1) and Pattaya (0-2), before finally taking a point at home against fellow strugglers Chainat (2-2) in their last outing. So much for all those 4-3s we were expecting from the Eagles this term!

 

Port FC

Stick or Twist?

 

Jadet, me old mucker. Listen, big fella. Sooner or later, you’re going to have to give the Fresh Prince a start. Fresh off an international break where Bodin (15) showed that he’s not only ahead of Pakorn (7) in the Thai pecking order, but was even brought on before Nurul (31) in the final, it’s got to be about time to give the guy a chance. Fair enough, last season there was very little depth in Port’s squad, and it made a lot of sense to stick with the same XI whenever possible, but money has been spent, the squad drastically improved and there are now legitimate attacking options that are worth being tried for 90 minutes, not just 25. And don’t even get me started on The Flash (28)!

The only other potential change to Jadet’s XI is once again at the back. I expect that when Todsapol (6) returns to fitness he will return to the centre of Port’s defence, but as always with Todsapol, that could be next week or next year. Athibordee (35) hasn’t done a lot wrong since he’s been brought in, but I’m not going to be persuaded that a 5 foot 10 midfielder is anything other than an emergency stop-gap.

The rest of the side should remain as-is, with Port looking to bounce back after letting a 2-1 lead slip away to the ten men of Sukhothai a week and a half ago. They would do well to follow the lead of their B Team, who got back to winning ways in T4 by overcoming Airforce Robinson FC 1-0, with young superstar Chaowala Sriarwut (57) scoring in the first half to take his tally for the season to four. Time to mend some fences, fellas!

 

Predicted XI

 

I’m feeling brave. When I feel brave, I’m almost always wrong. Unfortunately, when it comes to predicting lineups, fortune decidedly does not favour the brave.

As we’ve seen a tactical innovation or two in recent games, with Port adopting distinctly different formations with and without the ball, you get two lineups for the price of one today. Firstly, here’s Port without the ball…

 

 

And when Port win the ball and Kim has waved his arms about a bit and shouted at a couple of people…

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True Sport 2 at 20:00 on Wednesday 28 March, 2018. For those who can’t make it to PAT Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match with sound if you ask them nicely. Mention the Sandpit or wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.