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Bouncebackability: Port FC vs. Ubon UMT, 11 March 2018

 

 

Port will look to bounce back from last week’s disappointing defeat at Bangkok Glass with a victory against mid-table Ubon on Sunday. Ubon has become a bit of a home for abandoned lions, with The Eagles swooping in for precocious yet unwanted cub Yossawat Montha (32), preening lioness Piyachart Tamaphan (99) and the one and only Scar: Wuttichai Tathong (8).

Both Port and Ubon have started the season decisively; neither have yet to register a single draw. Whereas Port leaped out of the gates with three consecutive wins before being pegged back at Leo Stadium last week, Ubon have bounced alternately from defeat to victory, both winning and losing 1-0 and 3-1 in their opening four fixtures. Their latest game saw them overcome a lackluster Air Force 1-0 at UMT Stadium, securing the win in the 80th minute thanks to substitute Thaweekun Thong-on (28).

Whilst Port are clear favourites to take all three points at home, they can expect to face a tough test against Ubon, who have got their points the hard way: with gritty, battling performances. With former Scottish top-tier manager Mixu Paatelainen in charge, don’t be surprised if Ubon set up like British underdogs, put 10 men behind the ball and try and frustrate Port. It will be interesting to see what Jadet has planned if Ubon do try and park the bus.

 

Ubon UMT

Players to Watch

 

Left footed Port loanee Yossawat, who has curiously played three of Ubon’s four games on the right hand side, is ineligible, but both Piyachart and Wuttichai are in contention to start. Piyachart, who really impressed when joining The Eagles on loan in the second half of 2017, has scored already this season, but was dropped last week. With Yossawat unable to play though, he’s probably favourite to start on Sunday. Wuttichai picked up a knock after a T1 Team of the Week performance in attacking midfield against Prachuap and has missed out in the last two games, but Scar is now back in training, and looking to add to his tally of two yellow cards in two games. On that front, I have absolute faith in his abilities.

 

Ubon’s Mane Man and Scar

 

Now on to some actual talent. Angolan forward Aguinaldo (9) will lead the line, and although he has just one goal to his name in his opening four games, he looks pretty useful. Although he’s got the height to do damage in the air, Aguinaldo’s best work is done with the ball at his feet, so Port will need to come up with a much better defensive performance than they managed next week to nullify him. He may be backed up by ASEAN quota player Mark Hartmann (20) – an English-Filipino forward with the likes of Wessex League heavy hitters Blackfield & Langley on his resume.

 

Aguinaldo and Hartmann

 

Ubon’s big team news this week is the return, for the first time in 2018, of Japanese wing wizard Kenta Yamazaki (14). Kenta has been at Ubon since 2015, and has performed at a consistently high level for the last three seasons, with jinking forward runs being a hallmark of his game. With Kevin and Nurul coming at him down Port’s left hand side though, Kenta – who lacks match-fitness – may find himself doing less jinking and an uncomfortable amount of defending.

 

Kenta Yamazaki

 

Ubon have struggled to replace a few of last season’s top players, but they haven’t missed anyone as much as Victor Cardozo. The new foreign defensive player is Brinner (6), who hasn’t done an awful lot wrong, but will be very hard-pushed to match Victor’s excellence at the back or his incredible goal haul, let alone both. The big man netted 20 times in 72 games for Ubon. From centre back. Also in the defence is Thai national team legend – now 35 years old – Suree Sukha (25) who, whilst technically excellent on the ball, could struggle for pace against Port’s free-flowing attack, assuming it turns up this week.

 

Suree and Brinner

 

Port FC

Bouncebackability

 

It’s time to see what this Port squad is really made of. After an abominable first half display against Bangkok Glass, Port came out for the second half and showed that they were capable of out-playing their opponents, but it was too little too late. Now Jadet really needs another decisive win to get Port back on track. Whether he does that by making tactical alterations or simply demanding better performances from his players we shall have to see. First things first, a fit goalkeeper would be nice!

Port have been hit by their first injury crisis of the season, which saw all three first team goalkeepers making simultaneous hospital visits. Thankfully, there has been footage of Rattanai (17) bouncing around the goal in training, although he was later pictured with what looked very much like clingfilm adorning his dodgy shoulder. With the fitness of Worawut (36) and Watchara (1) still in question, Port B stopper Anipong Kijkam (81) could make it on to the bench for the first time, after he was left out in Port B’s last game, presumably as a precaution.

 

Anipong Kijkam

 

Assuming that Todsapol (6) has returned to full fitness (a wildly optimistic assumption by all accounts), it is safe to say (no it isn’t) that he will be lining up alongside Rochela (22) in defence, with Nitipong (34) and Kevin (97) as full backs. It’s set to be a big month for Kevin, who has been called up to the national team for the upcoming King’s Cup, but will have to play much better than he did against Glass to usurp Theerathon in the first XI. The less said about Dolah’s (4) defensive performance the better.

Kim (8) was another of Port’s major under-performers, and will have to put it another authoritative display if he wants to prove that his performance against Muangthong was the rule, not the exception. Siwakorn (16) will, as always, sit alongside Kim in the heart of the midfield.

With Pakorn (7) once again getting overlooked in Thailand’s King’s Cup squad – while Nurul (31) and Bodin (10) were selected – it begs the question… what does Thai boss Rajevac see that we don’t? It’s certainly not a wildly surprising decision that he would choose Nurul ahead of Pakorn on the right, whilst Bodin is competing for a different position altogether on the left, but how is sharp-elbowed Police Tero winger Mongkol Tossakrai still getting in to the squad ahead of Pakorn? To be fair to him, he does have an impressive goal-scoring record at international record, but to compare Mongkol and Pakorn since the start of last season is to compare a player with 9 combined goals and assists to a player with 23. Maybe Rajevac watched Pakorn last week. He was truly awful, but along with Nurul will probably keep his place on Sunday, with Bodin continuing on the bench.

Boskovic (23) and Suarez (5) are dead certs in the attack, and something tells me the Montenegrin is going to be hungrier than ever for a goal this Sunday. After failing to find the net in three games and passing up a huge chance late on last week, it’s time for Boskovic to remind PAT Stadium just what he can do in front of goal.

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True Sport 2 at 19:00 on Sunday 11 March, 2018. For those who can’t make it to PAT Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match with sound if you ask them nicely. Mention the Sandpit or wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount.

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk: Training Day

 

Port returned to training on Thursday, giving fans the opportunity to see some new arrivals for the first time, as well as bid farewell to some of the old guard.

Among those spotted in action at PAT Stadium for the first time were attacking midfielder Bajram Nebihi, wingers Chakrit Rawanprakone and Terens Puhiri and defensive midfielders Athibordee Atirat and Kim Sung-Hwan. It seems that fellow new arrival Dragan Boskovic has not yet returned from his holidays, but is expected back soon.

 

We think Jadet probably prefers standing next to Terens Puhiri (r) rather than Bajram Nebihi (l)

 

The super-fans from Facebook group เกรียนสิงห์ท่าเรือ also caught up with Port’s latest signing around the back of Zone A. The man in question is 23 year old forward Arthit Butjinda, who joins from Buriram and will add depth to Port’s striking options, although his rather underwhelming record in lower divisions suggests that depth is about all he will be adding. Well, that’s the current state of Thai strikers for you! If Arthit doesn’t whet your appetite, bear in mind that Muangthong have just brought in Chenrop Sampaodi from Police Tero, who has netted just 3 times in 61 T1 appearances.

 

Arthiti Butjinda. Photo by เกรียนสิงห์ท่าเรือ

 

For those player-spotting in the coming days, Nebihi was seen wearing number 18, Chakrit number 8, Puhiri number 88, Athibordee number 92, Kim number 39, Nurul number 31, and Bodin number 15, although these could well change. Additionally, Pakorn has switched to wearing number 7, and two players from the youth team are taking part in first team training. Forward Chanayut Jejue ha been seen wearing number 29 and 99 shirts, while Sarawin Phakdeekan is wearing Pravinwat’s number 55 shirt (his loan from Bangkok Glass was only 6 months, and is now finished.)

 

Chanayut and Sarawin

 

There were also some players in plain-clothes who were bidding farewell to their teammates, namely Pakasit Sansook (2), Ekkapoom Potharungroj (8), Wuttichai Tathong (14) and Piyachart Tamaphan (23). These four, all over the age of thirty, were very unlikely to see any significant action in Port’s much-improved 2018 squad, and have been sensibly released. Pakasit, who has been running a coaching school with former national team star Datsakorn Thonglao, may well decide to hang up his boots, but Piyachart will return to Ubon UMT, where he spent the second half of 2017 on loan. He will be joined in Isaan by Wuttichai, and both will be coached by former Port boss Gary Stevens next season. Whilst we’re largely glad to see fat being trimmed from the squad, it’s always sad to see a fan-favourite like Ekkapoom move on. He has yet to find a new club, but we hope he finds himself playing regularly in either T1 or T2 next season!

An additional departure which was announced on Wednesday was Narakorn Khana, who along with Ekkapoom fell victim to the influx of new wingers. Narakorn was scooped up from BBCU after their liquidation last season, but failed to make an appearance in the league, and will be playing for Navy in 2018. It can also now be confirmed that defender Pravinwat Boonyong, who came in on loan after Hansson’s exit last season, has returned to parent club Bangkok Glass.

 


 

Phew! There’s of course a lot going on, with more arrivals and departures expected over the coming days, so we will do out best to keep you posted. Happy New Year from Transfer Talk!

 

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: Essombe Signed By Port; Nabbed by Police

 

Port’s annual striker search is well and truly in overdrive, with rummy rumours about huge names all over the shop in the most recent round of gossip. The four names currently in the frame to replace Josimar are Bajram Nebihi, Dellatorre, Marcel Essombe and the big prize Jaja Coelho. Prepare yourself, because this story could well have a real sting in the tail! In other rumours, Port are in for two top Thai wingers, both of which would be excellent if pricey signings, and a couple of Port’s old guard are rumoured to be heading to Isaan.

 

The Foreign Strikers

 

Let’s start with the strikers. In ascending order of excitingness…

 

 

We covered the rumours linking Bajram Nebihi to Port in the last Transfer Talk and the conclusion was that as a replacement for Suarez he would be a good acquisition, but as an out-and-out striker he certainly isn’t what we are after. With the all-star cast on our radar, Nebihi is certainly the runt of the litter. Pass…

 

 

Dellatorre is a big, strong Brazilian forward who has been at Suphanburi for the last 2 seasons. He had a bit of an underwhelming campaign in 2016, notching just 10 times in 26 starts, but really clicked in to gear at the start of 2017, scoring 8 goals and making a further 5 in his first 13 games. Dellatorre struggled with injuries in the second half of the campaign, but still managed to net 14 goals in his 22 appearances, including 3 in 2 games against Port. If Dellatorre shows the form he usually displays against Port in the orange and blue next season, we will most certainly have one of the better forwards in the league.

 

 

Rumours have been going around about Ratchaburi’s Cameroonian forward Marcel Essombe for a while now, and the story has really heated up in the last few hours. I’m not going to lie, this is going to get wierd. Essombe was one of the stars of the first half of 2017, scoring 13 goals in his first 14 starts, and although he fell out of favour towards the end of the season, he still finished with 19 goals. Now, the latest news, which we have seen on both Goal.com and SMM Sport is that Essombe has already signed with Port, but has been loaned straight out to Police Tero for 2018. All together now… WHAT THE F*CK?! Are we about to see Maranhao-level tomfoolery rear its’ ugly head again? If this story is true, it would suggest that Port have either signed a bigger name already, in which case I’m not sure why they see the need to sign Essombe and then loan him out, OR they are playing a very risky game indeed by putting their eggs in what is most likely a Jaja shaped basket. Speaking of which…

 

 

The man who’s name just won’t go away, and undoubtedly Port’s main target for the last few months has been Buriram’s Brazilian battering ram Jaja Coelho. Yes, the man who bent time and space to convince the linesman that he was onside when Port visited the Thunder Castle has confirmed that he will not be at Buriram next season, whilst Muangthong will reportedly be sticking with Heberty and Assumpcao as their Brazilian forward line in 2018, meaning that the race for the 34-goal strikers’ signature is legitimately wide open. With Port having thrown away the chance for a top signing already, they’d better pray that they are in the box seat for Jaja’s coveted signature.

 

The Thai Wingers

Port To Sign Dom? Things Bodin Well…

 

In Thai transfers, Port are apparently in the frame for two potentially major signings. Youngster Nurul Sriyankem had an absolutely blistering year in 2017, scoring 8 goals and assisting an outrageous 18 for Chonburi, but has a 30 million baht price on his head, which apparently Buriram and Chiang Rai are both willing to stump up. Port can consider themselves well and truly in third place in the hunt to sign the pint-sized superstar.

 

 

In an interesting twist, though, if Buriram get their man then Port’s chances of landing 22 year old Buriram winger Bodin Phala could well get a huge boost. Port are apparently interested in the cultured attacking player – nicknamed Dom – who ran rings around Port defenders in a Bangkok Glass shirt back in 2015, and he could be available for a much more affordable 7 million baht. Interestingly, Bodin represented Port Futsal Club back in 2013 as a teenager. His excellent close control and short, sharp passing at speed is clearly a product of his futsal background. Bodin could also be a more sensible signing as he has more experience of playing on the left – where Port are in desperate need of an upgrade – than Nurul. There are srong rumours that this deal is close to being completed if it hasn’t been already. Exciting times…

 

The Dead Wood

 

Of course there are also rumours about outgoings too, and mercifully Wuttichai appears to be at the front of the exit queue. Behind him, waiting patiently for a permanent Port exit is left back Piyachart Tamaphan, who was on loan at Ubon in the second half of 2017. Both are apparently on Sisaket’s radar, and it would make a lot of sense for all involved for these moves to get done.

 

MATCH REPORT: Port FC 1-1 Pahang FA

 

Pahang FA held Port to a 1-1 draw on Sunday, but the result didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the home fans, who brought the noise to PAT Stadium for the first time since the stadium ban took effect in September.

The Zone B Fans

Since then Port fans have been itching to get back on the terraces to cheer on their team, and yesterday they finally had their chance. A few hundred fans hungry for football – and a few dozen particularly thirsty for Leo – saw Port slip to a disappointing draw against a side they should probably have beaten.

Pahang FA play in the Malaysian Super League – where they finished 9th last season – but Port’s first half performance indicated that they were much the stronger side. The first half side was almost identical to the one fielded at Navy on Thursday. The only change was in goal, where Weera (40), who if we’re honest we had completely forgotten about, played a quiet but mistake-free 45 minutes. In front of him was a back four of Rochela (22), Dolah (38), Meechok (20) and a former Bangkok United player currently on trial at Port, the superbly named Panpanpong Pinkong (19). Suarez (4), Siwakorn (16) and a 20 year old tralist from Army – Tatchanon Nakarawong (27) – operated as a three in the centre of midfield, with Ekkapoom (8) and Pakorn (9) on the wings. Sene (40) once again started up front; determined to get on the score sheet after peppering the goal but failing to score against Navy.

The action, as seen from Zone B

Port started brightly, moving the ball through midfield with purpose. Suarez was the stand-out player, showing a nice touch and great vision. He controlled play and delivered some excellent passes out wide. His good work paid off 15 minutes in to the first half. Suarez found Pakorn on the right hand side, and Pakorn hung up an inviting cross which had Sene’s name written all over it. The towering French forward jumped so high that he actually had to stoop in mid-air to connect with the cross, but regardless he powered his header past the ‘keeper to make it 1-0.

Pahang rarely threatened the Port goal, but on one of the rare occasions they ventured forward new signing Dolah showed his strength and timing to win an important tackle and play a smart pass out in to midfield. The six foot five Thai-Swedish centre half looked calm and capable throughout the half, suggesting that he could form a formidable partnership with Rochela, although he was never really tested against the Malaysians.

Wholesale changes were made at half time again, with only Sene staying on the pitch. The second string were more evenly matched with Pahang, and they largely cancelled eachother out in a half where chances were at a premium. Genki (18) was industrious as ever, and Piyachart (23) made some enterprising runs forward, but Port couldn’t really find their rhythm. Matters were not helped when Sene was replaced by Wuttichai (14) and Maranhao (29) limped off the pitch after picking up a knock.

In the 75th minute Pahang found themselves back on level terms, and the game started to become a little feisty. Substitute Wuttichai was fouled and exchanged heated words with a Pahang defender, then seconds before the final whistle he was deservedly given his marching orders for an ugly foul, clearly an act of retribution.

Despite the not-so-friendly game ending on a sour note, the Port fans had a good day out, particularly the fans from Zone B who brought their drums and created a more upbeat atmosphere than we’re used to seeing in pre-season.

Port are yet to announce any more friendlies, but when they do The Sandpit will be sure to keep you updated.