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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.

 

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.

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk: You Cannot Be Serious

 

“It is impossible to have a squad of 35 players.” Jose Mourinho

“Ideally, you would want 23 or 24 and then have academy players of a ­sufficient quality to back them up.” Mark Hughes

“It has become all about resources. Clubs can now buy so many players that 10 or 20 guys who could be top players ­elsewhere cannot play.” Johan Cruyff

 

Above are the opinions of some great managers, and Mark Hughes, on squad size.

Jose Mourinho is known to insist on a squad of no more than 24 players, Luiz Felipe Scolari aims to have between 23 and 25, while Hughes suggests that 23 or 24 is the ideal number. Why is this?

In 2009, Hughes said “If you have more than 25, it is difficult to have a meaningful training session.” Last year, Mourinho added his two centavos, saying “I believe in smaller squads because you need perspective, otherwise the motivation is a doubt. I have always preferred small squads. I think I have the smallest squad in the Premier League.”

So why am I dredging up quotes from the previous decade on squad size? Well, according to my squad list there are currently thirty eight players at the club. Take that, Jose! This is Thailand, and anything is possible. So it’s difficult to have a meaningful training session? Stop being a Negative Nancy, Hughes, and just play 19-a-side! So what if we have five left backs? You can use one as a doorstep, one as a paper weight and you’ve still got 3 left over!

 

Transfer Rumours

 

So, with that off my chest, it’s time to announce our latest rumoured transfer. Once again, the Port Lions are tearing the leftover meat from the rotting corpse of the Pink Panther, and the latest pound of flesh is Chad Chaiyabutr.

Chaiyabutr has a Thai father – former Thai national team player Cherdsak Chaiyabutr – and an American mother. He spent his youth career at the Portland Timbers in The States, before joining Chonburi at the age of 20. He spent a year at Chonburi without making an appearance, then moved on to TOT where he also failed to get on to the pitch.  After a few years in the semi-professional wilderness (stints in the lower leagues at Kalasin, Chaiyaphum and Trang), Chaiyabutr moved to BBCU in T2 where he has played 9 games, scoring a solitary goal.

 

 

This is not a confirmed transfer yet, but Chaiyabutr has been pictured training with Port, so it could well happen. Will he get anywhere near the starting XI? I’ll reserve judgment until I’ve seen him play. Surely he can’t be any worse than Wuttichai…

 

You Cannot Be Serious

 

This is getting ridiculous…

The latest rumour – and let me stress that this is just a rumour – is that Kaludjerovic (10) could well be back in the frame for a place in the squad, with Maranhao’s (92) inclusion once again a doubt. It sounds so ridiculous that I can’t bring myself to take it seriously, but I’ve been shocked before.

The Sandpit’s scouts at Wednesday’s friendly were again impressed with Asdrubal (27), but didn’t think too much of new signing Jadue (32). Suarez (5) sat in the stands, despite not having played on Saturday, while Kaludjerovic exchanged heated words and game of charades with Mme Pang. The conclusion seems to be that once again the pendulum is swinging towards Asrdrubal, who could join Maranhao (assuming sanity prevails), Rochela (22), Josimar (30) and Genki (18) as Port’s 5 foreigners in the T1 squad, with Jadue playing only in the cup competitions. Can the madness please just be over?!

 

Josimarvellous! Port Get a Brazilian

 

Last minute transfer drama is unfolding just as Port prepare to get the T1 season underway on Saturday. After injury unfortunately ended Asdrubal Padron’s Port career before it had begun, many assumed that Rodrigo Maranhao – who has been waiting patiently for his chance – would be stepping in to take his place in the squad, but the litany of rumours since suggest otherwise.

Port have been linked with 3 Brazilian forwards in the last week, likely indicating that they are intent on going in to the season with 6 foreign players, even though only 5 can be named in the T1 squad. Maranhao must be wondering what he has done wrong!

Firstly, Port were linked with Brazilian former Chonburi striker (where have we heard that before?) Leandro Assumpcao, who scored 21 goals in 61 games for the Sharks between 2015 and 2016. Whilst many players have made the switch from Chonburi to Khlong Toei in recent seasons, the latest news suggests that Assumpcao will be joining Sisaket for the 2017 season.

 

Leandro Assumpcao scores for Chonburi

 

Next came the rumour that really made Port fans giddy with excitement. Heberty Fernandes, the former Ratchaburi star who fired in an outrageous 65 goals in 90 games for Port’s 2017 opening day opponents, was linked with a move to PAT Stadium. With Port fans briefly dreaming of a Top 6 finish, or maybe even a push for a spot in the AFC Champions League, reality soon hit home when it was reported that Port were not going to be able to afford his $800,000 per year wage demands. It was nice while it lasted!

 

Heberty Fernandes at Ratchaburi

 

Finally came talk that former Army striker Josimar Rodrigues was not only being linked with a move, but had been spotted at PAT Stadium. Pictures taken on Thursday afternoon confirm that Josimar was indeed in training on Thursday, so The Sandpit got in touch with the Brazilian who confirmed to us that he will be signing with Port pending a medical at 09:00 on Friday. Josimar scored 16 goals in 30 games in a poor Army Utd side last season, and will be expected to provide competition for Andrija Kaludjerovic to be Port’s first choice striker. Whilst his goal record at Army was undoubtedly impressive, he has struggled to find the net at a few of his former clubs. A solitary goal in 16 games at Tokyo Verdi, then another 1 in 12 games for Al-Fateh SC don’t exactly scream consistency. However good Josimar is, we have to question the wisdom of signing another Brazilian forward to replace Maranhao – who most fans think has earned his chance in T1. Would a left winger or a left back not make more sense?

 

Josimar Rodrigues at PAT Stadium

 

Still, with the signing as yet unconfirmed and more twists and turns still eminently possible, we aren’t counting our chickens just yet. Anyway, isn’t there a game coming up sometime soon to take our minds off all this transfer malarkey?

 

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.

 

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Kaluderovic Signs For Port

 

Serbian striker Andrija Kaluđerović has become Port’s third foreign signing of the season. The 29-year old goal machine is fresh off a season where he banged in 20 goals in 19 games in the Lithuanian top flight, making him the league’s top scorer. We don’t know a lot about the standard of Lithuanian football, but we’re pretty sure that means he knows where the goal is.

If his history is anything to go by, Kaluđerović doesn’t like to stay in the same place for long. He has played for a pretty remarkable 18 clubs in a 14 year career that has included stints in Serbia, China, Spain, Cyprus, Switzerland, Australia, Qatar, Lithuania and now Thailand. He must have been through a few passports! The highlights of his nomadic adventures include playing for Serbian giants Red Star Belgrade (29 goals in 43 games), second tier Spanish side Racing Santander (3 goals in 18 games) and A League side Brisbane Roar (5 goals in 10 games).

Milica Stanisic

The trivial business of playing football and scoring goals aside, perhaps the most impressive achievement of Kaluđerović’s career to date is his marriage to Serbian TV presenter Milica Stanisic. We don’t know if she will be watching the games at PAT Stadium, but we are pretty sure that the Zone A regulars will tell us about it if she does.

Kaluđerović has become the Port’s fourth foreign player, but because of the 3+1 quota system, only three of Kaluđerović, Asdrubal, Suarez and Rochela can be on the pitch at any time. With Rochela’s place in the side assured, and Suarez looking fantastic in midfield, it may be a shootout between Kaluđerović and Asdrubal for the starting role up front. We haven’t seen either of them in action for Port yet, but it looks like an intriguing battle, which we will we be watching with interest throughout the season.

We’re going to leave you with this video of Kaluđerović scoring goals at will for Lithuanian side Zalgiris last season. Welcome to Port FC, Andrija!

 

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk – 7 Jan 2017

 

The big news is that former La Liga forward Asdrubal has become Port’s third Spanish signing, as regular readers of The Sandpit will already know.

A lot else has happened since the last Transfer Talk though, so we’ve got a lot to cover here. Let’s start with what didn’t happen.

Bernardo Cuesta, 28

As we suspected a couple of weeks ago, Frenchman Saer Sene didn’t do enough to earn himself a contract, meaning that attention turned to the ‘mystery Argentine’ – the subject of our last Transfer Talk – who was expected to be unveiled after new year. It was eventually revealed that the forward in question was Bernardo Cuesta, but he ultimately decided to stay with FBC Melgar in Peru. With no potential signings on the horizon and the start of the season getting closer, eyebrows were starting to be raised.

Then came Asdrubal. The relatively short but stocky 25 year old forward has been at Las Palmas since the age of 6, but decided to join the ever-growing Spanish contingent at Port as he was stuck on the fringes of the squad, unable to force his way in to the First XI. We’re absolutely delighted that we’ve managed to bring in a player of his calibre with La Liga experience, and somehow we don’t think he’ll have the same problem here!

In other news, Transfer Talk favourite Panpanpong Pinkong’s move to Khlong Toei is now confirmed, meaning he will battle it out with Piyachart (23) and Suchon (11) for a regular starting berth at left back, The Sandpit are already sharpening our puncils.

Watchara, 23

The battle to be next season’s starting goalkeeper has also claimed it’s first victim. Watchara (1), who was loaned to BBCU last season, will once again make the temporary move to The Pink Panthers, leaving Worawut (36) and youngster Rattanai (17) to slug it out for a starting place.

Now after all of that confirmed news, we finish with our bread and butter: good old fashioned gossip.

As we reported earlier in the closed season, all of last season’s foreign players from 2016 besides talisman David Rochela are likely to be replaced. With Rochela already being joined by countrymen Sergio Suarez and Asdrubal, two foreign spots remain; one for any nationality, and one for an Asian player (Dolah is not included as he is half Thai). We are hearing whispers that the final two foreign players will be announced next week on January 11th, the day before the team go for a 6 day training camp to Hua Hin. Once again there is no word on who the new signings might be, but it seems likely that the club will be going after a left winger to replace Genki, and either another striker or an attacking midfielder.

Tom’s Transfer Talk will be back to be discuss the results – or lack thereof – of the January 11th announcement. We hope to be reporting more good news!