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Tim’s Transfer Talk: ‘Berty Booster?

 

Welcome to the latest Sandpit transfer rumour roundup, and we have three zingers for you today. The first one concerns T1 goal machine, Brazilian-Timorese forward Heberty Fernandes. Reports in the Thai press suggest that the prolific scorer is poised to join Port on a season-long loan from rivals Muangthong, at a head-spinning salary of 2mBHT per month. Ye gods.

 

 

 

Heberty has an extraordinary goal record in the Thai top flight. After a 3-year spell at Ratchaburi, in which he netted 65 goals in 90 games, he moved to Muangthong in 2017 (after almost signing for Port, who were then reluctant to pay his salary) where he scored 51 in 79. I would say he’d be a guaranteed goalscorer, but we know what a strikers’ graveyard Port is and the last time we signed a prolific Brazilian-Timorese striker it did not end well. There’s also the question of where Heberty would fit in. He’s not an out & out no9, more of a 10 or a winger, so either Suarez makes way so Heb can play in his AM slot with Josimar (or AN Other) up front, or he gets shoehorned into a position in which he’s not entirely comfortable, and as we know from experience at Port, the latter is far more likely. But whatever happens, his goal and assist record suggest he’d be a cracking signing, which would both strengthen Port and weaken one of their rivals.

On the subject of strikers, we hear that Josimar picked up an injury in training this week which could see him out of action for the next 5-6 weeks, so the chances of Port moving for a big name striker just shot up. Which is where our next rumour comes in. You may want to sit down for this one, but Port have been linked with former Arsenal & Juventus striker Nicklas Bendtner. Before you get too excited/angry (depending on your views on one of football’s more colourful characters), bear in mind that the only substance to this rumour is that Bendtner’s agent has been hawking his client around various clubs, and presumably Port were one of those who picked up the phone. Lord Bendtner may not be the most prolific scorer, but there’s no doubt that if he took a move to Thailand seriously he would probably have a field day against Thai defences, though given his penchant for nightlife he may find Bangkok somewhat distracting, and he’d be ill advised to continue his hobby of assaulting taxi drivers given that the local cabbies are generally very sensitive to criticism, tooled up, and ripped to the tits on M-150. File this one under ‘almost certainly won’t happen’.

 

 

Our final rumour concerns perennial Sandpit rumour Thitiphan, recently returned to Bangkok Glass following a successful year-long loan at J-League club Oia Trinita. The Thai press are claiming that Port have struck a swap deal involving the chunky midfielder and left-back Kevin Deeromram. This would be a shame, as in my opinion Kevin is one of the most talented players at Port and, on his day, the best LB in the league, and is the kind of young player the future of the club should be built around. That said, he is somewhat injury-prone, the arrival of Martin Steuble has made him somewhat more expendable, and with Pang seemingly positioning Port as the club of choice for Thai national team players, his less than enthusiastic attitude to playing for his country could also count against him. Whether Port need yet another midfielder is highly debatable, but there’s no doubt Big Thits would be a great signing and my Sandpit colleague Tom Earls would need a cold shower before every game if it happened. File this one under ‘highly likely’.

For the latest news on these and other rumours, keep watching this space!

 

Kannoo Believe It? Thitipan Deal On?

 

The familiar feeling is back. After a quiet start to the transfer window, there are so many transfers in and out of Port at various stages of completion I have absolutely no idea what’s going on. But seeing as we’re here, I’ll tell you what I do and don’t know, and what I think might end up happening.

 

What We Know

Done deals get cancelled, so we don’t really know anything, but the incoming transfers that everyone seems to be able to agree on are Fox Hunt duo Jirattikan Vapilai and Nutchanon Sojit, and Go Seul-ki, who has joined Port on loan from champs Buriram.

Out of the exit door have gone Jetjinn Sriprach and Sammy Slot while loanee Terens Puhiri has rejoined Borneo FC and Somprasong Promsorn has just joined Khon Kaen.

Likely Deals

There are a host of deals that some are claiming are confirmed, but haven’t yet gone on most websites’ lists of done deals. We expect some of them to be confirmed in the new year, but it’s possible that some will still be called off. The players in question are all from Bangkok United: Sansern Limwattana, Ernesto Phumipha and Sumanya Purisai.

We can’t very well have Kim Sung Hwan still on the books next season, so one way or another he’s sure to be out of the door. Apparently he’s not making things easy though, with a rumoured loan move to Suphanburi not yet any closer than when it was proposed to him by the club. Bajram Nebihi is also in the unwanted foreigner category, but he’ll be straight off as soon as he’s got his last month’s salary in the bank.

 

Thitipan’s Japanese Deal Off

BG’s superstar midfielder and my man crush Thitipan Puangchan has gone from being an outside transfer punt to maybe a 50/50, with his proposed move to Japan apparently dead in the water. Last time I wrote about him, the rumour was that if his Japanese move fell through he would join Port on loan, and now the latest news is that Bangkok United have joined the race for Thailand’s most exciting central midfielder.

This deal certainly could happen for Port, but at the moment there are no details. This deal could also affect the transfer of Bangkok United midfielder and recently named 2018 Thai League MVP Sumanya Purisai. With Sumanya carrying a hefty 40 million baht price tag, and the Thitipan loan deal sure to cost a pretty penny in loan fees and wages, we imagine that with Go’s signing already confirmed, Port will want one, but not two more good but expensive midfielders on the books. This is pure speculation on my part, though, so take it for what it’s worth.

 

Kan-Who?

 

 

Now I’ll be honest, this is the lowest kind of rumour. Port’s Wikipedia page currently shows young forward Sittichok Kannoo as a Port player, but I haven’t heard any noise anywhere else hinting that this deal could be a goer. Anyway, he’s one of the more promising Thai forwards around, with an excellent record for Thai youth teams at all levels. He has struggled a bit stepping up to T1 level though, netting 6 in 26 for Honda in 2017, then 1 in 5 for Bangkok United last season. Anyway, we need more depth up top, and he’s young and promising. Can’t argue with the logic.

 

My Prediction

Jirattikan and Go will stay, Nutchanon, as one of 5 left backs, could very easily be gone before the start of the season. Either that or he’ll stay but only play for Port B. Ernesto will arrive, meaning that Yossawat leaves on a permanent deal. Sansern will join, but Sumanya’s deal will fall through at the last minute, as Thitipan makes a dramatic late move to Khlongtoei. Sittichok will rightly deny any link to Port, and the only remnant of the rumour will be this Transfer Talk. Port will go on to sign another striker who won’t be as good as Arthit, because, let’s face it, no one is as good as Arthit. Port will not sign a right back, and end up playing Adisorn there in some critical league games, where he will run around a lot before giving away penalties which cost us points.

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk: Thit or GTFO

 

Well, once the midfield rumours started, the genie was never going back in the bottle. Port’s search for a new engine room has been revving up, or at the very least, speculation surrounding Port’s transfer dealings has been.

Once again there are two rumours to report, and once again I find myself loving one and hating the other. Let’s start with the good stuff this time, shall we?

 

 

Anyone who has listened to me drone on about the Thai national team will know that I am absolutely enamored by Thitipan Puangchan. He’s my kind of footballer. But before I start the love-in, let’s have a look at where things stand career-wise.

One of the senior members of Thailand’s ‘golden generation’, Thitipan started out – as almost all of them did – with Muangthong. Between 2011 and 2016 he played over 100 top tier games – including a loan spell with Suphanburi – but towards the end of his time with Muangthong he was seeing very little action, and finally in 2017 opted to move to Chiang Rai in search of more regular football.

It was a timely decision, with Thitipan’s impressive exploits at youth level becoming a more and more distant memory, and it took him just one game to launch himself back in to Thai football’s consciousness with a stunning hattrick. He would go on to be named in the T1 team of the season, before Bangkok Glass made him their 30 million baht marquee signing in 2018.

It’s fair to say that things didn’t go quite so well from there. It probably didn’t help that Thitipan appeared to have embarked on a competitive eating career in the off season and at the start of the 2018 season was looking rather more like a football than a footballer. It didn’t take one of Thailand’s hardest working footballers long to shed the Pakorn bodysuit, but it didn’t make much difference to Glass’ fortunes. Thitipan’s performances were certainly not to blame for BG’s eventual relegation – his 5 goals and 6 assists were a pretty reasonable return – but neither he or his team played anywhere near their potential, before relegation was confirmed on an insane final day of the season.

 

 

But whilst Thitipan was struggling for his club he was absolutely excelling for the national team. He was the player of the tournament in Thailand’s 2017 King’s Cup victory, and was again among Thailand best performers in 2018. He has become absolutely indispensable to coach Rajevac, who trusts Thitipan enough to stick him just about anywhere on the pitch – he played central midfield, right midfield and right back for spells in the recent Suzuki Cup semi-final.

This brings us up to his current situation. Apparently, 25 year old Thitipan is on the hunt for a J League club to take his career to the next level, but right now no deal has been signed. The reporting over the last couple of days is that if no deal is reached with a Japanese suitor then Thitipan’s fall-back option is a season-long loan deal with Port. GET IN!

Now, what kind of player is he? The quintessential box-to-box midfielder. He has a superb work rate, he can tackle (and does so in an overzealous way every 30 seconds or so) and he is always on the lookout for an opportunity to drive the team forward with a searching pass or a powerful run. A little known fact about Thitipan? He has never not been on a yellow card. He spends entire games wincing and looking as tired as a fat kid who has just ran a marathon, but never stops going and never gives up. He shouts at his team mates and gets pissed off when they don’t put in the work. He is also capable of the most magnificent moments of laughably awful football you’ve ever seen. Sometimes when he shoots, he misses. The corner flag. When he scores he celebrates like Marco Tardelli. Sometimes he trips over the ball and falls on his arse. He’ll be on the right wing, and 5 seconds later he’ll be playing in goal. You never know what you’re going to get with Thitipan, but you can sure it’ll either be good or it’ll be funny.

Can you tell that I kind of like the guy? Come on Port, sign him up!

 

 

The other rumour is about a bog-standard left-footed right winger from Chiang Rai called Sivakorn Tiatrakul who would have no business joining Port, and would be behind Pakorn, Nurul and Bodin in the pecking order. Blah.

Can you tell I’m not particularly enthused? Come on Port, sign Thitipan!

Please.

 

2018 King’s Cup Roundup

 

Thailand’s King’s Cup Campaign ended in disappointment with a final defeat against a strong, experienced Slovakia side. After playing out a pretty poor 0-0 draw with Gabon, Kawin helped Thailand triumph in the semi-final shoot-out, before – despite a spirited display – they were relatively comfortably dispatched 3-2 by Martin Skrtel and co.

In keeping with my usual national team coverage on The Sandpit, I’ll be looking at each of Thailand’s players and giving my thoughts on their performances. Hey, there are even some Port players to talk about this year!

 

Kawin Thamsatchanan (1, goalkeeper)

Not only is he a great shot-stopper and very comfortable under the high ball, Kawin is a penalty specialist. His last few shoot-out performances have all resulted in victories for Thailand, with captain Kawin starring each and every time. The semi-final was no exception. In the final there wasn’t a great deal Kawin could have done with the 3 goals, particularly the third which was an absolute peach of a finish.

 

 

Philip Roller (13, right back)

One of Thailand’s weakest link in this tournament. Rajevac likes his full-backs to stay back, and you could tell that Roller was constantly fighting the urge to bomb forward down the right. This made him pretty ineffectual in the semi-final, when miserable Mongkol struggled to get any joy down the flank in front of him. Then in the final, when up against a winger much bigger and stronger than him, Roller really had a torrid time. Slovakia’s first goal pretty much summed it up, with Roller being comprehensively out-muscled as Slovakia’s winger broke in to the box and pulled the ball back for a simple goal. His one redeeming moment was his well-taken penalty in the semi-final.

 

Pansa Hemviboon (6, centre back)

This guy just keeps getting better. Not only is he the best Thai centre back by a country mile, on his form over the last season and a bit I would have him over most of the foreign defenders, too. Aside from his fine defending, the Buriram man almost broke the Gabon keeper’s wrists with a powerful strike in the semi final, netted the winning penalty with aplomb and scored from a set-piece in the final.

My player of the tournament for Thailand, narrowly beating out Kawin and Thitipan.

 

 

 

Chalermpong Kerdkaew (4, centre back)

I thought the Korat centre half was good in the semi-final, and didn’t do much wrong in the final either. He doesn’t do anything spectacular, he’s not great on the ball but he doesn’t make mistakes either, and that’s why Rajevac likes him.

 

Peerapat Notechaiya (2, left back)

With Tanaboon still out injured, Peerapat must take his place as the most overrated Thai player in the national team. Whoever allowed him to take another penalty this year needs a good slap. In last year’s King’s Cup, he smashed his effort a mile over the bar, and this year he passed it straight down the middle. Similar to Siwakorn in the Leo Cup for Port, everyone knew he was going to miss, except apparently him. Kevin can feel pretty aggrieved not to have played at all over the 2 games.

 

Thitipan Puangchan (8, centre midfield)

My player of the tournament in last year’s King’s Cup, and once again one of the best players on the park across both games. As well as his driving runs forward he must have made as many tackles as the rest of his teammates combined in the semi-final. In the final he had a compelling running battle with Slovakia’s bigger, stronger number 8, but such was his determination that he by no means came off second best. I’ll keep saying it: he is one of very few players in Thailand’s team with the guts to stand up and be counted when heads start to drop around him. He always puts in the work, he always wants the ball and he will put his body on the line like no one else.

 

 

Jakkaphan Kaewprom (7, centre midfield)

Largely anonymous across the two games, until he popped up with a tap-in in the final. His performances throughout the last season at Buriram have rightly earned him this opportunity, but I didn’t see anything to convince me that he will contribute much at international level.

 

Mongkol Tossakrai (11, right wing)

Probably Thailand’s worst performer, although Teerasil ran him close. As ever, Mongkol played with no creativity, and was unusually poor when he got himself in to the threatening positions that he has scored a decent number of international goals from. Rajevac gave him barely an hour in the first game, before rightly hooking him at half time in the final.

 

 

Theeraton Bunmathan (3, left wing)

Well, he didn’t really play on the left wing. Theeraton was all over the place throughout both games, and once again I just don’t think he contributes as much when he has the freedom to go wherever he wants. Drop Peerapat, stick Theeraton at left back, let him get forward as much as possible so he can deliver those wonderful left-footed crosses to Teerasil. How many goals has this formula provided over the years? I rest my case. Theeraton was also typically reliable form the spot, with his stutter-step technique continuing to prove successful.

 

Chanathip Songkrasin (18, attacking midfield)

What a superbly talented player. His first half performance in the final was absolutely vintage Messi-Jay, and the way he was doubled-up on and fouled in the second half showed just how scared of him Slovakia were. With Thailand chasing an equaliser late on he nearly had the shirt ripped off his back, much to the chagrin of the home support. Still needs to add more goals in order to really take his game to the next level, though.

 

 

Teerasil Dangda (10, striker)

What a let-down. The striker who has done well since arriving in Japan this season certainly didn’t show much of that promise over the two games. His touch was heavy, he wasn’t strong enough and was just frustrating for a player who has the ability to do so much better. Thankfully he did manage to keep his head when the goalkeeper passed the ball to him in the area, playing an intelligent pass to Jakkaphan who converted the chance easily. Also made no mistake from the spot, although if the ‘keeper had gone the right way he would almost certainly have saved it.

 


 

Bodin Phala (15, left wing)

Played about an hour in total, and looked pretty darn good. He was outshone by Nurul in the semi final, but still had quite a few threatening moments in both games. Bodin’s season so far has consisted of 8 substitute appearances in 8 games. If only he could get a start for Port every now and then!

 

Nurul Sriyankem (14, right wing)

Also used twice from the bench, where he was threatening and dynamic at times in both games. Was unlucky not to score with a chip in the semi-final, but came through with an assist for Thailand’s second goal in the final. If I’m honest it looked like an awfully miss-hit cross that made it’s way through to Pansa at the far post, but we’ll take it!

 

 

Siroch Chatthong (22)

Typical Pipo, really. Used his physique to create a promising break in the final, then booted the ball way too far in front of him, allowing the ‘keeper to gather comfortably. The promising Pipo of a couple of seasons ago is becoming a more and more distant memory, I’m afraid.

 


 

All photos by Umim Supatchana