Playing Ratch-up: Ratchaburi FC vs. Port FC Preview


Port face their worst crisis this season, having suffered their third loss on the trot last Sunday. Before we get too down on ourselves though, it’s also worth pointing out that it’s our only crisis this season. Port had enjoyed the best start to a season in recent memory, and until just three matches ago, were top of T1. Having been beaten by champs Buriram – predictably if you weren’t getting swept away with the unlikely predictions that we would be champions – the next loss against high-flying Samut Prakan hurt more, and the third against a particularly objectionable Chiang Rai side more still. But remember, all three of these sides are currently in the top 4. Yes, we lost 3 consecutive games, but it’s not the end of the world. We’re not going to be champions, but an AFC place is very much still within our reach.

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Tom’s Transfer Talk: The Bee Gees


Port have acted early with the mid-season break coming up, signing two players from T2 leaders BG Pathum United. Thai national team star Tanaboon Kesarat has apparently been signed on a permanent deal, while Piyachanok Darit has joined on loan.

The rumours of new Port signings started about a week ago, just after a new face joined the Port management team. Chalermchoke Lamsam, a relative of a certain Nualphal Lamsam (that’s Madame Pang to you and me,) is no stranger to Khlongtoei, having been a Managing Director at Loxley for the past few years. That’s his building behind PAT Stadium’s Zone B.



I have no idea whether Chalermchoke is directly responsible for Port’s flurry of transfer activity, but it would be a pretty big coincidence if he wasn’t involved in some capacity.

The first name to be all over the Port Facebook groups was a rather underwhelming one. Lampang centre back Ronnapee Choeykamdee has little T1 experience, although he did score against Port with a powerful header a few years back. Still, before rumours of his transfer had borne fruit, the two much shinier more well-known names popped up, and within a couple of days the Pang Instagram post had gone up and they were officially Port players.



I have mixed feelings about these transfers. On the one hand, signing a national team regular with as big a reputation as Tanaboon is a positive statement of intent, on the other hand, we don’t particularly need him and I don’t think he’s very good. Maybe I’m being a bit harsh here; it would probably be more accurate to say he’s vastly overrated rather than not very good, but I can’t help but think we’re just wasting money. I don’t know exactly what we’re paying Tanaboon, but I do know that Chiang Rai made him the highest paid Thai player in T1 when they signed him in 2017, and it’s unlikely that he’ll be earning much less now. So, why don’t I rate him?



Well, he’s supposed to be able to play both defensive midfield and central defence, but I’ve never been convinced with him in either position. He’s got great feet and he can pass the ball, but he’s not up to much in the air, and he’s not particularly tenacious. Watching him being paired with Thitipan in Chiang Rai, BG and Thailand’s midfield for the last few years infuriated me, as blood-and-thunder Thitipan played two positions most of the time, while Tanaboon just seemed to stand around and pass the ball sideways. It’s probably no surprise his own teams always seem to have an all-action midfielder next to him. He just doesn’t do a great deal. Then again he consistently gets picked for Thailand, and the pundits still seem to love him, albeit a little less than they did a few years ago. Maybe I’m just wrong. I hope I’m wrong!

Then there’s Piyachanok. I haven’t seen as much of this guy, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by what I have seen. He’s very big and strong for a Thai centre back, and he spent a good few seasons playing alongside Matt Smith for BG. He must have learned something! We’ve only got Piyachanok on loan though, and with Rochela fit again, Dolah arguably the best defender in the league on current form and Todsapol having put in a solid two month shift in his captain’s absence, Piyachanok is probably fourth choice. Don’t expect to see much of him.



One additional concern relating to this transfer activity is that we’ve signed Tanaboon in the expectation that we could lose Go Seul-Ki to parent club Buriram in the mid-season break. Go is on loan from Buriram, and I’m not sure on the particulars of our loan agreement, but if Buriram go in to the mid-season break trailing Port and they have the option of cutting his loan deal short, it certainly wouldn’t be the biggest surprise in the world if they did just that. If that’s the case, then perhaps bringing in Tanaboon is a shrewd move. Only time will tell!


And Finally



You’ve just been called up to the Thai national team. You haven’t have met many of your new teammates before, and are keen to make a lasting first impression. What do you do? Well, if you’re Port stopper W-Hot you turn up with a customized t-shirt emblazoned with Port goalkeeping coach Milan’s grinning mug.



Tom’s Transfer Talk: Port Court National Team Duo


After a shockingly quiet off-season so far, Port rumours have become the talk of the town in the last couple of days. We’ve been opining for some time that in order to make any kind of league challenge Port’s central midfield would need bolstering, and this is very much in line with the big rumour of the moment, concerning two Thai national team stars.

The rumour which started all of this said that the Thai Busquets (more on that nickname later) Tanaboon Kesarat and Bangkok United’s prolific midfielder Sumanya Purisai would be playing together next season at a Bangkok club. The link was quickly made with Port, but what really makes these rumours sound likely was the follow-up story that Madame Pang intends to announce three big signings after the new year.

Whilst the bigger name of the two is undoubtedly Tanaboon, I’m firmly of the opinion that Sumanya is a much better fit for Port in 2019. Or pretty much any team at any time for that matter.

One of the most highly rated stars of Thailand’s ‘golden generation’, Tanaboon is lauded for his ability to play in both central defence and defensive midfield, hence the link to Barcelona’s wily, horrible but bloody brilliant master of the dark arts Sergio Busquets. The problem is that two more different players have seldom existed.

While Busquets is famous for his gamesmanship and exists almost exclusively in the grey area between legal and illegal, Tanaboon wouldn’t recognize a tactical foul if it clipped his ankles from behind, just as he was ready to break forward. Nor would he recognize a gratuitously firm challenge if it knocked him on his arse. He’s a technically sound player, I’ll give him that, and his positional sense is better than most, but what Tanaboon lacks for me is the aggression and nous needed to be an effective defensive midfielder. Put simply, he’s just a bit of a wuss. One only has to watch him in partnership with his polar opposite Thitipan in the Thai midfield to see what I’m talking about. Whilst Thitipan incessantly harasses and fouls opposition players off the ball and drives forward on the ball, Tanaboon calmly stands around in his position and passes the ball sideways and backwards. It’s all well and good when you’re winning, but in big games and tough situations, I just can’t be persuaded that Tanaboon is good enough for Port, let alone Thailand.



Sumanya, on the other hand, was one of the stars of 2018, and would fit nicely in to Port’s midfield. The 32 year old struck a remarkable 12 goals and provided 8 assists last season for Bangkok United, with the hallmark of his game being his shooting. Where most Thai midfielders will almost always look for the extra pass, Sumanya is quite happy to have a pop at goal, and is also useful from dead ball situations, as Malaysia found out on Wednesday just seconds after he was substituted on. He’s obviously not a long term solution, but on current form he’s among the best Thai attacking midfielders around, and would surely displace Siwakorn in Port’s midfield. And seeing the pair of them doing shooting practice side by side would be a thing of hilarious beauty.



In closing, it’s probably worth mentioning that I’m still more than a little annoyed about Thailand’s pathetic exit against Malaysia in the Suzuki Cup last night and that some the shade I’m throwing Tanaboon’s way is not entirely unrelated to that. I’ve thought for some time that he’s Thailand’s most overrated player, but his signing would certainly be a positive statement of intent if nothing else. Needless to say his name and number won’t be going on my 2019 shirt if we do sign him. Oh, and he used to play for the scum.