Bad vs. Worse: Port FC vs. Rayong FC Preview

 

It’s that time of year again. After foolishly holding out hope that Port might be reinvigorated by a trip to the SCG, there is no longer any room for doubt that Port are deep in to our traditional mid-season slump. Five winless games is troubling enough, but two of those results – the 0-2 loss against Police and the goalless draw with Trat – came against poor teams who were themselves struggling.

So what do Port need in order to start looking like the team who were challenging for the title just a few weeks ago? Well, the easiest fixture on the calendar might be just the ticket. Port may be winless in 5, but Sunday’s opponents Rayong have lost 7 on the bounce. Port may have failed to find the back of the net twice in our last 5 league games, but Rayong have failed to score in 6 of their last 7.

That’s not to say we’re not capable of accommodating an upset. When we’re bad we’re really bad, and Rayong have beaten a couple of half decent sides this season. So let’s see who we should be looking out for in opposition colours.

 

Rayong FC

Players to Watch

 

At the back they’ve recently brought in English centre back Adam Mitter (6). Having played non-league football in England, Mitter has gone on to tour some of the world’s least fashionable leagues: a semi-professional club in Australia, an Indian third tier outfit and a handful of teams in the Philippines. And those are just the highlights; he’s gone through 16 teams in his 10 year career. I believe ‘well-travelled’ is the appropriate euphemism. Since arriving in Thailand. It’s taken Mitter precisely 4 games to get 4 T1 yellow cards and get himself suspended, but he’ll most likely be back in action against Port. Boli will be quaking in his boots.

 

 

In midfield they’ve got a Japanese fella who has actually played to a good level in Thailand. Several years ago. He’s now 34. Goshi Okubo (40) has still got some tricks up his sleeve, though. He fired in an absolutely audacious strike from the centre circle as well as a well-struck penalty in their 2-3 loss to Chiang Rai last week, proving that he’s still got something to offer at this level.

 

 

There’s not a lot else to talk about in terms of attacking options. The magnificently named Agaldisio Pitbull (10) is comfortably the pick of the bunch, but he’s been out for a few weeks, while fellow Brazilian Bruno Paulo (36) looks thoroughly unremarkable. In the bits of highlights I’ve caught, Mehti Sarakham (92) has been the only other bright spark. He’s quick, likes to run with the ball and could cause us some problems. Although he hasn’t managed a goal or an assist this season. So his end product might need a little work.

 

 

Form

 

It’s ugly for both sides, but Rayong’s results are truly noteworthy for how bad they’ve been. They’ve scored in only one of their last seven games. Having said that, they did find the net twice last week, before only losing by a single goal against league leaders BG. It would be a stretch to describe them as ‘coming in to form’, but the way we’re playing any sort of performance from the opposition could be enough to secure a result at the PAT.

 

Port FC

On The Way Oud

 

In my last preview I touched on a few players who I thought needed to be dropped. They weren’t, and we were so poor at times against Muangthong that I’ve added to my list. Nitipong (34) has really regressed this season, and desperately needs a rest. Thitawee (2) is the only natural replacement, and he looked unreliable earlier this season, but could be worth a try.

Dolah (4) is suspended having picked up his fourth yellow on Wednesday, and the way he’s been playing since returning from injury that’s probably a good thing. Worawut (24) has continued to look decent at the back, but who knows who will be partnering him on Sunday. Todsapol (6) was the only centre back on the bench last week, so he’s probably the best bet. Let’s hope he lasts the 90 minutes.

Steuble (15) continues to look well below his best, and with their being far more value in attacking rather than defending full backs against Rayong, Jaturapat (21) should really be getting a run-out.

In midfield Siwakorn (16) hasn’t looked awful, but we need to instil a sense of competition among our squad, and rotation is one way to go about that. Kanarin (31) is the most deserving of a start in my book, but again I’ll take any old fresh legs at this point. Youngster Tawin (14) was on the bench against MTU. Give him a go.

Tanasith (11) was rotated in on Wednesday, which I was happy to see, but he didn’t do himself any favours on the pitch. Looking dangerous and failing to provide end product can only get you so far, and with plenty of other options on the wings, it’s likely that Port will give someone else a go on Sunday. Pakorn (7), who came off the bench only to balloon a shot in to the carpark, is one option, while Adisak (9) could also start wide on the right. My preferred selection would be Nattawut (45), but for whatever reason he is only being used as an impact sub.

Up top we’re in that spot we find ourselves in almost every year. We’ve signed one of the top-scorers in the league only for him to struggle in front of goal. Boli (94) is at least still contributing with some solid all-around centre forward play, but it would help if he also converted chances when they come his way. Suarez is doing his best to provide opportunities, but looks a little frustrated at the minute. Whether it’s his teammates, the officials or at times himself getting in his way, he isn’t quite firing on all cylinders at the moment.

The way things have gone I’d be very surprised indeed if Port are not in the process of finding someone else who is willing to take the blame when the team that is picked for them loses. Coach Oud had an exceptional start, but has hit the same bump in the road as all of his predecessors, so despite Mme Pang’s recent comments to the media, which could also be described as the dreaded vote of confidence, Oud looks very much to me like a dead man walking. To be honest I’m surprised how well he’s done and how long he’s lasted.

 


 

The match will be shown live on Channel 5 and AIS Play. Kick off is at 18:00. 

 

Port’s “Battle of Who Could Care Less” Muangthong United 2 – 1 Port

Derby day: the day where no matter what’s going on, the players should be up for it. Despite our current form, which is mediocre at best, we could draw confidence from the fact that our recent form against Muangthong was good. Looking at the starting-11: I was nervous.  Steuble (15) has been shaky at best in recent games, and Tanasith (11) hasn’t done enough to justify a place on the bench, yet surprisingly: they were starting in a game that is of the utmost importance. Rattanai (18), after playing well, was dropped to the bench, which shows that if you like and share a certain person’s Facebook posts, you’re more likely to get a game.

Before I forget here’s a lovely picture of Pang from earlier in the week. Anyway back to the match report.

 

With that being said, we started quite well, though we ultimately did nothing with it. Muangthong looked quite good too at times, and it’s hard not to be impressed with Mirzaev, who in my opinion is the best foreign player on their books. The first-half was end to end at times, with neither side able to find the back of the net, though Suarez drew first blood (the claret kind) when he collided with an obstructing Muangthong player. So, we went into the interval level, but in standard Port fashion: we came out for the second-half looking nothing like the team we were in the first half.

Muangthong drew first blood (of the goal kind) in the 51st minute, when we allowed Wattanakorn all the time in the world to pick his cross to an untracked back-post run by Mirzaev, who slammed it home. It was horrendous defending, and sadly… it’s not the first time this has happened. There are certain players in the backline that are so badly out of form at the moment that they could use a few games in the stands, although they appear to be at the point where they just wouldn’t care if they were dropped. Regardless, we were soon awarded a penalty when Chatchai collided with Adisak (9), in what was his only meaningful contribution after replacing Boli (94) at half-time. Sergio (5) stepped up and tucked the spotkick away with venom in the bottom-left corner. Game on.

But this is a Port game, and we don’t like to do things easy! Instead of taking control of the game, we began to play around with the ball at the back, and instead of building out from the back: we built our downfall. Go (8), who is usually quite reliable, made a mistake, and although we scrambled well: VAR called upon a check from the referee on the monitor. To me, it looked like the ball hit his body and deflected onto his shoulder/armpit. Usually, that would mean that it wasn’t a penalty, but this is Thai football, and we do things a bit differently! My expectations of Thai match officials are incredibly low, so I was hardly surprised when a spotkick was awarded to the hosts. To which, Popp tucked it away, and ultimately consigned us to defeat.

 

The ball hits the back of Go, unquestionably a penalty and a yellow card. All hail the miracle of VAR that has come to save the game.

The final 20-minutes was dire at best, with the only meaningful thing to happen being Nattawut (45) handling the ball twice and tucking it away, with it correctly being chalked off. Apart from that, we were aimless in attack, and the final whistle was soon blown. It’s never easy to lose a derby, but when you see some of the performances tonight… it’s tougher to swallow.

 

Sergio Suarez, goal scorer and bright spot

 

So: what next? We have Rayong on Sunday, and if we play as we have been recently… they’re getting their 4th win of the season. With his time at Port well and truly up, it’s time for Oud to wield the axe, and show the bigger name players that enough is enough. There are only a few players at best that aren’t playing poorly in my opinion, with Suarez and Worawut Namvech (24) the only players to come out of this game with pass marks, though I felt that Bordin did quite well too, but his end product was lacking.

What would I do for the Rayong game? Drop a lot of the players. Watchara (1) seems to not be allowed to play, so get Rattanai back in goal. Nitipong (34) out for Thitawee (2), who despite being underwhelming in his games so far for the club: deserves a chance at redemption. He couldn’t be any worse than what we’re getting at the moment… Get Tossapol (6) in for Dolah(4) and Jaturapat (21) in for Steuble. It might be a makeshift defence, but again… it couldn’t be any worse than our defensive unit at the moment, which funnily enough [for opposition fans at least] has forgotten the basic skills and requirements of defending.

In the midfield, get Kannarin (31) in at the base of it, and play Go alongside Sergio, with them both being given a bit more license to go forward. Suarez is carrying us at the moment, and his back must be incredibly sore from all the deadweight. We’d be in a world of hurt without him, and we really can’t afford for him to get injured. Go looks a little tired to me, but he’s still a good player, but that mistake that led to the penalty, was frustrating, to say the least! Sometimes you need to just pump it long and push the defensive line up and get the shape, maybe we can try that next time?

For our front-3: drop Tanasith from the squad altogether. He’s had more than enough chances now, and we’re better off giving them to Nattawut (45) instead. We should persist with Bordin (10), who will play himself into form, and if Bonilla (99) isn’t fit, persist with Boli. It’s a real shame what we’ve done since signing him, as he’s a proper number 9, but if we can’t give him any service, he’s going to struggle. That being said, he’s had a few chances in recent games, and fluffed them, so it’s up to him to stick a few in the back of the net and silence some of the boo boys.

At the rate that we’re going, 2nd place is looking very unlikely, and at the end of the season when we’re reviewing what went wrong, we’ll be highlighting this run of games. I think there’s less than a 1% chance that Oud remains in charge next season, and I genuinely wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t make it to the end of the season. When you consider our form before the break, and what’s happened since the resumption of the league… Questions should [but won’t] be asked. To me, it appears that he’s gone from being allowed to pick his own team, to being told who he’ll play, and it’s little surprise that we’ve struggled since that’s begun.

Hopefully, we will see a better performance on Sunday, one that can make us believe that the players ACTUALLY care, because looking out there tonight: you wouldn’t know. With a return of fans to stadiums rumoured to be on the way, there’s at least some hope that we can play our part in a return to form. We can make the PAT a fortress once again, and let the lads know exactly what we expect from them. To put it simply: we expect BETTER.

 

Another match another frustrated Oud pic

 

The game on Sunday is at PAT Stadium, with kickoff at 6pm. If the rumours are true, PAT will be allowed 50% of its capacity. If you’re unable to make it to the stadium, the Sportsmen will show the game on one of their big screens. Despite this appearing to be quite negative, I’m hoping to see the lads turn things around ASAP.

Let’s finish this season strongly, and start that off by getting a convincing win on the weekend!

An Underdog Story: Muangthong Utd vs. Port FC Preview

 

A rather quaint old feeling surrounds today’s trip to the SCG. With MTU currently on top form and Port in a slump, we almost feel like the underdogs we used to be in this tie. For once, the fact that Port fans will be forced to watch on the tele is not that annoying, as we probably wouldn’t be allowed in to Legoland regardless of the current situation.

Taking on the mentality of underdogs may be a bit tricky considering the supposed calibre of players at our disposal, but I’m going to take on the task of motivating the boys myself by giving them my absolutely honest assessment on tonight’s opposition. With this brutally frank dissection of the favourites, the lads are going to be scared straight, and put in the kind of performance that saw us deliver shock Slum vs. Scum defeats in… well, just about every match-up in recent memory.

 

 

Muangthong Utd

The Redvolution

 

Starting out with between the sticks, Port will be devastated that Dang Van Lam is no longer between the sticks, as future first choice Thai national team goalkeeper Somporn Yos (29) replaces him. This young man towers above opposition forwards, with his 1.78m (5ft 10) frame making him as imposing at claiming crosses as he is in one-on-one situations. The 5 times he has been sent out on loan by his parent clubs are yet further evidence of the high regard he has been held in by both BEC Tero and now Muangthong, who even went as far as turning down the chance to sign Kawin Thamsatchanan from Leuven, such was their faith in Somporn’s ability.

 

 

At the back there are an embarrassment of riches to choose from. Should I start with Wattanakorn Sawatlakhorn (30), whose ratio of assists per game is bettered only by his ratio of tattoos to… non tattoos? Future first choice Thai national team left back Wattanakorn seems to have modelled himself on Port star Charyl Chappuis, with the prominent tattoos and IG model girlfriend jut two of the many weapons at his disposal.

 

 

Speaking of weapons, we move straight on to another towering defensive unit. Future first choice Thai national team centre back Saringkan Promsupa (15) makes Nurul look small. At 1.75m (5ft 10) Saringkan assures that Port centre back Dolah (4) will have no chance of getting his head on any set-piece deliveries in to Muangthong’s impenetrable box.

In midfield, Muangthong also have more options than they know what to do with. Future first choice Thai national team ludisto Weerathep Pomphan (18) is arguably the main threat. Specializing in the key pass to the key pass, Weerathep plays the pass that leads to the pass which leads to an assist as well if not better than anyone in the league. Coach Oud would be well advised to stick two players, if not three, on Weerathep, just to be safe. It’s the respect the signing from Chamchuri United deserves.

 

 

Up top is where it really gets ugly. For Port. With 19 strikes to date (according to Wikipedia), Derley (87) has scored more goals for Muangthong than any other club in his illustrious career, and at 33 years old he probably still has time to get in to the twenties for the very first time. A classic centre forward, future first choice Brazil national team striker Derley excels at holding the ball up, bringing others in to play and let’s not forget: scoring goals. Derley has notched 11 to date this season, just 8 behind top scorer Barros Tardelli, while he has even scored almost as many as centre back Victor Cardozo.

 

 

In charge is a manager whose achievements really speak for themselves. Mario’s demure pitch-side demeanour, combined with an incredibly sharp eye for set-piece preparation, has led to a remarkable uptick in free kick goals. The future Thai national team boss has earned the respect of both his own players and the opposition too, with the calm exchange of views with Bonilla after the final whistle in the sides’ last encounter exemplifying just how far Mario is above the fray. Any manager who is so focused on his job that he forgets to get fully dressed is a man fully committed to learning his craft, that’s for sure.

 

 

Form

Theirs is better than ours. Obviously. Further details are not required.

 

Port FC

The Underdogs

 

Port boss Oud has had a good run in the hot-seat, but the wheels have fallen off in recent times. After an enforced break in T1 action, Port returned with a side that was barely recognizable from the one Oud had been so successful with. Players who had performed so well to put Port in a strong position in the league were left out, while bigger names who have proven less in a Port shirt were preferred. I could name names, but you’re probably all bored of me laying in to Tanaboon (71) and Chappuis (17) anyway.

With the decline in form clear to see, Port are reportedly already looking for a replacement, so it’s anyone’s guess who will be picking the team for today’s big game.

Here’s what I’d do.

Rattanai (18) keeps his place, after an outstanding performance last time out. Nitipong (34) gets a right telling off for repeatedly poor performances, but still gets to play because there’s no one better. Worawut (24) and Dolah (4) continue in central defence, and Jaturapat (21) gets a chance to impress on the left until Kevin is fit. He’s hungry, and whilst Steuble is a decent option, I like a natural leftie with Bordin usually cutting inside on to his right.

Kannarin (31) anchors the midfield, giving Go (8) a bit more freedom to get forward and score excellent volleys. Siwakorn misses out, as he needs to be reminded that he doesn’t start by default.

Nattawut (45) gets a well-deserved go on the right wing. His end product is far better than Nurul’s, and he’s more than deserving of a start in a position where we really don’t seem to have a better idea. The less said about Adisak on the right wing the better. Bordin (10) continues on the left, as does Suarez (5) through the middle. I trust both will return to form in due course.

Up top is a tough one, but I’m going to give Boli (94) an hour to bully the Muangthong defence, and bring Boni (99) on when they’re a bit tired.

 


 

We’re the underdogs, remember? It’s not about picking the best players, but keeping things fresh and having players on the pitch who are going to do whatever it takes to deliver us a massive derby win. Come on, boys!

 


 

The match will be shown live on NBT 2HD and the AIS Play app. Kick off is at 18:30.

 

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February Farce – The Port Round-Up Nobody Wanted

Lets face it, following Thai football can be difficult in normal times; the lack of communication between clubs and fans, last minute changes of venue and match date, plus poor stadiums and facilities to mention a few aspects. Now factor in a global pandemic, a league campaign that never seems to end with empty stands and it’s no wonder everyone here at Sandpit Towers has struggled to get the match reports out. So I’ve dusted off the typewriter to keep you up to date with recent events. You might want to sit down and pour yourself a double before you start reading this…

 

Port FC 1 – 2 Buriram United FC 

After getting knocked out of the FA Cup on penalties, our conquerers Buriram returned 3 days later to face us in the league. Port gave a much better account of themselves and took the lead just after half time with a Sergio Suarez finish. Sadly they couldn’t hold onto the lead and capitulated to 2 late goals; first a near post header and minutes later Maicon was suicidally played onside by Worawut/Baresi with time to finish. True, a slight improvement in form but to concede so late easily preventable goals would be especially galling to Coach Oud, who the camera picked up slapping his own head as some self-inflicted flagellation. 

 

Oud, reacts to Oud’s call to take Bordin off

 

Police Tero FC 2 – 0 Port FC 

Madame Pang Coach Oud rung the changes for our trip north of the capital, starting with an attacking trident of Adisak, Bonilla and Boli but in truth, they were especially toothless against a well organised Police. It was truly written in the stars that 2 ex-Port players, both sadly mismanaged during their respective spells at The PAT, would score the goals. Just before the 10 minute mark Dragan Boskovic cooly finished and in the second half cult favourite carthorse Arthit “Pele” Boodjinda smashed home to double the lead. Special mention must go to our keeper Worawut who pulled off 2 exceptional saves to keep the scoreline respectable. 

 

“Pele” scored……

 

BG Pathum United FC 2 – 1 Port FC 

Sadly our form had made this match up a completely different proposition to what it could have been if we had maintained our early season form, whenever that was, and a Port win (stop laughing at the back) would not have really affected Glass’ eventual crowning as champions. The bittersweet aspect of this match is that Port at times were the better team and took the lead in the first half thanks to an acute thunderbastard volley from workhorse Ko Seul-Ki. If Port fans had been in the stadium the reaction would have been akin to Suarez’s goal at Buriram; total bedlam. Port then did the most Port thing possible and immediately conceded an equalizer to Brazilian shithouse Victor Cardozo. The second half was an enthralling affair with both teams pressing for the win but eventually it was Glass securing the points thanks to ex-Port player (getting a bit sick & tired writing that phrase) Chenrop. Yes, that Chenrop. Port had the ball in the net in the final minute of the match but VAR adjudged Suarez to have handled the ball moments before. Fuck you very much VAR. 

 

Who remembers the good ole days when VAR was going to give Port loads of marginal decisions?

 

Port FC 0 – 0 Trat FC 

Port finally secured their first point since the beginning of the month with a draw at home to lowly Trat, a team we would have murdered many moons ago. The opposition decided to show some effort and attempted to secure all the points, while the home team were disorganised, ineffective and frankly bollocks. Please can I stop writing now? 

 

“Put the round thing in the net thing” Oud passing on some much needed advice v Trat

 

So what’s going on with the team? Has the same malaise affecting this website hit the team? Trusted first teamers are dialling in performances, new signings are running around the pitch with no end product and very little tactical awareness is being shown from the bench. 4 points out of a possible 18 and knocked out of the cup speaks volumes; a truly wretched month, plus Buriram have found some steel and are hunting us down. Next up is a trip to Legoland for the Scum Vs Slum derby, and our opponents have won 5 out of 6 matches since the league restart. It’s look ominous people, and this time Jadet isn’t hanging around to swoop in and take the reins. Buckle up, we’re in for a bumpy ride.

 

Derby day

Port 1-0 Sukhothai “It’s Never Too Late”

After being dumped out of the FA Cup in midweek Port returned to the business of trying to keep the title race alive against Sukhothai, at a once again empty PAT stadium. Serving up the kind of match that would have seen the stadium rocking under normal circumstances, as Port snatched all three points with an injury time winner.

Coach Oud rang the changes making 7 alternations to the starting 11. The most striking of which saw Suarez (5) omitted from the matchday squad having completed the full 120 minutes against Buriram. Pakorn (7) having gone off injured was a less surprising absentee, while Nurul (13) who left the field on a stretcher was amougst the substitutes.

 

Worawut returned to the starting line up

 

Sukhothai arrived with just one win in over 100 days or 8 games to be slightly less dramatic. However, no matter how bad your form is when you have John Baggio and Ibson Melo amongst your number you always have a chance. Which pretty much summed up the attacking plan for Sukhothai, park the bus, keep men behind the ball and try and get the ball to your two attacking stars and see what they can do.

That though would be enough to earn them a surprisingly even split of possession though out the game. While chances were heavily in Ports favour, early on Boli (94) and Chappuis (17) passed up opportunities to give the home side the lead. Before Baggio sent a free-kick from the edge of the box over the crossbar and into zone D. As Sukhothai in an empty stadium, had seen fit to make Port attack their less preferred end in the second half and give their keeper the slightly easier time offered by the empty seats in zone D.

 

Adisak with an attempt on goal

 

On a number of occasions Port had good chances to take the lead before half time. Chappius had the ball in the net, collecting the ball in an offside position after it had come off a defender. VAR had a look and decided the defender hadn’t done enough of whatever the current reading of the rule is, to consitiute the defender having played the ball. While both Boli and Adisorn (20) would find themselves unable to get anything on to crosses unmarked at the back post, with the goal unguarded.

So it would continue into the second half as chances were passed up or well saved. From a corner, Tanaboon (71) on for the Adisorn, who suffered an injury its reported will end his season,  skyed a shot at the back post, when with the keeper stranded. You hoped that Port would find a way through but without the cauldron that the PAT becomes on such nights or the spark of creativity so often provided by Saurez, it seemed increasingly likely that Sukhothai would hold out for a point.

 

Not that they were without chances themselves. Later on, Worawut/Baresi in a moment very similar to that which saw him give away a penalty in Ports previous home game against Ratchaburi, stretched to divert a cross, resulting in the ball bouncing off his leg on to arm. A VAR review followed but despite the near identical events, different results were reached. So the inconsistent application of a bad rule is that we conceded a penalty when 2-0 up that doesn’t change the result and avoid conceding one that would have almost certainly seen Sukhothai collect all 3 here. They’d have every right to feel aggrieved. Not that they were finished, as in injury time as Baggio collected a balled chipped into the box and unmarked with only Worawut/Keeper to beat but fired into the keepers foot trying to cruel the ball into the far corner. The flag was raised but if the ball had found the net, the VAR review would have seen the Madagascan had in fact been onside.

Nothing to see here.

Then in the last minute of injury time, Nattawut (45) from the wide left cruelled the ball near perfectly into the box, where Boli collected and fired home the winner.  At which point the stadium should have erupted and much drinking and flare burning followed outside. Though a beery fuzz Boli’s effort would have drawn comparisons to Bergkamp’s 1998 effort against Argentina.  Sadly those just aren’t options right now. Another late three points. Which makes it 10 goals out of 41 after the 85th minute, 4 of which have won matches*. Up next Buriram in the league.

 

That winning feeling

 

 

 

Man of the Match

Yannick Boli. Score a last minute winner on your home debut and your pretty much assured the award. However the award was his anyway, as over 90 minutes he worked ceaselessly, leading to a number chances and also created a number for others with his selfless play.

 

Match winner and MOTM Yannick Boli

 

*stats from Marco (@mar1878 on twitter).

 

FA Cup Ram Raid: Port out on Penalties to Buriram

Port FC 0 – 0 Buriram United FC

(Buriram win 9-8 on penalties)

 

 

 

Port’s defense of the FA Cup ended this week, falling to Buriram on penalties after a lacklustre 120 minutes of football. In truth the visitors probably deserved it more and Port only seemed to raise their game towards the end of the match.

 

As expected club captain David Rochela returned to the line up and was partnered by Tanaboon, while Chappuis kept his place in the starting XI after arguably his best performance in a Port shirt at Chiang Rai on the weekend. Settling into our seats at The Sportsman, the first half was a tepid affair, in fact, the only time someone was on their feet was after they ordered a spicy beef salad with extra chillies. Go came close with a long range shot at the end of the half which was smartly saved by Siwarak but I personally spent most of my time marvelling at Buriram’s new Brazilian centre back Rodrigo; the guy is fucking gigantic and nullified Suarez and Bonilla single handedly. Oh, Pakorn got subbed before half time. Maybe he was injured, or maybe his food delivery had arrived? Port’s lackadaisical approach in the first half continued into the second half but some tactical substitutions from Coach Oud helped give Port a new sense of urgency and they started to match their opponents. Suarez had a couple of good chances, as did substitute Nattawut, before Go made a complete hash of a golden opportunity, so extra time was needed.

El Capitán Rochela back starting and making last ditch tackles

The TV channel showing the match completely screwed up, forgetting the chance of extra time so the Port fans at The Sportman had to endure a loop of adverts and missed the first 8 minutes. During that period Bonilla missed a great chance, volleying directly at the Buriram keeper, before Kevin saw his low cross deflected goalwards in the second period but Siwarak produced the best save of the match. 

So penalties were to decide the tie and, at 4-4, Rattanai managed to save Chakkit’s effort and gave Tanasith the opportunity for Port to win it. Sadly his penalty was easily saved, far too close to the keeper, and we were into sudden death. At 9-8 Tanaboon shot cannoned off the keeper’s legs over the goal frame and that was that; Port were out.

Tanaboon is consoled after missing the decisive penalty

It’s a shame that Port took over 60 minutes to show some initiative but Buriram were solid and stuck to their game plan. Gama has clearly drilled them into a strong defensive unit and if they had a more clinical forward line they would have beaten us soundly. So we need to continue grinding out results in the league and hope BG drop points to have any chance of silverware. To be honest, this campaign has been so drawn out I’m not even sure what’s going on but it’s Sukhothai on the weekend so lets hope Oud can get his players ready for the next match.

 

Man of the Match :

Kevin – Arguably the player showing the most initiative on the pitch, he came closest to scoring and his drive and determination were excellent. His form has been very strong in the last few matches.  

Mind the Gap: Thai Port FC v Sukhothai FC Preview

With three League games to squeeze in before yet another season defining fixture, this time to BG Pathum, Port need to build on the success of their last league outing, one that seemed unlikely after an almost calamitous first half at Chiang Rai. However, with some telling substitutions, a renewed determination and a welcome-back goal for the little marmoset, the gap is now ‘only’ seven points – we can do it, can’t we?

However, the ‘rampant’ Lions were de-clawed on Wednesday, a generally lackluster performance seeing their defence of the FA Cup fizzling out in a sudden-death penalty shoot-out; Buriram just that little more precise. Port had a great chance to win it at 4-4, and maybe, in hindsight, Thanasith was not the best choice to deliver the killer blow, a cooler, more experienced head might have been better, as Nitipong later demonstrated.

On recent form, Sukothai should not present a major challenge, having lost their last five games, including to cellar dwellers Rayong FC. They have supposedly strengthened since the break with, labeled by Transfermarket, some, ‘Winter Arrivals’, including Joshua Grommen (4), a Dutch-Filipino centre-back from Brisbane City, who may partner Myanmar international, Seo Min Tun, unless he’s under house arrest. At the other end of the pitch they have been very much reliant for goals from captain and mascot, Madagascar’s John Baggio (10) and Brazilian, Ibsen Melo (71), who have contributed 18 of the Fire Bat’s 26 goals so far.

 

 

 

However, the player I am going to highlight is one who won’t be playing. Sadly, we will not be treated to the delights of a ‘Winter Departure’; 19 year old, Anglo-Thai, Leon James, who has moved to Barcelona, the first Thai player ever to do so. Yes, that Barcelona. James joined Leicester City as a 6 year old and, having watched a highlights clip of his performances with Leicester Under 18’s, the boy is clearly a ‘bit special’, as they say. He should be, if you believe Wikipedia, who have him down as making one appearance for Sukothai and scoring 15 goals!

 

 

Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman, it is ‘reported’, has compared him to a young Lionel Messi. Eat your heart out, Chanatip. If only he had stayed a week longer; on second thoughts, James, a central midfielder, would have been facing Sivakorn. Ouch! Sorry Ronald.

 

 

Assuming all players will be available, and, with now, seemingly nothing to lose, why not throw caution to the wind and go for a bold, madcap, attacking 3-5-2 formation – we’re not really going to catch BG Pathum Utd are we?

 

 

The match kicks off at 1800 Thai time at The PAT Stadium but games will continue to be behind closed doors. Channel 5 are broadcasting it.  Or why not join some of the Sandpit regulars at The Sportsman on Sukhumvit Soi 13 to watch the game.

Port V Buriram FA Cup Preview

Forgive me what will sound like excessive hype but this evening’s match against Buriram in the FA Cup might be the most defining match of the season so far. Let me explain why. Firstly the winner of the FA Cup not only gets the glory of winning some silverware but also one of Thailand’s two direct entry spots to the 2022 AFC Champions League group stage. There will be those who are thinking at this point that the extra cup games might be best avoided. Better we push for a title challenge. However, that won’t be the case due to the way the season has been scheduled from this restart, with the three rounds of the cup that remain to be played after the season finishes and before Port travel to take part in the group stage of the 2021 Champions League, there are no more cup games in the time frame of the league season. While with BG Pathum United already out there is nobody we wouldn’t be favorites to beat left in the competition, especially as we will have to beat arguably the strongest other team left in the competition to make the next round.

After this evening’s match up, we have three league games before a trip to the Leo Stadium to face the current leaders, who are 7 points clear at this point. Win that and assuming we have matched or bettered them in the run up and we are very much in the title race. Which we can then focus on.  Come out of it defeated and still in the cup and we can look to stay ahead of the pack chasing 3rd, a gap which currently stands at 11 points. A cushion that will allow us to rotate over the following six weeks to maintain a top 3 finish and the safety net of a place in the Champions League qualifying rounds and arrive at those cup games in better shape than teams who have been pushing in every game.

 

Of course, the situation is not massively dissimilar for tonight’s opposition, while making up an 18 point gap on BG Pathum United, seems beyond the realms of possibility, a top three finish and a FA Cup win would go along way to redeeming what has generally been a disappointing season for the team many tipped to be champions before the season started.

 

Buriram

Firstly lets mention they are again managed by Thailand’s master of tactical shithousery Gama, whatever you think of him and his style he gets results.

The Thai spine of the team remains greatly unchanged over recent years, with keeper Siwarak Tedsungneon (1) still turning in performances into his mid-30s. In front of him is ever dependable center back Pansa Hemviboon (3) and Sasalak Haiprakhon (2). Then there is Supachai (9) and Suphanat (19) the bright young things of Thai football.   You know what you are getting from this lot and its all been said before in past previews of Buriram games.

 

Of far more interest is that Buriram are on yet another collection of foreigners, for having never managed to replace one of the two best foreigners in Thai footballs recent history when Diogo moved on, they decided again earlier this season that they could do without the service of the other and defensive steward Tunez was allowed to leave.  Attempting to fill the gap left by the Venezuelan is Brazilian Diago (26), (l guess if he’s good with that name, he nearly covers both the departed). A solid player in the Brazilian Serie A, where he’s been turned out regularly year on year for Fluminese bar a spell in the middle east. Fellow Brazilian Rosa (91) made his Buriram debut on boxing day v Chonburi and turned in an impressive display scoring one and creating another, whilst looking busy and more on the pace than most debutants to Thai football, if he produces a similar performance he’ll be one the Port defence need to watch. While Maicon (7) is a winger who also has links to Fluminese and has spent time in Russia and Portugal. The Asian contingent is made of the mercurial Burmese wideman Aung Thu who struggled to get game time under Gama at Munagthong last season, after a flying start to his time in Thailand the season before at Police Tero. However that didn’t put the pair off linking up again. Finally, they have Australian midfielder Brandon O’Neill (13) as a bit of an A-League tragic, l rate him and expect him to make a decent go of his move to Korea with Pohang Steelers at the start of last season but after one a season and 16 appearances he was moved on, considered a bit of a disappointment. That said l think he’ll be a cut above most in Thailand so expect a feisty battle in the middle tomorrow.

 

Port

As l said at the outset there no reason not to take the FA Cup seriously. Expect Rochela to be involved with it being the cup. Boli didn’t play in either of Ratchiburi’s cup games so l believe is available. In our two previous cup outings, we’ve rotated giving squad players game time but with two games a week for the foreseeable future rotation is going to be unavoidable. Adisak(9) failed to impress on the wing and assuming Boli(94) isn’t cup-tied I’d start him.

The game is live at 1800 Thai time on AIS Play and T Sports.

Bol-i Saw Him Standing There – The Beatles (Remastered) 2-1.

Under more normal circumstances a meeting between the reigning League and FA Cup champions at this time of the year would mark the curtain raiser to new a season. However we’re a long way from even Thai league standards of normal, so this game was the final game of the first leg of the season played (5 weeks after the first matches of the second leg took place).  A second leg set to see teams play twice a week for two months. While for Port there’s the potential for four more FA Cup games and six ACL Champions League group games to come up to the first week of May, busy times are ahead.

 

So just days shy of a year since their last meeting in that prelude to the then 2020 season, Port were looking to avenge that match up, in which a better organized Chiang Rai team played to their strengths and put a lethargic and disorganized Port to the sword, whilst at the same time looking to keep the lingering hopes of a title change alive, following defeat at Samut Prakan when a better organized Samut Prakan Dons team played to their strengths and put a lethargic and disorganized Port to the sword.

 

Port made three changes from that last outing with Bodin (10) and Chappuis (17) coming in for Pakron(7) and Siwakorn (16) (both of whom weren’t part of the matchday squad), while Worawut/Maldini (24) dropped to the bench to be replaced by Adisorn (20).  For the hosts, Phitiwat (6) missed out while Ekanit (37) and Felipe (7) were on the bench.

 

Not just a pretty face, a good performance from Chappuis

 

After the disastrous start last time out, you’d imagine Oud had been hammering home the desire to not give them a look in early on. An excellent plan we stuck to for the best part of three minutes before, Korean midfield Cho (8), who’s headband had more than a hint of Daniel Larusso about it, played a ball into space for Suriya (30) on the left, who just got behind Nitipong (34) whilst being played onside by Adisorn in the middle, who in attempting to step back in line allowed Chaiyawat (26) to steal a yard on him. Suriya got to the ball on the edge of the area just before Worawut/keeper (36) and squares it, where Chaiyawat collected and sent the ball past a flailing Adisorn. VAR has offered football few positives but stopping Chiang Rai celebrating a goal is going down as one of them. And so while people in a broom cupboard got their line drawing apps fired up and decided there was no reason to disallow it, we were left with a couple of minutes to discuss if a slightly more rugged defender of the Dolah or Worawut type would have stopped Chaiyawat or got some part of themselves in the way of his shot. Before debate turned to what was going on at Chiang Rai, had they had a fancy dress party pre match? As the goalscorer appeared to be sporting a haircut that was a homage Cruella de Vil, while Sivakorn’s (10) pink effort was surely a tribute to Layne Staley (ask your local old rocker kids).

 

Chiang Rai scorer Chaiyawat and his interesting haircut

 

When the game restarted Chiang Rai went full Mourinho parking their bus and allowing Port to dominate possession. Despite much probing, the one good chance of the half was passed up as Bonilla (99), who was kept quiet till being subbed off, sent Kevin’s (23) fizzing near post ball just the wrong side of the upright. The second half restarted in much the same manner, more Port pressure saw Chappuis hitting the woodwork with our best opportunity.  Eventually Port got their equalizer, as Chappuis found Suarez (5) in space on the edge of the box before being felled. And it was the Swiss, having his best game in a Port shirt, who sent the deadball into the box, where Cho under no pressure, perhaps weight down by that now sweaty headband, jumped under the ball, allowing Adisorn to send a ball to substitute Nattawut (45) who unmarked 6 yards out, slotted home between keeper and near post.

 

The original Natta bags another

 

However much like myself, watching a Mourinho side in an evening kick off, Chiang Rai failed to last the full 90 minutes without nodding off. So whilst the game had opened up a since the equalizer it would be their normally resolute defence (second meanest in the league) who’s error would decide who took all 3 points. With the 90 minutes up, Suarez won a 50/50 ball on the left touchline and releases Boli (99) and with just Sarawut (33) in front of him (one has to wonder where was Brinner (6) ……and frankly who cares), squared the ball to Nurul (13), who with Sarawut closing in, Suriya chasing him down and keeper Saranon (1) advances got to his slightly heavy chesting and prodded the ball home. What follows is close as close to pandemonium as one man in an empty stadium can manage. As the ever popular Nurul with arms flapping, eyes popping and badge kissed gave a last minute winner the celebration it deserves. Only aided by the camera cutting to Suriya, who had drawn Johnny Lawrence in the prematch dress up lottery, looked close to tears before cutting back to jubilation on the sidelines, as Port celebrated an unlikely win.

 

All in all, a rather pleasant return for Thai football.

Who’s a happy chappie – Nurul with a passionate celebration of the winner

 

Man of the Match

This was very much a team performance as nobody really stood out to make the award their own. So I’ll give it to Boli, as a newly signed star striker having started on the bench in both games at your new club, to decide to pass to a better positioned teammate with only one defender to beat isn’t something many would do in injury time with the game level.

 

One touch is all it takes – to win MOTM