Powering Down: Super Power vs. Port FC, 8 November 2017

 

It would take a heartless super-villain not to have cracked a smile at the news that Super Power had finally, after 27 consecutive defeats, broken their T1 duck. At long last the league’s longest-suffering fans, who have earned more respect with their tireless singing and dancing on the terraces than the players have on the pitch, had something to cheer about. After a season in which they had twice conceded 9 goals, and racked up a goal difference of -94, that 3-2 win over Navy was probably the feel-good moment of the season.

Sentiment aside, though, Port travel to Samut Prakarn on Wednesday to face a side at the peak of their Super Powers. Seeing as their season has consisted of a solitary victory, two draws and twenty eight losses, this should still hardly be a concern for a Port side who are undefeated in the league since Jadet returned to the helm.

 

Super Power

Players to Watch

 

In my last preview I tried and failed to choose my usual 4 or 5 players to watch, admitting defeat due to an assumed overabundance of quality throughout Muangthong’s starting XI. How wrong I was! This time I am in a rather different situation. Super Power’s current top scorers are Brazilian attacking midfielder Moreira (80) and Thai left winger Suradech (2). They each have 3 goals. So these two might be half decent footballers. All the other ones probably suck.

What I did find quite entertaining in my research is that no-one seems to have any idea where half of their players play. Take Moreira for example, who has started in 6 different positions this season. Ironically, the one position their top scorer hasn’t featured in is striker. Maybe try that one out, guys?

Even more baffling is their use of Keon-Pil Lee (33), who has started games as both a centre back and an attacking midfielder. And as a left-back and defensive midfielder, obviously. I’m imagining Jadet looking pensively at his tactics board, perhaps smoking a pipe for effect. The plump prodigy slowly but deliberately switches Dolah and Suarez’ positions in the starting XI while his assistants nod in silent approval.

 

Suradech, Moreira and Lee Keon-Pil

 

Hilariously, Lee isn’t even the only player to play in both left-back and attacking midfield. Thai-Italian Antonio Verzura (69) has also played in both positions. Jadet adjusts his monocle, takes Panpanpong and moves him slowly further and further up the pitch. His assistants look on in disbelief as he tucks Panpanpong alongside Dolah in attacking midfield. The spherical sensation begins to chuckle. His assistants look uncomfortable, not knowing how to react. The massive mastermind finally breaks out in to a full belly-laugh, and those around him follow suit. The hysterical hooting continues unabated, before eventually subsiding as the voluptuous virtuoso wheezes, apparently choking on the brilliance of his own idea. As quickly as a T1 referee brandishing a yellow card to Siwakorn, the room once again falls silent. Was he… serious?

 

Form

As mentioned previously, Super Power are in their best form of the season. Whilst with any other team in the league that might be concerning, with Super Power it means one win, one draw and four losses in their last six. The four losses were against Sisaket, Ratchaburi, Suphanburi and Bangkok United, the incredible 3-2 victory against Navy and finally the 2-2 draw against Thai Honda.

Super Power’s form could also be affected by the fact that they have now been bought by Capital Group in Maha Sarakham, and will be renamed Jumpasri United in 2018. The players can now be certain that the club will remain afloat, and so they have something concrete to play for. Admittedly, it’s a T2 spot for a club in Isaan, but it’s better than nothing! As an aside, check out their promotional video here. Pretty in pink!

 

The Sandpit Meets Batman

 

I am lucky enough this week to have been joined by Super Power supremo Batman bin Suparman, the mastermind behind some of the revolutionary tactical decisions at SAT Stadium this season. He showed me just how he would set up the Port side with the XI expected to start on Wednesday.

 

 

Batman also briefly described why he made each of the choices.

 

 

Rochela (GK) – Rochela is Port’s most important defensive player, so he should also be Port’s last line of defence. It’s not difficult you know, this management lark.

Piyachat (RB) – My plans to play Siwakorn in central defence have been thwarted by his suspension. Instead I’ve got some hipster I’ve never heard of playing right back. Oh, well.

Josimar, Genki (CB) – I’ve been very impressed with the understanding between these two all season, and where is it more important to have a good understanding than the heart of the defence? One thing I’ve never understood is why you would play your top scorer up front. In my experience, your top scorers should ideally be playing at the back, if not in goal.

Suarez (LB) – Anyone with even a passing interest in the beautiful game know that attacking midfield and left back are completely interchangeable positions. Suarez will therefore feel perfectly at home in his new position. Just ask James Milner.

Nitipong (LM) – Fairly straight-forward, this one. Nitipong has been used as a right back all season, but has been struggling for form. What he needs is a move to the opposite side of the pitch to freshen things up.

Pakorn (DM) – I actually heard this suggested in one of The Sandpit’s Zone F interviews and I thought ‘That’s brilliant. Brilliant!’

Rattanai (RM) – Rattanai is a promising talent, but needs to be more involved in the action. Also, playing him outfield means he will be a threat from set-pieces where he can do that thing he does when he uses his hands to kick the ball. I’ll be honest, I didn’t even know you were allowed to do that. This lad could revolutionize football, I tell you.

Dolah (LAM) – This fella has impressed me with his speed, skill and dribbling all season. He will be the creative fulcrum of the side.

Panpanpong (RAM) – A player with as much positional awareness as Panpanpong should really be putting this talent to use in the opposition half. How many times have we seen him lose his marker this season, resulting in a goal? I rest my case.

Adisorn (CF) – The crux of my footballing philosophy is that players who have scored two or less goals in nearly an entire season belong up front. Adisorn is the best option available to me, because he has zero goals and zero assists.

 

The match will be shown live on True Sport 2 at 17:45 on Wednesday 8 November, 2017. For those who can’t make it to SAT Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound if you ask them nicely. Mention the Sandpit or wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount while you’re at it!

 

Past Forward: Port’s Foreign Strikers Since 2012

 

We’ve all had those conversations. “Whatever became of Randomy McRandomface after he left Port? I heard he was banging them in in the Bhutanese seventh tier.” Well, in this article I have painstakingly tracked every foreign striker that has played for Port since 2012 – or as many as I know of (thanks Wikipedia and Transfermarkt!) – and have the lowdown on how football has treated them since they left the Khlong Toei Army. I’m not going to lie, this is a long read.

We have a lot of ground to cover here, so let’s dive straight in. We start with the most recent departures to ease us in, and will get progressively older and thus more obscure as we go.

 


 

We start with the Sleepy Serb himself, Andrija Kaludjerovic. If all had gone to plan, Kalu would still be donning the blue and orange to this day. Unfortunately, things went decidedly poorly for the historically prolific Serb. Despite thumping in 20 goals in 19 games in the Lithuanian first tier before his arrival, Kalu never found his feet in Thai football. After an underwhelming start to the season, the arrival of Josimar and his own less-than-impressive work rate condemned him to the bench, where he would remain for most of the season. 3 goals in 9 games were the final tally, before the Serb broke his contract – telling The Sandpit he wanted to be “near his family” – which of course lead him to New Zealand. Kalu has proceeded to take the A-League by storm, notching 3 goals in his first 4 games. They haven’t all been tap-ins either. In the yellow of Wellington Phoenix this guy looks like a legitimately impressive striker. What on earth happened at PAT Stadium, Kalu?!

 

Andrija Kaluderovic

 

Our second most recent departure also left the club prematurely, but in very different circumstances. Asdrubal Padron came to Port straight from La Liga, where he had enjoyed a pretty decent career with his hometown club Las Palmas. After his arrival he looked very useful indeed in friendlies, but an unfortunate knee injury sustained in training ended his Port career before it had begun. Despite recovering sooner than expected, Asdrubal was shipped out at the mid-season interval where he has impressed for A-League outfit Central Coast Mariners. He has notched 2 goals in 4 games, and completed 90 minutes for the first time in his most recent appearance. He’s fit and scoring; 2 things which the Spaniard never quite managed at Port.

 

Asdrubal Padron

 

Rodrigo Maranhao. Don’t make me tell this story again. It’s too soon. We all know the success Maranhao enjoyed at Port, top-scoring in the 2016 promotion campaign, before being unceremoniously dropped from the squad in 2017. After kicking his heels for the first half of 2017, Maranhao was once again overlooked, and moved on to T1 rivals Sukhothai. Maranhao has impressed since becoming a Fire Dragon, but his numbers haven’t been anything to write home about. 4 goals in 12 games isn’t bad, but apparently it hasn’t been enough to secure him one of the coveted foreign player spots for next season. Maranhao will be looking for T1 suitors once more in 2018.

 

Rodrigo Maranhao

 

One player most people won’t be wondering about is the Barmy Brazilian, Thiago Cunha. He arrived to much fanfare in 2016, moving from one of the top sides in the country to second tier Port, but things never quite happened for Thiago at PAT Stadium. I’m not sure what Thiago’s record was, but it most certainly wasn’t the 11 goals in 15 games that Wikipedia claims. Ahh, Thiago. Always the comedian. Despite lasting less than a season and leaving Port at the tail-end of 2016, Thiago has already represented four clubs since. First, he exited the Indian Super League in spectacular fashion, drop-kicking an opposition player in this comedic incident for Mumbai City. He scored no goals in 6 games in India, before taking his ball and going home to the Brazilian second tier, where he once again drew a blank, failing to find the net in 8 games for Londrina. A short and apparently unhappy stint at Barito Putera in Indonesia was next, where he scored 2 goals in just 3 games. Finally, Thiago came back to his former club Chonburi. He had a famously superb scoring record for the Sharks before joining Port, but controversy has once again plagued the Brazilian in his second stint at the club. After a promising start, another spectacular fight saw him banned for 4 games, and he didn’t return to the squad for a further 3. In Chonburi’s most recent game, Thiago came off the bench and played 18 minutes, hinting at his possible rehabilitation in to the squad, but I’d be very surprised if Thiago didn’t move on again at the end of the season.

 

Thiago Cunha

 

Another one who will be annoyingly familiar to Port fans is New Zealander Kayne Vincent. Vincent arrived on loan from Buriram, alongside future captain David Rochela and Nitipong. It’s fair to say that their fortunes have been rather better than his at PAT Stadium. Vincent struggled with injuries and form in Khlong Toei, scoring just 1 goal in 7 games in the second half of 2015. Port’s lack of goals in that season led to their relegation, making Vincent a less-than-popular figure at Port. That and the fact that he was audaciously lazy. After leaving Port he moved to the Malaysian second tier, where he enjoyed some success with Perlis FA. He found the net 7 times in 11 games, which sounds pretty good until you compare him to current Port space-filler Matias Jadue, who scored 12, and Nakhon Ratchasima striker Paulo Rangel, who scored 21. Vincent then found his way back in to Thai football with Air Force in 2017.  He proceeded to do his popularity even more harm, knocking Port out of the League Cup with a last minute miss-kick after a typically anonymous 120 minutes. In the end his stats in T2 were pretty tidy, scoring 12 goals in 17 games as his side achieved promotion back to the top tier. If Air Force keep him on in 2018, he could well face Port again in the near future.

 

Kayne Vincent

 

The other half of 2015’s abominable strike force was Australian Brent McGrath. The Port fans really tried their best to get behind McGrath, who always worked hard and frequently got in the right positions. Yes, Port weren’t giving him the best service, but at the end of the day poor old Brent couldn’t hit a Buffalo’s arse with a saw-duang. On loan from Chonburi, McGrath scored just 2 goals in 15 games in the first half of 2015, before his parent club sold him on to FC Fredericia in the Danish second tier. In a surprising turn of events, Brent had a whale of time in Denmark, banging in 15 goals in 27 games, earning himself his club’s Player of the Year award, and being signed by Esbjerg fB. Unfortunately, his run of fine form was not to continue, as McGrath scored just once in 17 games for his new club, and he was loaned back to Fredericia once more in 2017. On his old stomping ground, he has scored twice in 10 games in the league, and has hit 4 cup goals in 3 games. Not the roaring success it first seemed he might be, but not too shabby, either.

 

A buffalo’s arse, a saw-duang and Brent McGrath

 

Finally, after wading through that utter dross, we get to the diamond in the rough. A particularly big, round diamond he is, too. All hail, Leandro Oliveira da Luz! The Brazilian had a stunning 2 year spell at Port between 2013 and 2014, notching up 24 goals in his first season, and landing himself the League 1 golden boot. Leandro found things a little tougher in the TPL, but never stopped entertaining fans and scoring spectacular goals. My praise doesn’t do the Brazilian maestro justice, but Peter Hockley’s ode to him just might! Leandro spent two successful seasons at PAT Stadium before inevitably moving on to Bangkok Glass in 2015. Leandro never really got going at Glass, though. He scored twice in 9 games before being loaned out to Osotspa for the second half of 2015, where he scored 5 in 5. A return to League 1 with PTT Rayong was next, where Wikipedia says he scored 3 goals in 4 games. This can’t be right, as I’m sure Leandro played many more times than this for Rayong, including 2 games against Port where he milked the attention of his jilted lovers the Khlong Toei faithful, and received rapturous applause when he saw red in a Port victory. What does seem certain is that Port’s favourite foreign striker is now retired, and I like to think that he reflects on his time with Port with as much fondness as Port fans reflect on his stay.

 

Leandro Oliveira da Luz

 

A player who had a much briefer successful spell at Port was Serbian Predrag Sikimic. Sikimic arrived from Kerkyra in the Greek top tier in the second half of 2014, but took a little while to get going. Nevertheless, after the October break Sikimic scored some crucial goals which were instrumental in keeping Port up, meaning that some fans were disappointed when his stay was not extended in to the 2015 season. Instead, Sikimic went to FK Vozdovac in his native Serbia, where he scored just 4 times in 17 games. Remarkably, he was then snapped up by Serbian giants Red Star Belgrade, where he scored 10 goals in 46 games between 2015 and 2017. Finally, the 35 year old moved on to the Kazhakstan Premier League, where he has scored twice in 9 games for FC Atyrau. I would guess retirement is a possibility for Sikimic once the 2017 season winds down, but as a big lad who doesn’t rely so much on his mobility, he could still have a couple more seasons left in him.

 

Predrag Sikimic

 

Alongside Sikimic in the Port attack during the second half of 2014 was bulky Nigerian Ikechukwu Kalu. Wikipedia tells me that a player with surprisingly impressive pedigree scored just 2 goals in 13 outings, after which Kalu called time on his career at the age of just 30. Although he didn’t score many goals at PAT Stadium, they were memorable when they went in, as Kalu would celebrate by wowing the fans with some impressive acrobatics. At the age of 19, Kalu was snapped up for a princely 1 million Euros by AC Milan, whom he played 8 games for scoring 2 goals. During his time with the Italian super-club he had four loan stints, including at Sampdoria. He was also called up by the Super Eagles, where Kalu scored once in three games. Prolific stints at clubs in Finland, Albania and Switzerland followed, where Kalu rarely dipped below a goal every other game. Unfortunately, his underwhelming spell at Port was to be his last as a professional footballer. It looks very much like Kalu’s career didn’t do justice to his talent.

 

Ikechukwu Kalu

 

Next on my list is is South Korean forward Joo Sung-Hwan. Joo joined Port in 2014 from Chunnam Dragons in the Korean top flight, where he scored just 2 goals in 17 games. At Port he was to struggle even more in front of goal, finding the back of the net twice in 29 games, although many of these were from the bench and he may have also played in midfield at times. Take that, Brent McGrath! Since leaving Port, Joo has been regressing down the leagues, searching for his level. He moved to Phichit in the second tier in 2015, who collapsed and were taken over by Ayutthaya Warriors who played in the third tier in 2016 before collapsing again. He scored 12 goals in 43 appearances across these two seasons, before being picked up by Ayutthaya FC (yes, it’s a different club) in the third tier this season. He has scored 5 just goals this year, although in his defence some sites list him as a midfielder rather than a striker. I hope for his sake they’re right!

 

Joo Sung-Hwan

 

Battling it out for the title of most obscure player is North Korean Ri Myong-Jun. Ri joined Port on loan from Muangthong in 2012, and from the patchy information available, it seems like he may have spent another half-season at PAT Stadium in 2013. Ri began his career in his native North Korea with Sobaesku, although he was soon plying his trade in Latvia and Denmark, failing to score a single goal in 3 stints at 3 clubs, before somehow being picked up by Muangthong. The Scum realized he was absolute tosh before he had made a single appearance, loaning him to Port and presumably laughing themselves silly at having offloaded their worst player to their hated rivals. At Port he scored just 3 times in 24 appearances, after which he finally admitted defeat and returned home to Sobaesku. It’s North Korea, so I have no idea what he’s up to now. At the age of just 27, and as an international with 9 appearances to his name, it’s probably safe to say he’s still plugging away trying not to be as rubbish at home as he was abroad. Mind you, he could probably tell most of his countrymen that he scored 100 goals for Real Madrid and get away with it. As Yann Martel pondered, which is the better story?

 

Ri Myong-Jun

 

Ri Myong-Jun has some competition. Who remembers Thierry Fidjeu? This Cameroonian is a seriously nomadic footballer, and can lay claim to being the only one on this list to have had a country banned from a major tournament. Way to go, Thierry! Before coming to Port, he played in Cameroon, Malta, Austria, Israel, Colombia and Turkey, before finding himself at Port for the first half of the 2014 season. While there, he scored precisely zero goals in 8 games. Top bombing, Thierry! It was during this spell in his career when it was discovered that Fidjeu wasn’t actually from the country he was representing internationally. Yes, he had apparently just decided to play for Equitorial Guinea rather than his native Cameroon, and someone had finally noticed. The Equatogunieans were unceremoniously dumped out of the 2015 African Cup of Nations, and it was all down to a Port player. Spiffing stuff, Thierry! Further spells in France, Malta and finally Austria have failed to yield even a single goal, and at the age of 35 Fidgeu is still turning out for an Austrian team in the regional leagues of the third tier. Karma is a bitch.

 

Thierry Fidgeu, and one of the images that popped up alongside his on Google. I guess “Fidgeu” is French for “Pond-Diver”

 

You could be forgiven for thinking that Port’s most capped international was also one of their better foreign forwards. You would be wrong. Mathias Christen may have represented his country an impressive 36 times, but that country is Liechtenstein. And he’s only scored twice for them. Christensen joined Port in 2013 from USV Eschen-Mauren, a club in Liechtenstein who play in Switzerland’s fourth tier, and was mostly used as a lone forward in his time at PAT Stadium, although he seems to have been primarily an attacking midfielder in his native country. I can’t find any statistics for his time in Thailand, but those who remember him reckon it’s somewhere between ‘a couple’ and ‘a few’.

Where Christen’s relationship with Port gets interesting is not during his stay, but after his departure. The typical Liechtensteiner that he is, Christen seemed rather concerned about the fact that the club owed him vast sums of money. Maybe if you’re going to try and pull a fast one on someone, don’t pick the guy from the country with the highest GDP per capita in the world? He just might notice, and have the resources to fight it. Anyway, Port’s debt to Christensen was rumoured to be well over a million baht including unpaid wages and a promotion bonus, and Christen wasn’t having any of it. The club reportedly whined about him being unreachable on international duty, and he sued. Although details of this episode are sketchy, it seems that at some point during 2015, after a tribunal decided in favour of the player, Port were ordered to pay the money plus an additional fine, reportedly totaling 4.2 million baht. Ouch! Unsurprisingly Christen opted to end his foreign adventure, returning to Leichstenstein and having further spells with four clubs, most recently his old club USV Eschen-Mauren. The 30 year old has made 1 start and 3 substitute appearances for them since his arrival in August 2017, scoring 1 goal.

 

Mathias Christen

 

We’re getting towards the bottom of the barrel, where we find a real enigma of a player. Some sources have told us that Martin Amara Jerry was signed as a back-up striker in 2013, but was so bad he ended up playing in defence, others have said he was always a defender. Very little information is available on this Nigerian who is remembered as a “big lump” and who doesn’t have his own Wikipedia page. In a coincidental discovery, I most recently found the 26 year old playing alongside Joo Sung-Hwan at Ayutthaya FC in the first half of 2017, although I’m not sure if he found another club in the second half of the season or not. If the idea of a watching a deeply mediocre footballer pass the ball sideways and fall over himself to a soothing soundtrack interests you, then I recommend watching this video, which the player in question actually posted on Youtube himself. There’s even an ambiguous goal in it for you if you stick around for the full 6 minutes, although due to the quality of the video it’s really just a blurry mess of pixels. In summary, Jerry probably needs to engineer a move to one of the smaller, less inhabited Andaman Islands to find a level of football where he could be a successful striker.

 

 

So, we’ve finally made it to 2012, and surprisingly I’ve come across someone who I remember thinking was a pretty decent player. Olof Hviden-Watson may have been more of a midfielder than a forward, but with Port’s dearth of attacking options in 2012, he was pretty much all we had up top. I remember him manfully trying to feed off the scraps that were sent his way, and with 10 goals in 22 games, it must be said he did a pretty good job in a struggling team, although it wasn’t enough to keep Port in the TPL. Watson came to Port having played in his home country Sweden, as well as Finland and Norway. I particularly enjoy the names of two of his previous clubs FC KooTeePee and FC Trollhattan, although it could just be that I’ve been staring at my screen so long that I’m seeing things. Watson well and truly explored Thailand too, playing for 7 Thai clubs in a career that ended with the collapse of Khon Kaen in the 2016 season.

 

Olof Hviden-Watson

 

So, there’s an epic journey down memory lane, and with any luck some closure for those of you who have been asking “I wonder what happened to Randomy McRandomface after he left Port.” If he hasn’t been getting countries kicked out of major tournaments or scoring 100 goals for Real Madrid, he’s probably moving to the Andaman Islands to scratch out a living playing for North Sentinel FC.

 

Staring at the Window With a Suitcase in My Hand

 

With the disjointed 2018 season slowly dribbling, like an old man’s 3am piss, to a close, one’s thoughts begin to turn to 2018 and the imminent transfer window. With Port’s T1 status guaranteed, the powers that be should soon be thinking of which players to keep and which players to show to the exit, either gently and with a consoling arm around the shoulder, or with a great big Father Ted/Bishop Brennan-style kick up the arse.

 

Jadet says a sad farewell to Tana

 

New foreign player rules for 2018 will of course have an effect on Port’s transfer strategy, assuming they have one (which is a pretty big assumption from what we hear) – whereas this season the rule was 4 global foreigners + 1 Asian, next year it’s 3 global foreigners, 1 Asian, and 1 ASEAN. With the big Japanese clubs already rumoured to be scooping up the best Thai players due to their own ASEAN rule, it looks as if the league will lose some of its international stars and replace them with little known Vietnamese and Indonesian players. So good scouting, good agents and a bit of imagination will be required to play the transfer system between now and 2018. And with 5 teams going down next season to usher in the brave new dawn of a 16-team T1 in 2019, getting the transfer window right is more essential than ever.

Here’s my look at who will stay and who will go between now and the new season…

 

GOALKEEPERS

I predict there will be little activity in this area. There’s no doubt that Rattanai, when fit, is one of the best young keepers in Thailand and he has continued to improve this season. A great shot stopper, increasingly commanding in the air, authoritative in his box and gradually mastering the art of kicking, he should be Port’s no1 for years to come. Worawut and Watchara are both more than able deputies so unless one of them decides he wants more action elsewhere, I don’t foresee any new sets of gloves hanging on the Port pegs next season.

DEFENDERS

Again, Port are very well stocked when it comes to full-backs. On the right, Nitipong has had an excellent season playing at wing-back and despite occasionally forgetting his defensive duties he deserves to stay, and young Meechok has proved to be a competent replacement when needed. Likewise at left-back, where hopefully Yossawat will make the position his own in 2018 with support from Jetjinn. There have been mutterings about Panpanpong’s loan deal being made permanent but let us hope that they don’t get beyond the muttering stage, as he has been one of the club’s weakest links this season.

 

Please don’t go, don’t gooooo-ooohh, don’t go away…

 

It’s in the centre where I expect the wheelin’ & dealin’ to take place. Cap’n Rochela may be the first name on most Port fans’ team sheets but our sources say he has yet to be offered a new contract, and the player himself is apparently casting an eye in the direction of Japan should an offer not be forthcoming. It would be a shame to lose a player whose leadership, intelligence and reading of the game – as well as his faultless penalty taking – are head & shoulders above anyone else at Port, but if he does move on, a good foreign replacement is essential, preferably one who can get forward for set-pieces too. I bumped into Dolah recently and he confirmed he’s staying for 2018, and whilst he was one of our most improved players during the season, he’ll benefit from someone more capable and consistent than Todsapol or Anisong by his side.

MIDFIELDERS

Let’s start on the wings. On the right, unless a big offer comes in – which, given his stats this season is not beyond the realms of possibility – I expect Port to stick with the Midfield Monk Pakorn, a young man whose all-round game has come on leaps & bounds since his mid-season spell at the monastery. On the left, whilst Genki continues to run himself into the ground every week, his powers seem to be waning and, at 31, this will almost certainly be his last season at Port; whilst Ekkapoom, much as we all love him, barely figured this season and at 32 will also likely be moved on, so a new left-winger, or a left-sided striker, will also be on Port’s shopping list. If I see Tana on the left (or indeed anywhere else on the pitch) for as much as one second next season I’ll start supporting Muangthong. Genk’s departure would also free up the Asian player berth. Let’s also not forget young Pinyo who will be returning from his loan spell at newly-promoted Prachuap and can fit in on either flank.

 

Sayonara Genki-san?

 

At DM, Port have numerous options, none of whom have convinced enough to make the spot their own this season. Adisorn’s all-action Jack Russell style seems to work against more talented opponents, Ittipol and Pummared have also put in some decent performances in the position, and the criminally underrated Tatchanon will be back from his loan spell at Chonburi; but it’s an increasingly key position in modern football and so a good – possibly foreign – DM should be right at the top of the club’s wishlist. There are unconfirmed rumours that Port are looking at a Japanese or Korean player in this position.

Elsewhere, Siwakorn, despite collecting yellow cards like John Spittal collects match tickets, remains the players’ player, and will almost certainly be a Port player next season. Despite my earlier misgivings, Sergio Suarez has been on absolutely stellar form in the last few games and may just have played his way to a new contract; however the club may prefer to bring in an AM who can actually shoot, or give a chance to the forgotten man of the PAT Mattias Jadue, who is contracted until the end of the 2018 season and comes with the bonus of an Asian passport. Apart from these players, there isn’t much talent in reserve and Port should be looking to bring in a couple of good Thai midfielders to provide competition, with special attention paid to the no10 role – Port need to vary their attacking “tactic” of pinging in hopeful crosses and add a bit of guile on the edge of the box.

FORWARDS

As ever, it’s in attack where Port need reinforcements the most. The club’s incompetence at filling this position in recent years has been staggering to behold, with the likes of Brent McGrath, Kayne Vincent, Wuttichai, Tana, Thiago and Kaludjerovic all huffing & puffing to little effect, and good players like Maranhao and Asdrubal allowed to leave and thrive elsewhere. Josimar has had a good 2017 and should surpass his 2016 goal tally before the end of the season, but he’s not quite the Scary Foreign Striker Port need to compete with the big boys and, at 30, may not be kept on for another year.

 

The man, the legend

 

Port were apparently 24 hours away from signing Buriram goal machine Jaja Coelho last year and that is the sort of player they should be targeting this time round, along with a couple of promising-to-good Thai strikers. Indeed, SMM seem to be reporting the “Jaja to Port” story on a weekly basis, despite Jaja’s agent Benni repeatedly stating that that particular ship has long since sailed. Jadue may yet prove to be a good option in this position; Wuttichai and Tana are most definitely Bishop Brennans.

 

Rest assured once the close season rumour mill gets into full swing, The Sandpit will be bringing you all the latest gossip, however speculative and clickbaity it may be, and will be first with the news if/when Port actually sign anybody.