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Cobra Dai! : Port 4-1 Khon Kaen Utd

 

 

Port put together another dominant display in the wet at the PAT to send the Cobras packing.

 

Back to the couch!

 

For the third weekend in a row, the weather was going to have a big say in proceedings for Port. I was caught in the deluge at Tero last week, and as the storm clouds moved in again around 5pm, it was looking like another washout was going to be on the cards.

 

Having been sat in the dentists chair for a wisdom tooth extraction that afternoon, I’d been warned not to drink for a while, an early trip to the Sandpit was becoming less of a reality, more so once the anaesthetic wore off and the storm kicked in. AIS play was again going to be my means of seeing the match.

 

Team News

 

There were quite a few changes from the aborted match with Tero, but the team was pretty much the same as the one that faced Prachuap, with Rattanai between the sticks for the first time in a while and Hamilton back from suspension, his presence was missed last week vs. Tero! Kevin was back in the squad.

 

 

 

 

With no let-up in the rain, there was no way the match was going to kick-off on time at 7pm, pictures began to emerge of the food and drink stalls area being flooded. The FA decided to buy a bit of time and review things again after 7pm. To the surprise of most, we were back on again, the pitch was cleared using whatever tools available, the players warmed up around 7:30, and some lines were repainted in front of Zone B, we finally got underway at 8:20pm. The stadium had filled up again surprisingly well, considering the fans had been left out in the rain for an hour (again) while the Thai FA deliberated on playing or not.

 

 

Pic: Port FC Facebook

 

 

 

The Match

 

Port had opted to attack Zone B first again, the pitch was especially boggy in front of the Port dugout. In the first couple of minutes, Suarez was clean through but had his shot saved.

 

Then, the shithousery begins, the KKU keeper going down injured after a ball thrown back from zone B hit him on the head. Although his very job description is blocking the ball, this one triggered a reaction like he’d been struck with a 50p coin. I started to fear this was going to be a long evening if the time wasting was going to start so early on top of the awful conditions. It wasn’t just Khon Kaen to be fair, Hamilton later went down during some corner argy-bargy like he’d been punched in the nuts, but the replay showed this was nowhere near a repeat of Vinnie Jones and Gazza. This kind of thing is embarrassing and doesn’t help endear Thai football to the existing fans or anyone just happening to surf through the channels.

 

The overall spectacle was both great and terrible in equal measures, players slipping over and balls sticking in the mud. Port have always been quite adept at playing in these conditions at the PAT and manage to get the passing just right based on which areas of the pitch are more playable.

 

8 minutes in and Port took the lead, Teerasak managed to lose his defender, then recover from his own slip to slide the ball to a waiting Hamilton to tap home from 10 yards out. Less than 10 minutes later Port doubled their lead, and I was contemplating how much of the Prachuap match report I could copy and paste. Pakorn curled in a free kick from near the touchline of zone A that managed to avoid the wall, and a couple of defenders on the near post. Another sublime free kick from Ports dead ball specialist.

 

 

pic credit: Singhphanakon Facebook

 

 

Khon Kaen did catch Port on the break and thought they’d pulled one back but the linesman’s flag had other ideas.

 

Port were continuing to out run and out fight KK in the wet, the team looks fitter this season, with talk that training is a lot more structured under Coach Cooper. Port should have made it 3 before half-time, Tanasith (who’d replaced Bordin) saw his shot painfully get stuck in the mud, just short of the line, the ball came out to Hamilton, but somehow his shot ended up in Zone B, missing the unguarded net.

 

Port went in 2-0 up at the break, but my fear was that Khon Kaen might come back at us after half-time, due to the state of the pitch. But Port simply carried on as they left off before half-time, pressuring the Khon Kaen defence and managing to pass around them. Teerasak had one struck off after a corner found it’s way to him and he tapped home from a couple of yards out, the offside flag was to deny him. There was also a superfluous VAR check on top of this that dragged on, despite it being clear from the first replay at normal speed that it was still offside. It’s almost as if the guys in the Thai VAR room still enjoy the novelty of pissing around with the super slow-mo and drawing the offside lines on the freeze frame. I’ll say it again, this kind of stuff doesn’t help endear the existing fans or any casual fans tuning in.

 

 

Pic credit: Singhphanakon Facebook

 

 

Teerasak finally got his goal with 15 minutes to go, a counter attack started with Hamilton stealing the ball on the halfway line ended with Pakorn chipping a pass over the Khon Kaen defenders to an unmarked Teerasak to slot home. He’d worked his butt off all game, even chasing back to his own half to press Khon Kaen players, if anyone deserved a goal, it was him.

 

Pakorn completed the rout a few minutes later, curling one into the top corner from the edge of the box with his left foot.

 

Port couldn’t quite complete the perfect day at the office, Logan Paul lookalike Romulo pulled one back in the last minute, after another lengthy VAR check that overruled the Linesman’s offside call. Next, Tanaboon saw red in the last knockings, picking up a needless 2nd yellow, kicking out at a Khon Kaen player deep in the KK half, with Port in no danger at all, and the referee about to blow up anyway.

 

9 goals in the last 2 home games, the new system is bearing some fruit, but it does remain a concern what happens when Hamilton is side-lined. Watching some of his antics last night, I get the feeling he’ll rack up more suspension time as the season wears on.

 

Probably to the relief of the groundsman, Port don’t have a home match again until 2nd October. Port travel to BG on Wednesday followed by another away trip to Nong Bua on Sunday.

 

 

 

 

 

Man of the Match: PAKORN PREMPAK – one of the last survivors of the 2016 promotion team is still a key player after all these years. One assist and two superb goals last night. If this form can continue, Mano must be looking at him for the Thai squad, I’m sure Madame will be in his ear!

 

 

Port take the Venom out of the Cobras; Port FC 2-0 Khon Kaen United

 

The weekend was upon us again, which meant just one thing: matchday 3 and the visit of Khonkaen United to PAT Stadium, although the lack of fans in the terraces was still a major miss for our lads. Whilst other clubs may be possibly benefitting, or not even noticing the lack of fans in the stands: it’s a big miss in Khlong Toei. Regardless, it is what it is, and I hope that everyone that’s reading this is doing well, and in good health.

 

This place needs fans back.

 

It was an unchanged Port XI that lined up, and after the performance against Bangkok United, I was hopeful that if they put in a similar shift: a big win would be on the cards. It was our visitors that would carve out the first chance of the game, after less than 60-seconds, with some lax marking at a corner allowing the Khonkaen United attacker Verapat (22) an almost free header from 4-yards. Worawut (36) made himself big, but he was nowhere near the ball, but it was enough to put Verapat off. Bullet dodged: get the action up the other end, please!

We did just that, with some of our lads looking up for it early on. Sergio (5) was menacing, Siv (16) seemed to be everywhere, Pakorn(7) was causing problems: it had the Khonkaen United players at sixes and sevens. A through ball from Roller (33) with 6:29 on the clock had Go (8) in acres of space in the box, although he got the ball stuck under his feet, which allowed Douglas Cobo (30) to make a challenge before our Korean midfielder could get a shot off. It was a missed opportunity, and he should have done better.

 

Marking seems to be optional this weekend in Thailand

 

It didn’t take us much longer to find the breakthrough, with a poor defensive header from Filipino central-defender Josh Grommen (4) going straight to Pakorn, who played a first-time ball to Siv. I’m not sure why the Atthawit (10) felt it was necessary to foul Siv outside the box: he should’ve encouraged him to shoot instead! The foul gave Pakorn the chance to do Pakorn things, and my goodness: it was a thing of beauty! There’s been a real change from the midfield monk this season and although he’s had a few ‘false dawns’ in seasons gone by: I’m truly hopeful that this time it’s for real. There’s never been any doubts surrounding his technical ability, but there have always been questions as to whether he has the hunger/desire to become a top player. I’m not sure if we can give Dusit the credit, but regardless: Pakorn is looking magnificent so far this season.

If you see this as an opposition player: get ready to pick the ball out of the back of the net!

 

You give Pakorn freekicks here, you get punished.

 

Truly, it was a magnificent freekick, and unlike a certain Brazilian who left midway through last season: you can sense there’s a genuine technique to Pakorn’s efforts. It’s not just an “I’m going to hit this as hard as I can, and hope like hell it ends up in the net somehow” type of thought process. The fact that the Khonkaen United goalkeeper KNEW where he was going to hit it, yet still couldn’t keep it out: pinpoint precision. Sorry to wax so lyrical about the goal, but it’s well worth watching on loop for a while… I swear.

The goal allowed the lads to relax, the tricks and flicks, tiki-taka and first-touch football all came to the fray. After a smart press in the heart of the midfield, Go nicked the ball from the Khonkaen United midfield and on to Bordin (10), who took a touch and played the ball back to Go. Once again: he had time and space. This time, he didn’t get the ball caught under his feet, and he hit the ball forward to Nelson Bonilla (9).

It was never in doubt that he’d want to get back onto his right-foot, and after rinsing the Khonkaen United central-defender Apisit (26), he was [kind of] one-on-one with the goalkeeper and sent a luscious dink over the ‘keeper, to put the ball into the back of the net. It oozed class from the El Salvador international, and if he can do this with regularity, it could see him once again become one of Thai League 1’s most feared strikers. A fully fit Bonilla is a striker that will score 20-plus goals over the course of the season, and it’s exactly what we need from him this season.

 

Freeeeeeeeeeeee phone? Bonilla scores for the second match in a row.

 

With just 19-minutes on the clock, it was looking quite precarious for the King Cobras, with our midfield seeming to swarm all over the pitch in search of the ball. After Siv was fouled [again] in the 22nd minute, Pakorn forced yet another save from their goalkeeper from the resulting set-piece, although it was a much more straightforward save this time around. A few minutes later, Bordin won the ball back [after losing it] and received a kick for his troubles, giving Pakorn yet another opportunity to test out Nakchamnan (27) in goal. What followed would’ve been comedy gold if the ball had found its way into the back of the net, but a quick scramble from Grommen got the ball cleared away from danger.

Grommen was involved again a few minutes later, when Roller breezed by him, went down, and earned the Filipino central-defender a yellow card. It earned protestations from the defender, which would become a theme over the course of the 90-minutes, but he should be more frustrated that an opposition player had gotten by him as easily as Roller.

The King Cobras were edging their way back into the game, and a shot from Ibson Melo (71) at 32:39 forced an acrobatic save from Worawut. His matchday 1 performance had been below-par, but his performances last week, and here, have at least given justification as to why the club didn’t sit him on the pine. Regardless: I’m sorry for suggesting it Worawut!

Our next opportunity would come after a through-ball from Siv, with it reaching Bonilla. Unfortunately, it was on his left-foot, and after taking a touch: he could only get a corner. Could he have played a ball back to Jaturapat (15)? Possibly. The goalkeeper was well out of position, and if Jaturapat couldn’t have got a shot off himself: he could’ve at least squared it to someone who could. After watching the highlights again, it would appear that Roller had been unmarked at the back-post. Hindsight is always 20:20 though, and I won’t begrudge Bonilla for attempting to get a second for himself. It’d be our final attacking chance of the half, although our opposition wasn’t done just yet.

Over the course of the match, Ibson was a constant menace, and on another day: he could’ve easily had a first-half brace. We’re quite lucky that Worawut was in such inspired form, and he spared Dolah’s (4) blushes at 43 mins on the dot when he parried an Ibson shot, and then quickly recovered to pounce on the ball. Ibson had gotten by Dolah far too easily, and although his shot seemingly lacked power, it had good placement. In first-half stoppage time, some poor defending [again!] would allow the Brazilian to go one-on-one with Worawut, with the Thai national team understudy once again coming up big for us.

 

Worawut saves, the Cobra’s showed their fangs repeatedly but couldn’t beat the inform keeper.

 

This is where the empty terraces hurt us so much. If you’d had fans at this game, we would’ve been urging the lads to push on to get goals 3, 4, 5 or even more. The opportunity was there: we didn’t take it. It seemed like we went back into our shells, got complacent, and decided that we’d done enough to get the 3-points. It’s such a dangerous way to operate, and we’re very lucky that we weren’t punished for it. It’s up to Dusit to stop this type of complacency creeping into games, and I’m hopeful that in time: he will. It’s still early days from our ‘new’ head coach, and after what played out on matchday 1… it seems that he’s at least allowed to pick his own team, and in the shape that he feels will get the desire results. A head coach picking his own team and tactics? What an intriguing concept!

How long this is allowed to happen? Your guess is as good as mine.

Khonkaen United had made a change during the half-time interval, with Apisit being replaced by Kitsada (7) which saw their captain Douglas Cobo pushed back into central-defence. It’d be the King Cobras that would carve out the first opportunity of the second-half, with a gaffe from Rochela (22) allowing Ibson yet another shot on goal. Fortunately: Worawut was intent on preserving his clean-sheet. From the resulting corner, I honestly thought that Ibson had finally gotten his goal, so I was stunned when the replay showed that Worawut had prevented the WHOLE BALL from crossing the line. Khonkaen United must be disappointed to not have had the same VAR official as Muangthong last week, who’d have without doubt given the goal.

It was more worthy of the “super save” comments that he’d gotten from the commentary team for other saves he’d made throughout the game, although this time: he didn’t receive said comment! What!?!?!?

 

Super save from Worawut to stop the ball from crossing the line

 

We finally carved out our first proper opportunity of the second-half at 56:04, with a cross from Bordin being nodded down to Go by Suarez, with the Koreans effort being blocked by Douglas Cobo. It was a great passage of play from us, and a goal at the end of it would’ve been delightful. Alas: it wasn’t to be.

Just after the hour-mark, Dusit began to make some substitutions, with Nitipong (34) replacing Jaturapat, and Nattawut (45) coming on for Bordin. It meant that Roller moved over to the left-hand side, and although it would make his attacking play a bit more predictable: there’d still be that excitement factor about it too. In truth, the game began to fizzle a bit after the changes, with neither side truly carving out an opportunity that would force either ‘keeper into a save. In the 67th minute, Khonkaen United had made a double save of their own, and we responded again in the 79th minute with another double substitution: this time Nurul (13) coming on for Pakorn, and Kannarin (31) replacing the hero Siv.

The second-half hadn’t produced as many exciting moments as the first-half, bar the save from Ibson by Worawut from the corner, and I found my interest waning at times. A lot of the second-half performances from the Thai League 1 games that I’ve watched so far this season still have that pre-season friendly feel about it, and I’m hoping that it’s something that’ll change in the near future. Ibson forced Worawut into action at 86:31, and with Worawut prevailing once again: the Brazilian attacker must’ve finally realized that it just wasn’t going to be his night. Ibson was fantastic for the King Cobras, as was Douglas Cobo, and if they can both maintain the level of performance from last night: I think that Khonkaen United will surprise a few teams this season.

One final attack from our visitors in the 92nd minute saw Worawut make his ‘final’ save of the night, and he sealed a cleansheet that was well deserved by him. A few minutes later, the full-time whistle was blown, and it was a Port game that was truly lacking any controversy about it. The ‘tinfoil hat brigade’ will have to think of another conspiracy at this rate, though I’m sure there’ll be a decision in the near future that has them screaming their lungs out.

 

MY THOUGHTS – PORT FC

I thought the first-half was pretty damn good from us, so there was a hint of disappointment from me that we couldn’t push on in the second-half and truly capitalize. Whilst I thought Khonkaen United were decent enough, I also think they were definitely there for the taking, and with a bit more intensity from us: we could’ve given our goal difference a real boost. It was a lot tougher for us in the second-half with Douglas moving back into defence, but with us seemingly in second-gear for most of the half… we didn’t exactly help our cause either.

Regardless, it’s 3-points at home, and that’s the name of the game. There’s still quite a lot of improvement to come, but there’s been a noticeable improvement after the disaster that was matchday 1. If we could do some work on our defensive positioning, so that the opposition striker doesn’t get 600 shots a game: that’d be much appreciated! In all seriousness, the defensive unit needs to do a lot better, because we shouldn’t have to rely on our goalkeeper having a ‘worldie’ every week in order to get a result. If the opposition can’t shoot: they can’t score. Get it sorted.

 

MY THOUGHTS – KHONKAEN UNITED

In regard to our opposition. I thought Khonkaen United were quite solid, but a slow start like they had last night was always going to leave them in a lot of trouble. If they can sort that out: they’ll be okay. I’ve watched all of their games so far this season, and they’re a hell of a lot better than the likes of Rayong and Trat were last season, and probably Sukhothai too. Ibson looks so dangerous for them this season, but it’s the backline that’s their biggest weakness at the moment.

There’s some things that they’ll need to fix, probably in the mid-season window, but there’s enough there to suggest that they could secure survival this season. In their two losses [Ratchaburi & us] this season, they faced goalkeepers having great games, whilst Steeven Langil was in inspired form against them too.

Good luck to them, and see you again in the second-leg!

 

Worawut man of the match photo, getting alot of use this season

 

MAN OF THE MATCH – #36, WORAWUT

Was it ever in doubt? Seriously: he’s silenced me with his last two performances. I lost count at the number of times that he saved our bacon last night, and without him: we would’ve been in a world of hurt. An inspired performance from the shot-stopper, and he should be the first name on the team sheet next week. We travel to Suphanburi next week, so hopefully, he can make it back-to-back cleansheets.

Honourable mentions should also go to Nelson, Siwakorn and Pakorn for their efforts, but with the drop-off in performance from the entire outfield: there could only be one winner.

 

Strike First, Strike Hard, No Mercy -Port V Khon Kaen United Preview

 

 

For their second home game of the season, Port are again the early 1730 Saturday kick off, hosting “Hilux Revo Thai League” newcomers Khon Kaen United. Those of you with a season ticket can once more bask in the glory of its value, as the game is a behind closed doors affair.

Port will be looking for a first win of the season against opposition widely expected to be involved in the relegation battle. Building on a respectable draw away to Bangkok United in round two, that showed many signs of improvement. As coach Dusit displayed a willingness to shuffle the squad and tactics, traits rarely seen from a Port manager in recent seasons. Switching from the back 3/5 that served him well last season, to a back 4 to start the game. In midfield Siwakorn (16) returned for the much maligned Tanaboon (17) and his presence, the change of tactics or a combination of the two meant the gaping hole between defence and midfield, Police exploited so successfully in round one, wasn’t on show. Resulting in another intriguing tussle between Bangkok United and Port where both could feel disappointed to not collect all three points. Bangkok United would have felt the win was theirs when awarded a late penalty but Worawut (36) saved Heberty’s poor spot kick and Port headed back to Bangkok with a well earnt point.

 

 

Dusit comes over a bit Phil Brown at Hull

 

Khonkaen United

 

The King Cobras have started the season with two home matches picking up three points. They opened with a defeat to Ratchaburi, there’s no shame in losing to a side who despite falling away from the highs of their first leg performance last season, remains a very solid T1 (its far easier than using “Hilux Revo Thai League”) outfit, especially when Steeven Langil goes on a slalom run and scores a superb goal. Their second match was one that will inspire hope they can stave off relegation as they beat Prachuap. On one of those terrible September in Thailand pitches, they were victorious 2-1, claiming the points from the penalty spot late on. Thanks to a VAR review with the officials seemingly as eager not to award a clear penalty as their colleagues elsewhere were to award one for a clean tackle.  Converted by Ibson Melo, who is becoming very much the gun for hire in Thailand, as Khon Kaen Utd are his third club in as many seasons. Having previously turned out for Samut Prakan Dons and Sukhothai, the striker has managed a double figure haul of goals in each of those campaigns and Khon Kaen season will benefit greatly from a repeat.

They are managed by Carlos Eduardo Parreira, who’s time in Thailand started working with Gama at Buriram. Before striking out on his own, with spells in charge of both Chiangmai clubs, prior to taking up his current role in the closed season. In both matches, they have used a 3-4-1-2 formation and looked to break at pace. Despite his history, Parreira defence has looked vulnerable. Looking at the squad it appears a particularly weak area, even for a squad that is packed with players whose playing careers are very much yoyo T1/T2 journeyman. That they went out and signed Alef and Grommen to strengthen the backline doesn’t bode well. Alef was a great watch last season playing for Suphanburi, for non Suphanburi supporters, as he was liable to throw in a clanger at any moment. Something we may be denied on Saturday night as the Brazilian season ground to a halt at halftime in the Ratchaburi game. When having been booked for clotheslined Sanarawat Dechmitr, he was subbed off and didn’t feature against Prachuap. Trying to protect the backline is skipper Douglas Cobo who has been with the club as they’ve risen from Thai League 4 via successive promotions. He’ll need to be at his best if his team are to get anything from the fixture. I’m expecting them to look to sit deep and frustrate as we’ve seen teams come to the PAT and do many times and attempt to deliver a killer bite on the break.

 

Other Khon Kaen pictures exist but this remains the best.

 

Port

 

The big question is will Dusit stick with the back four or revert to three, Worwut-Baresi (24) was brought on for the last 10 minutes in Rangsit replacing Jaturapat (15) who took his place on the starter roster (gotta appeal to our Yank readers now and then), although the aim there was too sure up, late in the game. At home with Bordin (10) and Roller (33) as attacking wing backs, going with three is a far more aggressive formation. While Go (8) and Siwakorn in midfield offer the defence more protection, closing down space and the whole group getting better drilled at how to play the system, l feel it will be tried again.

 

 

With everyone in the division having dropped points, Ports return of two combined with a victory here and several matchups featuring teams who sit above us in the embryonic table, hopefully, the weekend brings a victory and a move much closer to the top of the table. I’m expecting that to be the case and will go for a 3-0 win.

 

The match will be shown live on AISPLAY (possibly limited to AIS network users) at 17:30 on Saturday 19th September, 2021.Fans are not allowed to attend the game, so the best way to watch with fellow Port fans is to head to The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 who will show the match on a big screen.

 

The Sandpit 2021/22 Big Guess Up – Khonkaen United

Khonkaen United capped off a meteoric rise for themselves, with them securing back-to-back-to-back promotions via the playoffs last season. It’s quite incredible in the sense that it could’ve been Nakhon Pathom coming up instead, and you could say the exact same thing about them too! Regardless, it was the King Cobras who were promoted due to their superiority from the penalty spot, and personally: I’m very intrigued by how they’ll fare. I’m going to be honest: I felt their recruitment was… lacklustre. Don’t get me wrong, they’ve signed a few good players during the off-season [Ibson Melo for one], but I also feel they’ve signed players that showed last season that they weren’t good enough to be playing in the top tier of Thai football.

I’ll admit that I don’t know too much about the Thai players at the club, but it appears that a fair few of them have [at one stage] played for the underage Thai national teams, although considering the way the national teams are selected at times… it doesn’t say too much either. I think it’s simply a “wait and see” approach that I’ll take to the squad, but of the players that I am aware of: very few impress me. First things first, let me just say that I think re-signing Douglas Cobo, and bringing in Ibson Melo are two very smart moves for the club. They’re quality players, and if Ibson can stay fit: he’s worth 6-9 points over the course of the season.

It’s the signings of Alef, Joshua Grommen, and Yashir Islame that I have major reservations over. Two of them didn’t exactly set the world alight last season in Thai League 1 last season, and I’m sure there’ll be plenty of excuses as to why, whilst the other has had an up-and-down time elsewhere in the region over the course of his career. Personally, I would’ve found it more interesting to see how the players who got them promoted would’ve fared, as bar Ibson Melo: I don’t think their new signings are any better than the players they’ve replaced.

 

Carlos Eduardo Parreira in holding scarf shot

Head Coach – Carlos Eduardo Parreira

Khonkaen United has had a host of head coaches since their return to the Thai League structure, with Wikipedia [great source, right!?] saying that Carlos Eduardo Parreira is their 6TH head coach since 2018. I remember at the end of last season, they seemed to begin to panic, with Sugao Kambe being sacked, with his replacement eventually steering them to promotion via the playoffs. He’s since been redesignated to another role, and although it was speculated that Sirisak Yodyardthai would take charge, Parreira was announced not long after.

He seems to have had a great mixture of success and failure during his time in Thailand, and it’ll be interesting to see how this pans out. Would it have been wiser to get an experienced Thai League 1 coach in? Probably. Would that have even been possible? Maybe not. Good luck to the Brazilian, although if history is anything to go by, he better win a few games quickly, or he’ll be on the lookout for a new job!

 

Key Player – Douglas Cobo

To me: Douglas is ‘Mr Khonkaen United’. He signed for the club in 2018 when they were in Thai League 4, and he’s been with them ever since. He’s the captain of the club, a fantastic professional, and he’s the glue of the squad. I was pleased to see him playing at the base of the midfield last season, and although he’s just as comfortable as a central-defender: it’s midfield where I think he’s of most value to the team. He can read the game well, recycle possession, and not to mention: he takes a good penalty too! With Douglas in the midfield, the King Cobras are in safe hands, and I’m happy to see him lining up for the club in Thai League 1. When you consider how little loyalty there is to foreign players from clubs at times [and vice versa, of course], it’s great to see a player remain in one place for so long, and enjoy so much success in the process. Well done to all involved!

Another player worth mentioning is also Ibson Melo, who [if he can keep fit] should bang in quite a few goals over the course of the season. He’s replacing Paulo Conrado, who scored a hell of a lot of goals for the club, so he’s got big boots to fill. I was actually quite surprised to see Conrado depart the club, and we’ll have to wait and see if this decision will be vindicated.

 

Douglas Cobo and friends

 

My Prediction – Relegation battle

I just can’t get past how horrendous the recruitment of defensive players has been for the club. Alef didn’t set the world alight at Suphanburi last season, narrowly avoiding relegation, whilst Filipino central-defender Joshua Grommen was a key player in a side that WAS relegated. I’m not saying it was personally his fault, but if you’re a key member of a defence with the third-worst defensive record in the league AND the club is relegated: you haven’t exactly done your job very well either. It’s simply a case of they’re going to have to score a hell of a lot of goals in order to win games this season, as I can’t see them keeping many cleansheets.

There’s a good chance that Khonkaen United become a yo-yo club between Thai League 1 and Thai League 2, as I do think that if they do go down: they’ll know what’s required in order to come back up. I’d like them to do well, as I want to do an away game there, but there’s just too many question marks for me. Regardless: good luck to them!

 

Khonkaen United Kobra Kai esk