Posts

Tom’s Transfer Talk – Mid-Season Roundup

 

OK, so Tom’s Transfer Talk hasn’t been particularly talkative so far this season. It has been a shockingly quiet transfer window by Port’s recent standards, but there have been a fair amount of low-key moves and juicy rumours, so let’s get up to date with exactly what’s been going on at Port in recent weeks.

 

Departures

First and foremost let’s get the bad news out of the way. Despite his exemplary commitment to training and his tenacious attitude on the pitch, Thai national team star and fan favourite Tana Chanabhut has been shockingly allowed to leave PAT Stadium. To add insult to injury, not only are Port being deprived of the services of one of the finest moustaches in world football, the forward has been sold to T2 team Nongbua Pitchaya FC, a side so far below his level I’m shocked he agreed to the move. No, wait a minute…

 

 

HAHAHAAAAA SCREW YOU TANA, YOU OVERRATED, LAZY GOOD-FOR-NOTHING WASTE OF A SQUAD NUMBER! NEVER, EVER, EVER COME BACK!

Ahhh, that’s better. Anyway, Port have also allowed young right-back Meechok Marhasaranukun to move on. After signing from TOT, Meechok broke in to Port’s starting XI in 2016 at the age of just 18, but was displaced by Nitipong at the start of 2017, and has spent the vast majority of the last season and a half on the bench. Now 20, it makes sense for Meechok to move on to a club where he can get more regular football, but surprisingly he has chosen to move to Suphanburi, where he is not expected to be getting an awful lot of playing time, either. Still, we wish Meechok, a good young player with a bright future ahead of him, all the best.

 

 

Port have surprisingly not moved to replace Meechok, so either versatile defensive midfelder Adisorn or left winger Chakrit Rawanprakone are expected to fill in if first choice Nitipong is injured or suspended.

Speaking of versatile central midfielders, Athibordee Atirat has also secured a transfer away from PAT Stadium, although his move is not permanent. Athibordee joins Navy on a 6 month loan, where he is expected to play a key role in midfield. He’ll need to perform miracles to keep Navy up, mind you. This move surprised me a little, as Athibordee had been seeing pretty regular action in midfield and defence, but he is obviously seen as surplus to requirements in the second half of the season.

 

 

There have been some other loan moves too, although it’s mostly players who were already out on loan moving on to different clubs.

Left back Yossawat Montha, who made 9 starts for strugglers Ubon UMT, has moved to Prachuap, where he will compete for a starting berth for 2018’s surprise success story. Unfortunately for Yossawat, he will likely be behind 37 year old Prachuap captain Adul Meunsamaan in the pecking order, whilst former Port teammate Piyachart Tamaphan will also provide competition.

 

 

Bajram Nebihi has also moved on from Chiang Rai, with Chonburi securing his services on loan for the second half of 2018. The big German didn’t strike up much of a partnership with under-performing star player Cleiton Silva, so it is no surprise that ambitious Chiang Rai are looking to rebuild their forward line without Nebihi. It was also no surprise that the player who had such a strong impact for Ubon in 2017 had numerous suitors. Talk of a move to Navy was rife, before he eventually signed for The Sharks.

 

 

Now we starts to get in to the weeds a little. Two players who, as far as I was aware, had already made permanent their moves away from PAT Stadium may still be on the books. It’s of little consequence that Thanakorn Saipunya is still a Port player, as he wasn’t given a squad number and was confined to training with Port B in pre-season. His move to Khon Kaen is apparently only a loan, but he will surely leave on a permanent deal at some point, without getting a sniff of first team action.

 

 

The other player in limbo is midfielder Tatchanon Nakarawong, who everyone including Chonburi seemed to think was a Chonburi player, but is now apparently on loan at Army from Port. Tatchanon arrived at Port from Army a couple of seasons ago, and despite impressing in pre-season was grossly underused by Port before being shipped out on loan to another club where he was very unlikely to see significant game time. Indeed, the youngster played just 7 times for The Sharks. He has finally done the right thing in joining a team where he is likely to be first choice, although with Army recently announced that they will be folding, he will likely have to move on again before long.

 

 

 

Arrivals

Now, I know I said things had been quiet, but I do actually have a couple of confirmed arrivals for you. This could be good…

Port have signed two young players who had been part of King Power’s ‘Fox Hunt’ project. Anon Samakorn and Somprasong Promsorn are the two players in question, and they look pretty promising. Anon, nicknamed Boat, is a 19 year old midfielder who has been on the books at both Leicester City and OH Leuven’s youth setups. Somprasong, nicknamed Toto, is a 21 year old right winger who has also been with both Leicester and Leuven. He looks pretty nifty in this video, playing for Leuven’s under 19 team in a 4-1 victory over Bierbeek, and showing some impressive pace and trickery. The video of Anon’s performance from the same game looks less exciting, although he does notch an assist with a clever through-ball.

 

Anon (l) and Somprasong (r)

 

Both players have been given first team squad numbers, with Anon taking number 20 and Somprasong number 14, although it is thought that both will start out with Port B before joining the big boys.

 

Rumours

Now for the rumours. We’ve been hearing Ratchaburi’s Thai-German right wing back Philip Roller’s name over and over again in recent days. He has been linked with both Port and Muangthong though, in a situation eerily reminiscent of the saga that led to Kevin Deeromram signing for Port. Roller is a superb player, but would find very stiff competition for a place in Port’s team. I do think that he’s a better player than Nitipong, but there’s certainly no guarantee that he would nail down a starting place, whilst his ability to play further forward would be of little value to Port, who already possess a surfeit of right wingers. As much as it pains me to say it, I think a move to the Theatre of Corrugated Iron makes sense for Roller, with Tristan Do having moved on to the wing and midfielder Wattana Plainum currently playing out of position at full-back.

 

 

We also heard numerous rumours that Port’s third choice goalie Watchara Buathong was on the way out, but as far as we know the perennial back-up to the back-up is still kicking around at PAT Stadium. He must like the easy life.

 

Chainat Hornbill FC 2-1 Port FC

 

After last night’s gutless, embarrassing show by Port at Chainat, I’ve decided to show as much effort, commitment and respect for my audience in this week’s match report as the players did last night. So here it is, accompanied by a pic of two players who, whilst they may not have been as naturally talented as some of the current side, always showed heart and knew what it meant to wear the Port shirt.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sandpit Man of the Match: Tana

It was a shock to see that Tana, who appeared to have left the club late last season to become a policeman, was part of yesterday’s matchday squad. It was an insult to underused players like Terens and Bodin that he was brought on ahead of them. And it was an embarrassment to the rest of the team that he was Port’s best player on the night and had our only shot on goal. Millions spent on new players and we’re still relying on Tana? What a joke.

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk: Tada Tana?

 

 

Port have continued to trim fat from their squad, with two more departures confirmed and one more strongly rumoured. There have also been some interesting developments with the academy, and talk of further arrivals to the full squad, although we have no idea which area of the squad is being earmarked for improvement.

The two confirmed exits were both players who were out on loan for the second half of last season. Tatchanon Nakarawong has made his move to Chonburi permanent, whilst Pinyo Inpinit has been snapped up by Police Tero after his loan spell at Prachuap last season.

 

 

Tatchanon endured a testing 6 months with Port, being consistently overlooked in defensive midfield despite being Port’s best player in that position during pre-season. Ludicrously, he played just 165 minutes for Port in the first half of the season, before securing a deadline-day loan move to Chonburi for whom he played just 211 minutes. At 21, Tatchanon still has a lot of time to break in to The Sharks’ first team, but I can’t help thinking that he may have been better served joining a weaker team where he would have more chance of starting games. Nevertheless, we wish him the best in his quest for first team football in 2018.

 

 

Pinyo’s time at Port also has to go down as very unfortunate. He arrived at Port from Police alongside Pakorn, and both were expected to be key figures in Port’s 2016 promotion campaign. Whereas Pakorn made an immediate impact, Pinyo suffered a serious injury and incredibly failed to make a single appearance in the league for the next 2 seasons. Despite returning to fitness a few times, injury always struck before Pinyo could fight his way back in to the team, although in the second half of 2017 he did manage a handful of games for Prachuap. The Killer Wasps didn’t make the deal permanent, but Police Tero swooped in and will take a gamble on the former Thai international, ending his unhappy spell at PAT Stadium.

 


 

It has also been announced that Port will be fielding a ‘B’ team in T4 next season, which will give Port’s academy players a chance to test themselves against seasoned pros. Along with this announcement, Port also unveiled a promising youngster who will be joining the youth setup next season. Chaowala Sriarwut, nicknamed Arm, impressed for Ratchawinit Bang Khen School in 2017, played for Bangkok Glass under 19s in the Coke Cup and has agreed to join Port’s youth setup for the 2018 season.

 

 

The last piece of news is a bit of a Sandpit Exclusive, as Port defender Elias Dolah let it slip in his interview with us that the man who “doesn’t take things seriously at all” has “left Port for sure.” After enjoying an extended holiday – which apparently his teammates weren’t aware of – Tana returned to training with about as much urgency as he shows while tracking back on the pitch, and is not expected to remain with Port in 2018. We have reported a few times about rumours linking him to hometown club Khonkaen FC, who have been spreading some money around in an attempt to secure a second successive promotion, but there is no further news on that front. The moment when Tana is unveiled by another club and I get to finally press that ‘Bin’ button on his player profile can’t come soon enough!

 

 

The speculation about yet more new arrivals is based on comments from Madame Pang which suggest that she will consider bringing in reinforcements if the right player becomes available. Bringing in another forward would certainly seem to be a wise move, whilst defensive cover may also be an option worth considering.

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk: Bodin Well

 

Port returned to training on Wednesday, which means we can now definitively confirm a few more transfers.

Bodin Phala has become the third winger to sign for Port in this transfer window, meaning that competition for places is really going to be heating up in pre-season between Pakorn and new boys Bodin, Nurul and Chakrit. Bodin signs from champions Buriram, but has a surprising Port connection from his youth. Bodin played for Port Futsal Club as a teenager in 2013, and from there made the switch to football with Rangsit. He was quickly spotted by Bangkok Glass where he soon became a regular, after which he was signed by Chiang Rai and then Buriram. Port are believed to have paid about 7 million baht for Bodin, who broke in to the national team alongside fellow new signing Nurul in the last couple of years.

 

 

Kim Sung-Hwan – whose signing we were first to announce what seems like ages ago – has also been seen at training, and taken his obligatory photo with Madame Pang. We were starting to worry that no one else seemed to be mentioning Port’s new Korean defensive midfielder, but they caught up with us eventually and reported his free transfer from Ulsan Hyundei in the last few days.

 

 

Port have also finally been linked with an ASEAN player, suggesting that they may intend to bring in a player to fill the newest part of the 3+1+1 quota. An 18 year old Burmese player was been spotted wearing the number 15 shirt at training, although he is as yet nameless and we’re not sure what position he plays. We will let you know more about this when we do!

 

 

We also have a couple of confirmed departures, neither of which are at all surprising. Central defender Anisong Chareantham, whose number 15 shirt our new Burmese friend is wearing, has moved to Nong Bua Pitchaya, where he will play alongside former Port left back Suchon next season. Lost boy and reported central midfielder Siwapong Jarernsin has also moved on after an unsuccessful spell in Khlong Toei where he did a pretty poor job impersonating a professional footballer.

 

Anisong Chareantham (l) and Siwpong Jarernsin (r)

 

When it comes to gossip, not much has changed in the hunt for a foreign striker since Monday’s Transfer Talk, although we have seen one very optimistic addition to Port’s star-studded wish-list. It seems very much like Port are still in the frame to sign superstars Jaja Coelho and Dragan Boskovic, and the most recent addition is former Muangthong striker Cleiton Silva, who has being banging in goals for fun in Thailand for years. His success earned him a big move to China, where he has continued to perform well, netting 17 times in 26 games for Shanghai Shenxin. File this one under ‘speculative’. No progress appears to have been made with Jaja or Boskovic, who are the targets Port are really working on bringing in.

On the exit front there are a couple of new rumours, such as promising talk linking Tana with Khonkaen FC, who have just been promoted to T2. Last year they spent big on foreign players Romain Gasmi and Darko Tasevski, so it seems within the realms of possibility that they are willing to pay Tana’s substantial wage demands to bring him back to a level more suited to his abilities.

 

 

Elias Dolah has also been linked with a move to Bangkok Glass, who tried to sign him when he came to Port. Our source says that Port have received several offers for Dolah, but he will be staying where he is. With their lack of depth at the back, Port should certainly be loath to consider letting Dolah go, as he was first choice centre half for the vast majority of 2017.

Finally, Wuttichai and Piyachart have repeatedly been linked with moves away from PAT Stadium, and it seems likely that both will be moving on before too long. Piyachart may be holding out for a T1 offer, as he had a successful loan spell with Ubon in the second half of 2017, but Wuttichai will likely settle for a T2 berth at his hometown club Sisaket. The Sandpit will be eagerly anticipating the 0-0 draw that is virtually guaranteed when striking legends Wuttichai and Tana face off in T2 next season. That’s if either of them can get a game in T2.

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk: Nebihi, or not Nebihi?

 

Transfer season is well and truly upon us, and unsurprisingly rumours are aplenty. The latest gossip has had Port signing a 12-goal midfielder, whilst teetering on the brink of losing a star player. But don’t panic everyone… Tana’s probably staying!

We start with the exciting news that Bajram Nebihi is being strongly linked with a move to PAT Stadium. The big Ubon attacking midfielder was integral in his team’s electric start to the season, scoring 5 times in his first 4 games, and he ended the season with 12 goals and 2 assists in the league, despite falling a little out of favour and completing 90 minutes just 4 times in the second half of the season.

 

 

29 year old Nebihi hails from Germany, but was born in Kosovo. The nomadic European played for 11 clubs across Germany, Turkey, Finland and Iran before being signed by Ubon in 2017. He is a big, strong player – 1.94m or 6 foot 4 – and that extra height and aerial ability could be just what Port’s attack needs in 2018. My only concern with this rumour is how exactly Port intend to use the big man. He performed best at Ubon playing ‘in the hole’ behind a striker, although he was used up front a few times too. If he is being touted as a replacement for Suarez in attacking midfield then I think he is probably an upgrade on the Spaniard, but he certainly isn’t a natural striker, and if he’s being signed as one then Port could be making a mistake. Thus, even if he is signed, the search for a Scary Foreign Striker should continue, although an even more pressing concern for Port has been the future of their main provider, the 18-assist dead-ball-machine himself…

Yes, the man who has been dominating the rumour mill over the last few days is our very own Pakorn Prempak. Fresh from coming third in The Sandpit’s player of the year poll – making him Port’s best performing Thai player of 2017 – Pakorn had been repeatedly linked with a move back to his old club Police Tero. Quite why Pakorn would want to make a backwards move to a club who finished below Port in the league was beyond me, but the most recent stories thankfully seem to suggest that Pakorn had been using the interest of his former club to coax a better contract offer out of Port.

 

 

SMM Sport reported that Jadet also weighed in yesterday, reminding Police that the Midfield Monk still has a year remaining on his contract and would not be going anywhere just yet. If Pakorn has indeed been using his former club as leverage to get a pay-rise then we can’t say we blame him. Pakorn, nicknamed Bas, has become Port’s most important Thai player in 2017, and his contract should probably reflect that. With Jadet having stood by his man and made his position clear, the club have now had to show that they are serious about backing him, and keeping Port’s star players. News has just now emerged that Pakorn has got what he wanted and joined El Capitan in signing a brand spanking new contract, so the Port fan groups’ #savebas hashtag can now be put to rest!

Tied in to the same SMM Sport article is a similar if as yet  not concluded story about Tana. Port’s erstwhile non-impact substitute is apparently also of interest to Police Tero, where he played for 4 years before joining Port. Incredibly, Tana banged in 25 goals in 2015, making him equal top-scorer in T2. What on earth happened?! Unfortunately, Tana also still has one year remaining on his contract and Jadet has issued the same ‘hands-off’ statement about the Karaoke Kid is he did about the Midfield Monk. Oh, well, swings and roundabouts…

 

Port Shafted by Rampant Rabbits: Port FC 0-3 Bangkok Glass FC

 

The start of the game saw Port lining up in an orthodox 4-4-2. It was a relatively bright start for Port with Pakorn (9) enjoying a lot of space down the right side of the pitch in the early knockings. The first chance fell to Port after Pakorn whipped a ball into the box and the Glass defence failed to clear effectively. Genki was the eventual recipient, narrowly curling the ball over the top right corner.

A few minutes later came more joy on the right, with an overhit cross finding the head of Genki at the back post but he couldn’t keep his header down. It was clear that the Port objective was to get as many balls into the box as possible and pray that one will eventually land on the head of Josimar. Big J showed early on that he would be a threat in the air, winning the majority of aerial battles from goal kicks when targeted.

 

Pre-match optimism was sadly short-lived (Tim Russell)

 

There was an exciting period of play just after the half hour mark with Port advancing methodically up the pitch, accumulating in a divine chipped through ball into the box. It was just a same the recipient, Meechok (20), got caught in a Theresa May-style condundrum (don’t mention that woman’s name on this site! Ed), unsure of whether to elect to shoot or cross… after changing his mind what appeared to be exactly 72 times in the 1 second he had to react, he decided to gently knock the ball into the willing arms of the Glass keeper. The Glass keeper then launched the ball forward to an open Glass striker who had half of the pitch and the Port keeper between him and the goal. Worawut produced an inspired save after narrowing down the angle quickly.

From the resulting corner we got a preview of how Glass would break the deadlock after multiple Port clearances failed to get out of their own box. It took the experienced, calm head of the ever-present Rochela to finally clear the ball away.

A few minutes later Rochela put in a last ditch challenge to prevent a possible Glass scoring opportunity. The corner that followed can only be described as comical.. truly comical. No word of a lie…I think every Port player touched the ball at some point in a pinball-like sequence which eventually lead to an opportunistic Glass attacker volleying home in emphatic fashion. An inability to clear the ball was once again Port’s downfall. #IfInDangerDoALongRanger

Just before the break Port had a free kick about 25 yards out to the left hand side of the goal. The ball was struck well with a solid technique, swirling up and over the wall and just evading the bottom left post.

HT – Beer, Popcorn, Meat on a Stick (can’t be specific on what meat…so we will leave it at meat.)

Josi’s new striking partner (Joe Kheng)

The second half started with pure drama, waking the crowd up from their half time food comas. A dog invaded the pitch, and started a Benny Hill-style scene of calamitous security work, who failed to stop this evasive dog. It’s a shame the Port strikers didn’t have the same agility when making their forward runs this evening.

Back to the game…

Just after the hour mark Port were presented with a golden opportunity to level the score. After some nifty work by Tana (99) on the left wing, the ball was drilled low and hard across the face of goal. The whole of the A stand gasped in amazement when Suarez (5) managed to make contact with the cross but not direct it goalwards, with his effort fizzing out for a throw in. Chances like this have to be converted in the future if Port want to continue their bid for survival. This would have completely changed the complexion of the game, as Port really were on top at this point.

Glass then shamefully started with the common Thai timewasting tactics. A Glass player went down clasping his head after a collision with his own teammate and it took the magic sponge, spray, cold compress and a ride on a stretcher before he was finally able to stand up. Thankfully the injury gods were kind to him and he managed to play the rest of the game seemingly unharmed. Hallelujah. A fantastic tribute to Jesus this close to Easter, majestically rising from what looked like certain death.

Big J Unit then started getting into the game a bit more, first finding space in the box and heading wide. Then latching onto the end of a chipped through ball, powering his way between the Glass centre backs, who just did enough to put him off as his shot was toed into the grateful arms of the keeper. Either side of him and with a bit more power and it would have been a goal…but I guess that logic could apply to any shot!

 

The sun sets on Port’s hopes of a win (Tim Russell)

 

From here Port continued to pour men forward and persisted with filling the box with crosses. This looked like it would eventually pay dividends, but unfortunately in the 75th minute the game was out of reach. Glass executed the perfect RCA (Rapid Counter Attack) and Rochela was left wrong footed, bamboozled by a dazzling Ronaldo chop, before the Glass striker stroked the ball into the bottom left corner passed the outstretched arm of the keeper.

There wasn’t to be a Plan B for Port and balls continued to fly into the box with the hope of being met by J Unit’s head. It isn’t the worst idea in the world, but the crosses lacked quality and accuracy, often easily cleared or collected by the keeper.

Glass scored again. I will be completely honest, I didn’t see the goal. But I’m pretty confident in saying it was from a counter attack.

 

Tim’s Man of the Match

Not too many contenders for the MOTM award this week. Siwakorn was his usual all-action self, including the usual booking (which rules him out of Sunday’s trip to Sukhothai); and Josimar worked hard up front but was left feeding off scraps most of the time. The dog put in a fine second half cameo performance but lacked the stamina to have a significant impact on the game.

 

Port’s DOTM enjoying a post-match treat (Tim Russell)

 

So this week’s MOTM award goes to supersub Tana, a player of whom I am not normally a fan, who came on around the hour mark and almost changed the game by bringing a welcome burst of energy and creativity down Port’s left. Had Suarez made more of an effort to get to his excellent 65th minute cross, it would have been 1-1 with the momentum in Port’s favour. When we met Josimar on Monday he told us that Tana sees himself more of a left-winger, and whilst we scoffed, last night’s performance suggested he may have a future there after all.

 

Lions Fail to Digest Raging Mackerels: Port FC 2-2 Samut Songkhram (Friendly)

 

Port were held to a surprising draw by T2 side Samut Songkhram. Despite being in 8th place in T2, the Raging Mackerels made a good account of themselves, although from early on in the game it looked as though Port may win by a convincing margin.

Jadet chose to start with something very close to his starting XI. Worawut (36) started his second game in a row between the sticks, still deputizing for first choice ‘keeper Rattanai (17) who is just now returning to Khlong Toei after helping the Thai Under 23 team lift the Dubai Cup. In defence, Meechok (20) and Panpanpong (19) retained their starting places at full-back, and Dolah (4) came back in to the side at the expense of the injured Todspol (6) to partner Rochela (22). Adisorn (13) was once again given the nod in central midfield where he partnered Siwakorn (16), with Suarez (5) and Josimar (30) ahead of them charged with leading the attack. Pakorn (9) continued on the right wing, and at left wing Jadet gave Genki (18) a chance to impress and make the spot his own.

It took Genki just 6 minutes to open the scoring, but it was the intricate move to set up the chance that was most impressive. Meechok made an enterprising run forward which was picked out well by Pakorn. Meechok had the presence of mind to pull the ball back to Josimar on the penalty spot, and rather than shooting Josimar nudged it out wide to Genki, who showed composure to side-foot it home with his right foot.

Port were playing well and attacking at will, but The Mackerels came raging back just 3 minutes later, swimming against the tide to score a fine goal on the break. The ball came forward through the centre of the park, and a particularly irate Mackerel struck a pinpoint finish right in to the bottom left hand corner which Worawut at full stretch couldn’t quite reach.

After the equalizer the game seemed to slow down, with Port allowing their opponents a foot hold in the game. Surprisingly, the ‘first half’  came to a close after just 30 minutes, indicating that it was going to be one of those games with 3 periods rather than 2 halves. Excellent preparation for the next T1 game, I’m sure you’ll agree.

At least Port did stick with the majority of the first choice team in the second period, although Tana (99) came on for Genki (18) on the left and Piyachat (88) replaced Suarez (5) in attacking midfield. Whilst Piyachat played a more withdrawn role than the bombastic Suarez, Tana was far more attack-minded that the man he replaced, looking threatening from the moment he came on.

It would be The Mackerels who struck first in the second period, though. A chipped through-ball from inside the area struck a Port arm, and despite the defender not seeming to know much about it, the referee pointed to the spot. Another onlooker who must have had his goggles on informed me later that it was most definitely ball-to-fin. Regardless, the now not-quite-so-uppity Mackerels took the lead for the first time. although Worawut very nearly kept the low strike out.

Port began to raise their game, with Tana (99) in particular looking to make something happen very time he got the ball. Tana was having mackerel on toast every time he got the ball, and it was no surprise when he dropped his shoulder a couple of times to lose his defender and curled in a stunning finish in to the top right corner. The strike was reminiscent of the stunning free-kick that earned him third place in The Sandpit’s Goal of the Season competition in 2016. It’s Goal 7 if you want to relive the moment with Kenny’s fantastic video!

With the scores level, Port started to reel their opponents in. Josimar (30) had a header from point blank range kept out by a combination of post and defender, then Kaluderovic (10), who replaced the Brazilian midway through the period, suffered a very similar fate. Port could not find the breakthrough, though, and the second period came to an end with the scores still level at 2-2.

In the third period Jadet reverted to type, picking an entirely different XI to play out the final 30 minutes. The only interesting selection was Hansson (33), who was again given a chance to play right back, where he looked lively. The rest of the game was largely uneventful, meaning that The Raging Mackerels claimed a creditable draw at PAT Stadium, whereas Port will be slightly disappointed that they made such a meal of their lower league opponents.

As Port will experience next week, there’s always a bigger fish, and the visit of Ubon UMT to PAT Stadium on Monday will provide a much sterner test than The Raging Mackerels.

Port FC Man of the Match

It was a battle for the starting berth on the left wing, and although both found the back of the net, Tana impressed more than Genki on the night. Tana dribbled, passed, crossed and finished with aplomb, creating uncertainty in the opposition defence and exploiting it with a stunning finish that would undoubtedly be a contender for Goal of the Season if it had been scored in a competitive game.

 

The Season So Far: The Pit Pundits’ Picks

 

Following my recent review of the season so far, the Sandpit team got together and selected our highlights of the first six games – best player, best match, best goal. Here are our choices – feel free to share yours in the comments or on Facebook.

 

Dominick Cartwright

 

Best Player: Rattanai (17)

Not my first choice for keeper at the start of the season. I would have gone with Worawut (36). But Rattanai has proved me wrong, and Tom right. Even in our dismal away games he has offered a sterling last line of defence. Those dismal defeats could have been even worse. He’s really shown his mettle not letting his head drop in defeat, and being there to shore up the points when we have a chance at some.

Also Keith has come up with a song for him, so I want him starting every game to give us a chance to sing a new song:

Rattanai’s in the goal, what is he gonna do?

Rattanai’s in the goal, what is he gonna do?

He’s gonna save that shot, That’s what he’s gonna do

He’s gonna save that shot

 

(To the tune of Rat in me Kitchen by UB40)

 

Best Match: Suphanburi Home (3-2)

Why do I love football? It’s unscripted drama. If you wrote this game as a script, it would not be convincing at all, just not realistic enough. 1-0 up and the Port faithful are celebrating 3 points already. Then the home crowd are stunned by 2 Suphan goals. Then Tana’s great equaliser. (See best goal pick for a description). Then my favourite moment of the game – all the other players were celebrating the excellent equaliser, meanwhile Suarez was running to the net, he picked up the ball and brought it back to the centre circle for the restart. He wasn’t happy with 1 point; he wanted the win. Then the man who has shown he wants it most, steps up and gets the winner. You couldn’t write a better ending.
 
 

 
 

Best Goal: Tana vs Suphanburi

Tana (99) is not everyone’s favourite striker; he has his faults. But for me I’d give him 45 minutes of any game – he can create chances when there’s not much on, and he always seems to be in the right place. Against Suphanburi he was loitering outside the area, Genki (18) saw him and teed him up well. Tana deftly curled the ball into the top corner, giving us a chance of 3 points in that game. I’m biased on this one, because I was standing right behind the top corner of the goal in Zone D. I genuinely had a moment of disbelief as the ball sailed in. Was that in or just over? Oh it’s in, lets go fucking mental!

 

Tom Earls

 

Best Player: Rattanai (17)

This is a tricky one, but I’m going with the man who I voted for in February’s Player of the Month competition. I was in the minority then, and expect I’ll be in the minority again here, but I just can’t get enough of Port’s baby-faced boy wonder Rattanai. Yes Rochela has been excellent, and yes he brings more to the team with his leadership and guidance than anyone else, but Rattanai has come up with some outstanding performances which have undoubtedly been worth a few points to Port already this season. One mistake against Suphanburi (which fortunately ended up not costing Port) aside, Rattanai has caught everything that has come anywhere near him, shown excellent decision making and has made some lightning-fast reactions stops.
 
Probably the best example of Rattanai’s importance to the team came when he was dropped for the 5-1 drubbing at Honda. Whilst comparing him to Weera would be about as useful about comparing him to a boiled egg, it gave Port fans a glimpse of what it would be like not to have a reliable keeper between the sticks. Scary stuff. Please don’t leave him out again!

 

Best Match: Buriram Home (0-0)

It may not have had the twists and turns of the epic 3-2 win over Suphanburi, or the last minute drama of the 1-1 draw with Ratchaburi, but this was a high intensity, high quality game where Port proved they can compete with anyone on their day. It was Roy of the Rovers stuff. Man of the Match Adisorn couldn’t get a game in central midfield in Division 1 last season, yet had probably the best game of his career, coming out on top against Buriram’s star-studded midfield. Todsapol came in to the side having not played a minute of competitive football in 2017, and looked outstanding against two of the most dangerous forwards in T1. Port, who flopped to a 5-1 defeat at Thai Honda just 4 days earlier and got thumped by the same scoreline last time they hosted Champions Buriram in 2015 were not expected to even be competitive, but defied the odds with a performance full of heart. Port could even have won if not for a miraculous point-blank save from the Buriram keeper. All in front of a sell-out crowd of *ahem* 6,900 people who turned PAT Stadium in to a cauldron where Port just refuse to lose in 2017!
 
 

 
 

Best Goal: Siwakhorn vs Bangkok Utd

For me, there can only really be two candidates here. Siwakorn vs. Bangkok Utd and Tana vs. Suphanburi. Siwakorn’s screamer came at 3-0 down in a 6-2 mauling whereas Tana’s thunderbastard drew Port level in a game they ended up winning 3-2. The skinny wizard’s moment of magic may have been to no avail, but I’m giving it to him for the way he glided past the defender before curling it over the keeper’s head. Tana’s was an outstanding goal, but I think he had slightly less to do when he picked the ball up.
 
 

 
 

Tim Russell

 

Best Player: David Rochela

When Spit claimed in a pre-season article that Rochela was underrated, we scoffed. How could the guy who’d won the 2016 Player of the Year award with a landslide possibly be underrated? But now I think I know what he meant. Rochela is so good, week in week out, that we take his excellence for granted and barely notice it any more. So far this season he’s been as consistent as ever, mopping up at the back, reading the game well and intercepting header after header, and his performances against Ratchaburi and Buriram in particular were little short of heroic. God help us if he ever gets injured or moves on.

 

Best Match: Suphanburi Home (3-2)

If Ratchaburi was a relatively gentle reintroduction to the delights of T1, Suphanburi was a classic all-action balls-out thriller, the kind of game we missed during our brief sojourn into the lower leagues last season. Yes, Port rode their luck at times and benefitted from Adul, who had been Suphan’s star player up to that point, getting a red card; but the intensity and workrate of the Port players was something to behold, particularly Suarez, who grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck in the later stages and scored the winner in what was his best performance so far in a Port shirt. Simply one of the most exciting games I’ve seen at the PAT.

 

Best Goal: Genki vs Ratchaburi

OK, technically and aesthetically it may not be Port’s best goal of the season, but in terms of determination and timing it was perfect. 0-1 down after 94 minutes in their first game back in the TPL – and their first home game for nearly 6 months – Port won a free kick to the right of the Ratchaburi box. Pakorn swung it into the box and Genki threw himself at it Keith Houchen-style to head it in, sparking scenes of utter delirium on the terraces and the first ever airing of the Human League “Genki Nagasato” chant. Best moment of the season so far.
 
 

 

Siroch: The One That Got Away

Did Port miss the opportunity to sign the Thai Heskey?

Siroch Chatthong, Ubon UMT’s powerful 24 year old forward, has exploded on to the Thai football scene in 2016. His promising displays this term did enough to persuade national team coach Zico to take a chance on him, and he has repayed the faith shown in him with some barnstorming performances.

Siroch vs. Rochela

Siroch, nicknamed Pipo, celebrated his 24th birthday on Thursday by scoring his first international goal in Thailand’s 4-0 thrashing of Myanmar, but it’s not because of his goals that Thai fans have taken to him. Pipo plays a distinctly un-Thai style of football, using his physique to bully and streamroll opposition defenders. Playing in Ubon’s all-white kit last season, Port fans may remember him being covered head-to-toe in Khlong Toey’s hallowed mud as he fought manfully for his team, although he couldn’t prevent them slipping to a 3-1 loss at PAT Stadium. Port fans congregated in the local Futsal arena during the stadium ban were full of praise for the Ubon forward, but if things had turned out differently, they could have been cheering on one of their own.

Before moving to Ubon UMT for the 2016 season, Pipo played for BCC in the regional league. Their home ground? Our very own PAT Stadium. Pipo scored 10 goals in 29 games for BCC before being spotted by Ubon’s scouts, but the Port coaching team must be disappointed that they missed the chance to sign Thailand’s most promising young player while he was right under their noses.

Tana Chanabhut

What’s more, it seems likely that Pipo has now usurped Port striker Tana Chanabhut’s place in the national team squad. Port’s only representative in the national team usually makes the 23 man squad alongside Muang Thong duo Teerasil Dangda and Adisak Kraisorn. Once all four are fit they will be fighting for three places, and it seems almost certain that Pipo will be ahead of Tana in the pecking order.

While Thai fans will be gleefully watching Indonesian players bounce off Pipo as he marauds through their defense in the Suzuki Cup Final later this month, Port fans may justifiably feel a little peeved that they missed the chance to sign Thailand’s latest sensation.

 

 

The Sandpit/Thai Port Importz 2016 Player of the Year

We asked members of the popular Thai Port Importz Facebook group to vote for their 2016 Port FC Player of the Year this week, and the results are in – and it’s an absolute landslide for Port’s Spanish captain David Rochela.

Rochela’s loyalty, his calm, unhurried defending, and his week-in week-out consistency made him the undisputed winner. He surprised many Port fans by pledging his loyalty to the club after relegation in 2015, and his leadership was a key factor in Port returning to the TPL at the first attempt. Thai football’s very own Alan Hansen/Paolo Maldini, his reading of the game means you rarely see him diving into tackles, giving away penalties or getting booked, and his best work is generally so damn smooth & unruffled you barely notice he’s there. Except when he’s stepping up to take penalties of course, which he did with ruthless efficiency on numerous occasions. His dashing Mediterranean good looks have made him a big hit with the laydeez, and, as The Sandpit can confirm after bumping into him on a night out recently, he’s a very nice bloke too. Well done David!

Whilst I was one of the many who voted for Rochela, my second vote would’ve gone to the unfancied Genki Nagasato. He may not have been blessed with the silkiest footballing skills – as Big Ron once observed of Carlton Palmer, “He traps the ball further than I can kick it” – but there’s always something exciting about an old-school, socks-down, balls-out winger. The Genk always gives the proverbial 110%, weighs in with a few goals and, best of all, clearly just bloody loves playing football, which is a wonderful thing to see. If the rumours are correct it appears we may not see him in a Port shirt again, so Genki-san, we, or at least I, salute you.

Anyway, without further ado here are the top-ranked players and some reasons why…

 

David Rochela: 67%

“Our best player by a country mile, and always puts in a shift.” (Danny)

“Over the season Rochela’s work at the back kept us in contention. He held a pretty average defence together.” (Dom)

“Rochela – reads the game well & steady as a rock. A captain leading by example.” (Derek)

“Rochela by a mile…” (Tommie)

 

Pakorn: 11%

“Pakorn must have had more combined goals and assists than any other player by a long shot. Can be frustrating at times, but without his contribution, particularly from set pieces, we would not have been promoted. Without him in the side there is pretty much no one who can take a set piece or cross a ball. ” (Tom)

“When he was on it was a treat to watch.” (Mike)

“Pakorn was an important part of promotion. Without him we wouldn’t have gone up, but for the same money we could’ve got someone better. He was class on the ball, and on free kicks. But he was incredibly selfish, undermines a lot of the good work he did. A big reason Port faultered was big names playing as individuals not pulling together as a team. Can’t give player of the season to someone who boots the ball out of the stadium after being subbed. He would make the top 5 players of the season but can’t bring myself to put him top.” (Dom)

 

Tana: 11%

 

Rodrigo Maranhao: 5%

“Maranhao for me, even though he faded in the 2nd half of the season but still chipped in with a load of goals.” (Kenny)

 

Sivakhorn: 5%

 

Big thanks to all who voted and commented. If you like polls, scroll down to the bottom of this page and tell us how you think Port FC will fare in the 2017 TPL!