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Breaking Glass: Port FC vs. Bangkok Glass, 19 April 2017

 

Port will aim to continue their unbeaten run at home when they entertain Bangkok Glass on Wednesday. With Port flying high after a hard-fought draw with Buriram, a solid win against Ubon and then last week’s astonishing away victory at table-topping Chiang Rai, Port Coach Jadet will likely be trying to manage expectations both from his players and the fans. In-form striker Josimar told The Sandpit (interview coming later in the week!) that he and his teammates thrive when they are the David to their opponent’s Goliath, so despite the positive results and the surprising points total, expect a battling underdog’s performance from Port. It’s worked pretty well in the last few games, so let’s hope for more of the same!

 

Bangkok Glass

Players to Watch

 

There are only a handful of defenders as good as Port captain Rochela (22) in T1, and one of them is 34 year old Bangkok Glass captain Matt Smith (4). He’s strong, good in the air, reads the game well and never shuts up. Constantly organizing his back four and driving his team on, Smith is an invaluable asset to the Glass Rabbits. In what is set to be a key match-up, he will be tasked with keeping Josimar (30) quiet on Wednesday. With Josimar having scored 2 in this last 2 outings, Smith will need to use all of his experience to stop the Brazilian.

Ariel Rodriguez (7) is a speedy forward who has scored 22 goals in 31 games since signing for Glass in 2016. The diminutive forward won’t be winning much in the air, but his darting runs in behind will stretch the Port defence, who will have to be constantly vigilant in order to keep track of him. Ominously, the Costa Rican international has 4 goals to his name already this season. Port will have to be on top of their game to contain him.

Sarawut Masuk (14) may have been preferred to Jakkapan Pornsai (10) lately in Thai National Team squads, but I think Jakkapan is an absolute nightmare to deal with when he’s on his game. When he played for Suphanburi in 2015 he scored 13 goals and provided 14 assists, putting him in the TPL team of the season. He possesses a cultured right foot and has the ability to pass, cross or shoot with real quality from anywhere in the final third. Think of him as the opposition’s Pakorn, only a bit more consistent!

 

Matt Smith, Ariel Rodriguez and Jakkapan Pornsai

 

Form

The Glass Rabbits have been hopping all over the place so far this season as far as their form is concerned. A crushing 0-4 home defeat against Muangthong on the opening day of the season was followed up by a disappointing 0-0 away draw at Super Power, who picked up their only point so far this season against Glass. Glass finally got off the mark at home in their third game, and made up for lost time by putting 6 past an admittedly awful Sisaket side. Impressive 3-2 home wins against Ratchaburi and Bangkok Utd sandwiched a 1-1 way draw at Suphanburi, after which Glass claimed an incredible third 3-2 win in four games to take all three points away at Navy. Just as they looked to be building up a head of steam at Leo Stadium, Glass suffered probably their worst result of the season so far, slumping to a 0-1 defeat at home to Thai Honda last week.

All I can say about Glass’ form is that it’s unpredictable! They’re unbeaten away from home, although they have played three teams in the bottom half, and they’ve had a huge win, a huge loss and a few dramatic 3-2s at home. Compared to the legitimately scary mob from up North who Port turned over last week, there’s certainly less to fear from Glass, although they are still a quality side who will be expected to be in the top 5 or 6 come the business end of the season.

 

Port FC

Starting XI – Getting Predictable

 

Jadet seems to have found a formula he likes, and the Port lineups are getting quite a bit easier to predict!

In goal will be Worawut (36) who – if he keeps up the heroic penalty-saving goalkeeping performances – could well make it difficult for Rattanai (17) to come back in to the team once he returns to fitness. A nice problem to have!

At the back there could well be a change, but only because of injury concerns. Panpanpong (19) picked up a knock and had to be substituted after the poor challenge that gifted Chiang Rai the penalty last week, and Jadet chose to bring on Meechok (20) at right back, shifting Nitipong (34) over to the left. If Panpanpong is fit I expect him to start, but if not then we will probably see Meechok and Nitipong again.

Rochela (22) and Dolah (4) seem set to continue at the back, although if Todsapol (6) has returned to full fitness, he could well be preferred to Dolah. Against a team who likes to play the ball on the floor and utilize the pace and trickery of Rodriguez up front, it may be wise to choose pace over power, but again it all depends on Todsapol’s fitness.

Midfield and attack now look to be very settled. After I called for Pakorn (9) to either be given a good talking to or dropped last week, he stepped up and won our Man of the Match award for a vastly improved display against Chiang Rai. It seems almost certain that Genki (18), Adisorn (13), Siwakorn (16), and Suarez (5) will join him in midfield, with a confident Josimar (30) leading the line after scoring twice in his last two games.

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 

Key Battle

Josimar vs. Matt Smith

 

 

I expect a lot of important duels to be going on all over the pitch between two quite well-matched sides, but the most intriguing one for me is Josimar vs. Smith. At 34 years old Smith, despite his experience, isn’t at the peak of his powers, whereas in-form Josimar looks like a real handful. Can Josimar make it three goal-scoring games in a row or will Smith keep the Brazilian under wraps?

 

The match will be shown live on True Sport HD 3 at 18:00 on Wednesday 19 April, 2017

 

Ticket to Rai – Port Head North to Face Beetles: Chiang Rai vs. Port FC, 9 April 2017

 

Port travel to Chiang Rai on the back of two clean sheets and fantastic performances against Buriram and Ubon. It really seems as if Port can compete with the very best in the league at PAT Stadium, but unfortunately the same can’t be said when they travel. Port have only played twice away from home in 2017, deservedly losing 6-2 against Bangkok Utd and 5-1 at Thai Honda. If Port are to hold on to their place in the top half of the table, they will need to stop the rot away from home. Unbeaten Chiang Rai would be a good place to start!

Chiang Rai

Players to Watch

 

I’ve never quite believed the hype about the ‘Thai Busquets’ Tanaboon Kesarat (17), but the fact is that he is a national team regular and the highest paid Thai player in the league. Reportedly earning an eye-watering B700,000 a month after being signed from Muangthong, Tanaboon plays at defensive midfield for Chiang Rai, although he has been used almost exclusively as a centre back for Thailand. Personally, I have always thought that he is too weak to be a centre half and not skillful enough to play in midfield, but the majority of the Thai football community seems to disagree with me, so… Yeah, I guess he must be pretty decent.

Thitipan Puangchan (8) is another former Muangthong player who has thrived at Chiang Rai. Often picked as captain of what is thought of as the golden generation of Thai players at under 23 level, Thitipan’s career stalled at Muangthong where he couldn’t find his way in to the First XI regularly. He has had a new lease of life at Chiang Rai though, where he has started to fulfil his early promise as a box-to-box midfielder who offers something going forwards and defending. He even scored a hattrick against Super Power on the opening week of the season.

The Brazilians. It must be said I don’t know much about this lot, but they look pretty damn good. Rafael Coelho (9) is joint top scorer in the league with 6 goals, and with 2 of Vander Souza (10), Felipe Azevedo (11) and dual-nationality Brazilian-Australian Henrique Silva (15) contributing to the attack, the Port defence will have plenty to think about. Then at the back there is Everton Saturnino (28) who seems fairly solid alongside Thai national team player Prathum Chuthong (5), although if Chiang Rai do have a weakness, it is likely to be in defence.

 

Tanaboon (17), Thitipan (8) and Rafael Coelho (9)

 

Form

19 points from a possible 21 with a +15 goal difference tells you all you need to know! Chiang Rai have been on fire so far in 2017, with their only draw coming away at Ratchaburi. They were very fortunate to come away with a win at Navy before the international break – going two goals down and scoring three (all from set-pieces) in the second half – but bounced back with a comfortable 3-0 win away at Thai Honda last week. I’m trying my hardest to be positive here, but with their home form flawless, and our away form what it is, you would have to be pretty mental to predict a Port win here!

Port FC

Starting XI – Dropping the Dead Wood

 

Things have changed a lot with regards to Port’s best XI since the beginning of the season.

Our excellent young goalkeeper Rattanai (17) has picked up a serious injury on international duty and is expected to be out of action for a month and a half. Whilst in normal circumstances this would not be a big problem as second choice Worawut (36) would step in and get a run in the team, there are reports that Worawut himself may have picked up a knock and is now doubtful for Saturday’s game. Whilst most Port fans would be quite happy to see Worawut between the sticks – particularly after his encouraging (if slightly too punchy) performance against Ubon – third choice ‘keeper Weera (1) is a walking disaster. He showed a staggering level of ineptitude in his only appearance of the season, and quite frankly I wouldn’t trust him to clean Rattanai’s boots without dropping them, let alone keep goal for the First XI. Please be fit, Worawut. Please!

In defence, Dolah (4) – despite a couple of quality performances – has not adapted to T1 as quickly as we might have hoped, meaning that Todsapol (6) could well come in to the starting XI when fit. However, as Todsapol did not even make the bench at Ubon, it seems likely that Dolah will continue to partner captain Rochela (22) against Chiang Rai. After excellent performances against Navy and Ubon, Dolah needs to keep up the good form if he is going to keep his place.

Panpanpong (19) has been looking more and more a T1 left back with every passing game, proving to those who didn’t think he would make the grade at Port that he is indeed a player who can attack as well as defend. As one of his pre-season doubters, I’m happy to be proven wrong!

Nitipong (34) has been a revelation at right back, usurping the younger Meechok (20) with some fabulous displays. A goal and two assists for a right back is quite something after just 7 games, although he has also picked up 3 yellow cards, which points to the fact that he can struggle defensively against the better teams in the league.

Defensive midfield has been the most contentious spot in the team, and to my surprise erstwhile utility man Adisorn (13) has come in and really put a claim on the spot. His displays against Buriram and Ubon have been top-notch, exhibiting an exemplary work rate and tenacious tackling. As an advocate for the ridiculously under-used Tatchanon (39) in midfield, I still believe the youngster is the right man in the long term, although I will no longer feel worried seeing Adisorn’s name on the team sheet. As long as he’s playing well, the spot should be his.

Adisorn will of course partner The Sandpit’s Player of the Month for March Siwakorn (16), whose place in the side is as assured as his consistent performances. Suarez (5) will very likely continue in attacking midfield, despite arguably failing to live up to the promise he showed in pre-season. I believe improved performances from the skillful Spaniard will come, as he undoubtedly has the ability to thrive in T1.

Up top, Josimar (30) still divides opinion despite getting off the mark by scoring the winner against Ubon. Personally, I think the Brazilian brings a lot to the team with his aerial challenges and his hold-up play, and if the goals continue to come now that Josimar has got the ball rolling, he could be the striker Port have been after for years.

After two seriously lackluster performances in the last two home games, Port’s weakest link at the moment has to be right-winger Pakorn (9). With the ability he has we should never be talking about dropping Pakorn, but if he doesn’t step up and put in 100% every week, something has to be done. The rest of the team can’t prop up lazy players in T1, so unless Pakorn can carry his own weight the bench should be doing it for him. Against top of the table Chiang Rai, I would play Nitipong (34) in his more natural position at right wing, and bring Meechok (20) in at right back, with Suarez (5) taking over set-piece duties. Whether or not this is the best permanent solution, it will serve as a wake-up call for Pakorn. Go hard or go home!

At left wing once again will be Pakorn’s polar opposite. Genki (18) works as hard as any player in the league, and when he was replaced by Tana (99) on Monday, Port really missed their Japanese terrier. Whilst Tana is always a goal threat, he belongs at centre forward not out on the left wing where he is too far away to utilize his goal-poaching prowess. Genki does an important job for the team, and in one of Port’s toughest away fixtures of the season his hard work will be more important than ever.

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 

Key Battle

Rochela vs. Rafael Coelho

 

 

 

With 6 goals to his name in 2017, Rafael is going to take some stopping. Fortunately, Port have El Capitan David Rochela at the back. If anyone can keep the Brazilian and his teammates shackled, it’s Rochela. Lest you doubt the raw ability of either player, Rafael has represented Brazil at under 18 level, whilst Rochela was an under 17 World Cup runner up with Spain. Let battle commence!

 

The match will be shown live on True Sports 6 at 18:00 on Sunday 9 April, 2017.

 

The Eagles Are Landing: Port FC vs. Ubon UMT, 3 April 2017

 

In my five years supporting Thai Port, 2017 is consistent with following this fantastic football club. The sheer level of apprehension in not knowing which eleven players will take to the park and what levels they will perform to. We have had the heroics of Buriram, what a performance, to a good old-fashion spanking at the hands of our friends from Thai Honda, a team who have been our menaces for two years now. To be totally honest we wouldn’t have it any other way. Supporting this club is about the experience, making friends, enjoying a few beers and witnessing at first hand the passion displayed by the Khlong Toei Army. Hockers’ hat, Ackhim’s Brummie accent (he is German), Linny’s smile when we score, Keith’s iron man adventures, and Tom’s in depth knowledge of the Thai game, we are certainly never bored!

Our summer signings definitely brought a wave of optimism and discussion amongst the Sandpit faithful, whether Mr. Meelarp has any control over these remains a mystery but one thing for sure is it has been a mixed bag. Tana (99) has gone from being a Thai international to a bit part player at Port due to the arrivals of Josimar (30) and Kalu (10), although I am far from convinced by both of them! Sergio Suarez (5) (he even sounds class) looks the deal and I am convinced he will come into his own and establish himself in our Captain Fantastic’s league. Then we had their compatriot Asdrubal who vanished (Ed – Are you sure?), along with our young Patrick Bentley (29). I was excited as he sounded Irish and had freckles. Then, to my utter disgust – as the boys in the supporters club will know – we lost Maranhao (92) who had looked head and shoulders above everyone else in pre-season. I just hope he doesn’t come back to haunt us! Dolah (4) has a presence and a bit of class but he has had a dip in form and is still young so I am hoping optimistically he will become a Virgil Van Dyke.

Nitipong (34) has looked like a full back who could become an established and accomplished member of the team in a position we notoriously sign donkeys in and Todsapol (6) has come into the centre and looked every bit of the player we know he can be. Adisorn (13) looked the real deal against the Thunder Castle, his tenacity and commitment is what we as fans thrive on, and we are crying out for those performances more consistently. If we can get the Pakman (9) from drifting in and out of games we have the makings of an awesome midfield.

The Eagles

Our visitors today are Thai Premier league virgins Ubon UMT and by Jaysus they have made an incredible introduction in their short history sitting in fourth place, five points shy of The Smelly Thongs with only one defeat so far that being an away defeat by the odd goal at Navy. Their foreign legion have delivered and with their Thai talisman Siroch (35) they look a formidable proposition.

Siroch (left), Kenta Yamazaki (right)

The have made just short of one hundred signings in close season (joke, but not far off) and managing to keep hold of Siroch was a massive coup. I attended three international games last year and he was the stand out player in all three apart from Tana’s cameo seven minute appearance. In the Suzuki cup final he bullied and harassed the Indonesian defence. Right, forget about international football as I don’t want to talk about that **** Neil Taylor!

This is a team we beat 3-1 last season in one of our last home games before unforeseen circumstances brought the league to a premature halt. To be honest I vaguely remember it as I went to London Pie at 09:30 and arrived at the Port via Herrity’s, The Kiwi, Hanrahan’s and then Stood in the Sandpit for two hours with Keith and Del. This season their team is virtually unrecognizable and they have an Albanian claiming to be German banging them in from midfield called Nebihi who is getting rave reviews and played at a very decent level in Germany. He is joined in Midfield by an uncompromising Japanese player called Yamazaki – every team should have one – and Argie Berriex, who played most of his career in Chile playing for a team called Rangers, hopefully this one didn’t pledge loyalty to a monarch and then proceed to forget about HRMC rules and regulations!

Anyway it will be great to be back after three weeks of spending Saturdays with my eight week old daughter and as much as I love Tarua it just isn’t that good.

Slan go feoil

For those going to PAT Stadium, the game kicks off at the unusually early time of 17:45, and for those who can’t make it it will be shown live on True Sport 2.

 

Port To Shore Up Defence As Navy Weigh Anchor: Port FC vs. Siam Navy, 4 Mar 2017

 

After floundering at the hands of Bangkok Utd, Port will need to batten down the hatches to avoid being cast adrift in the lower regions of T1. Befogged by copious amounts of grog, Saturday’s performance did not seem too bad, but with the benefit of a highlights video, it was clear that the defence had completely lost its bearings, allowing the Angels to cruise to an emphatic victory.

Navy will sail into Port, buoyed by a narrow victory over last year’s Division Champions Thai Honda, after two equally narrow defeats at the hands of Buriram and the aforementioned Bangkok Utd. They are one point below us and this can be officially classified as a, ‘game we need to win to remain afloat’.

 

Siam Navy

Form

 

Navy are one of the oldest teams in Thailand, being formed in 1937, the same year as Air Force, and a good 30 years ahead of Port. This is their third consecutive year in the top flight and were sitting precariously above the relegation zone last year when the season ended prematurely.

Their early form suggests a well-organized defence and a solid midfield, possibly one of the oldest in the League; last week’s trio of Lindemann (10), Kornchan (18) and Bang Seung-hwan (99) totaling 101 years between them.

 

Players to Watch

 

German Bjorn Lindemann (10) is one of the more interesting foreign players in the League, arriving in Thailand in 2012 and featuring for Army, Suphanburi and Nakhon Ratchasima before arriving in Sattahip. He is a good, solid, technical player but may lack the pace to catch Siwakorn, we hope.

At centre back and captain, is another veteran, 35 year old Nataporn Phanrit (6), who earned 70 caps for the Thai National team between 2001-12. Navy are his 9th club in the top flight.

Finally, the third player to watch, was the scorer of the winning penalty against Thai Honda, Brazilian, Rodrigo Vergilio (23), a nifty centre-forward capable of stretching static defences –  which ours certainly was last week!  Think of a two-footed Leandro without the drama.

Port FC

The Starting XI

 

Rattanai (17) was one of the few players to come out with any credit from last week’s game and should keep his place. Jadet seems to pick his fullbacks by throwing their names in the air and seeing who lands face-up. We have been vulnerable down the wings for a while now and a settled, in-form pair needs to be established. This week he may stick with Nitipong (34) and Panpanpong (19); both have looked good going forward and Navy should not pose the attacking threat faced last week. Meechok (20) is perhaps the best alternative. What has happened to Todsapol (6)? Dolah (4) and Captain Marvelous, Rochela (22), were badly exposed late on by Mario’s probing passes but the pairing should be allowed to continue to develop their understanding. Vergilio (23) will test Dolah (4) if left one on one, but Rochela (22) will no doubt come to the rescue!

Siwakorn (16) continues to impress; he has a good first touch, is quick and energetic and can switch the pattern of play to good effect. We need to attack the 101 club at pace so Pakorn (9), Genki (18) out wide, possibly with one of Adisorn (13), Tatchanon (39), Wanchalerm (40) or the fit-again Piyachat (88) to complete a middle four. Up front, it could be the perfect moment to introduce Josimar (30) against the experienced but ageing Nataporn (6) with Sergio Suarez (5) tucked in behind him.

Tana (99) has done well coming on as an impact player while Ekkapoom (8) can also stretch tired legs late on.

 

Prediction

 

Won’t even bother. This is Port.

 

The match will be shown live on True Sports 2 at 20:00 on Saturday 4th March, 2017

 

Bangkok Dangerous: Bangkok Utd vs. Port FC, 25 Feb 2017

 

Port travel to Bangkok Utd on Saturday for their first away trip of the T1 season. An unbeaten start for Port sees them sitting pretty in 5th place, while the ambitious Angels languish in 10th after a surprise loss to newly-promoted Thai Honda. Nevertheless, the 2016 TPL runners up go in to Saturday’s clash as heavy favourites to rediscover their form and take all three points at Thammasat Stadium.

As well as bringing you this preview, The Sandpit also caught up with Bangkok Utd coach Mano Polking, who was kind enough to share with us his thoughts about his team, and the upcoming clash with Port. You can see the full interview here.

 

Bangkok Utd

Players to Watch

 

Mario Gjurovski (20) has been consistently one of the best players in Thailand for about 5 years. The Macedonian attacking midfielder netted 59 goals in 121 games for Muangthong between 2012 and 2015, before he shocked everyone by choosing not to renew his contract and move across the city to Bangkok Utd. Mario scored 12 in 30 last season, and is showing no signs of slowing down. He also really knows how to celebrate a goal, as this classic shorts-on-the-head machine-gun maneuver demonstrates. He got a red card for his troubles, but in his defence, who among us wouldn’t take a sending off for a chance to strip down and mow down a few rows of ‘Yamaha Ultras?’

Dragan Boskovic (7) is Bangkok Utd’s other free-scoring attacking midfielder. The powerful Montenegrin has scored 33 in 61 since 2015, and his direct physical style on the left flank is sure to present a tough challenge for either Meechok (20) or Nitipong (34) at right back, neither of whom is particularly robust.

Jaycee John (22) is a quick striker with a frankly outrageous goal-scoring record at some of his former clubs, and 29 goals in 41 games for Bangkok Utd. Born in Nigeria, John moved to Bahrain aged 19 and has gone on to represent his adopted country 47 times, meaning he counts as Bangkok Utd’s AFC foreigner. Dolah (4) and Rochela (22) will have their hands full with John, who can both hold the ball up and play on the shoulder of defenders to great effect.

Sanrawat Dechmitr (29) is a skillful central midfielder who seems to play much better for his club than his country. When I’ve seen him play for Thailand he has been pretty poor, but coach Mano Polking seems to know how to get the best out of him when he plays for the Angels. Bangkok Utd’s captain will attempt to provide the all-foreign attacking foursome with the ammo they will need to rediscover their scoring form.

Gjurovski, Boskovic, John and Sanrawat

 

Mano’s Formerly Awesome Foursome

 

It will be interesting to see if Bangkok Utd manager Mano Polking continues to keep faith in Gjurovski, Boskovic, John and Brazilian forward Gilberto Macena as an attacking quartet.

The Angels must be the only team in T1 who don’t regularly opt to use one of their foreigners in either central defence or central midfield, and so far with only one goal in their first three competitive matches, the gamble is not paying off. Still, the team that finished second in 2016 must not be underestimated. They undoubtedly have the ability, and – as Mano ominously warned us – a point to prove.

Form

 

Bangkok Utd’s poor early season form has probably been the surprise of the season so far. They were stunned in their AFC Champions League Qualifier by unfancied Malaysian outfit Johor Darul Ta’zim, who held the Angels to a 1-1 draw and then triumphed on penalties. Then, on the first week of the season, they secured a hard-fought 1-0 victory against habitual strugglers Siam Navy. After 25 minutes, Jaycee John (22) used his power to shrug off a defender, then showed excellent composure to give his side the lead, and in the second half Bangkok Utd held on for the win, despite sustained pressure and a couple of near misses from Navy. Unconvincing. In week 2, a late goal by a typically well-organized Thai Honda ended Bangkok Utd’s unbeaten league record which – remarkably – had stretched all the way back to May 2016.

Having scored just 2 goals in 270 minutes of competitive football so far in 2017, Bangkok United’s greatest strength in their memorable 2016 campaign has so far been their greatest weakness. They just can’t find the back of the net with the regularity we are used to seeing. Port’s chances of getting a surprise result at Thammasat Stadium will likely rest on this trend continuing.

 

Port FC

The Starting XI – The Old Over The New

 

We have started to notice a trend in manager Jadet’s team selections this term. Experience is being preferred to youth.

Nitipong (34) has been preferred to Meechok (20) in both games so far, although there is still a possibility that Meechok isn’t fit enough to play the full 90 minutes after picking up a knock in pre-season. Could Nitipong now be picked over Meechok on merit after being awarded the official Man of the Match award in last week’s 3-2 victory over Suphanburi? We don’t think so. Nitipong has been excellent going forward in both of the first two games, but has never looked completely comfortable defending. With Dragan Boskovic (7) on the left wing for Bangkok Utd, we’re going to continue to stick to our guns and say that Meechok – if fit – has to be picked.

Rattanai (17) is the exception to the youth over experience trend. The young ‘keeper had a great game against Ratchaburi in week 1, but made his first mistake in a Port shirt to gift Suphanburi an open goal in week 2, failing to hold on to the ball after a collision with Rochela. Rattanai didn’t let the error effect the rest of his game though, making an excellent stop early in the second half and looking comfortable for the rest of the game.

Ahead of Rattanai, Rochela (22) and Dolah (4) are set to continue in the heart of defence, whilst Panpanpong (19) must now be considered first choice left back after a solid defensive display and an assist for the opening goal, whereas Piyachart’s (23) only contribution after being brought off the bench was to almost gift Suphanburi a late penalty. We expect Piyachart to be warming the bench for the full 90 this Saturday.

Midfield is once again the big question mark. 30 year old Adisorn (13) was picked over a host of new younger signings who most observers think outperformed him in pre-season. 20 year old Tatchanon (39) has been particularly impressive since his move from Army, but he didn’t make the squad in week 1 and was an unused substitute in week 2. 23 year old Wanchalerm (40) also looked good, but veteran Ittipol (7) has so far kept him out of the match-day squad.

Adisorn certainly didn’t disappoint with his work-rate against Suphanburi, even making T1 team-of-the-week on one website, but surely a stronger, more technical Tatchanon is the right option in the long run? We will have to wait and see, but it seems likely that Jadet will keep faith in Adisorn to partner Siwakorn (16) in midfield, with The Sandpit’s Man of the Match against Suphanburi Suarez (5) in the attacking midfield role.

On the wings, Pakorn (9) and Genki (18) will surely continue in the side. The skillful Pakorn and the hard-working Genki perform very different roles for the team, but both made hugely important contributions in Sunday’s win.

Up front, Kaludjerovic (10) did what he does best, pouncing on a goalkeeping error to score his first league goal for Port. His goal-poaching is undoubtedly an asset to the side, but Tana (99) looked impressive coming off the bench, scoring a swashbuckling equalizer and giving Jadet a tricky decision to make. Perhaps the biggest threat to Kalu’s starting place, though, is new signing Josimar (30). With the transfer window now closed and Josimar confirmed as Port’s fifth foreign player, Josimar is available for selection, and will surely be in the match-day squad, if not the starting XI. It seems most likely, however, that Kaludjerovic will be preferred against Bangkok Utd, with Tana and Josimar set to come off the bench if Port need a goal. To most Port fans’ and referees’ relief, Josimar’s inclusion should also mean that Wuttichai ‘The Card’ Tathong (14) does not make the subs bench for a while. Phew!

Predicted Starting XI

 

 

The Key Battle

Dolah vs. John

 

 

Elias Dolah, who is only playing his first season in a strong T1, is going to have to be at his best to keep Bangkok Utd’s Jaycee John quiet. Whilst Dolah will be expected to dominate John in the air, Bangkok Utd like to play the ball on the floor, and John’s dribbling as well as his runs in behind the defence will make for a testing day for the Thai-Swede. If he and the rest of the Port defence are up to the challenge, Port have every chance of coming away from Thammasat Stadium with a result, but if John is at his unplayable best, Port may find themselves just trying to keep the score respectable.

 

The match will be shown live on True Sports 2 and True Sports 2 HD at 20:00 on Saturday 25 February, 2017.

 

Suphan Main Course: Port FC vs. Suphanburi FC, 19th Feb 2017

 

Port FC face Suphanburi FC at 19:00 on Sunday. Suphanburi finished in a disappointing 10th place in the TPL last year, making them just the kind of team that Port should be looking to take all 3 points from at PAT Stadium if they are going to achieve their goal of a top half finish this season. Here we will take an in-depth look at Port’s opponents before turning our attention to Jadet’s team selection.

Suphanburi FC

Players to Watch

 

Sinthaweechai Hathairattanakool (18) is Thailand’s second choice ‘keeper at international level and, even at 34, is still one of the best in the business. He is an excellent shot-stopper, but is better known for charging off his line and is a classic example of a ‘sweeper-keeper’.

Adul Lahso (19) is a disciplined, no-nonsense defensive midfielder who protects Suphanburi’s back four and very rarely loses possession. He played one season in Japan, and has made 34 appearances for the Thai National Team. Adul will likely be tasked with keeping tabs on Sergio Suarez (5), who will be trying to operate between Suphanburi’s midfield and defence.

Charyl Chappuis (7) is a Thai-Swiss central midfielder with possibly the best range of passing in T1. His ability to pick out a 40 yard pass and land it on a 1 baht coin is reminiscent of Scholes in his prime, although Chappuis’ legion of female fans would probably not be too happy with the comparison. Chappuis’ career has been blighted by injury, but after missing the majority of the last 2 seasons, he is now back to full fitness and eager to impress. Chappuis is not one to be intimidated by the famously hostile atmosphere at PAT Stadium, leaving this cheeky comment on Instagram after we warned him what to expect.

Dellatorre (9) was Suphanburi’s top scorer in 2016, netting a useful but not particularly scary 10 goals in 26 games for The War Elephants. The 1.86m striker looks like a bit of a handful, although the way Rochela (22) and Dolah (4) handled the physical side of Ratchaburi striker Marcel Essombe’s game last week, his size shouldn’t prove too much of a problem.

Thanasith Siriphala (11) is a quick, tricky left-winger who didn’t start Suphanburi’s first game of the season, but looked electric when he came off the bench. Known as Taodinho, (his nickname is Tao, and the dinho comes from his rather more famous buck-toothed doppelganger) he absolutely terrorized Port last time he came to PAT Stadium, scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win for Bangkok Glass. Let’s hope Meechok (20) is fit enough to play 90 minutes at right-back this week, as the prospect of Taodinho running at Nitipong (34) is not one that Port fans will relish.

 

Sinthaweechai, Adul, Chappuis, Dellatorre and Tanasith

 

Form

 

It’s hard to judge form so early in the season, so we will give you a brief account of Suphanburi’s first game of the season. The War Elephants earned a hard-fought 2-1 win against newly-promoted Thai Honda, but looked far from comfortable against a team that is expected to be in the lower reaches of the T1 table. Suphanburi looked good in central midfield with Adul (19) and Chappuis (7) combining well, and dangerous going forward, with Chananan (10), Dellatorre (9) and Madrigal (8) looking sharp. Defensively, however, there was a lot to be desired from The War Elephants, and it was indecision from two defenders that led to Thai Honda taking the lead. They both stood and waited for the other to take control of an innocuous ball across the 6 yard box, and Honda midfielder Peemvit (11) snuck between them to head the ball past Sinthaweechai (18).

Suphanburi always looked likely to equalize though, and it was a peach of a pass that led to the goal. Chappuis (7) showed excellent vision and technique to play a pinpoint ball over the top, and former Thai under 23 striker Chananan (10) did well to beat the keeper with a first time shot from a tight angle.

Suphanburi’s winner came just before half time, as an unmarked Dellatorre (9) did well to connect with a deep corner, sticking a leg out and sending an unconventional finish past Buncha (24) in the Honda goal. Honda will have been disappointed with their defending though, as Dellatorre should never have lost his marker with such ease.

Honda pushed on in search of an equalizer in the second half and the game really opened up, leading to several chances for both sides. Sinthaweechai (18) made a quality save late on to ensure that Suphanburi held on for the win, and they will head to PAT Stadium with 3 points under their belt despite a patchy performance.

 

The Suphanburi Perspective

 

We caught up with Matt who runs the @fcsuphanburi Twitter account to get a feel for how the away side are expecting to do this season.

“This season, for Suphanburi after their poor end to the truncated season last year, a fit again Charyl Chappuis, three Brazilian and one Argentine new imports, there needs to be a lot of samba flair. I am a big fan of second time round coach Sergio Farias. He is a calm and clear tactician who now has at least four members of the squad that he can communicate directly with (his English is very basic). There seems a good mixture of experience (not sure where the 38 year old Rangsan fits in) with thirty year old Adul a stabilising force for the team and keeper Sinthaweechai Hathairattanakool a consummate professional to influence the younger players. The preseason has not been great, but a come from behind win against Thai Honda with Dellatore bagging the winner showed some promise. It is time for him and Chananan to show what they are capable of. Both flattered to achieve last season. Fourth is the new first, so I expect the best case scenario to be that. Title winners are Muang Thong, dark horses are Scott Cooper’s Ubon and a good cup run and fighting for an AFC place would be a good step forward for Suphanburi after the frustrations of last season.”

We also asked Matt to pick out one key player to watch from both sides. From Suphanburi he chose Brazilian striker Dellatorre.

“For Suphanburi, a slimmer Dellatorre has plenty of skill and, if he can improve his work rate and consistency, he will always prove a threat. His ability has never been in doubt, but his fitness and application have let him down in the past. Fitter and thinner, a good run in the team supported by the “Syrian” duo  [Ed – Brazilian duo Marcelo and Gilson have both recently acquired Syrian passports] might, finally, bring out the best in a player of undoubted ability.”

Unsurprisingly, his player to watch from Port was captain and last week’s Port FC Man of the Match David Rochela.

“For Port, I have always felt David Rochela is a touch of class. He has the football intelligence to keep the younger players in a more disciplined frame of mind and the temperament to cope with the febrile atmosphere at the PAT. He should score more goals in a season from set pieces, but he is a real defender’s defender.”

 

Port FC

The Starting XI – Selection Headaches

 

Jadet has some key decisions to make after Genki rescued a point for Port last week against Ratchaburi.

Rattanai (17) should retain his place in goal after an excellent performance on Saturday, while Rochela (22) and Dolah (4) will continue in central defence.

If Meechok (20) has fully recovered from the knock he picked up in pre-season, it’s a no-brainer to bring the youngster in for Nitipong (34) at right back. Whilst Nitipong got forward well against Ratchaburi, his defensive struggles mean he is very likely to be back on the bench.

There is another slightly trickier decision to be made at left back. Piyachart (23) played OK against Ratchaburi, but also seemed to prioritise attack over defence. Panpanpong (19) replaced him in the second half and played with more discipline, but looked poor going forward. With the less-than-inspiring options Jadet has available to him, it is perhaps unsurprising that the club have chosen to dip in to the loan market to snap up Surachet from Chainat on a 1 year deal. We’re unsure whether Surachet will be considered for selection this week, and we are also not certain if Jadet intends to play him in defence or midfield. With Surachet having been at the club less than a week – and attack-minded Suphanburi the opponents – it seems likely that the more defensive Panpanpong will make his first competitive start for Port.

The biggest head-scratcher from the Ratchaburi game was Jadet’s central midfield selection. Siwakorn (16) and Suarez (5) were of course expected to be starting, and it wasn’t a complete surprise to see Piyachat (88) get the nod, but I doubt that a single person in PAT Stadium expected to see Adisorn (13) come off the bench. Is there a reason that Tatchanon (39) or Wanchalerm (40) were not even in the squad? Both impressed far more than Adisorn in pre-season, with Tatchanon in particular looking like a class act in the holding midfield role. With Piyachat injured until the end of the month, we will be very interested to see who Jadet picks. If you’re reading, Jadet, anyone but Adisorn, please!

Pakorn (9) and Genki (18) combined to rescue a point for Port last week, and will surely continue on the wings, but Jadet could ring the changes up front. Kaludjerovic (10) looked a little off the pace against Ratchaburi, despite finding the net several times in pre-season. With new signing Josimar (30) likely to be in contention for a place in the side, Jadet could consider making a change, although we think he’s much more likely to stick with the Serb for now.

 

Predicted Starting XI

 

 

The Key Battle

Suarez vs. Adul

 

 

Suarez will likely be in the same advanced midfield role he played against Ratchaburi, while Adul will be sitting in front of his back four trying to track the Spaniard’s forward runs. If Suarez can find space and time on the ball, and make Adul’s life difficult when Suphanburi have possession, then it could well give Port the upper hand. Alternatively, if Adul can nullify the Suarez threat and dictate the pace of play, then Suphanburi will likely control the game.

 

 

Thanks to Matt from @fcsuphanburi for contributing. 

 

Big Ratch Preview: Port FC v Ratchaburi FC, 11th Feb 2017

Saturday 11th February  5.45 p.m.

Live on True Sports 2

Yes, come on, it’s the return of the PAT, once again, the return of the PAT. I have e-mailed Mark Morrison to inquire about him doing a half time show, where he remixes “Return of the Mac” to “Return of the PAT”, my people and his people are currently in negotiations about exactly how much cocaine he’s allowed for his rider. Rest assured we in the Sandpit team are doing our best to bring him to the PAT on the 11th . It’s been so long. How long? Due to away trips and bans it’s been FIVE MONTHS! The last Port home game (that we were allowed to see) was against Air Force on September 11th last year. I’m sure we all remember Port beating Air Force two-zip. Siwakorn put us ahead, then Gengki knocked another one in at the death. The game also featured a twenty minute floodlight failure on the sixty minute mark to stretch out the game and the tension. This put us eight points clear of the nearest promotion contenders with four games left, great days. Just needed to beat Nakorn Pathom, which was going to be a formality surely?

Enough of all our yesterdays, on to Saturday. First game of the season is always a bit of a lottery, we’re not quite sure what the opposition has got, and we’re not sure who Jadet will start with. Three big questions have to be whether Siwakorn(16), Meechok(20) and Pinyo(21) are fit enough to play 90 minutes of football.

I think we’ll start with a 4-5-1

Worawut(36) (yes Tom, or possibly Rattanai(17) it is a close thing)

Meechok(20) (if fit, if not Nittipong(34)) Dolah(4), Rochela(22), Pinkong(19)

Pakorn(9), Tatchanon(39) defensive mid, Siwakorn(16), Suarez(5) attacking mid, Pinyo(21)

Kaluderovic(10)

Or possibly 4-4-2

Worawut(36)

Meechok(20) (or Nittipong(34)), Dolah(4), Rochela(22), Pinkong(19)

Pakorn(9), Siwakorn(16) , Suarez(5), Pinyo(21)

Kaluderovic(10), Tana(99)

 

I’d like to see a 4-4-2, but I think even if we play 4-5-1 Suarez will push up a lot. Ratchaburi home is the kind of game we need to take three points from if we are going to have a good 2017.

 

Ratchaburi haven’t gone wild in the transfer market. With this sort of squad, they look to be solidifying their mid-table status. They’ve bought a few good players into the club and one marquee signing. That signing and their new SFS (Scary Foreign Striker) is Marcel Essombé who joins them from Dinamo Bucharest. This quality forward is likely to provide a real test for the Port defence on their first day out in T1. Last two meetings have been close, but they’ve gone against us. One nil wins to Ratchaburi on both occasions. But those matches were way back in 2015 with very different starting elevens for both teams. The only two Port players who were on the pitch for those games were Rochela(22) and Genki(18). Only back then Genki(18) was playing in the orange and black of Ratchaburi. If Genki(18) plays today, he’s sure to get a good reception from both sets of supporters. Everyone loves to see an honest hard working player at their club.

Result? I hate making predictions but if pushed I’d say,

Port 2-1 Ratchaburi (completely unbiased prediction there).

The five months away from PAT have not been in vain, we at the Sandpit have been working hard to bring you some classic terrace songs. My two current favourites are this one, to the tune of “Don’t You Want Me Baby” By The Human League.

 

“You were working as a winger in Ratchaburi

When we met you

We picked you out, we signed you up,

We cheered you on

We turned you into something new

Genk

Gengki Naga

Genki Nagasato, Genki Nagasaaaaaaaaaaatoooh”

 

Now one year later on you can’t control your feet

Football has been so tough for you

Oh, Nagasato – you know I don’t believe you when you say you can play football

You’d better step it up or we will sign your sister,

Genki Nagasato, Genki Nagasaaaaaaaaaaaaatooooohhhh”

By Tim and Me

 

And this one, to the tune of “My old man’s a dustman”,

Siwakorn’s a genius, he has a magic boot

His passes are perfection, but god don’t let him shoot,

The ref will give him yellow

The ref will shout and ball

He didn’t mean to hack him, just loves the fucking ball

 

Siwakorn’s a genius, he has a magic boot

His passes are perfection, but god don’t let him shoot,

He is a football genius, he’s married to the ball

Please don’t sent him off ref, or our chances are fuck all.

 

Also in pre-production is a Kaluderovic song, but at the moment it’s just,

 

Ka-lu-de-ro-vic laa la la , la la

Ka-lu-de-ro-vic laa laa laaa , la la

Ka-lu-de-ro-vic laaa la la , la la

Ka-lu-de-ro-vic laa laa laaa , la la

And he’s just got another bloody goal, boom boom

To the tune of “Brown Girl in the Ring”.

 

Should be a close game Saturday, win, lose or draw there will be a party. First day of the season back in the T1, let’s have it large.

 

 

2017 Port FC Squad Preview Pt2: Midfielders, Forwards…and Musical Chairs

 

Midfield

Pakorn (9) is still with us and is looking good pre-season. He will start on the right wing, so if new signing Suarez (4) is played as an attacking midfielder we can look forward to these two linking up. They played together at Police United and have looked good in the friendlies. Siwakorn (16) was stretchered off (well carried off as we didn’t have a stretcher) against Korat; hopefully this is only a minor injury. If match fit he’ll start in midfield where, with his pinpoint passes and sly football genius, he should be able to get the job done in T1. With no word of another foreign Asian signing it looks like Genki (18) is here to stay. Either Genki (18) or Ekkapoom (8) will probably be on the left wing. Genki (18) was consistently first choice left wing last season over Ekkapoom so it looks likely to stay that way. Both have tons of energy, but are they good enough to cut it in T1? I’m not sure. The PTT Rayong friendly saw Pinyo (21) play for about 20 minutes on the left wing. If he’s capable of playing there I think he’s a great option. At 23 he’s already had four caps for the Thai national team. He looked quality in the few games he played last year but is coming back after a full year away from the pitch.

 

Port don’t look like they have an out and out defensive midfielder. The twenty-year old Tachanon (27) from Army and Piyachat (28) have both played this role in most of the friendlies and I think Jadet will pick Tachanon(27) to start. Against Korat Jadet played a midfield five of :

 

Genki, Siwakorn, Suarez, (attacking), Tachanon (defensive), Pakorn.

 

I think he’ll start with this if Siwakorn (16) is fit. Tachanon (27) looks good but at twenty years old I’m not sure about starting him in the opening T1 games. I’d go with Piyachat(28) as he has a bit more experience. I just think he’s a safer choice and has featured most in the friendlies. I’d have Tachanon (27) on the bench as an option for half a game to see how they both handle the role in a full competitive game. Yingyong (??) is another option as a defensive midfielder, but is more likely to be on the bench. Yingyong (??) played for Chainat last season. Along with Nitipong (34) they make good options for utility midfield subs.  Siwapong (??) could also be on the bench as a more attacking midfield sub.

 

Asdrubal has only played for 20 minutes against PTT, so it’s difficult to talk about him. Apparently he has picked up a slight strain, which is why he’s only had one full match runout. He can play right winger or up front, but I would be surprised to see anyone but Pakorn (9) starting on the right. This leaves him fighting it out with Suarez for the attacking midfield spot or with Kaludjerovic (10) up front.

 

The Maranhao mystery continues – is he still vying for a spot in the team? Might he stick around just for Cup competitions? I like him but his chances of staying in the team look remote with the other foreign signings already made. He scored both goals against Korat and looks like a player in there fighting for a team place. It’s possible he’s been offered good terms to stick around just for cup games and as cover for foreign player injuries. Wagner stayed with the team in the second half of last season and jumped back in the squad after Thiago left, so it is possible that’s an option he’s choosing.

 

Forwards

Kaludjerovic (10), aka Kalu, has started the all the major friendlies we’ve played since he arrived at Port. He got two against Pattaya and one against PTT. When the tackles were going in thick and fast  in the second friendly  against Korat he was subbed off after ten minutes, possibly to protect him against any chance of an injury. He’s been scoring goals for fun in the Lithuanian league. And the way he was rushed off and wrapped in cotton wool in the Korat game, he looks like our first choice up front. As Rochela said, “you give him the ball in the box and he scores, can’t ask for more than that”. Thai National team backup striker Tana (5) is coming back from injury. He got five minutes at the end of the Korat game and encouragingly played 30 minutes against PTT. Tana (5) has always been a bit lacking in stamina . He’s often playing the first 50 minutes or the last 40. As long as he is happy with that we should be ok, but if fully fit he might get a bit tired of sitting on the bench.

 

Big Questions

With Captain Rochela assured a start and Genki the only Asian foreign player there are only two foreign playing spots left. Using the three other foreign players in the remaining two spots might well prove the biggest problem for Jadet. Which to choose? Probably a combination of all three in different games. None of these players is going to be happy as a permanent sub. Suarez has experience in Thailand, and he works well with Pakorn and Siwakorn as they all played together at Police United, so he is likely to be initially favored in the starting eleven.

 

This leaves Asdrubal and Kalu. Both have a great background.  Asdrubal was playing for Las Palmas in the Copa del Rey this season. He’d just worked his way back into the main team but still wasn’t a first choice player. Kalu was banging in goals for fun in the wilderness of the Lithuanian league. When it comes to their careers they are chalk and cheese. Asdrubal was born and raised in Las Palmas and has been playing for Las Palmas F.C. since he was five; Kalu has had eight clubs in the last four years.

 

Asdrubal will not be happy on the bench – he came to Port to play football, after not getting enough time on the pitch at Las Palmas. If Kalu starts knocking goals in Asturbal will have to force his way into the midfield or settle for being a substitute striker. I think he has the quality to start but might be frozen out by the lack of foreign playing spots. Let’s hope Jadet can keep him give all three of them enough time on the pitch to keep them happy and play a successful game of musical chairs.

 

2017 Port FC Squad Preview Pt1: The Case for the Defence

 

With two weeks to go till Port kick off against Ratchaburi in the opening game of the T1 season here’s an in depth look at the squad we have. The transfer window closes on February 22nd, so there is still a chance there might be one or two new names to talk about. However this the squad as it stands now.

 

Keepers

Worawut (36) looks like our first choice keeper. After a shaky start to his time at Port Worawut (36) settled down and gained in confidence. I wasn’t a big fan of his first off, after a couple of howling errors. However last season showed he’s a reliable keeper. He’s been a great shot stopper and now he’s more confident coming out on corners. I think he also benefited from Meechok (20) coming in half way through last season and giving the back four a bit more quality and stability. Rattanai (17) impressed in the cup performances, but being a bit young and with less experience I think Worawut (36) will get the nod, for my money he’s the right choice. Rattanai (17) deserves a run out in cup games. If Worawut (36) picks up an injury it could give Rattanai(17) a chance to shine. He could come in and keep Worawut on the bench given half a chance. Weera (1, oddly number 1 but our third choice keeper), is still around, apart from one outstanding game against TOT, where he saved and scored in a marathon penalty shoot-out he didn’t impressed much. He started the PTT Rayong friendly and didn’t look bad, and it’s difficult to find anyone half decent to fill the role of third choice keeper. Watchara is out on loan to BBCU again this year after spending a full season there in 2016. I think if we had injuries to Worawut(36) and Rattanai(17)  a match fit Watchara would be recalled as soon as possible.

 

Defence

Our captain and rock at the back David Rochela(22) is joined in the centre of defence by Elias Dolah (40). Having a Thai/Swedish player looks a great choice. With his size it’s like having another foreign player on the pitch. He played well for Songklaa last season and is looking to step his game to make a challenge for the Thai national team. Todsapol (6) is still with us ready to step into the centre and offer a decent level of cover if needed. “Nirun” (second name not known) is another Thai/Swedish player we have. He was bought last week and he played the last twenty minutes of the PTT game at centre back. He is a massive player tall and well built. He looks like more cover for centre back, we’ll see if he gets on the subs bench. Meechok (20) at right back came into the squad as an 18 year old and has grown in confidence every time I’ve seen him. Looks to be a bit stronger this year and looks like another definite starter for Port.  Nitipong (34) seems to be the immediate cover for right back. I’m not sure that’s the right way to go. I like Nitipong (34) as cover in midfield, but I’m not sure he can cover the right back role. Our main problem is at left back Panpanpong (19). He is tough enough, but has looked far from the complete player in friendlies. Looks nervous to go forward and not convincing when he does. He has been favoured over Piyachat (23), he’s also a half decent choice but neither completely impress. I really thought we’d be buying in someone else to fill the left back role. With a bit of luck we still might.

 

Big Questions

Has Panpanpong (19) got enough to keep nifty T1 wingers in check? If he does we could be looking at a solid back four to deal with the S.F.S (Scary Foreign Strikers) that tend to batter defences week in week out in the T1.

Worawut (36) will be tested more in T1, but he will have an improved back four in front of him. The outlook is good, early meetings with Bangkok United, Suphanburi and Buriram will really test them. We have these three teams in the first five T1 games. I just hope panic doesn’t take hold in the boardroom. If we don’t get anything against these clubs hiring five managers will not solve problems at the back. Buying a better left back might help.