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The Best Cup of Leo Ever: Port FC 2-1 Muangthong Utd (Leo Cup Final)

 

 

Frankly it couldn’t have been scripted better, we won the biggest preseason prize on offer (Champions’ Cup? Never heard of it). Beating bitter cross-town rivals, having come from a goal down, thanks to an injury time winner scored by their former goal scoring hero.

The evening started like a lazy metaphor for Ports preseason. We jumped in a taxi, we knew where we wanted to end up, as did the driver but with three different voices articulating three different routes, all we achieved was to start out going in wrong direction, then a double back and a finally a loop before finally we headed into the countryside north of Bangkok and the mythical land of Leo where Port go to collect silverware. What was clear on arrival was that we were to be outnumbered, as the place was swarming with MTU fans. There was a strange atmosphere with people unsure whether it was better to scowl at the sworn enemy you’ve been the deprived the chance of “propa nawty straighter” with for years by the powers that be. Or make like Thai football fans and clink plastic glasses and get a selfie with everyone you meet. The later won though and hopefully come April our friends (there are limits) from Legoland will be allowed to come and witness a fifth straight victory for Port in the scum v slum derby.

For Port there were raft of changes as Rattani (17), Jaturapat(81), Bodin (10) and Chenrop (39) replaced Warawut (36), Steuble (15), Herberty (37) and Adisak (9). While Kevin (23) was back on the bench. Any doubt regarding if the players would treat this as preseason kick about or go for the full blood and thunder effort of a derby was almost instantly put to bed, as Derley (87) tangled with Go(8), a bit of a shirt pull by the Brazilian and some encouragement for the Korean to get on with the game followed. Seconds later from the resulting Port free kick, Go receives the same treatment from then same player and reacts by taking a swipe at the Brazilian. Whilst it wasn’t the fall blown elbow to the face that Delrey and the most of the Muangthong players and staff implied, it was clearly the kind of act that players can and will be sent off for, fortunately the referee decided to be lenient (or maybe it was karma for the Chiang Rai finishing Sundays game without seeing red). There after the game settled down somewhat, there was still niggle from both sides and neither team were able to establish clear domination. Then in the 19th minute Curren (27) got behind Jaturapat on the Muangthong right and fired a cross to the far post where Delrey had fount some space and fires his header downwards into the corner of the goal. Nobody involved in the process for Port covered themselves in glory.

Moments later Suarez (5) reacted to a foul by Saharat (25), whilst it was part of the weekly incessant sly digs and fouls our Sergio has to endue, to throw the ball at the opposition player is silly and invites trouble, once again the ref chose not to punish the Port player. The ensuing Port free kick resulted in a Muangthong break ended by a great saving tackle by Jaturapat and the bizarre sight of Pakorn (7) being the last defender as the counter was repelled. There was still time for a couple more yellows firstly to Curren who looks an excellent acquisition and coped well with all that Port threw at him especially whilst on a yellow. Whilst Siwakorn (16) collected one for an unnecessary foul of a player going nowhere because that’s what Siwakorn does. And so ended the first half, very little between the two teams, Muangthong created the one decent chance and took it.

The second half started in much the same vein as Popp(19) sent a hopeful pop shot (like that wasn’t getting used) wide for Muangthong and at the other end Suarez did the same stretching to reach a cross. Then on the 51 minutes Adisak(9) was introduced for Chenrop (39), who if nothing else had put a shift in for the cause and we got to see if Adisak would work as an impact substitute. A couple of minutes later Delrey set about balancing up the Port misdemeanours of the first half, as in 15 seconds he managed to throw an arm in Dolah’s (4) face and then kicked the ball in to the his body having tripped up him up and stood on his ankle, in between the two. The Brazilian had now been sucked into a running battle with Dolah, a situation that always pleases the big fella as striker more interested in getting a dig in, rarely contributes much for the cause and on the rare occasion Muangthong got the ball into Port territory this was the case with Delrey for the remainder of the match. Which meant the burden fell on his strike partner Popp, who’s evening was high on endeavour and low on end product.

From here on Port gained the upper hand, Go saw a shot beat Van Lam (1) but go just wide of the post. Kevin (23) replaced Jaturapat and such was the dominance of Port he would basically play as a winger with Bodin (10) drifting into more central positions. On the right Tanaseth (11) replaced Pakorn. The little fella lit the game up from the moment he came on. In a checkered preseason, the arrival from Suphanburi, has been the major bright spot. You get the sense he will be this seasons fans favourite, the lineage runs strongly though the years I’ve watched Port, Saruta, Ekkapoom, Terans, even Nurul, all diminutive wide men, all loved by the masses. Along with Bodin he looks capable of producing the kind of football that has you thinking with 15 minutes to go in a final a goal down to your biggest rivals, even if its as bad as the worst doom monger predicts it’ll still be worth going just to watch these lads play. Flicks, whirling limbs, swagger, tricks, questionable hair cuts, its was all on display as Port pushed for an equalizer.

Which finally came in 82nd minute, Kanarin (31) who had come on Siwakorn, collected the ball, took a moment, looked up and found Tanasith who beat a defender and from the right squared a ball to Adisak who with his back to goal found Go centrally on the edge of the box, who wouldn’t refuse a second opportunity to place a shot into the corner. Could Van Lam have done better probably, was he wrong footed or unsighted possible. Did anyone behind the goal care, no not one bit. Port weren’t done yet as a moment later Suarez beat the hapless keeper but saw his shot go just wide.

Worst was to come for the stopper, with the game in injury time and discussion ongoing as to if we were going directly to penalties as previously in the competition or with this being a final we would see extra time that you felt would result in a Port win. A thought that might also have been on the mind of Muangthong’s “are you sure you’re big enough to be a centre back” centre back Promsupa (15 and 5ft9), who dwelled for a moment and saw substitute Nattawut (45) nip in and nick the ball, his little legs can’t keep up with our blonde haired hero who plays a pass across the goal to Adisak who slides it into the bottom corner. Que pandemonium behind the goal. There was still time for Bangkok’s third team to throw everything at Port but ultimately it came to nothing. So 2020 starts as 2019 ended with Port collecting silverware. Anyone thinking it was a meaningless cup didn’t see Gama’s little face as he led his players off without watching the victors lift the cup.

In typical Port style the evening wasn’t done, as their was still time for Dom to be bloodied battling for a Worarut shirt and leaving the stadium and some distance from the players area, we encounter the trophy being passed around by the assembled Port fans seemingly without anyone from the club around.

 

 

The Sandpit Man of the Match: Tanasith

He only came on for 25 minutes but as soon as he did the mood of the match changed. Might as well give him the player of the season award if he performs like that every week.

 

Bricking It at Legoland: Port FC 0-2 Chiang Rai Utd (Champions’ Cup 2020)

 

 

Port fans turned out in force for their first legally approved visit to the SCG since 2016, as Port faced 2019 T1 winners Chiang Rai in Thailand’s equivalent of the Charity Shield. Sadly Port were far too charitable themselves, handing the northerners yet another trophy during a second-half implosion that raised huge questions about their readiness for the 2020 season.

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Tom’s Transfer Talk: New Year Transfer Roundup

 

We’ve had a lot of comings and goings this transfer window, and it’s not even 2020 yet. By my count there have been 14 arrivals (7 permanent signings, 2 loan signings and 5 players returning from loans) and 9 departures (6 permanent departures, 1 loan departure and 2 players returning to their parent club after loans).

Quite a busy window then, although most arrivals and departures haven’t done much to effect the first choice XI that will take to the pitch most weeks.

The most notable arrival is of course Heberty, who joins on loan from Muangthong, and is expected to be Port’s key player next year. Tanasith may also threaten to break in to the first XI, although he’ll have to dislodge Pakorn first, which is no mean feat. Adisak will likely see significant playing time from the bench, and Jaturapat has an outside chance of challenging for a berth at left back, although if there is no more transfer activity in that position, he will likely remain down the pecking order.

There are players capable of making a contribution returning from loan too, but the fact that they were loaned out in the first place tells you all you need to know about the regard they are held in at Port. Things don’t look good then for Arthit, who made a big contribution from the bench last season, Yossawat, who had a successful loan at Nongbua, and Sansern, a highly rated youngster outside of PAT Stadium.

Notable exits include some big name players. Boskovic was released from Port some time ago, and has been spotted training with Chonburi recently, although no deal has been announced yet. 2018 Thai League MVP Sumanya has been snapped up by BG Pathum Thani, and Port’s marquee Thai arrival from 2017 Nurul has been loaned to Ratchaburi after struggling for form in 2019. One of Port’s vice-captains Adisorn Daeng-rueng has been released, while fellow defensive midfielder Anon has finally been let go after being continually overlooked by multiple Port managers.

Striker Rolando Blackburn, who will be remembered for some key goals and some terrible performances, has returned to his parent club after his 6 month loan spell, as has Piyachanok Darit, who made a solitary league appearance for Port.

Here are all the moves in full.

 

Ins

Tanasith Sripala (Suphanburi)

Nattawut Sombatyotha (Ratchaburi)

Kanarin Thawornsak (Ratchaburi)

Tanakorn Dangthong (Army)

Heberty Fernandes (loan from Muangthong)

Chatmongkol Thongkiri (Chainat)

Jaturaphat Satham (Chainat)

Patchara Chainarong (Debsirin School)

Adisak Kraisorn (loan from Muangthong – pending confirmation)

 

Returning from Loan

Chakrit Rawanprakone (loan to Customs complete)

Yossawat Montha (loan to Nongbua complete)

Arthit Boodjinda (loan to Chonburi complete)

Pinyo Inpinit (loan to Nongbua complete)

Sansern Limwattana (loan to Ayutthaya complete)

 

Outs

Sumanya Purisai (BG Pathum Thani)

Adisorn Daeng-rueng (released)

Panpanpong Pinkong (released)

Anon Samakorn (Nakhon Ratchasima)

Jirattikan Vapilai (released)

Dragan Boskovic (released)

Nurul Sriyankem (loan to Ratchaburi)

 

Loan Expired

Piyachanok Darit (loan from BG complete)

Rolando Blackburn (loan from The Strongest complete)

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk: Tanasith Lord

 

One of Thailand’s best foreign players will be available on a free transfer this year as PTT Rayong’s dissolution means that formidable central defender Victor Cardozo is now without a club.

 

 

Having dropped David Rochela for the second half of 2019, Port chose to prioritize attack and sign an extra foreign striker, but it would be no great surprise if that policy was reversed in 2020, with either Rochela restored to the squad or an established star like Victor filling the role.

Of course there will be competition for his signature, and some of the biggest names in Thai football could well be interested. Buriram will doubtless respond to their failure to lift a trophy this season with some eye-catching transfers, and Muangthong manager Alexandre Gama could be in the mix too, having coached Victor in his double cup winning Chiang Rai side in 2018.

At this stage it’s still speculation, but we’d be mad not to be thinking about signing one of the best defenders in the Thai game. Then again, would he even get in to our starting XI ahead of Tanaboon?

 


 

We don’t just have to pre-empt rumours though, we have a real one to talk about. The subject of an apparent tug-of-war between Port and Samut Prakan, Tanasith Siripala is a player I’ve written about quite a bit in the past, as he was one of Thailand’s hottest prospects a few years back. Playing alongside a certain Bodin Phala for Bangkok Glass, who by the way was considered an inferior talent at the time, Tanasith tormented Port’s defence and scored the game’s only goal when BG defeated Port in 2016, and he was a worry for Port’s full-backs whenever he faced us.

 

 

His form has dropped off quite a bit in recent seasons, though. The reliable end product that you always hope will develop in young players has never quite materialized for Tanasith, and during his time with Suphanburi he’s been in and out of the starting XI. There’s still undoubted potential there though, and as with the signing of Bodin, things could turn out very well indeed.

Known to some as ‘Taodinho’ for his nickname Tao and his physical resemblance to Ronaldinho, Tanasith can play on either flank, although he saw most of his action on Suphanburi’s right wing this season. Whether or not Tanasith would add firepower to our squad is a no-brainer – of course he would – but is it really necessary for Port to sign another winger? With Bodin, Pakorn and Nurul already on the books we have more than enough options in those positions. Career-wise it’s probably a no-brainer for Tanasith NOT to join Port, as he would be much more likely to see significant game time elsewhere.

The state of the deal is unknown at the time of writing, with some saying the move to Port is confirmed, and others saying it is close. We’ll let you know if he pops up on Madame Pang’s Instagram feed!

 


 

As we have known for some weeks now, Port have secured the services of Go Seul-ki on a permanent deal, while Martin Stueble has also told us he will be staying with Port in 2020. Both made important contributions in 2019, and will surely play important roles once again next season. First though, there’s the small matter of a cup final…