Tom’s Transfer Talk: Tada Tana?

 

 

Port have continued to trim fat from their squad, with two more departures confirmed and one more strongly rumoured. There have also been some interesting developments with the academy, and talk of further arrivals to the full squad, although we have no idea which area of the squad is being earmarked for improvement.

The two confirmed exits were both players who were out on loan for the second half of last season. Tatchanon Nakarawong has made his move to Chonburi permanent, whilst Pinyo Inpinit has been snapped up by Police Tero after his loan spell at Prachuap last season.

 

 

Tatchanon endured a testing 6 months with Port, being consistently overlooked in defensive midfield despite being Port’s best player in that position during pre-season. Ludicrously, he played just 165 minutes for Port in the first half of the season, before securing a deadline-day loan move to Chonburi for whom he played just 211 minutes. At 21, Tatchanon still has a lot of time to break in to The Sharks’ first team, but I can’t help thinking that he may have been better served joining a weaker team where he would have more chance of starting games. Nevertheless, we wish him the best in his quest for first team football in 2018.

 

 

Pinyo’s time at Port also has to go down as very unfortunate. He arrived at Port from Police alongside Pakorn, and both were expected to be key figures in Port’s 2016 promotion campaign. Whereas Pakorn made an immediate impact, Pinyo suffered a serious injury and incredibly failed to make a single appearance in the league for the next 2 seasons. Despite returning to fitness a few times, injury always struck before Pinyo could fight his way back in to the team, although in the second half of 2017 he did manage a handful of games for Prachuap. The Killer Wasps didn’t make the deal permanent, but Police Tero swooped in and will take a gamble on the former Thai international, ending his unhappy spell at PAT Stadium.

 


 

It has also been announced that Port will be fielding a ‘B’ team in T4 next season, which will give Port’s academy players a chance to test themselves against seasoned pros. Along with this announcement, Port also unveiled a promising youngster who will be joining the youth setup next season. Chaowala Sriarwut, nicknamed Arm, impressed for Ratchawinit Bang Khen School in 2017, played for Bangkok Glass under 19s in the Coke Cup and has agreed to join Port’s youth setup for the 2018 season.

 

 

The last piece of news is a bit of a Sandpit Exclusive, as Port defender Elias Dolah let it slip in his interview with us that the man who “doesn’t take things seriously at all” has “left Port for sure.” After enjoying an extended holiday – which apparently his teammates weren’t aware of – Tana returned to training with about as much urgency as he shows while tracking back on the pitch, and is not expected to remain with Port in 2018. We have reported a few times about rumours linking him to hometown club Khonkaen FC, who have been spreading some money around in an attempt to secure a second successive promotion, but there is no further news on that front. The moment when Tana is unveiled by another club and I get to finally press that ‘Bin’ button on his player profile can’t come soon enough!

 

 

The speculation about yet more new arrivals is based on comments from Madame Pang which suggest that she will consider bringing in reinforcements if the right player becomes available. Bringing in another forward would certainly seem to be a wise move, whilst defensive cover may also be an option worth considering.

 

Swede As! The Sandpit Meets Elias Dolah

 

Since joining Port from T2 side Songkhla at the start of 2017, big Thai-Swede Elias Dolah has become a fixture in Port’s defence, terrifying Thai strikers with his size and no-nonsense tackling. Off the pitch however, Elias is a friendly, laid-back, eloquent character with a lot to say about Port and Thai football in general. The Sandpit met up with him to find out about his beginnings in Swedish football, his first year at the PAT, and what 2018 might hold for him and his team…

 


 

Tell us how you got started in football…

I come from a village outside Lund in the south of Sweden and my first team was my village team, Dalby GIF. I played there until I was 15-16 or so, in central midfield. I played defence also, but usually central midfield. Then I moved to Lund and played there for 4 years, in the junior and then the senior team.

 

 

I guess your size was less of a big deal in Sweden?

Right, I wasn’t oversized when I was young, I was the same as everyone else, so I played central mid, that’s where I played my best games in the Swedish First Division (the 2nd tier of Swedish football – Ed). But when I came to Thailand they saw my size and wanted me to play as a central defender.

 

When you were growing up, which players were your heroes & role models? Which team did you support?

I got a Chelsea shirt from my father when I was 6 years old – back then Chelsea weren’t the team they are now so I thought it was a nice team to cheer for. At that time Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was the goalscorer so he was my hero. But the role model for me was my big brother – he was a footballer but he studied law & had to give up football. He’s two years older than me & was the one I always looked up to. Now I don’t really have any players I look up to but Maldini is the defender I’ve always admired, I often watch his Youtube clips, he was so consistent. He kept up that level for so long, until he was 40!

 

How did the move to Thailand come about?

My father is from Narathiwat in the south of Thailand so I was visiting my relatives and my father said “Maybe you should go & train with a local team”, and he started doing some research and got in touch with Songkhla which was the closest team, and they were in the TPL at the time. So I did some pre-season training with them the season they were in the TPL, and they wanted to sign me, but I still had one year left on my contract with Lund and in Sweden you can’t just break contracts like you can in Thailand! So I went back to Sweden and played one more year, then agreed a 2-year contract with Songkhla to see if Thai football was right for me.

 

What culture shocks did you experience moving from Swedish to Thai football?

It was a bit of a change! It was the first time I’d moved out from my parents’ house so that was a change too. Swedish football is like most European football – it’s more structured, more organised, more tactical, you have to follow the tactics and if you don’t you will not play. Here it’s more impulsive – if someone feels like going on a run they’ll do it! It’s more free, more end-to-end. It’s something we players have to manage – we can’t just go-go-go all the time because in the end we will lose.

Thai clubs need a whole new way of training, diet, lifestyle. Come in at 9, take it seriously, this is your job. The players’ diet isn’t controlled. I think it’s a lack of knowledge about what your diet does to you. In Sweden we learn about this in school and when playing, the coaches told us what to eat. We went to Chiang Mai for the Leo Cup last week, even though it’s just a friendly game, we didn’t have any lunch – we flew at midday when we were supposed to eat lunch to prepare for a game at 6pm, so we had to take care of lunch ourselves and most people went to McDonald’s! Some of the foreign players don’t eat Thai food so they have to try & find something to eat – David (Rochela) always eats rice & eggs! He just mixes fried eggs & rice, it’s funny, it’s his way of dealing with Thai food.

 

What about the talent of Thai players? Is there a lot of potential here?

If they take care of themselves then they can be as good as Swedish players. Here in Thailand they need to get more chances to play – don’t pick players because of age hierarchy. That’s a big problem in Thailand, younger players don’t get the same chances as older players.

 

Who’s the best player you’ve played against, and with, in Thailand?

I think Theerasil, he’s quality. He’s a good target player, even though he’s not the biggest or strongest, he finds the spaces. And I’ve played with Sergio (Suarez) for 4 years now. From the beginning he impressed me and every day he still impresses me, he has really good technique and if he plays in the right position – creative central mid… Also Nitipong, he has something really good going on. He’s really serious and professional, he goes to the gym every day even when we don’t have training.

 

What were your first impressions of Port?

My first impression of Port was playing at PAT Stadium. That was amazing – in T2 the crowds are usually really small, you play in these shit stadiums, some of them don’t even have showers, then you come to PAT Stadium and you think wow, this is what Thai football is all about. Playing Port home & away I thought this is something else, it’s not like playing against teams like Ang Thong or Krabi. I got a really good impression so to be able to come here & play was perfect. The fans are amazing.

 

Port had an up & down season, with some amazing performances interspersed with some…not so good ones. Our defence conceded a lot of goals & penalties, why do you think this is? What are you doing to tighten things up for 2018?

I think it’s the lack of a base…if you feel like the game isn’t going your way, as a player you need to be able to fall back on a base, like a holding pattern, and if you don’t feel like you have that to fall back on when things are going badly then it can be really difficult. That’s what happened in some of the games where we performed really badly, like Thai Honda away (groans from all assembled). That night we didn’t do anything right, but we had nothing to fall back on. On the days when we’re playing well and everything’s working we can beat anyone. We also need to focus when we play smaller teams – you see some players going “sabai sabai”, and only getting fired up when we pay bigger teams. I think it’s natural, it happens everywhere, but it has something to do with professionalism.

Also last season, even when we were 2 goals up, we always found a way to concede a late goal. That comes back to what I said about having a base playing style. What is our philosophy? What is our style of football? We just need to learn to finish off games. The clinical aspect of our games has to be better. And sometimes you need to learn when to foul!

 

 

Was the Zico appointment a big disruption?

It was the wrong time to appoint him, because at that time we were performing well, we were in a very good position. Maybe we could have performed with Zico if he’d been appointed at the right time, but at that time we didn’t need a change. But nobody played well under Zico, the whole team played badly, Josimar scored once in, what, ten games…it’s not easy to win when you play shit.

Zico tried to make the team more professional and he could make decisions, because of his status. We could go and talk to him and he could change stuff. Big stuff. He made some changes in basic stuff, in the locker room and so on, because he brought a lot of staff with him – we had double staff when he was there. 20, 22 staff! Things like, after training he introduced boiled eggs & bananas, so people ate the right stuff, not eating shit – good protein & nutrition after training, and we’re still doing that now.

But sometimes he took things a little too easy with match preparation – he was like “I believe in you so much, it’ll be OK, the results will come”, but we didn’t analyse the opponents much which is important, as you need to be prepared in your mind and all pull in the same direction. That’s a good thing about Jadet, his assistant coach takes care of this, he’s really professional and we watch a lot of videos of other teams. And it seems to be working.

 

You were unlucky last season in that several times you had penalties given against you for fouls outside the area…

Yeah I was unlucky but also it was against bigger teams so it’s kind of natural…sometimes when you have your back to goal and you can’t see the line it’s difficult to decide whether you should make the foul. And in Thailand, with my size, it’s difficult to have the referee on my side actually – other players can do what they want with me, they can pull my shirt, tackle me, because it doesn’t look that bad. But when I do something, even if I make a good tackle it can look harder than it is. I think I play fair but it’s difficult because of the size difference. But the level of refereeing in Thailand is going up, some of them are OK.

 

What were your best & worst moments of 2017?

The best has to be the win against Muangthong, because it means a lot for the fans and for the players. It was a big win. (Tom mentions the post-game dressing room celebrations) Haha, that’s something I miss from Sweden, because there, after the game, if you win you make noise! Everyone can hear you. You do it from a young age, celebrate a win, but it doesn’t usually happen in Thailand. It’s like, the second best moment was the away win in Chiang Rai. That was the best smash & grab win I’ve ever been part of – we flew up & back in the same day so it really felt like a smash & grab! Go there, 90 minutes, go home. And in the dressing room after that game I really wanted to sing, to make some noise, but the Thai people said no, take it easy.

The worst has to be Thai Honda. It made us look so bad – they were one of the promoted teams, and they got relegated, and we go there and we lose 5-1. It was so bad. I watched some of the Weera clips…(laughter all round) It was bad timing as I was maybe getting called up to the national team, I was a reserve when they went to Australia, but after that game…

 

What about your future at Thai Port?

I feel really happy here, I’ve signed a long contract – I signed up for 1 year when I first came, then after 2 months they wanted to extend to 3 years which I did, so I’m under contract until the end of 2020. There’s good competition for my position with Todsapol, it’s a good environment to develop, so I have no fears I won’t be playing. In the end it’s up to me to perform on the pitch. I played many games in 2017 and I’m satisfied with my performance.

 

Port have streamlined the squad for 2018 with older players like Wuttichai, Ekkapoom and Pakasit moving on…

Yes I was really surprised to see that when I came back! I thought that would never happen. I feel really bad about Ekkapoom because he was supposed to play in the last game at Ratchaburi but I injured him in training! And I couldn’t go to his wedding after that as I was flying back to Sweden, so I feel really bad…

 

…and Tana?

Haha, we came back for training and nobody even knew where he was! Then one day he was stood there at training without his shirt, and told me he’d been away with the police doing training for 3 months. He has this police grade so he has to do some training sometimes. But he’s left Port for sure. He’s a really funny guy, doesn’t take things seriously at all, but he can shine sometimes when he wants to! 

 

What are your personal ambitions for 2018?

Scoring goals would be fun! I scored one in the FA Cup. But the problem is every time we get a set-piece I always get the biggest defender on me, or sometimes two of them. But that creates opportunities for others. Otherwise, keep developing, I’m still quite young and still have time to develop and I want as much playing time as possible to perform in front of the fans, and together with the team get some results, as I really think we have a strong team.

As for the national team, they usually pick from teams that are performing well. Last year, whenever it was time for national team selection, and you look at the results we had, I can understand why noone from Port was picked. We could be really good, but we could be really really bad, and that made the players look bad. This season I hope there will be more of a spotlight on the team.

 

Are you surprised at the quality of players Mme Pang has brought in this time round? What are the club’s ambitions for the season?

Yeah, actually I am. Before it felt like we bought quantity not quality – we had 40 players, in training you had to stand in line! Now it’s under control and Madame has told us she wants a top 5 finish. Which would be good.

 


 

Big thanks to Elias for giving up his Saturday morning to talk to us, and to Joe & Rob at The Sportsman for their hospitality & cooperation. And don’t forget to listen to our podcast with Elias!

 

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Crystal Balls 2018: Ubon UMT Utd

 

The 2018 season will soon be upon us, so it’s time for The Sandpit to take out our crystal balls, give them a good polish, and proudly display them to our readership. We kick off this year’s previews with Erick Ombuya Kiyondi (aka Waka) telling us what he thinks the season has in store for his beloved Ubon UMT Utd…

 

What was your highlight of the 2017 season?

Beating Muangthong both home and away.

 

How will your team fare in 2018?

Top 10.

 

Who is your most exciting new signing?

Our new boss, Mixu Patalaainen.

 

Which departed players from 2017 will you miss the most? Who are you glad to see the back of?

I will dearly miss Victor Cardozo but glad Nebihi left to join Port. (So are we! – Ed)

 

What changes would you like to see at your club? Or are you happy with the way things are going?

We need strikers, and we need NEW full backs since all our guys were either sold to other clubs or went with our coach (Scott Cooper) to Tero.

 

Which teams will be in contention for the T1 title, and who will win?

Though its early to tell, I can bet on Buriram, Chiangrai and Bangkok United, I can surely say 1st to 3rd spot goes to these teams. Muangthong is done now, it is an average club, they have lost many good players.

 

Which 5 – yes 5 – teams will go down to T2, and which 3 will come up to T1?

Again too early to tell but my predictions: 1.Sukhothai 2.Prachuap 3.Chainat 4.Navy 5.Nakhonratchasima(Suphanburi)

COMING UP TO T1: 1.PTT Rayong ( sure bet) 2. Lampang or Sisaket 3.Angtong (sure bet)

 

Which fixtures are you most looking forward to in 2018?

Ubon UMT vs
1.Police Tero (half of our players moved there with Scott Cooper)
2. Port FC ( we never win at PAT) (Get used to it Erick! – Ed)
3. Muang-shit Utd

Thai football crowds are declining year on year. Why do you think this is, and what can be done to make the game more popular?

Football timing and schedule in Thai league is a joke, games on Wednesday and kick off is 17:00, how the hell can a working fan travel from Rangsit to PAT Stadium with the traffic in Bangkok? So fans end up taking the better and easier option of watching on TV. Another thing THE BREAK is too long, if THAI FA could listen then they should not interrupt games for weeks or even a month as we have seen in the past. It should be continuous that makes fans to keep talking about football and the next game. This year being the year for World Cup I don’t see this to be better anymore, we might end up having games on Mondays even Fridays. Thai FA should sit down and see what they can do about this.

Finally, give us your three wishes for the 2018 season.

1. God help Ubon UMT not to go down.And finish top 10.(dreams are valid)
2. Win both home and away against Muang-shit
3. Beat Port FC at PAT. I won’t care if you beat us at Ubon.

 

Big thanks to Erick for sharing his thoughts with us and good luck to Ubon in 2018! If you want to tell us about your team’s hopes for 2018, then all you have to do is complete this questionnaire.

Crystal Balls Out!

 

Time once again for other T1 fans to get out the tarot cards, read the tea leaves or simply make a few wild guesses and tell us how you think your team will fare in 2018! Rather than fanny about with emails, this year I’ve created a form for you to complete. So if you’d like to share your thoughts on how your team will get on in 2018, please fill out & submit by Friday 26 January. Thanks!

 

 

 

Out Of Leo: Chiang Rai 5-3 Port (after penalty shootout)

 

Port exited the pre-season Leo Cup in the first round, as Chiang Rai showed more composure at the death to win 5-3 on penalties. In a match that you could have been forgiven for thinking would be a battle between two of the top strikers in Thai football – last season’s top scorer Boskovic and all-time top scorer Cleiton – neither side could break the deadlock, despite Port having the better of the action for most of the game. As there weren’t a great many incidents of note, I won’t bother with a blow-by-blow account of the action but rather give my impressions on some of Port’s key men.

 

Suarez or Nebihi?

Jadet went for a curious line-up in the first half, picking four foreigners who will not be allowed to play together in T1 next season. Rochela (22) and Boskovic (10) are of course nailed on certainties to be in the T1 squad next season, but only one of Nebihi (14) and Suarez (5) will be joining them. Jadet picked both – presumably to see which one would stake the stronger claim – and Nebihi responded just the way his manager would have hoped for. A natural number 10 if there ever was one, Nebihi was gliding past defenders at will, his long strides and robust frame presenting a problem the Chiang Rai defence could only really answer by fouling him. Whilst his final ball looked a little rusty – as did pretty much everyone’s – he did as much as Port fans could have hoped for to suggest that he will be an important addition to Port’s attacking arsenal. Suarez also looked lively, putting in a lot of strong challenges and showing some fancy footwork, but it was clear that his impact on the game was not as marked as that of Nebihi.

 

The Strikers

Boskovic didn’t have the debut he will have been hoping for, but there was really very little in the way of service for him to dig his teeth in to. Given a few more games to get his scoring touch back, Boskovic will find that extra yard and hone that first touch to hopefully become the deadly force he was in 2017. Fellow new signing Arthit Butjinda (29) similarly had very little to play with up front after he replaced the Montenegrin. He converted his penalty in the shoot-out with minimum fuss.

 

Kim Sung-Hwan

 

 

So that’s what a proper defensive midfielder looks like. Kim (8) was a rock in the centre of the park, showing spot-on positioning, quality passing and communicating well with his teammates. Not only does he look technically very sound, he also looks to be a natural leader, something which Port’s midfield has been severely lacking for the last few seasons. Going by the early evidence, Kim should be one of the very first names on Jadet’s team-sheet.

 

Siwakorn Spills Leo Cup

 

 

Not one of his finer afternoons. Siwakorn (16) was comfortably out-shone by both Suarez and Kim, got in to a scrap with an opposition player and then stepped up to take a penalty which more or less everyone except him thought he was going to miss. It’s going to be an interesting year for the man who is so highly thought of by his teammates. With Kim looking like a dominant, reliable defensive presence and Nebihi looking like the creative fulcrum of the team, Siwakorn has to carve himself out a role. Will he flourish alongside more accomplished teammates in the coming season, or struggle to justify his place in the team? It’s time to show that you belong at a top-5 club, Siv!

 

The Wingers

Port started with Pakorn (7) on the right and Nurul (31) on the left. Pakorn did as Pakorn does, delivering some dangerous balls, and shooting at every conceivable opportunity. Nurul looked very lively, but his touch deserted him a few times in promising positions, and he picked up a silly yellow card for a Siwakornesque shirt-pull. Expect much, much better from Nurul in coming friendlies.

 

 

In the second half, new Indonesian dynamo Terens (27) replaced Pakorn on the right, and Bodin replaced Nurul on the left. Bodin (15) played a part in some promising breaks, but was a little slow to release the pass at times. Terens had one chance to stretch his little legs, and gave Port fans an exciting glimpse of his frankly ridiculous pace. He should be a regular feature off the bench in 2018.

 

The Defence

Not much to report here, and that is probably a good thing. Nitipong (34) looked as tough and energetic as ever, Rochela and Todsapol (6) were pretty solid despite a couple of lapses of concentration which went un-punished, and Panpanpong (19) was… well, Panpanpong. There was the usual wondering forward and leaving space behind, which may well be a very bad idea indeed in 2018. With either Nurul or Pakorn likely to be on the left wing, Panpanpong must understand that he can’t afford to leave 5 foot 4 Nurul or own-goal maestro Pakorn to do his dirty work for him. Surprisingly, Jadet replaced Panpanpong with Jetjinn (11) rather than Yossawat (28) in the second half. We don’t know what Yossawat has done to deserve being consistently overlooked, but his treatment by management is beginning to remind me an awful lot of Tatchanon last season. Jetjinn’s most notable contribution was an absolutely abominable freekick which flew a good couple of meters above everyone’s head and out of play.

 

The Penalty Takers

1) Rochela. The only surprise was that he put it in the bottom left rather than the bottom right.

2) Suarez. His second cheeky penalty in as many games. Went for the Panenka and dispatched it with aplomb.

3) Arthit. Sent the ‘keeper the wrong way, so the fact that he didn’t find the corner didn’t matter.

4) Siwakorn. Hands up if you thought Siwakorn was going to miss. Yep, me too. Next time let players who can actually shoot do the shooting, eh Siv?

5) Kim. You don’t need to be able to speak Korean to understand an extremely confident nod when asked if you’re going to take a penalty, and number 5 to indicate that you’re fine with a bit of pressure. Unfortunately his penalty was not required, with Victor dispatching Chiang Rai’s decisive spot-kick to end the tie.

 

Port FC Man of the Match

 

 

He may have only played half the game, but what a half it was. Nebihi will add strength, height, guile and no little amount of skill to Port’s forward line in 2018. Honourable mentions go to Kim, who didn’t put a foot wrong in defensive midfield, and Nitipong who looks like he’s spent his holiday training even harder than usual.

 

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!

 

Boskovic vs Cleiton: Port to Face Chiang Rai in Leo Cup

 

The draw for the forthcoming Leo Cup pre-season tournament has just been made, and Port have been handed a tough draw against Chiang Rai Utd in the first round, with the game taking place on Tuesday 9 January at 20:00 in Khon Kaen 18:00 in Chiang Mai

The draw pits two of the dark horses for 2018 T1 honours against each other, with both sides splashing the cash during the break, and two of the Scariest SFSs in Thai football history – Port’s Dragan Boskovic and Chiang Rai’s Cleiton Silva – coming face to face.

The other fixtures can be seen in the image above. If Port win, they’ll join the other R1 winners in the semi-finals which are scheduled to take place on the hallowed turf of the PAT on Friday 12 January, with the final being held in the godforsaken Theatre of Corrugated Iron that is the SCG on Sunday 14 January.

 

Suwon Song: Port Face Koreans in Friendly

 

With the 2018 T1 season due to kick off in a little over a month, Port are ramping up their pre-season preparations with another friendly. Following the Leo Cup, which takes place 9-14 February (and for the moment that is all we know), Port entertain Malaysian champs Johor on 15 January, and will now be taking on Korean side Suwon FC on Tuesday 23 Jan at the PAT, with the usual KO time of 17:00.

Suwon play in the K-League Challenge, which is South Korea’s second tier, and finished a creditable 6th last season. They’re a fairly young club, having formed in 2003, though that makes them practically ancient next to the likes of Buriram & Muangthong. Having consulted the Korea chapter in Big Ron’s Guide to Racial Football Stereotyping, I’m expecting them to be a physical, pacey, well-organised side who should offer suitably challenging opposition for Jadet’s boys.

 

Lions vs Tigers: Port to Face Malaysian Champs in Friendly

 

Port’s latest pre-season friendly was announced last week. Jadet’s side will face a tough challenge against Malaysian 2017 league & cup winners Johor Darul Ta’Zim FC (aka the Southern Tigers) at the PAT on 15 January at 17:00. Admission is free as per usual.

As well as providing a good workout for the new-look Port side, for Johor it’s the final game of a Thai pre-season tour which they’re using as preparation for their AFC knockout tie with our old friends Muangthong. As such we hope Port don’t go too hard on them and that they will emerge from the fixture unscathed and in tip-top shape to take on the Scum.

Port are also believed to be taking part in the pre-season Leo Cup next week, but as yet we have no information on dates, fixtures or even venues. Well, it is a full 7 days away so no need to inform everyone just yet, eh?