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Sandpitter-Patter: Our Writers’ Thoughts on 2017

 

To finish off our 2017 reviews, here’s a roundup of our regular – and irregular – writers’ thoughts on the season, which for some reason include Archie Gemmell, Bangladeshi cricket fans and, weirdest of all, numerous mentions of Tana…

 

Dave Barraclough

Dave Barraclough

 

 

Match of the Season

Chiang Rai away – The game that made many think we might just do something special this season. Of course that was totally delusional. The penalty save turned the game on it’s head, when the third went in… probably parallels with Archie Gemmell against Holland. After spankings given out by Thai Honda and Bangkok “where we’re going we don’t need fans” United, this was the perfect antidote to what was looking like a rather ominous start to the season.

Goal of the season

Josimar’s twins against MTU – can’t split them. Ecstasy.

Player of the season

Madam Pang…no hang on, the fans, for putting up with: Tana; nonsensical season breaks; ridiculous lack of any 50th anniversary celebration; Tana; the transfer window that wasn’t; a non-existent club shop; Tana.

Villain of the season

Whichever pillock thought of taking that photo at Bangkok Glass. And Tana.

 

Tommie Duncan

Tommie Duncan

 

 

Match of the Season

The away win against MTU. Just the look on the Scum’s faces was enough to secure top spot.

Goal of the Season

Huh? I’m too old to remember minute details as such!!! Umm…probably one of Pakorn’s free kick goals.

Player of the Year

With Pakorn a close second, my vote goes to Rochela. Still a solid defender and I think we’d have a few points less if it were not for him.

 

Peter Hockley

Peter Hockley

 

 

Match of the Season

March 11th: Thai Port 0 Buriram 0

In spite of a lack of goals, this fixture, not for the first time, epitomized what Big Match Day at Port is all about. A ground-filling, raucous, passionate home crowd and a pulsating away end; full blooded, grown-up football, played with no little commitment, skill and a bubbling undercurrent of spite, with a doubtful sending off adding a touch of controversy. Buriram missed a couple of golden chances, Genki had a late header thwarted by a miraculous save, but it would have been harsh for there to have been a loser.

Goal of the Season

May 17th: Josimar’s 3rd against Muang Thong

This goal is chosen more for its significance than being a strike of beauty (although it was decent) or the culmination of a flowing team move. For, nobody will need reminding, this was the goal that put Port in striking distance of their first win over the Scum in 8 years. Josimar’s volley, just on the stroke of half time from Nittipong’s cross, will be his lasting legacy.

Player of the Season

Siwakorn Jakkuprasat (16)

I make no apologies for nominating the ‘Thin White Duke’, as he has been dubbed. He is, after all, the players’ player, as the Sandpit has often noted. He is at the heart of all that happens between the boxes: switching play, providing a combative shield in front of the back four and weighing in with the occasional eye-catching goal. He is always the first player Rochela looks for when building from the back. He has the finest collection of yellow cards at the club year on year, proving he is always ready to take one for the team. Watching him chase after a Ratchaburi midfielder on Saturday with the whole Port crowd knowing the outcome was a moment of rare, artistic beauty and some amusement.

 

James Clarke

James Clarke

 

 

Player of the Season

David Rochela by a mile. With full backs who think defending is optional and a porous midfield, his job often amounts to herding cats. That he does it so efficiently his work often goes unnoticed is remarkable. Thankfully we’re at least another season from finding out how bad things get in a post-Rochela world. Suarez since Jadet came back has been great but whilst he was never deserving of the level criticism earlier in the season he didn’t do enough back then to get near el capitan portero basadora.

Match of the Season

Buriram 0-0. A few spring to mind. Beating the vermin in their own back yard, (personally, only enhanced by watching the end on a mobile, over 6000 miles away at a cricket ODI in an Irish castle surrounded by screaming Bangladeshi cricket fans). Hanging out in the tunnel away to (our now good buddies) Chiangrai. Combined with a great team performance and classic away weekend. However, I’m going with Buriram at home. Coming off the back of a mid-week 5-1 hammering to Honda (who Buriram had beaten by the same scoreline the round before), expectations were non-existent and the mood truly gloomy pre match, yet the 6905 people who made their way to the PAT puffed themselves up to look closer to 10000 and set about making the noise of 15000. Adisorn made a one night only cameo as the marauding midfield filthbag Port’s season ceaselessly screamed out for. The crowd got involved, every good thing Port did was celebrated and the hiso money boys, were hassled, abused and intimated at every turn. Diogo was sent off and Port were probably worthy of the win but anyone can be involved in an upset. Glorious nil nils they’re truly special.
Pattaya away came from a similar place. You wouldn’t think it could get lower than Honda but the end of Zico’s reign managed it. The big man got his team back. Tactical changes actually occurred. Five minutes in Port were two rubbish goals up. Hoola hoop dude. Cartoon hooliganism. It wasn’t so much that it was great, as that all things Port weren’t utter shit anymore and when you’ve been down where Zico took us, that’s enough.

Goal of the Season

Siwakorn at Bangkok United (6-2 match).
Genki on day one wasn’t a screamer but it had drama and meaning. Round two saw the best thing Tana did all season. Any goal against the lizard vermin is joyous but Josi managed two belters at legoland.
Pakorn could have a sub genre of his own. Weather its taking a corner, too far out, too narrow an angle or the fact they play for the same team, no keeper in Thailand should ever feel truly safe when he has the ball.
The fourth against Sisaket, was the kind of goal we normally concede by the bucket load to the total football of teams based in Rangsit but for once it was Port pinging the ball about with guile and pace, Ekkapoom playing a central role only added to it.
However, it was an utterly meaningless goal, as we were already 3-0 down, in what would prove to be a 14-3 aggregate hammer across three matches against Bangkok United, that takes the tops the list for me. Siwakorn long range effort to make it 3-1 and give absolutely nobody hope we were getting back into the game but it was a thing of true beauty and about the only thing we had over Bangkok United this season.

 

Andy Hailstone

Andy Hailstone

 

 

Due to the constraints of the family, I have only made it to 4 games this season (plus two friendlies), so I’m not sure I can really contribute too much to a season review piece.  All can I offer would be this…

My Stats for a Poorly Attended Season

2 Clearly well-deserved, devastatingly efficiently achieved wins
1 Heroically fought-out draw
1 Soul destroyingly, existence questioningly loss
4 Mind blowing goals scored
2 Annoyingly annoying goals conceded
3 Tana talent free league appearances that challenge the definition of what a footballer can be seen as
1 Glorious Tana free game, thanking whatever deity you care to mention for his absence
2 Comically tragic Weera friendly appearances (3 if you count opposition appearances)
1 Heroic performance against Buriram
1 or 2 Suarez child-like tantrums
2 Bittersweet Maranhao friendly appearances, suggesting at what could have been
1 hopeful Tatchanon performance that ultimately led to nothing
0 Zico managed games witnessed, thank god.
4 games wondering what the hell it is that Madame Pang actually does or contributes, other than needlessly interfering with team affairs and trying to be the centre of attention at every opportunity.
1 baffling goal by Wuttichai
1 all too brief exposure to the potential that was Hansson
4 games of wondering why Genki seemed incapable of keeping his socks rolled up
2 games wondering if Dolah is better a better partner for Rochela than Todsapol
2 games wondering if Todsapol is better a better partner for Rochela than Dolah

 

 

2017 Port FC Squad Preview Pt2: Midfielders, Forwards…and Musical Chairs

 

Midfield

Pakorn (9) is still with us and is looking good pre-season. He will start on the right wing, so if new signing Suarez (4) is played as an attacking midfielder we can look forward to these two linking up. They played together at Police United and have looked good in the friendlies. Siwakorn (16) was stretchered off (well carried off as we didn’t have a stretcher) against Korat; hopefully this is only a minor injury. If match fit he’ll start in midfield where, with his pinpoint passes and sly football genius, he should be able to get the job done in T1. With no word of another foreign Asian signing it looks like Genki (18) is here to stay. Either Genki (18) or Ekkapoom (8) will probably be on the left wing. Genki (18) was consistently first choice left wing last season over Ekkapoom so it looks likely to stay that way. Both have tons of energy, but are they good enough to cut it in T1? I’m not sure. The PTT Rayong friendly saw Pinyo (21) play for about 20 minutes on the left wing. If he’s capable of playing there I think he’s a great option. At 23 he’s already had four caps for the Thai national team. He looked quality in the few games he played last year but is coming back after a full year away from the pitch.

 

Port don’t look like they have an out and out defensive midfielder. The twenty-year old Tachanon (27) from Army and Piyachat (28) have both played this role in most of the friendlies and I think Jadet will pick Tachanon(27) to start. Against Korat Jadet played a midfield five of :

 

Genki, Siwakorn, Suarez, (attacking), Tachanon (defensive), Pakorn.

 

I think he’ll start with this if Siwakorn (16) is fit. Tachanon (27) looks good but at twenty years old I’m not sure about starting him in the opening T1 games. I’d go with Piyachat(28) as he has a bit more experience. I just think he’s a safer choice and has featured most in the friendlies. I’d have Tachanon (27) on the bench as an option for half a game to see how they both handle the role in a full competitive game. Yingyong (??) is another option as a defensive midfielder, but is more likely to be on the bench. Yingyong (??) played for Chainat last season. Along with Nitipong (34) they make good options for utility midfield subs.  Siwapong (??) could also be on the bench as a more attacking midfield sub.

 

Asdrubal has only played for 20 minutes against PTT, so it’s difficult to talk about him. Apparently he has picked up a slight strain, which is why he’s only had one full match runout. He can play right winger or up front, but I would be surprised to see anyone but Pakorn (9) starting on the right. This leaves him fighting it out with Suarez for the attacking midfield spot or with Kaludjerovic (10) up front.

 

The Maranhao mystery continues – is he still vying for a spot in the team? Might he stick around just for Cup competitions? I like him but his chances of staying in the team look remote with the other foreign signings already made. He scored both goals against Korat and looks like a player in there fighting for a team place. It’s possible he’s been offered good terms to stick around just for cup games and as cover for foreign player injuries. Wagner stayed with the team in the second half of last season and jumped back in the squad after Thiago left, so it is possible that’s an option he’s choosing.

 

Forwards

Kaludjerovic (10), aka Kalu, has started the all the major friendlies we’ve played since he arrived at Port. He got two against Pattaya and one against PTT. When the tackles were going in thick and fast  in the second friendly  against Korat he was subbed off after ten minutes, possibly to protect him against any chance of an injury. He’s been scoring goals for fun in the Lithuanian league. And the way he was rushed off and wrapped in cotton wool in the Korat game, he looks like our first choice up front. As Rochela said, “you give him the ball in the box and he scores, can’t ask for more than that”. Thai National team backup striker Tana (5) is coming back from injury. He got five minutes at the end of the Korat game and encouragingly played 30 minutes against PTT. Tana (5) has always been a bit lacking in stamina . He’s often playing the first 50 minutes or the last 40. As long as he is happy with that we should be ok, but if fully fit he might get a bit tired of sitting on the bench.

 

Big Questions

With Captain Rochela assured a start and Genki the only Asian foreign player there are only two foreign playing spots left. Using the three other foreign players in the remaining two spots might well prove the biggest problem for Jadet. Which to choose? Probably a combination of all three in different games. None of these players is going to be happy as a permanent sub. Suarez has experience in Thailand, and he works well with Pakorn and Siwakorn as they all played together at Police United, so he is likely to be initially favored in the starting eleven.

 

This leaves Asdrubal and Kalu. Both have a great background.  Asdrubal was playing for Las Palmas in the Copa del Rey this season. He’d just worked his way back into the main team but still wasn’t a first choice player. Kalu was banging in goals for fun in the wilderness of the Lithuanian league. When it comes to their careers they are chalk and cheese. Asdrubal was born and raised in Las Palmas and has been playing for Las Palmas F.C. since he was five; Kalu has had eight clubs in the last four years.

 

Asdrubal will not be happy on the bench – he came to Port to play football, after not getting enough time on the pitch at Las Palmas. If Kalu starts knocking goals in Asturbal will have to force his way into the midfield or settle for being a substitute striker. I think he has the quality to start but might be frozen out by the lack of foreign playing spots. Let’s hope Jadet can keep him give all three of them enough time on the pitch to keep them happy and play a successful game of musical chairs.

 

2017 Port FC Squad Preview Pt1: The Case for the Defence

 

With two weeks to go till Port kick off against Ratchaburi in the opening game of the T1 season here’s an in depth look at the squad we have. The transfer window closes on February 22nd, so there is still a chance there might be one or two new names to talk about. However this the squad as it stands now.

 

Keepers

Worawut (36) looks like our first choice keeper. After a shaky start to his time at Port Worawut (36) settled down and gained in confidence. I wasn’t a big fan of his first off, after a couple of howling errors. However last season showed he’s a reliable keeper. He’s been a great shot stopper and now he’s more confident coming out on corners. I think he also benefited from Meechok (20) coming in half way through last season and giving the back four a bit more quality and stability. Rattanai (17) impressed in the cup performances, but being a bit young and with less experience I think Worawut (36) will get the nod, for my money he’s the right choice. Rattanai (17) deserves a run out in cup games. If Worawut (36) picks up an injury it could give Rattanai(17) a chance to shine. He could come in and keep Worawut on the bench given half a chance. Weera (1, oddly number 1 but our third choice keeper), is still around, apart from one outstanding game against TOT, where he saved and scored in a marathon penalty shoot-out he didn’t impressed much. He started the PTT Rayong friendly and didn’t look bad, and it’s difficult to find anyone half decent to fill the role of third choice keeper. Watchara is out on loan to BBCU again this year after spending a full season there in 2016. I think if we had injuries to Worawut(36) and Rattanai(17)  a match fit Watchara would be recalled as soon as possible.

 

Defence

Our captain and rock at the back David Rochela(22) is joined in the centre of defence by Elias Dolah (40). Having a Thai/Swedish player looks a great choice. With his size it’s like having another foreign player on the pitch. He played well for Songklaa last season and is looking to step his game to make a challenge for the Thai national team. Todsapol (6) is still with us ready to step into the centre and offer a decent level of cover if needed. “Nirun” (second name not known) is another Thai/Swedish player we have. He was bought last week and he played the last twenty minutes of the PTT game at centre back. He is a massive player tall and well built. He looks like more cover for centre back, we’ll see if he gets on the subs bench. Meechok (20) at right back came into the squad as an 18 year old and has grown in confidence every time I’ve seen him. Looks to be a bit stronger this year and looks like another definite starter for Port.  Nitipong (34) seems to be the immediate cover for right back. I’m not sure that’s the right way to go. I like Nitipong (34) as cover in midfield, but I’m not sure he can cover the right back role. Our main problem is at left back Panpanpong (19). He is tough enough, but has looked far from the complete player in friendlies. Looks nervous to go forward and not convincing when he does. He has been favoured over Piyachat (23), he’s also a half decent choice but neither completely impress. I really thought we’d be buying in someone else to fill the left back role. With a bit of luck we still might.

 

Big Questions

Has Panpanpong (19) got enough to keep nifty T1 wingers in check? If he does we could be looking at a solid back four to deal with the S.F.S (Scary Foreign Strikers) that tend to batter defences week in week out in the T1.

Worawut (36) will be tested more in T1, but he will have an improved back four in front of him. The outlook is good, early meetings with Bangkok United, Suphanburi and Buriram will really test them. We have these three teams in the first five T1 games. I just hope panic doesn’t take hold in the boardroom. If we don’t get anything against these clubs hiring five managers will not solve problems at the back. Buying a better left back might help.