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A Season In The Sun Or Another False Dawn? Port FC vs. Pattaya Utd, 11 Feb 2018

 

Anticipation (n): A feeling of excitement about something which is going to happen.

Delusional (adj): characterized by, or holding idiosyncratic beliefs or impressions that are contradicted by reality or rational argument, typically as a symptom of mental disorder.

 


 

Anyone who has followed Port over the past few seasons will recognize both states of mind, and, as the new season approaches, will no doubt be embracing the first, while waiting anxiously for the alternative to rapidly kick-in. You have to be mental to follow Port at times.

And, to be honest, there does seem something not quite right about the coming season. It all started when news of Port’s new signings filtered through. Boskovic? Didn’t he score 38 goals last season for Bangkok Utd, the same Utd who stuck 11 goals past us without breaking sweat? Then, to follow: an imperious Korean midfielder, a 2010 AFC Champions League winner to boot. More impressive signings followed, amongst them, Nurul, a budding Thai International winger. Then, this week, came the bombshell; we had pinched Kevin Deeromram right from underneath the noses of the MuangScum to solve our problem left-back slot. What started off as a worrying trend had become a full-blown epidemic.

 

Kevin Deeromram

 

Even more significant for denizens of Zone B, we now have a ready-made song to replace the popular, and ever so catchy, “Gen-ki Na-ga-sa-ko.” This new one is inspired by a 1963 Crystals hit, ‘Da Doo Ron Ron’. Sometimes it pays to be old.

 


 

Dee Rom Rom, Ram, Ram, Dee Rom Rom Ram

 

Saw him on a Sunday; my heart missed a rev

Dee Rom Rom, Ram, Ram, De Rom Rom Ram

Someboy told me that his name was Kev

Dee Rom Rom, Ram, Ram, Dee Rom Rom Ram

 

Yeh, his name was Kev,

Yeh, and it rhymes with Trev

He said F**k Off Muang Thong

Dee Rom Rom, Ram Ram, De Rom Rom Ram.

 

It needs a bit of work. Here’s the original.

 


 

Then, with Port in the throes of building up a decent team, it got really weird. The fixtures for the whole season were released in one go. Altogether. At once. February to October, with seemingly minimal interruptions. 7, A4 size pages. No shit.

Imagining this was all a bad dream, I wandered down to Port for a couple of friendlies and I was IMPRESSED. For the first time, in my now nine years as a Port fan, I thought I might be witnessing something special. This was confirmed this morning with a Bangkok Post article proclaiming Port as potential title contenders. Next thing we know, the season tickets and new strip will be available for collection on Sunday!

And this set me thinking about what this might mean for me, and my fellow Sandpit correspondents.

 

WTF are we going to write about now that we might actually be good?

 

Will our pens be dipped in sickly honey rather than essence of deadly nightshade? Will our bitter barbs become sycophantic superlatives? Surely, they couldn’t do it to us. Then I noticed that Tana was still on the teamlist, at 11. That’s not 99, in numerical pecking order somewhere down the Sukhumvit Road towards the Cambodian border, but 11, about as close to the first 11 that 11 can get. And then it dawned on me; this was Madame Pang’s comic gift to the Sandpit. The venerable bard, Shakespeare, had moments of comic relief in his tensest dramas, so why shouldn’t we? Tana could be the Falstaff to Rochella’s Prince Hal, the Malvolio to Boscovic’s Duke Orsino. He might even take to the pitch in a pair of yellow stockings or one of those floppy hats with bells on to confirm the analogy.  When we are 6-0 up against Muang Thong in yet another, crushing, processional victory and yawns are spreading across Zone B like a blanket of fog, on will come Tana to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and all will once again be well in Klong Toey. Pencils sharpened, the words will flow in a venomous stream of invective. So, to the game.

 

Things That Have Impressed Me

 

Dragan Boscovic has added pace and power and will be a go-to man to relieve pressure through the occasional long ball, expertly delivered by the impressive, classy Kim.  Josimar was at his best with his back to the goal, spreading it wide and getting in the middle to knock in the resultant cross (sometimes). ‘For a big man’, Boskovic is quick and will chase the ball down, at the same time scaring the shit out of most Thai defenders, as he did with Bangkok Utd. Backing him up will be Suarez and Siwakorn, who bring different strengths to the game, but both looked sharp pre-season, with Suarez always capable of goals.

 

Dragan Boskovic

 

On the flanks, Nurul (and Terens) look tasty, whilst I confess a growing admiration for Pakorn, now that he has improved his decision-making. I hope I’m not being delusional when I say that I think we will score goals.

 

Pakorn and Nurul

 

At the back, Worawut is in mostly by default; the full backs and Rochela pick themselves, while I feel Todsapol is solid on the ground and in the air and can sneak a goal at set-pieces.

So, my preferred starting eleven in 4-2-3-1 formation is:

 

 

Dolah, Terens, Bodin amongst the subs.

 

The Dolphins

 

Our opponents, Pattaya Utd, enjoyed an excellent 2nd season back in TI finishing a respectable 8th, just one place above Port after losing only 3 games of the final 17, the most memorable from our point of view being our ‘phoenix from the ashes’ 5-2 victory heralding Jadet’s welcome return.

Pattaya’s Sandpit correspondent Robin Lennon, optimistically predicts a top six finish, an accomplishment widely associated with Port in these heady, pre-season days. A key battle will no doubt be between the Dolphins’ twin Brazilian strikers Lukian and Rafinha and Todsapol/Rochela. The Samba strikers are a bit of an unknown quantity even for Pattaya fans but they are Brazilians for Chrissakes so it’s sure to be fun. Siwakorn’s battle with Peeradol Chamratsamee, who after a 6-way swap period with Muang Thong is now a Dolphin player, should also be interesting. Boscovic’s tussle with the Dolphins’ Korean captain, Lee Won-yeong could be bruising.

 

Lukian (9) and Rafinha (10)

 

This will be my eighth full season as a Port fan and the excitement as match day approaches never really diminishes. Last year I wrote a personal reflection on the opening day and I am hoping this year will be much the same, apart from the result!

 


 

The match will be shown live on True 4U and True Sport HD2 at 19:00 on Sunday 11 February, 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 if you ask them nicely. Mention the Sandpit or wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount. For those who are coming along, remember to get there early as we’re expecting a full house!

 

The Party’s Over – Did We Miss It? Port FC vs. Sisaket, 11 November 2017

 

Port end their home season, in what has been their 50th anniversary year, with a fixture against newly, and sadly, relegated Sisaket.

Equally disappointing, is the fact that, apart from the odd souvenir in Port’s dismally run shop, and some independently made t-shirts, there has really been nothing of note to mark this very special year. Perhaps Madame Pang is saving it up for a final shindig – our loyal fans deserve nothing less.

 

 

Port’s form at home has been equally underwhelming, with 7 games won, 5 lost and 4 drawn; 26 goals scored and 26 conceded – there has, at least then, been some balance to our play.

We started with some really tight, scrapping thrillers against Suphanburi (3-2), Navy (1-0), Ubon (2-1) and, despite a lack of goals, probably the best of all against Buriram (0-0), in front of another packed house. Defeats against Bangkok Glass (0-3), Pattaya (0-2) and Bangkok Utd (0-3) kept our feet on the ground as the boys failed to fulfill their early season promise.

Our opponents today, Sisaket, will not be short of support; a good number of their fans live in the area, certainly judging by the number I met on the way home from the last encounter. They have a short, but controversial history.

The club was formed as Sisaket FC in 1999 and won the Provincial League that same season. By 2010 they had improved enough to gain promotion to the Premier League and it is shortly after this that it began to get messy. What follows is a story which will sound depressingly familiar to regular followers of the dark side of Thai football and, like most of its controversies, has more twists than a pig’s penis.

In 2012 the club were relocated to Ubon Ratchatani after the local Sisaket government decided to back the newly formed Sisaket United F.C., which then promptly changed its name to Esan Utd. There were, naturally, loud and vehement protests from the Sisaket fans at the prospect of losing both their team and its name. The BB-CU FC v Esan United match had to be interrupted for five minutes after Sisaket fans invaded the pitch in protest. Local Sisaket fans were also on Zone B, in force, at an early Port game to make another protest and were loudly cheered by the Klong Toey faithful. Sisaket fans were to pay this back in 2014 when Port needed to beat them in the final game of the season after a 9 point deduction by the League put us firmly in the 5 team relegation zone. Port won that game 4-1, I believe, generously applauded by the sympathetic Sisaket fans, the only ones ‘officially’ allowed in.

Back to 2102, and despite the protests, Esan United carried on and finished the season in 6th, a record for the club, in that guise anyway. Did you get all that? There will be a test later.

Keith and I traveled down to Ubon for the Port game in early August 2012, the only two farang Port fans at the game and watched in dismay as Port threw away a 1-0 lead to lose 2-1 to a ten man Esan Utd, (not much has changed!), featuring former Port keeper Munze and, quite possibly, Tana! Efforts to find out if he was on the score sheet have floundered.

If you thought 2012 was dodgy, the scandal deepened in 2013 when the Football Association of Thailand found Esan United guilty of forging documents, causing the club to return to Sisaket. It then descended into farce when, due to legal conflicts, Sisaket were suspended for the rest of the season after only playing three games, but were not relegated. The club returned to the Thai Premier League in 2014, returning to their old name of Sisaket F.C and using Sri Nakhon Lamduan Stadium as their home ground, where they play to this day. So, Port fans of long standing will have a certain fondness for Sisaket and their welcoming, lovely fans and their presence in T1 will be sorely missed.

The reverse fixture this season was notable for an excellent away social weekend and the first of a double header of Port giving up a two goal lead for a dismal draw (the next was Navy)  – goals from Leroy Lita and Leandro Assumpcao (a penalty in the 95th minute) cancelling out efforts from Pakorn and Siwakorn.

Assumpcao is now at Muang Thong and Leroy Lita is also missing so a quick glance at the current squad on the transfrmarket site lists their three most valued players as Mariano Berriex (20, Argentina) – 250,000 Euros; Isaka Cernak (32, Australia/Uganda) – 200,000 and Denis Silva (2, Brazil) – 150,000, the latter featuring in Tom’s ‘players to watch’ earlier in the season. With the first two down as attacking midfielders Siwakorn may have to get in early. Incidentally, all Port’s players, in a post-Brexit homage, are listed in pounds sterling, with Josimar topping the pile on 360,000 quid. Tana is 68k.

 

Denis Silva, Mariano Berriex and Isaka Cernak

 

Having not seen the game against Muang Thong or tonight’s match at Super Power, I will leave the potential line-up to Tom.

Whatever it is, Port should have enough for a win, added to the three points gained in Samut Prakarn, to help in that push for 8th place.

 

Tom’s Predicted Starting XI

 

 

Two changes are possible from Wednesday’s win against Super Power, with Rochela (22) and Siwakorn (16) missing through a leg injury and suspension respectively. Rochela wasn’t in the match day squad, but is recovering well and hopes to be fit in time for Saturday, and Siwakorn should come straight back in to the team for Piyachat (88).

 


 

The match will be shown live on True Sport HD3 at 18:00 on Saturday 11 November, 2017. 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 if you ask them nicely. Mention the Sandpit or wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount while you’re at it!

 

Powering Down: Super Power vs. Port FC, 8 November 2017

 

It would take a heartless super-villain not to have cracked a smile at the news that Super Power had finally, after 27 consecutive defeats, broken their T1 duck. At long last the league’s longest-suffering fans, who have earned more respect with their tireless singing and dancing on the terraces than the players have on the pitch, had something to cheer about. After a season in which they had twice conceded 9 goals, and racked up a goal difference of -94, that 3-2 win over Navy was probably the feel-good moment of the season.

Sentiment aside, though, Port travel to Samut Prakarn on Wednesday to face a side at the peak of their Super Powers. Seeing as their season has consisted of a solitary victory, two draws and twenty eight losses, this should still hardly be a concern for a Port side who are undefeated in the league since Jadet returned to the helm.

 

Super Power

Players to Watch

 

In my last preview I tried and failed to choose my usual 4 or 5 players to watch, admitting defeat due to an assumed overabundance of quality throughout Muangthong’s starting XI. How wrong I was! This time I am in a rather different situation. Super Power’s current top scorers are Brazilian attacking midfielder Moreira (80) and Thai left winger Suradech (2). They each have 3 goals. So these two might be half decent footballers. All the other ones probably suck.

What I did find quite entertaining in my research is that no-one seems to have any idea where half of their players play. Take Moreira for example, who has started in 6 different positions this season. Ironically, the one position their top scorer hasn’t featured in is striker. Maybe try that one out, guys?

Even more baffling is their use of Keon-Pil Lee (33), who has started games as both a centre back and an attacking midfielder. And as a left-back and defensive midfielder, obviously. I’m imagining Jadet looking pensively at his tactics board, perhaps smoking a pipe for effect. The plump prodigy slowly but deliberately switches Dolah and Suarez’ positions in the starting XI while his assistants nod in silent approval.

 

Suradech, Moreira and Lee Keon-Pil

 

Hilariously, Lee isn’t even the only player to play in both left-back and attacking midfield. Thai-Italian Antonio Verzura (69) has also played in both positions. Jadet adjusts his monocle, takes Panpanpong and moves him slowly further and further up the pitch. His assistants look on in disbelief as he tucks Panpanpong alongside Dolah in attacking midfield. The spherical sensation begins to chuckle. His assistants look uncomfortable, not knowing how to react. The massive mastermind finally breaks out in to a full belly-laugh, and those around him follow suit. The hysterical hooting continues unabated, before eventually subsiding as the voluptuous virtuoso wheezes, apparently choking on the brilliance of his own idea. As quickly as a T1 referee brandishing a yellow card to Siwakorn, the room once again falls silent. Was he… serious?

 

Form

As mentioned previously, Super Power are in their best form of the season. Whilst with any other team in the league that might be concerning, with Super Power it means one win, one draw and four losses in their last six. The four losses were against Sisaket, Ratchaburi, Suphanburi and Bangkok United, the incredible 3-2 victory against Navy and finally the 2-2 draw against Thai Honda.

Super Power’s form could also be affected by the fact that they have now been bought by Capital Group in Maha Sarakham, and will be renamed Jumpasri United in 2018. The players can now be certain that the club will remain afloat, and so they have something concrete to play for. Admittedly, it’s a T2 spot for a club in Isaan, but it’s better than nothing! As an aside, check out their promotional video here. Pretty in pink!

 

The Sandpit Meets Batman

 

I am lucky enough this week to have been joined by Super Power supremo Batman bin Suparman, the mastermind behind some of the revolutionary tactical decisions at SAT Stadium this season. He showed me just how he would set up the Port side with the XI expected to start on Wednesday.

 

 

Batman also briefly described why he made each of the choices.

 

 

Rochela (GK) – Rochela is Port’s most important defensive player, so he should also be Port’s last line of defence. It’s not difficult you know, this management lark.

Piyachat (RB) – My plans to play Siwakorn in central defence have been thwarted by his suspension. Instead I’ve got some hipster I’ve never heard of playing right back. Oh, well.

Josimar, Genki (CB) – I’ve been very impressed with the understanding between these two all season, and where is it more important to have a good understanding than the heart of the defence? One thing I’ve never understood is why you would play your top scorer up front. In my experience, your top scorers should ideally be playing at the back, if not in goal.

Suarez (LB) – Anyone with even a passing interest in the beautiful game know that attacking midfield and left back are completely interchangeable positions. Suarez will therefore feel perfectly at home in his new position. Just ask James Milner.

Nitipong (LM) – Fairly straight-forward, this one. Nitipong has been used as a right back all season, but has been struggling for form. What he needs is a move to the opposite side of the pitch to freshen things up.

Pakorn (DM) – I actually heard this suggested in one of The Sandpit’s Zone F interviews and I thought ‘That’s brilliant. Brilliant!’

Rattanai (RM) – Rattanai is a promising talent, but needs to be more involved in the action. Also, playing him outfield means he will be a threat from set-pieces where he can do that thing he does when he uses his hands to kick the ball. I’ll be honest, I didn’t even know you were allowed to do that. This lad could revolutionize football, I tell you.

Dolah (LAM) – This fella has impressed me with his speed, skill and dribbling all season. He will be the creative fulcrum of the side.

Panpanpong (RAM) – A player with as much positional awareness as Panpanpong should really be putting this talent to use in the opposition half. How many times have we seen him lose his marker this season, resulting in a goal? I rest my case.

Adisorn (CF) – The crux of my footballing philosophy is that players who have scored two or less goals in nearly an entire season belong up front. Adisorn is the best option available to me, because he has zero goals and zero assists.

 

The match will be shown live on True Sport 2 at 17:45 on Wednesday 8 November, 2017. For those who can’t make it to SAT Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound if you ask them nicely. Mention the Sandpit or wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount while you’re at it!

 

Cat Fight! Port FC vs. Nakhon Ratchasima FC, 14 October 2017

 

Port’s penultimate home game of 2017 (that we’re allowed to go to, anyway) is an all-feline duel with the Korat Swatcats. Both sides appeared to have retracted their claws and enjoyed a good long nap when Port traveled up to Nakhon Ratchasima, but with any luck the claws will be back out in the Lion’s Den. Port could once again break in to the hallowed Top 9 with a win, whilst a loss would see Korat slink past them in the table.

 

Korat FC

Players to Watch

 

Korat’s star of the second half of the season has undoubtedly been new arrival Paulo Rangel (9). He’s been positively purring! Some of you may remember Rangel from his 2012-13 stint with Muangthong, when he knocked in 12 goals in 24 games. Well, Rangel has already equaled his total from that season, knocking in 12 goals in just 14 games since his arrival in Nakhon Ratchasima. He’s done it in a team that had been chronically struggling to find the net before his arrival, too. The Brazilian stands at an imposing 6 foot 2, and will be relishing the chance to pick on Port’s smaller back line in the absence of suspended Elias Dolah (4).

Rangel’s partner in crime will be the rather more diminutive Dominic Adiyiah (10). Whether or not Dominic starts up front or on the wing, Korat’s main threat will likely come from the link-up play between these two. Dominic was probably more thrilled than anyone at the arrival of a big man he can play off, and the stats bear this out. He found the net just twice as a lone striker in the first half of the season, but has bagged five since Rangel arrived.

 

Rangel and Dominic

 

Korat have had a solid back line in 2017, so it’s unsurprising that the two main men at the back look rather useful. Captain Chalermpong Kerdkaew (4) has been at the club from 2014, but it took him until this season at the age of 30 to finally break in to the Thai national team, where new coach Rajevac has put him straight in to the starting XI. I haven’t seen much of him for Korat, but have been impressed with him at international level. He’s not the most eye-catching defender in the world, but is solid, dependable and rarely puts a foot wrong.

His fellow centre half is Indonesian-Nigerian Victor Igbonefo (15). Victor has played every single minute for which he’s been available in 2017, missing just one game due to suspension. He’s the taller and stronger of the two, and can be a nuisance in the opposition area too, as he showed by bagging the winner with a towering header against Thai Honda in Korat’s last outing. The Swatcats’ final foreign player is midfielder Antonio Pina (27), who is suspended having picked up his fourth yellow card against Honda.

 

Victor and Chalermpong

 

ROFLMAO Player to Watch

 

Yes, the rumours are true. He’s back. Port’s former parody of a goalkeeper Weera Koedpudsa (1) was released mid-season, when he was presumably expected to end up as third choice in T4. Alas no, Weera went straight in to the Korat first team, where his arrival has shockingly coincided with a dip in defensive form. Who’da thunk it? The first half of the season saw Korat shut out their opponents an impressive 7 times, conceding an average of 1.1 goals per game. Since Weera arrived, he has kept 2 clean sheets, and has conceded an average of 1.6 goals per game. That’s the excuse for a professional footballer we know and love!

Shoot on sight, lads. Shoot. On . Sight.

 

Stop! Clanger time…

 

Form Guide

 

Korat aren’t in particular stellar league form, but then you don’t have be if you’re playing Port at the moment. Korat have won two, drawn two and lost two in their last six. The wins came against soon-to-be relegated Honda and Sisaket, the draws against Navy and Suphanburi and the losses to Ratchaburi and Bangkok United. Port on the other hand have just the one win, two draws and three losses. And that’s not counting the Cups! The win came in Jadet’s triumphant return away at Pattaya, the draws were with Bangkok Glass and Sukothai, and the losses to Chonburi, Police Tero and Chiang Rai. As if you needed reminding!

 

Port FC

Dolah-less

 

The main team-news is that Dolah (4) will miss out after picking up his 8th yellow card, thanks to some farcical diving by Pattaya. This means the Rochela (22) midfield experiment will have to take a back seat for now, with El Capitan and Todsapol (6) hopefully reviving last season’s rather useful partnership in the centre of defense. Useful by Port standards, anyway.

Pakorn (9) is set to return to the starting XI after recovering from his injury quicker than expected, meaning that Nitipong (34) should drop back to right back while Meechok (20) will once again return to the bench after his excursions with the Thai under 20s during the break. Speaking of Port defenders on international duty, Yossawat’s run-out for the under 23s once again raises the question ‘why the hell doesn’t he ever play for us?!’ We know he’s fit now, and with Panpanpong (19) returning to Bangkok United at the end of his loan spell soon, it must be about time to give young Yossa some game time.

As usual, defensive midfield is anyone’s guess, with my hunch being that Jadet favourite Adisorn (13) will get the nod ahead of Pummared (41). The transfer window can’t come soon enough!

 

Predicted XI

 

 

 

The Russ Report

 

Thanks to Korat fan Russ John – the man behind the excellent Swatcat Blog – who has kindly sent us this to add on to our preview.

The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea but the poor old Owl drowned and the pussycat docked at Port.

In this mid to lower table encounter on which nothing depends, maybe both sides will let their hair down and let it all hang out – or maybe (and thankfully) they will all keep their shorts on!!

Seriously I see two sides that have arguably underachieved this season. Swatcats however have been consistently mediocre – stand out and only decent performance Chonburi at home 5-2 (sorry Dale) whereas at least Port, in an up and down season, have shown on occasions, that they can mix it with the best.

The departure of Zico saw a bump at Patters but disappointing cup results have blunted Port’s end of season aspirations. One has to ask which Port will take on the Swatcats, the Port whose attacking prowess destroyed Pattaya or the Port whose pitiful defending has cost the team places in two cup draws.

Port must beware of giving too much room to Adiyiah. If he is allowed to get crosses in, Paulo Rangel will be lurking in the box – and Port fans watch out for Pina’s dead ball skills, he hits a mean free kick – anything up to 30 yards and he’ll trouble the keeper. [Ed – not from the bench he won’t!]

Only regular Port fans will know why their team has lacked consistency in a season where emotions have ranged from sky high to as low as a snakes belly. As an outsider however I do wonder whether too many changes too soon in search of instant glory have been the wrong strategy and ultimately could be a recipe for disaster.

All things considered, mid table or thereabouts is no mean feat for a promoted side – next season with 5 down might represent a real challenge.

My money is either a draw either a 0-0 or a high scoring draw. It doesn’t take much to beat the current Swatcat team but Port can be vulnerable at home. The Swatcat’s defence is weak, especially down the flanks so there could be a goals bonanza.

So 4-4 is my prediction and a real goal fest for the Klong Toey Army and the visiting fans from Korat.

 

The match will be shown live on True Spark Jump at 18:00 on Saturday 14 October, 2017. For those who can’t make it to the stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound if you ask them nicely. Mention the Sandpit or wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount while you’re at it!

 

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

 

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

 

 

Pattaya Utd

Players to Watch

 

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

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

 

Wellington, Stojanovic and Jevtic

 

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

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

 

Picha and Peeradon

 

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

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

 

Wellington, Surachet and Mongkol

 

Form

 

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

 

Port

Starting XI – Jadet’s Right Hand Men

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Predicted Starting XI

 

 

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

 

A Touch of Glass: Bangkok Glass vs. Port FC, 5 August 2017

 

Port face Bangkok Glass on Saturday, looking to imitate the kind of performance they put on against Chiang Rai, if not the result. Port were comfortably the better team, but ended up 1-2 losers, as Chiang Rai proved more clinical in front of goal than their opponents. Wednesday saw Port put in another good performance, albeit against T3 Ayutthaya, but once again Port did not score nearly as many goals as they could. Glass, on the other hand, are coming off 3 comfortable wins in a row, overcoming Honda and Navy to nil in the league, then triumphing 6-1 against Navy in the FA Cup on Wednesday. A further win against Suphanburi, a draw against Sisaket and losses to Bangkok United and Ratchaburi complete Glass’ last 6 league games, from which they have taken 10 points. Port have taken just 4.

 

Bangkok Glass

Players to Watch

 

Last time we previewed a game with Bangkok Glass we picked Matt Smith (4) out as a player to watch and he ended up being injured. Well, this time we had a chat with Matt, and we’re quite sure that he’s fighting fit and ready for the physical battle that Josimar is likely to engage him in on Saturday. For more on Matt, read our interview here.

Peerapong (23) has had a stellar season in 2017. The defensive midfielder who has been at Glass since 2007, has played a part in every league game to date, been busy and combative, and has also chipped in with a few spectacular goals. An absolute belter in their 6-0 win against Sisaket sticks in the memory. Port would be well advised not to give the shaggy-haired enforcer too much space if he does decide to venture forward.

Chaowat (19) has come of age in 2017, making the attacking midfield spot his own. The 21 year old star has never been a physical presence on the pitch, but his guile and vision make up for that. Not a prolific scorer or assister, but very often the player who makes the ‘key pass’ in the build-up. With Ittipol (7) likely to come back in to the Port midfield on Saturday, it will be a battle between youth and experience.

Toti (8) just returned from a spell out, playing his first game in over a month against Navy. Let’s hope Glass’ best player against Port last time out is still a little rusty…

Jhasmani Campos (21) is Glass’ top scorer and assister so far in 2017 with 9 goals and 7 assists. That’s very good indeed from attacking midfield. Campos might be the most one-footed player I’ve ever seen, but it’s a bloody good foot. Port defenders be advised: if he’s on the left he is going to cross it with his left, and if he’s on the right he’s going to cut in and shoot with his left. Try your best not to let him do either!

Ariel Rodriguez (7) would normally be next on my list of players to watch, but hasn’t played yet in July or August, so I’m assuming he is unavailable for selection. With Jakkapan Pornsai having moved on to Bangkok United, 2 of the key architects of Port’s 3-0 defeat to Glass in the first half of the season could play no part. Despite the form book, that should give Port some hope!

 

Toti, Campos and Peerapong

 

Port FC

The Players

 

Port will likely stick with their usual back 5 of Worawut (36), Nitipong (34), Dolah (4), Rochela (22) and Panpanpong (19). It’s outrageous that Panpanpong has been allowed to make as many mistakes as he has without bring dropped, but Zico just can’t seem to bring himself to replace the experienced left back with either of the younger, better left backs at Port’s disposal. Dolah picked up a knock on Wednesday which meant he was substituted and had some ice strapped to his leg, but hopefully it won’t be enough to keep him out of Saturday’s game, particularly as Pravinwat (55) is unavailable to replace him as he is on loan from Glass. We really don’t want fifth choice centre back Anisong (15) being exposed to the Bangkok Glass attack, that’s for sure.

In midfield, Zico seems to prefer Ittipol (7) to Adisorn (13) in defensive midfield, and I can see why. A more composed, technically proficient midfielder, Ittipol defends well and keeps play ticking over nicely, although he normally only lasts until about the hour mark before being subbed off. Siwakorn (16) will doubtless start alongside him in midfield, while Suarez (5) has very likely done enough to retain his place in ‘the hole’ behind Josimar.

Goals from the bench against Ayutthaya followed by a superb performance against Chiang Rai, then another solid display against Ayutthaya, are probably the best 3 consecutive games Suarez has had so far at Port. If he can keep up the level of performance we have seen in the last few games, he will undoubtedly retain his place in the team.

On the right wing, Pakorn (9) has finally been blossoming into the player we always knew he could be. Tenacity and tracking back have improved markedly, and his decision making is becoming less and less selfish by the game (except from corners!) Pakorn is without a doubt now the main creative force in the Port starting XI. Well done Zico! On the left, Genki (18) is just about doing enough to hang on to his starting berth, but then again the competition is Tana (99)… To be fair to Genki he had decent games against Ayutthaya and Chiang Rai, but is certainly not on his best form at the moment.

Josimar (30) remains the only viable option up front, and thankfully he managed to get back in to goalscoring form on Wednesday, converting a header from 6 yards and rounding the ‘keeper to finish from close range at the death. We desperately need a confident Josimar up front, as our chance conversion has been pretty pitiful of late. A little run of 5 goals in 5 games would be lovely right about now, Josi!

 

Predicted Starting XI

 

 

Key Battle

Peerapong vs. Suarez

 

Peerapong is a rough, tough customer enjoying an excellent season, but an in-form Suarez could pose him real problems. If Suarez can harass Peerapong when he gets the ball he could help stymie Glass’ attacks, and if he can find space when Port have the ball he could make a crucial contribution going forward too. With the most positional flexibility in the team, it will be down to Suarez to get it right.

 

 

Another key match-up could be between Pakorn and Glass left back Supachai (17). Remarkably the left back is still usually first choice at the age of 37, but an in-form Pakorn will be licking his lips at the prospect of tormenting the aging full-back, who I would imagine isn’t the paciest in the league.

 

The match will be shown live on True Sport HD 3 at 19:00 on Saturday 5 August, 2017

 

On Tour With The Eagles: Ubon UMT vs. Port FC, 9 July 2017

 

Port head North this weekend to face Ubon UMT. Both teams could be forgiven for “taking it easy” for the rest of the season as both the Eagles and ourselves have achieved target number one of all promoted teams and sit comfortably in mid table with that “peaceful easy feeling” any realistically chance of relegation has “already gone”. Whilst an assault on the summit of the table is realistically out of reach, even if either side were to “take it to the limit”in the remaining games. The Sanuk football revolution under Zico means that despite little to play for there’s little sense of “after the thrills is gone” about the remainder of 2017 for Port.

Of all our rivals, Ubon are a bit of a favourite of mine, akin to a Thai version of mid 90’s Bolton Wanderers. Unfashionable and with a reputation as big and strong battlers that belies what really is a very good footballing side. Throw in a manager, in Scott Cooper, who prepares well, plays to his squad’s strengths, a new stadium and for us metropolitan southern fairies a seldom visited northern location and it’s a simile that works for me, we just need Jay Jay Okocha to arrive on a “midnight flyer”. Along with Sukhothai last season, Ubon appeared to represent somewhat of a beacon for the future of Thai football, rather than vanity projects for megalomaniac owners or corporations keeping their name in the public arena whilst playing in front a few hundred. These clubs are well run and on the surface sustainable. 2016 saw this new breed succeed as Sukhothai more than comfortably stayed up and (kinda) won the FA Cup, while Ubon undertook the role many assigned Port preseason and won the title in the second tier.

Come the start of 2017 and things looked good. “New Kid in Town” Ubon entered the T1/Prem/mega league (I think it’s currently called one of these) with the opening of their new stadium (which had the possibly of being extended from its current 6,000 upwards as the fan base grew) they’d also held on to national team striker Siroch Chatthong and got busy in the transfer market strengthening their squad for a first season in the big time. Three games into the season they sat atop the table on goals scored. However, being Thai football, it appears all wasn’t quite as perfect as it seemed and there was some “heartache tonight”. On the field Ubon have fallen back to mid table and currently sit 10th, still somewhat better than expected. However, off the field rumours persist around ownership issues, attendance has been disappointing and relations with fans strained. Over the transfer window Siroch Chatthong found himself “In the City” after being sold to some club in Rangsit with a fetish for buying any available Thai national team player. Brazilian body builder/hulk impersonator and centre back Victor was linked with a move to Buriram, to attempt the impossible and replace Tunez, before Buriram remember they could just get the original back from Spain and left the Brazilian in Issan.

 

Form

 

Recent form hasn’t been great since they followed Port with an equally enjoyable 3-2 win over the Lizards. After the mid season break Ubon limped back into action with a 1-0 defeat at Ratchaburi, before going goal and draw crazy. A 93rd minute penalty by Bangkok United’s league leading marksman Dragon Boskovic put a 3-2 blip in what would have otherwise been three back-to-back 2-2 draws. Before Wednesday saw that rarest of things, a night where “The Long Run” out to Ladkrabang wasn’t “Wasted Time” thanks to a 8 goal thriller. Having taken the lead though Thiago (7) the Eagles found themselves 3-1 down just before the hour, before their other Brazilians Carlao (83) and Victor (6) pulled them level, only for an injury time goal to seemingly allow Honda to claim the win. At which point the recent arrival from Port Piyachart Tamaphan popped up to restore the parity in the 95th minute.

Port head into this fixture on the back of a defeat to Buriram as a linesman’s “lyin eyes” were the only ones not to see that Coelho was clearly off side, meaning it was “one of these nights”. However, the performance – offside goal aside – away from home to what currently appears to be the best team in the league showed a lot of promise. The Zico era may have started with what appears a rather an uninspiring 4 points from 4 games but given that the two defeats have come against the league leaders and a Bangkok United team that gave Port there most comprehensive footballing lesson of the first half of the season and are on a run of ten games that has seen them win nine. The sole defeat being a single goal to defeat to Buriram (all the best teams do it apparently). Points were dropped away to Navy where all the boxes of a traditional Port blow up were ticked, 2-0 up away from home with over an hour gone, rather than shut up shop, the wheels feel off, and we were again the “victim of love” of giving away late penalties to make it 2-2. Change doesn’t happen overnight and we appear to be moving in the right direction.

 

Key Players

 

Victor Cardozo (6)

 

Ubon will be a big test, they are as we know big, strong and well drilled, however they (like Port) suffer with issues of giving away late goals (especially penalties) and have drawn half their home games and too many overall recently. At the back, they are led by Victor (6) who put in an impressive showing in the 1-0 win for Port at the PAT. With Kalu (10) likely to start up front alone, the not-so-big Serb will need to be at his Youtube best to test the Brazilian and it will require assistance from the rest of the team. Blindly lumping it forward to the target man is unlikely to work. Also physically, we need to contend with Ubon collectively as we did in the reverse (I’m think Dolah and Rochela charging virtually the length of the pitch to back up team mates in the dying moments). Dolah excels at this, popping up to intimidate and man handle anyone attempting to bullying some of the slighter Port starters. Ubon also have the Albanian German Nebihi (8) who is top scorer with ten. He didn’t start when we last played and has been in and out of the team since the mid-season break. If he starts he will offer a range of creativity to compliment the Big Scary Foreign striker in the form of Carlao (83) or Thiago (7). Japanese midfielder Yamazaki (14) is suspended for the game so hopefully that allows Port to win the battle there.

 

Carlao (83) and Bajram Nebihi (8)

 

Starting XI

 

 

Zico either likes to tinker or hasn’t yet decided what will be his go to starting line-up. The only major absence is Josimar (30) after pulling a “James Dean” lite, so Kalu (10) will be “Desperado” to take his opportunity and cement his place in the team for “the long run” with a goal or two. I’d expect “ol 55” Boonyong (shockingly 55) is to feature on the bench as Dolah (4) and Rochela (22) assume their normal partnership in front of Rattanai (17). With Pinkong (19) enjoying some reasonable form and the Nitipong (34) and Pakorn (9) partnership on the right developing with each match along with the Dirk Kuyt-esque hustle of Genki (18) always of worth in a battle away from home. It’s only in central midfield I can see any change. Suarez (5) had one of his least productive evenings away to that other exponent of “big and strong” football Honda and often struggles when a spoiler used to man mark him, however I’d expect him to start along with Siwakorn (16) which leaves the call on who partners him in the middle as the main choice I can see Zico confronted with Ittipol (7) appear to have edged ahead of Adisorn (13), however Adisorn had a great game in the reverse and his bustle and bite might just edge him into the starting 11 come kick off .“I can’t tell you why” Tana (99) keeps getting game time as its often “wasted time”. Let’s hope we’re “Glad all over” come Sunday night!

 

The match will be shown live on True Sport 2 at 19:00 on Sunday 9 July, 2017. For those who can’t make it out to Ubon, feel free to join us at The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13, where the match will be shown on a big screen with sound. 

 

‘Ram You Hard: Buriram Utd vs. Port FC, 5 July 2017

One of our most spirited performances of the season took place against Buriram earlier in the season where we matched them man for man in every department. Even before Diogo’s red card I felt we had our chances and in midfield our energy and tenacity was really evident, Adisorn (13) having a particularly endearing display. It also meant that I could go home to my beloved, a lady who frequents PAT quite often, with my head held high but I am a little less convinced of a repeat when I get off the plane Thursday afternoon. That said, we have the night at Smelly Thongs to give me hope!

The Thunder castle are flying this year. After a disappointing 2016 they have improved immensely this term, and apart from back to back defeats at the hands of Glass away and a surprising home defeat by Ratchaburi at the start of May their record has been phenomenal. They have won seven and drawn one of their last eight with Diogo (40) and his compatriot Jakson Coelho (50) being the driving force in this excellent run.

 

Diogo (40) and Coelho (50)

 

I have seen them play Bangkok United at home on 27th May, the day Glasgow Celtic secured an undefeated domestic treble, in what was a very entertaining game against decent opposition, I was impressed. Their pace and presence was frightening and we will need to bring our A game on Wednesday. No place for passengers for sure.

 

 

Yesterday’s fantastic result should add wind to our sails as the Zico effect gathers momentum, the fight for places and someone to impress on an equal playing field seems to be giving some of the squad a lift. This will need to be the case as our transfer window activity – or should I say lack of – has been embarrassing but far from surprising. There is nothing this wonderful club can conjure up any more that will astonish me. Kalu (10) and Suarez (5) getting on the score sheet was a welcome boost, I don’t care what they say goals breed confidence for attackers, end of. We need to play a high line tomorrow and support the one up front as this has worked this season when we have adopted this tactic, Chang Rai and Smellies away proved this and paid dividends. If we try to soak it up against this mob on Wednesday we good get an old fashioned drubbing, Thai Honda, Bangkok United-esque!

On a more personal note I am going to sample The Buriram Amari tomorrow nothing beats falling in the door two hundred yards from the away end after the footie. I will take it a few at Paddy’s bar beforehand and get a bit of the old man’s craic. Let’s not forget whilst I will never hope Port to get beat if it happens there will be a little Silver lining. Four points isn’t that hard to claw back.

 

Don’t Write Off The Honda: Port FC vs. Thai Honda, 2 July 2017

 

Port host Thai Honda on Sunday, looking for revenge for the 5-1 thrashing inflicted on them in March. It was Port’s worst performance of the season, and a particularly tough one to take for the fans who had traveled to Lad Krabang to watch the car crash unfold. It’s not just a revenge mission on Sunday though, but a key moment in Port’s season. Having suffered second half capitulations in their last 4 league games, Port’s belief that they can continue the form that accelerated them up the table must be taking a battering. Promising first half performances followed by abysmal second halves saw Port lose comfortably to both Suphanburi and Bangkok Utd, and in the other two games Port surrendered two goal leads by giving away late penalties away at both Sisaket and Navy. Port just can’t seem to get in to gear. With 4 tough games coming up – 3 away from home – Port need to bank some points now to avoid reversing down towards the danger zone.

 

Thai Honda

Players to Watch

 

I’ve always thought of Ricardo Jesus (9) as one of the better Scary Foreign Strikers around, but he is having a real stinker in 2017. Jesus’ two goals against Port in March and the winner he scored against Bangkok Glass in April are his only goals of the season, which for a foreign striker in T1 is inexcusable. Quite a drop from being signed for 2 million Euros by CSKA Moskow. His dip in form has led to Jesus playing just 58 minutes in Honda’s last 3 games, and it seems that when they drop him, they really don’t have any decent back-up. 20 year old Sittichok Kannoo who is on loan from Buriram will probably be a good striker one day, but 4 goals in 16 isn’t anything to write home about.

 

Jesus (9)

 

It was winger Rafinha (7) who really ripped Port to shreds in the last encounter, chalking up two assists and looking like the best player on the pitch by a mile, but funnily enough, he has also had a pretty poor season. One goal and five assists is a very unremarkable record for a winger. Do Honda have any decent players?

 

Rafinha (7) and Roninho (77)

 

Well, no, not really. Not that I can find, anyway. They had a couple of decent Thai attacking midfielders in the first half of the season, but they have been picked up by bigger clubs, and Honda really seem to have little else of note. New Brazilian Roninho (77) is probably the best of the rest, having scored an assisted from dead balls against Bangkok United, but that’s about it.

 

Form

 

It doesn’t get any better for Honda when you look at the form table, either. Since their stunning upset against Muangthong, Honda scraped past Super Power by virtue of a late penalty miss, and have suffered 5 league losses on the bounce. They had a bit of fun in the Cup, though, putting 10 goals past Muangkan United, who as far as I can tell don’t play in a league and have no players.

 

Port FC

Starting XI

 

With the switch to 3-5-2 resulting in a draw against Navy, it’s anyone’s guess whether Zico will stick with his new system on Sunday. Whilst it was refreshing to see Genki (18) and Pakorn (9) giving Josimar (30) some real support, the same old problems came back to haunt Port at the back.

Rattanai (17) messed up for the first goal on Wednesday. As far as I can remember it’s his second clanger of the season, after spilling a catch early on in the season against Suphanburi. Shit happens, but he’s still my number 1 ‘keeper.

In defense, Rochela (22) and Dolah (4) were joined by Pravinwat (55) as Zico trialed the back 3 that worked so well for Thailand under his tutelage. Perhaps the difference was that he had Heea Um at left wing back, and we have Panpanpong (19). Panpanpong has had his moments this season, but let’s be honest. He can defend – sometimes – but he’s an absolute disaster with the ball at his feet, and has less than no pace. Surely Jetjinn (51) or Yossawat (28) are better bets in that position. On the other side, however, Nitipong (34) has really found his dream position. More license to attack, less responsibility to defend, and less chance of him being near enough the penalty area to give away penalties. Still, Pravinwat (55) made sure Port still gave up their obligatory penalty. In fairness to him, it didn’t looks like a penalty at all. I think the referee was conned.

In midfield, Adisorn (13) and Siwakorn (16) took up their usual positions, but without the extra midfielder to drop back in to give them a hand they looked more exposed than usual. I’m starting to feel like I did at the beginning of the season again, when I was calling for Adisorn to be dropped and replaced with a more natural defensive midfielder. Unfortunately, Tatchanon (39) doesn’t seem to be getting any more love from Zico than he did from Jadet, so if Adisorn is going to be replaced, there’s probably going to have to be some transfer activity. Piyachat (88) came on for Adisorn in the second half against Navy, but although he may be better with the ball than Adisorn, he’s no defensive midfielder. Ittipol (7) is a more disciplined option, although at 33 that would hardly be a long-term fix.

Going forward, I was very happy to see Pakorn (9) and Genki (18) really given the freedom they need for this system to work. Genki’s goal was a textbook example of how far forward he needs to play to offer Josimar (30) the support he needs, and in the first half at least Port did have some cutting edge. With the Mongkol transfer hanging in the balance, and the proposed deal for Rungrath apparently dead in the water, Pakorn could yet hang on to his right wing berth.

In injury news, Josimar (30) has picked up a nasty knock in a motorcycle accident, and will be out of action for 2-3 weeks, meaning Zico has a real dilemma about who to replace him with. Could Kaludjerovic (10) finally be given another chance? Will available-again Suarez (5) play out of position up top? Will Wuttichai (14) or Tana (99) attempt to lead the line? Over to you, gaffer.

 

Predicted lineup

 

 

Key Battle

 

The Port defence against the referee. My unconventional choice of Key Battle here reflects Port’s unconventional choice of how to defend a lead. This season, the received wisdom seems to be that stopping your opponents by kicking them is the way to go. Unfortunately, the referee’s job is to give a penalty when this happens inside the box. Port’s tactics and the rules of the game are therefore largely incompatible. If they don’t grow up and learn some discipline, Port’s aim for a top half finish is not going to be realized. Sad, but true.

 

The match will be shown live on True Sports 2 at 19:00 on Sunday 2 July, 2017.

 

Blistering Barnacles! Siam Navy vs. Port FC, 28 June 2017

Note to Readers: Although there are few nautical puns in this report (there aren’t many left), there are references, including some, long discredited, to a popular children’s cartoon show based on-board ship.

Port travel to Sattahip on Wednesday to what is universally recognized (well, by me and Keith anyway) as one of the worst grounds and worst views in T1. Conflicting statistics on Wikipedia list the Navy Stadium’s capacity as either 12,500 or 6000, depending, I suppose, on how many hapless Navy Cadets they can press-gang inside the ground. Visiting this long-suffered, architectural inconvenience is only tempered by the cultural delights on offer 20 minutes away in the small town of Ban Chang. More on those later.

Port won the reverse fixture early in the season, 1-0, with a cross-cum-shot from a raiding Nitipong (34) in the first half and always looked in control of the game.  However, we were in control of the game at Suphanburi for the first half, and for long stretches against Bangkok Utd, but, if you don’t take your chances when you are on top, you get punished. Coddling Codfish, football!

Port are, I believe, a better team than Navy, in spite of their recent decent results; we have more points, we have a new, hopefully, inspirational manager, but just for once, down here, we have to do it on the pitch. This will be my fourth visit to the Navy ground and I have never seen us scramble even a point. True, we were right royally shafted on one occasion when Matty Christen’s equalizer was flagged offside by a linesman, the Liechtenstein international receiving the ball with 3 defenders waiting behind him. The linesman was mysteriously shot three days later (he survived).  Shuddering Sharks! An appalling decision, but that was a tad drastic!

Navy have recently acquired a useful Brazilian striker, Andre Luis Leite (7), from Chonburi, who will team up with his fellow countryman, ten-goals to date, Rodrigo (23). A potentially lethal striking trio is completed by Nigerian, Adefolarin Divosinmi (40) – there are goals in all three of these, so containing them will be the key to our chances of a rare victory on the road. Tottering Turtles – I’m nervous already!

Navy manager, Somchai (Pugwash) Chuayboonchum, in the giddy excitement of his pre-match team selections, is likely to leave Seaman Stains on the bench, or, Roger the Cabin boy. Either way, the consequences could be messy. Master Bates is another viable option and perhaps less risky. Dithering Dogfish! The choices a manager has to make these days!

 

Players Of Whom We Are Afraid

Rodrigo Vergilio

Andre Luis Leite

Adefolarin Divosinmi

 

Port FC

 

As for Port, Sunday’s late collapse against a very fit, classy Bangkok Utd, after a promising start, should have helped manager Zico decide who is good enough for the type of football he is trying to introduce and who isn’t. Worawut (36) might keep his place but if Rattanai (17) is fully fit, he needs to start getting a regular game. Dolah (4) and Siwakorn (16) will be back, but centre back Pravinwat (55) looked impressive and may turn the Boss’s thoughts towards a back three, allowing the full backs licence to attack (not that they don’t anyway). We are trying to play modern football after all! Pick two from Pinkong (19), Nitipong (34) and Meechok (20). Siwakorn and Adisorn (13) will fill the middle with a possible front three of Genki (18), Josimar (30) and, most likely, Pakorn (9), although it is difficult to predict the manager’s thoughts at this early stage. Tommy’s MOM from Sunday, Ittipol (7), may have done enough to keep his place. With Jadet, you more or less knew who he would pick, unless a player’s parents were in the crowd or it was their birthday. Wuttichai (14) and Tana (99) should never pull on a Port shirt again, unless it is to stand in Zone D.

Meanwhile, back in Ban Chang all is waiting for the post match celebration or drowning of sorrows.

Suffering Seagulls! What match-memories will our intrepid bunch of travellers bring back with them to this short-sprint street of dreams, which boasts no fewer than 34 drinking holes, mostly on the same side of the road; Lolloping Landlubbers! These entertainment venues are a hit with the local ex-sailors and oil-riggers and, on any given night, the charming hostesses will expect to have their naval bases overflowing with discharged seamen.

So, Dear Friends*, will our Farang contingent be (Varee) Happy, blowing Kisses, with a Smile on their Face and looking forward to a Good Time, having seen a Surprise, yet Classic domineering away performance – like taking Candy from a baby? Plundering Porpoises! Even just One-nil, Featuring a Ram-Inn goal from our hero, Siwakorn, after watching him Beaver away in midfield, will be Love-Ly. No more memories of hitting The Bar or ballooning the ball into the Sunny, Blue Sky, or over the Rainbow for Nasa to track. This time there will be Noot to be sad about, no Rumours of defeat, just time to visit the ATM by the B an K and Start-Up the celebrations at places you would, quite frankly, never invite your ‘Mam’. Then it’s up and down the street like a Yo-Yo, with cries of ‘Bottoms-Up’, ‘Down the Hatch,’ ‘be a good Sport and taste that Moonshine’,  to Crown a great evening. Will the night end with unintelligible, grunted, monosyllabic enquiries like, “Where House?” Stuttering Starfish! Will we behave – of course we will; Ban Chang is heaven but we are all angels, keeping The Angels’ Secret.

*Names in Italics denote the BC strip’s 34 bars.

 

The match will be shown live on True Spark Jump (Ed – No, us neither) at 19:00 on Wednesday 28th June, 2017.