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The Portlist 4: Reality Check

 

Port overcame Ratchaburi at home, before succumbing in worrying fashion to Bangkok Glass away on Sunday. After spending the first 3 weeks of the season in pole position, it’s now time to see what this squad is really made of. Port B also slipped to their first defeat of the season, giving them 6 points from their opening 3 games.

The main feature of this list, though, is a mad goalkeeping scramble, with Port’s three first team ‘keepers all injury doubts for next week’s clash with Ubon.

 


 

1 (4) Sergio Suarez

It’s impossible to ignore Port’s top scorer right now. He’s scoring the kind of goals that seasoned strikers make a living off, using the movement of Boskovic to find space and punish the opposition. His miss against Bangkok Glass was a reminder that he’s not a natural striker, but with 4 goals in his first 4 games, we can hardly complain. Keep it up, Sergio!

2 (1) Dragan Boskovic

Dragan hasn’t kept up his scoring form, but he has undoubtedly made a huge contribution to Port’s early success. In occupying the opposition defence Dragan has allowed Suarez to flourish, and has a goal and two assists to his name. He really should have buried that late chance against Glass, though.

3 (3) David Rochela

Not particularly at fault for goals in either of Port’s last two games, but not at his vintage best, either. Nevertheless, Port’s captain is and will continue to be the key man at the back.

4 (2) Kim Sung Hwan

Kim has only played two out of the first four games, and only one of them was a performance of merit. As good as he was against Muangthong, Kim needs to stay fit and stay on form if he’s going to have the impact on Port’s 2018 season that we know he can.

5 (6) Siwakorn Jakkuprasart

He’s been very consistent, and he seems to have kept the work rate up, while turning down the aggression.

6 (5) Pakorn Prempak

That first half corner against Bangkok Glass was indicative of Port’s performance as a whole, and particularly Pakorn’s. Needs to keep working hard and keep producing if he wants to stay near the top of the Portlist, and keep himself in Port’s first XI.

7 (7) Kevin Deeromram

Kevin was magnificent in his duel with Phillip Roller against Ratchaburi, but had an absolute stinker against Bangkok Glass. Still likely to be a big player for Port though, with his superb raids forward providing a balance to the team that hasn’t been seen for some time.

8 (8) Nitipong Selanon

Still performing consistently. Must have been quite a shock to have found himself as part of a back 3 for 15 or so minutes against Bangkok Glass. He was primarirly a winger just a couple of years ago!

9 (9) Nurul Sriyankem

Once again it’s one performance out of two for Nurul. His fantastic curling finish just before half time against Ratchaburi was the key moment in the game for Port, but he has largely anonymous against Glass, and did less than his fair share defensively.

10 (11) Todsapol Lated

Todsapol ought to have been sliding down this list after picking up the injury we all knew was coming and missing the last two games, but we really missed him against Bangkok Glass.

11 (12) Bodin Phala

In putting Bodin in 11th, I’m not saying the Fresh Prince is favourite to start, just that he’s coming off the bench first in every game, and I have absolutely no idea what’s going on with Port’s goalkeepers.

12 (15) Rattanai Songsangchan

Rattanai got his chance in the second half against Bangkok Glass, and didn’t have much to do. He made a couple of regulation saves and his distribution was pretty lackluster, and then – surprise surprise – he picked up a knock after a clash with Frederic Mendy. All three of Rattanai, Worawut and Watchara are supposedly injury doubts right now, so with all 3 equally injured, I’m picking Rattanai because… well, read on and find out.

13 (10) Worawut Srisupha

Four goals conceded in two games, and a frankly outrageous display of selfishness in Port’s defeat to Bangkok Glass. Worawut should have been off the pitch the first or the second time he was treated. The bench indicated to him that he should come off, but he stayed on, clearly unable to move freely. In the highlights he can be seen telling the bench that he’s indeed not able to continue just as a tame shot, which he got nowhere near, rolled wide of his post in the 43rd minute. If his selfishness had cost Port a goal, he would be much lower on the Portlist.

14 (14) Adisorn Daeng-rueng

Put in an excellent performance against Ratchaburi, before Kim put in a poor performance against Bangkok Glass. He’s very unlikely to win his place back if Kim stays injury free, but he’s giving himself the best possible shot.

15 (16) Arthit Butjinda

Got a few minutes against Bangkok Glass, indicating that he’s one of Port’s go-to men when a goal is needed.

16 (13) Elias Dolah

Played well against Ratchaburi, but didn’t look like himself in the first half against Bangkok Glass. Dolah struggled for balance, didn’t use his strength as effectively as usual and looked nervous on the ball. That’s not the way to make a claim for a starting berth.

17 (20) Worawut Namvech

Dolah’s shakiness could open the door for this young man to push for a starting place if Todsapol doesn’t return to fitness in time for Ubon next week.

18 (17) Terens Puhiri

After writing about Port’s new Indonesian winger last week, I want to see this guy succeed more than ever. Unfortunately, all Terens has had in his first month with Port is a couple of injury time run-outs and no touches of the ball. #PassToTerens

19 (18) Meechok Marhasarunukun

With Nitipong performing so consistently, Meechok is a distant second choice at right back.

20 (19) Panpanpong Pinkong

As is Panpanpong at left back.

21 (20) Athibordee Atirat

Athibordee came on to shore up the midfield against Ratchaburi, and din’t do much wrong. He gets told to warm up an awful lot, indicating that Jadet feels comfortable sending him on.

22 (25) Watchara Buathong

I’m not sure if Watchara should be higher or lower on this Portlist. Both goalkeepers ahead of him are struggling with injuries, but at the same time he is struggling with an injury. Terrible timing for Watchara.

23 (NE) Anipong Kijkam

Port B’s young goalie could just be in line for a shock call-up this week against Ubon, with all 3 first team stoppers being injury doubts.

24 (23) Chakrit Rawanprakone

Scored in a Port friendly, although he was with the second string and playing out of position up front. Still, he scored…

25 (22) Pummared Kladkleep

Quiet times for Pummared.

26 (24) Jetjinn Sriprach

And Jetjinn.

27 (26) Chaowala Sriarwut

Chaowala continues to impress for Port B, and played nearly a full half of football alongside Port’s first team in a friendly. He looked pretty damn useful, too!

28 (27) Partchya Katethip

As did Partchya, who got an assist in that game.

29 (29) Chanayut Jejue

From the last Portlist: “Will need to rack up some goals to stay on the Portlist.” Chanayut scored for Port B, although they slipped to a 2-1 defeat last week.

30 (28) Danudet Treemongkonchok

Port B’s captain is the next one who is going to have to show something special to keep his name up here.

99 (99) Tana Chanabut

You know what Port’s criminally awful first half performance reminded me of? Tana.

 

Super 8: Port Punish Pre-season Opponents

 

Port romped past two pre-season opponents early this week, scoring 8 goals and showing plenty of attacking promise. On Monday, Jadet’s first choice XI took on J1 side Sanfrecce Hiroshima, who have signed Muangthong striker Teerasil on loan, and recorded an excellent 5-2 win. Then on Tuesday, the second string faced off with Samut Sakhon – AKA The Proud Junk Ship – and cruised to a 3-0 victory.

First up were Sanfrecce Hiroshima, who ought to have presented a very tough test for Port. A J1 side – albeit one who struggled to a 15th place finish – would be expected to have the upper hand against Port, but Port showed a lot of attacking intent and some improved finishing to take a decisive first-half lead.

 

 

The first goal came courtesy of an appalling error by an opposition centre half. In attempting an ambitious pass forward, the defender only succeeded in finding Siwakorn’s (16) stomach, or where his stomach would be if he had one, and the ball fell kindly for Suarez (5). The Spaniard, whose selection with the First XI was surprising given that he started a riot in his last appearance, laid it off to Boskovic (10), who calmly side-footed home from 12 yards.

Next came two goals which upon further review I still have absolutely no idea who should be credited with. Both came from Pakorn (7) crosses which were delivered right in to the danger zone by Port’s dead-ball specialist. The first, a corner from the left, was turned home by either Suarez, Rochela (22) or a defender from a couple of yards out, then the second, an inswinging free kick from deep, was directed goalwards by either Suarez or a defender.

At half time Hiroshima made some changes, and seemed to have brought some quality off the bench. They got right back in to the game with a quick-fire double, with both goals following a very familiar pattern for Port defensively. Two crosses from the Port left, neither under any real pressure from a defender, found teammates in the middle who found the back of the net. For the first at least the goal-scorer was being marked by Rochela, although he couldn’t stop the ball being poked towards goal. Worawut (36), who looks certain to start the season as Port’s first choice ‘keeper with Rattanai (17) seemingly still not 100% after a string of injuries last season, will be disappointed not to have kept it out.

The second was a free header, with the attacker peeling away from Todsapol (6) in to far more space than there should have been just 8 yards away from the Port goal. Are Port ever going to address their painfully obvious left-sided issue? Four goals in two games have been conceded from there, with neither Panpanpong (19) or the left-sided midfielder taking responsibility for stopping crosses coming in. Last season it was clear there was a problem, although with Genki ahead of Panpanpong the damage done by his positional indiscipline was perhaps not as bad as it could have been. This season Port seem likely to be lining up with either Nurul (31) or Pakorn on the left hand side of midfield, and as much as they bring to the team on the creative side, they will not immediately be thinking about filling in for their left-back when they see him bombing forward. With pre-season almost at an end, though, Port have given very little game time to either Yossawat (28) or Jetjinn (51), who ought to have been given the opportunity to make a case for first-team inclusion.

Port were soon back on the offensive though, with Siwakorn once again putting enough pressure on his opponents to force a mistake. A loose pass in midfield was pounced on by the Thin White Duke, who rode two challenges before releasing Suarez who played in Boskovic. The Montengrin had the beating of the centre halves, who both simultaneously brought him down in the area. The referee pointed to the spot, despite the utterly ridiculous appeals of the defenders, and El Capitan Rochela stepped up to do the business. If pre-season is anything to go by Port will not be bottom of the penalties-awarded list this time around!

The final nail in the Japanese coffin was created by another typical Nurul incursion in to the box. Nurul had been busy throughout, often being on the receiving end of some robust challenges, and on this occasion was just about to pull the trigger when he was fouled. After being fed by Nitipong (34), the diminutive Southerner turned smartly in the box and his swinging boot was impeded from behind. The referee once again awarded Port the spot-kick, but this time Kim (8) was determined to show off his goal-scoring credentials. The Korean’s penalty kick looked well-practiced, meaning that in Rochela, Boskovic and Kim, Port seem to have three very capable options.

 


 

In Tuesday’s game, which your correspondent didn’t make it to by the way, Port faced off against T2 side Samut Sakhon FC. The ambitious Proud Junk Ship, who have finished first in their division for 3 consecutive seasons, were facing Port’s second string, with Jadet taking the opportunity to give a final audition to those still looking to break in to the First XI before the season opener two weekends from now.

 

 

The man most in need of a star turn was of course German Bajram Nebihi (14), who is locked in a head-to-head battle with Suarez for a place in Port’s 2018 T1 squad. Other contenders are Bodin (15), who is pushing Pakorn (7) and Nurul (31) for a spot on the wing, Dolah (4), who is in contention with Todsapol (6) in central defence, and Jetjinn (51), who purely by virtue of the fact that Panpanpong (19) is still in the team must not be far behind.

With the only video posted by the Port Facebook page today being a clip of Terens Puhiri attempting to sing, we have nothing to go by other than the list of goal-scorers and a couple of comments from those who watched the game.

New striker Arthit (29) opened the scoring, getting on the end of a pass from Bodin and putting Port one up just before the interval. About 5 minutes after the restart, Nebihi got the goal he desperately needed. He converted a freekick from about 20 yards out, and according to our sources it was the least he deserved for an excellent all-round performance. All we know about the final goal was that it was scored by Dolah and assisted by Chakrit (9), who had replaced Bodin just a few minutes earlier.

So, Nebihi did what he needed to do, and it will be very interesting to see who Jadet chooses for Friday’s final friendly against Suphanburi. Bodin will be pleased to have notched an assist, and Dolah will also be happy with a clean sheet and a goal to his name.

 


 

Port conclude their pre-season campaign against Suphanburi on Saturday 3rd February at 17:00. See you there!

 

Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting: Port FC 2-3 Suwon FC

 

What should have been a laid-back pre-season friendly ended up being a hard-fought 5-goal thriller involving a mass brawl following a spat centred around Sergio Suarez. Port ended up coming out on the wrong side of the 3-2 scoreline, but with some more clinical finishing the result could easily have gone the other way.

 

 

 

Jadet went with something pretty close to his first XI, with the two eyebrow-raisers being that Suarez (5) was preferred to Nebihi (18) and Bodin (15) to Pakorn (7). The first half, while it lasted, was a pretty even affair, with both sides having a few attacks and winning a penalty each, although we weren’t convinced entirely by either of them. Suwon were first up, as their left-winger ghosted past Nitipong, who the referee adjudged to have pushed his opponent in the back. From what we saw the Korean tripped over the ball, but Nitipong (34) – who regardless of whether or not he committed the foul was completely caught out by his opponent – may well have helped him on his way down. Suwon’s resident Brazilian hit the top corner, with Worawut (36) going the wrong way.

Then it was Port’s turn up the other end, with Boskovic (10) being sent through down the middle. The Montenegrin, who had largely been starved of service up to that point, looked to have delayed his shot too long, although his blushes were saved when a sliding challenge came in from his right, and he took a tumble which convinced the referee enough to point to the spot. From our angle it looked like a questionable decision, but we can’t say we’re not happy to have a forward with enough about him to win the penalty if he’s not going to score the goal. Boskovic handed the ball to captain Rochela (22), who still seems to be on spot-kick duty despite the arrival of his record-scoring teammate, and El Capitan dispatched it in to the top right corner with the usual ease.

What was a pretty low-key affair was about to turn very ugly indeed, though, and the man at the centre of the big first-half controversy was Sergio Suarez, who may well have bought his own ticket away from Khlong Toei with the way he reacted to a bit of handbags from an opposition player. Suarez came in with a late challenge which sent both players to the turf, then the Korean player appeared to throw a little slap in his direction. Suarez got up quicker than he ever has done in his Port career and proceeded to kick out at his opponent. Now, I’m not talking a Beckham-versus-Argentina little flick of the foot here but a full on studs-first attack designed to hurt his opponent. In an instant at least 3 Koreans were aiming myriad martial arts kicks at Suarez, who was forced in to a hasty retreat. Within seconds there were dozens of people on the pitch, with a fair few players pushing, shoving and having to be restrained by teammates and staff on both sides. Dolah (4) was summoned from the bench to remove Suarez, who was sat down and given what looked to be a pretty stern talking to by Madame Pang. Reports that Nebihi was seen grinning like a Cheshire cat are unconfirmed but almost certainly accurate!

Eventually, with Rochela, Kim (39) and Nitipong mediating on the Port side, peace was restored and incredibly the referee agreed not to send anyone off, but presumably insisted that both sides sub-off all of the offenders in a bid to restore sanity. Suarez, Todsapol (6) and Bodin went off for Port, but it was a long time before replacements Nebihi, Dolah and Pakorn saw any action. The first half was stopped, despite there having been about 30 minutes played, and there was a longer-than usual half-time break for all of the players to regain their composure. It seemed for a moment as if the Koreans weren’t going to be returning for the second period, with all their equipment disappearing from the side of the pitch, and the whole squad in the dressing room. Eventually they did reemerge to play the second period though, and within just a couple of minutes were back in the lead.

The move came down Port’s left, with a Suwon attacker getting the wrong side of his marker to head his team back in to the lead. Port tried to get back in to the game, with Pakorn and Dolah combining a couple of times from set-pieces to threaten the Korean goal, but despite the Thai-Swede’s significant height advantage he couldn’t find the target with his headers. There was also a moment of interest for fans of Delap-era Stoke City, with Kim (39) unveiling a very useful-looking long throw, although his teammates were not best positioned to take advantage of it. Now, I’ve never really seen a Thai team set up to try and attack a long throw, so Port may be best served letting Kim take a training session himself and teach his teammates how to wreak havoc in the opposition box with these deliveries. Port could well have a dangerous attacking weapon on their hands that few opponents will be prepared to defend against if they play their cards right.

Suwon had a few useful attacking ideas of their own, too, and just a few minutes after scoring their second they got a third. The attack once again came down Port’s left, which most Port fans will be used to with Panpanpong (19) ‘defending’ that side of the pitch. He was soon replaced, with Jetjinn (51) once again being preferred to Yossawat (28) as back-up in that position.

With the Koreans perhaps content with their two goal lead, though, Port really ratcheted up the pressure, and it was Nebihi who was at the heart of most of it. The ungainly German almost always seems to be about to lose the ball, before one of his long legs flicks it around a defender. At times he was embarrassing his opponents, with a superb piece of exhibition skill featuring a couple of cheeky nutmegs down the right between him, Pakorn and Nitipong drawing numerous cheers from the rowdy foreigners in Zone C.

The other star performer was Kim who, aside from his long throws, also impressed with his long passing. On a few occasions, searching passes from deep were aimed either forward at Boskovic, whose movement was excellent throughout, or wide to Pakorn, whose control and crossing was of the standard we’ve come to expect from The Midfield Monk. If Boskovic had been able to convert a one-on-one chance against the keeper, where the bounce of the ball seemed to foil him, or a simple volleyed chance from a Pakorn cross, then Port would have been victorious. He did get on to the score sheet late on, though, as Port were awarded the least controversial penalty of the night for a clear handball. This time, Boskovic stepped up to take the spot-kick, and rolled the ball home impudently, sending the ‘keeper helplessly in the wrong direction.

 

 

The final incident of note came from a freekick which Port were awarded just on the edge of the area in the dying seconds of the game. Boskovic, having just converted the penalty, was determined to take it, but Pakorn isn’t used to being challenged in this sort of position. Nevertheless, the fire-breathing Dragan got his point across and was allowed to take responsibility. His effort looked in for a second, but some combination of the gigantic Korean ‘keeper and the crossbar kept it out, denying Port a draw, which after the amount of chances they created in the last 20 or so minutes, was the least they deserved.

So, what did we learn today? Pre-game, Suarez had earned the right to start ahead of Nebihi, but quickly shot himself in the foot with his karate kid antics. If Nebihi was behind Suarez for the final foreign player spot, he has most certainly moved ahead of him with another superb 45 minute performance. Port are very dangerous going forward, but the defensive frailties are far from a thing of the past.

 

Port FC Man of the Match

 

 

Nebihi may have impressed again, but my Man of the Match this time was Kim in central midfield. We haven’t seen vision and passing as good as Kim’s at PAT Stadium for quite a while, and that long throw could come in handy, too.

 

Suphan-Buried! Port FC 3-2 Suphanburi FC

 

After last week’s less than stellar performance against Ratchaburi, where Port were fortunate to salvage a point, expectations going into a match against a strong Suphanburi side were tempered to say the least.

Trepidation crept in when the starting XI headed out onto the field for the warm-up.  Certainly Meechok (20) with his strong defending would be at right back and Tatchanon (39) or Wanchalerm (40) would be given the holding midfielder role against a big, physical Suphan squad, right? But no, Nitipong (34) was given the start at right back and Adisorn (13) in center midfield.

From the opening whistle it was apparent that the match would be much more lively than last weeks rather boring affair. Port were the better side for much of the first half and moved the ball through the midfield with relative ease for the first 25 minutes. Kaludjerovic (10) opened his Port account with an empty netter after receiving a gift in the form of keeper Sinthaweechai’s (18) deflection while he was attempting to stop Panpanpong’s (19) cross. Port 1-0 Suphan

Not to be outdone, in the 27th minute Rattanai (17) failed to hold onto the ball after a collision with Rochela (22) and the ball dropped right into the path of Dellatorre (9) who popped it into an empty net.  Port 1-1 Suphan

After the goal Suphan were the superior team for the rest of the first half, constantly pressing the attack, while Port played the defensive game. The aggression paid off in minute 36 when Dellatore (9) headed home a well-struck corner. Soon after, Port should have had a penalty for hand ball, but it was ignored by the official. The first half ended Port 1-2 Suphan

No changes were made by either side at half time. Play was again lively with both teams pressing the attack. Jadet replaced Kaludjerovic (10) with Tana (99) and moments later at the 56th minute Adul Lahsoh (19) saw red for his dangerous challenge on Adisorn (13). Up a man Port dominated possession, play, and chances. 5 minutes later Tana (99) rifled one home after receiving a nice soft-footed Ozil style pass from Genki (18). Port 2-2 Suphan

8 minutes later it was Sergio Suarez’s (5) turn when he slotted home a cross from Nitipong (34). Port 3-2 Suphan

The last 20 + 5 saw Port dominating for all but a few minutes. During stoppage time there was an anxious moment when it appeared that a Suphan attacker was taken down in the box, but fortunately the ref did not see it or did not consider it a penalty. You could feel the crowd’s relief when the final whistle blew giving Port their first victory of the season.

Observations

Although a much better effort than last week’s the team still has work to do. Overall play and flow is headed in the right direction but the team really has yet to gel and there still seems to be lack of focus and not much of a game plan.

Defensively, especially on set plays, the marking is not great. Dellatorre’s (9) goal was a perfect example. Dolah (4) should be matched up against the opposing team’s big man every time and he needs to stay with his cover.

Midfield play is a bit sloppy and the team still does not have a steady holding mid-fielder to direct and control the play. Although Adisorn (13) had a good match, it is far from given that he is the man for that spot. Jadet should give serious consideration to Tatchanon (39) and Wanchalerm (40) who both did well in pre-season.

Nitipong (34) had a very good game and was awarded man of the match by the press. However, Meechok (20) is superior defensively and against the league’s best wingers might present a better starting option. Nitipong (34) has also been fantastic off the bench and his speed can be deadly late in games if he is fresh. Definitely a change I would consider.

Hopefully Rattanai’s (17) failure to hold onto the ball is a one off mistake. He has been quite reliable during his tenure with Port. That being said, I think there still have to be some concerns about his size, stature, and strength. It will take a few more mistake free matches for me to be convinced.

Panpanpong (19) was quite good against Suphan, both defending and pressing forward. Improvement over last week was quite substantial. At this rate he might earn that left-back position.

Kaludjerovic (10) is a target man. Get him the ball in the box and he will put it on net. In order for the team to get the most out of him, they are going to have to provide him with a bit more service. This also underscores the need for Port to add another striker/scoring winger to the squad. We are still waiting to see if it will be Josimar (30) or Heberty.

Pakorn (9) had a great match. With a bit more experience at this level and some good coaching, he should be one of the better Thai wingers in the league.

Port FC Man of the Match

Sergio Suarez. Creative, fast, all over the pitch, and netted the winner.

Final Thoughts

We were better tonight. Progress was made over the last week. Hopefully it will continue, but it’s not going to be easy. A mid-table finish will require some doing.

I for one am glad we are playing many of the better teams at the beginning of the leg when they are not quite at top form. Makes it far more likely for us to grab a point or three. Bangkok Utd have not been ripping it up in their first two matches, we just might steal one from them as well.

See you guys in Pathum Thani!

 

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. 

 

MATCH REPORT: Port FC 3-1 Pattaya United

 

Port secured a comfortable 3 – 1 win against Pattaya United, thanks to a clinical first half performance. New signing Kaluderovic looked the business, notching his first two goals on his debut. Pattaya struck back, before Genki added a third goal late in the first half to seal Port’s second consecutive friendly victory against T1 opponents.

Port started with Worawut (36) in goal, and the same back four that has started the last few friendlies: Rochela (22), Dolah (4), Meechok (20) and Panpanpong (19). Suarez (15) played in an advanced role just behind striker Kaluderovic (10), with Siwakorn (16) and Tatchanon (27) anchoring the midfield. Pakorn (9) played on the right wing, and Genki (18) on the left.

Pattaya looked lively in the early going, but had no real bite to their attack. Rochela and Dolah were fairly busy, but did what was asked of them with relative ease.

20 year old new signing Tatchanon had his best game to date at the base of the midfield, keeping the ball moving without ever looking like losing possession, and spreading the play with a couple of excellent long balls out to the flanks.

The even younger Meechok was also a revelation down the right. At times in the first half, the right back seemed to be playing a more advanced role than right winger Pakorn, so it was no surprise when his good work led to the opening goal. Meechok’s run down the right was expertly picked out by a lofted Siwakorn pass, and the right back played the ball across the six yard box where Kaluderovic swept home with ease from close range.

Spot the scoreboard #fail

Just a few minutes later, the same three combined to score a second. Meechok, pressing high up the pitch, intercepted a pass in midfield and the ball broke to Siwakorn who played a well-weighted through-ball for Kaluderovic to run on to. The Serbian made no mistake with a classy outside-of-the-boot finish to make it 2 debut goals and 2-0 to Port. Whilst neither goal was particularly special, the way they were taken seemed effortless. We don’t want to jinx it, but this might be the first time since the legendary Leandro that Port have had a foreign striker who makes scoring goals look easy!

Pattaya soon got themselves back in to the game, though. After a fortuitous richochet on the edge of the area, a Pattaya forward reacted quicker than the Port defence and managed to force the ball past an onrushing Worawut to bring Pattaya back within a goal.

Port were still playing the better football of the two sides, though, so it was probably a fair reflection of the first half that they went in 3-1 up. Kaluderovic was once again involved, this time turning well under pressure in the middle of the park before releasing Suarez down the left with a pinpoint pass. Suarez could easily have gone for goal himself, but unselfishly squared the ball to Genki who got ahead of his marker to score the tap-in.

It was an important goal for the Japanese player, who few have been expecting to stay with Port in 2017. Nevertheless, with less than a month to go he finds himself starting with Jadet’s first choice side, whilst no rumours of an AFC replacement are anywhere to be seen. It’s looking increasingly likely that Genki could retain his place in the squad, although there is of course still time for that to change.

The liveliest player of an otherwise pretty dour second half was Port’s other left winger, Ekkapoom (8). Port, once again, brought out an almost entirely different XI. Rattanai (17) came on in goal, and Nitipong (34), Anisong (31) and Piyachart (23) joined Dolah – the only player to stay out – in defence. Wanchalerm (35) and Piyachat (28) played in central midfield, with Ekkapoom wide left and Maranhao (29) wide right. Wuttichai (14) partnered (5) Tana, playing his first game after a lengthy spell out injured, in a conventional front two.

Whilst the two strikers both looked a little off the pace, the wingers looked busy and dangerous. Ekkapoom and Maranhao both hit the post after creating excellent chances for themselves, but neither could add to Port’s lead.

Midway trough the second period, left back Piyachart picked up a knock and was replaced by Suchon (11), but the substitution that got everyone talking was the introduction of Pinyo (21) late on in the half. Pinyo was injured for almost the whole of last season, but now finally seems to be getting an opportunity to prove his fitness. He came on for Ekkapoom in the 80th minute, and looked enthusiastic, although understandably short of match-sharpness.

Little else of interest happened in the second half, meaning Port claimed another confidence boosting victory against top-tier opposition. If they can secure another victory against Nakhon Ratchasima on Sunday, Port will be heading in to their opening game of the season against Rachaburi full of belief that they can cause an upset.

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk – 17 Jan 2017

 

It’s Transfer Talk round-up time! The start of the season is nearly upon us, meaning all of the transfer tomfoolery is nearly at an end. As always, there have been lots of coming and goings, so we’re going to do our best to summarize them for you here.

Out

 

Thiago Cunha (10)
Last year’s big-name signing was expected to make a splash in D1, but ended up being a huge flop. His antics got less and less bearable as the season went on, although he did scoop The Sandpit’s Goal of the Season award!

Rodrigo Maranhao (29)
Maranhao looked like a worldbeater at the start of 2016, but his performances tailed off in the second half of the season. Nevertheless, most Port fans would have preferred to keep hold of the likeable Brazilian. Only time will tell whether letting him go was the right decision or not.

Renan Oliveira (25)
Oliveira was the forgotten man at Port last year. He played a couple of games, didn’t look great, then got dropped from the squad altogether. It’s no surprise he has not been retained for 2017.

Wagner Carioca (35)
Wagner followed the opposite trajectory to Maranhao, really coming in to his own in the second half of last season. Another player who many fans would have been happy to keep hold of, although his replacement in centre midfield does look bloody good.

Artit Daosawang (19)
On loan from Muang Thong last season, Artit played a few games in centre midfield. He will return to Muang thong as planned in 2017.

Sathaporn Daengsi (15)
Sathaporn arrived on loan from Buriram for the second half of 2016, becoming first choice left back and performing consistently if unspectacularly. He will return to Buriram in 2017.

Narong Wisetsri (39)
Narong was third choice goalkeeper last season, never managing to challenge his two younger competitors for a place in the first XI.

Naronrit Samonpan (4)
Naronrit was a bit-part player for the last few seasons, supplying cover in defence and occasionally midfield in the case of injuries and suspensions. He is considered surplus to requirements after the arrival of Dolah.

Artit Promkun (24)
We don’t recall the other Artit getting any game-time at all last season, so far was he down the left back pecking order. It’s no surprise that he has moved on.

Watchara Buathong (1)
Watchara returns to BBCU on loan for a second consecutive season. He’s a good ‘keeper with lots of potential, but can’t find his was past Worawut or Rattanai.

 

The New Signings

In

 

Sergio Suarez (4)
Suarez has impressed in pre-season since joining from Songkhla. His touch and passing have looked top-notch, and he seems to have slotted effortlessly in to the team. We expect big things from him in 2017.

Asdrubal Padron (24)
Asdrubal brings a big reputation with him to Port, having played in La Liga for Las Palmas. It’s too early to tell how well he will adapt to his new surroundings and a different style of football, but we have high hopes nevertheless!

Andrija Kaluderovic (10)
Kaluderovic scores goals for fun, and he does it all over the world. If he can reproduce anything like the 20 in 19 strike-rate he managed in Lithuania last season, he will be a star. It will be interesting to see whether Asdrubal or Kaluderovic are preferred up front, or whether they are played as a pair with either Suarez or Rochela dropping to the bench. Only time will tell.

Elias Dolah (40)
Dolah has lived up to the hype in his brief pre-season appearances. The Thai-Swede who signed from Songkhla has been winning almost everything in the air, and tackling powerfully. He could end up being the signing of the season for Port in 2017.

Patrick Bentley (30)
We know very little about 20 year old Bentley. We know that he’s Thai-Australian, and we don’t think he’s played professionally before. To be filed under ‘one for the future’.

Siwapong Jarernsin (35)
Journeyman Siwapong joins from Sisaket to add strength in depth to the midfield. He can take a lovely free-kick, as he did against Navy in pre-season.

Wanchalerm Yingyong (26)
Wanchalerm has joined on loan from Chiang Rai, giving Jadet another midfielder to choose from.

Tatchanon Nakarawong (27)
Tatchanon at just 20 seems to be a good signing in the long term. Whilst he joins the ever-lengthening queue for midfield game-time, he has time on his side, and has been playing regularly in pre-season.

Panpanpong Pinkong (19)
Panpanpong joins from Bangkok Utd, where he provided cover at full back. He seems to be being considered for a starting role this season at Port, but we’re backing Piyachart to be preferred come the start of the season.

Weera (1)
Weera was first signed by Port in 2015. He has since left and now come back. We think. We’ve definitely seen him training and playing in friendlies, although nothing has been announced by the club.

Unfinished Business

 

Whilst it has been strongly rumoured that Genki (18) was not going to be kept in 2017, his departure has not been announced, and no replacement has been signed. Genki continues to train with the club, and was given a start in the most recent friendly against Sukhothai. We still think it’s likely that another AFC foreign player will be brought in to replace him on the left wing, but time is running out with the season fast-approaching.

 

MATCH REPORT: Port FC 1-1 Pahang FA

 

Pahang FA held Port to a 1-1 draw on Sunday, but the result didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the home fans, who brought the noise to PAT Stadium for the first time since the stadium ban took effect in September.

The Zone B Fans

Since then Port fans have been itching to get back on the terraces to cheer on their team, and yesterday they finally had their chance. A few hundred fans hungry for football – and a few dozen particularly thirsty for Leo – saw Port slip to a disappointing draw against a side they should probably have beaten.

Pahang FA play in the Malaysian Super League – where they finished 9th last season – but Port’s first half performance indicated that they were much the stronger side. The first half side was almost identical to the one fielded at Navy on Thursday. The only change was in goal, where Weera (40), who if we’re honest we had completely forgotten about, played a quiet but mistake-free 45 minutes. In front of him was a back four of Rochela (22), Dolah (38), Meechok (20) and a former Bangkok United player currently on trial at Port, the superbly named Panpanpong Pinkong (19). Suarez (4), Siwakorn (16) and a 20 year old tralist from Army – Tatchanon Nakarawong (27) – operated as a three in the centre of midfield, with Ekkapoom (8) and Pakorn (9) on the wings. Sene (40) once again started up front; determined to get on the score sheet after peppering the goal but failing to score against Navy.

The action, as seen from Zone B

Port started brightly, moving the ball through midfield with purpose. Suarez was the stand-out player, showing a nice touch and great vision. He controlled play and delivered some excellent passes out wide. His good work paid off 15 minutes in to the first half. Suarez found Pakorn on the right hand side, and Pakorn hung up an inviting cross which had Sene’s name written all over it. The towering French forward jumped so high that he actually had to stoop in mid-air to connect with the cross, but regardless he powered his header past the ‘keeper to make it 1-0.

Pahang rarely threatened the Port goal, but on one of the rare occasions they ventured forward new signing Dolah showed his strength and timing to win an important tackle and play a smart pass out in to midfield. The six foot five Thai-Swedish centre half looked calm and capable throughout the half, suggesting that he could form a formidable partnership with Rochela, although he was never really tested against the Malaysians.

Wholesale changes were made at half time again, with only Sene staying on the pitch. The second string were more evenly matched with Pahang, and they largely cancelled eachother out in a half where chances were at a premium. Genki (18) was industrious as ever, and Piyachart (23) made some enterprising runs forward, but Port couldn’t really find their rhythm. Matters were not helped when Sene was replaced by Wuttichai (14) and Maranhao (29) limped off the pitch after picking up a knock.

In the 75th minute Pahang found themselves back on level terms, and the game started to become a little feisty. Substitute Wuttichai was fouled and exchanged heated words with a Pahang defender, then seconds before the final whistle he was deservedly given his marching orders for an ugly foul, clearly an act of retribution.

Despite the not-so-friendly game ending on a sour note, the Port fans had a good day out, particularly the fans from Zone B who brought their drums and created a more upbeat atmosphere than we’re used to seeing in pre-season.

Port are yet to announce any more friendlies, but when they do The Sandpit will be sure to keep you updated.

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk – 7 Dec 2016

Port could be keeping hold of just one or two of their foreign players from last season, if Thai news reports are to be believed.

Thiago Cunha (10) left under a cloud with five weeks of the season still remaining. His final kick – perhaps his most accurate of the season – was aimed at the dressing room door rather than the goal, which incidentally he had struggled to find all season.

He was followed out of the door by Wagner Carioca (35), a player who many hoped would remain at PAT Stadium after a string of impressive displays in the second half of the season.

Now there are rumours that Rodrigo Maranhao (29) and Genki Nagasato (18) have also not made the cut.

Genki Nagasato

Genki Nagasato

Maranhao made an electric start to the 2016 season, scoring at will and looking every inch a TPL player, but his form faded markedly throughout the year and he found himself in and out of the starting XI in the final weeks of the season.

Genki, on the other hand, was not known for his match-winning displays but for his high workrate and consistent 7/10 performances. He featured in many positions across the midfield and attack without ever really making any of them his own.

It would seem that Jadet Meelarp – or perhaps an even higher power – are demanding more from their foreign contingent, and will be looking to the transfer market to add more firepower to the squad in their bid to secure TPL survival in 2017.

In a surprise twist, it is also being suggested that Renan Oliveira (25), who made just a couple of appearances last season, could remain at the club along with Captain and star player David Rochela (22). As Oliveira has not been seen at training of late, The Sandpit would be shocked if he was kept on, but stranger things have happened in the unpredictable world of Thai football!

Wanchalerm Yingyong, 23

Wanchalerm Yingyong, 23

In confirmed transfer news, 23 year old midfielder Wanchalerm Yingyong has joined on loan from big-spenders Chiang Rai, and in not-quite-confirmed-yet-but-pretty-close news Spanish playmaker Sergio Suarez will likely sign on the dotted line any day now, making him the first foreign signing of the season.

Thai attacking midfielder Pakin Kaikaew, who boasts an impressive record of 13 goals in 96 games over the last four seasons for TPL rivals Bangkok Glass, is also believed to be on the verge of joining, although as always The Sandpit will wait patiently and keep refreshing Madam Pang’s Instagram page until there is real confirmation.

Thanks to Sven from Thai-Fussball for some of the gossip, as without his work I would have almost nothing to steal and pass off as my own!