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Port Suffering From Yellow Fever: Port FC vs. Suphanburi FC Preview

 

Two teams who recorded impressive victories last week face off in an intriguing encounter this Saturday at PAT Stadium. Looking at the table, top dogs Port are clear favourites to overcome Suphanburi, who were bottom of the table until their victory last week, but with the attacking talents at their disposal and the utter insanity that has been T1 so far this season, absolutely anything is possible. Port are without key central midfielder Go Seul-ki and right back Nitipong who are both suspended, but Suphan will also be without their own Korean midfielder Kim Sung-hwan as he is on loan from Port.

 

Suphanburi FC

Habitual Mediocrity

 

It’s worth mentioning briefly Suphanburi’s decline into mediocrity since 2013. After their promotion in 2012, The War Elephants finished in the top six for three successive seasons, boasting some of the league’s best talent like former Port star Pipat Thonkanya (visit our ‘Port Legends’ page for more on him) and a certain Dragan Boskovic. They were even managed by Mano Polking for a brief stint. The likes of Charyl Chappuis, who gets a lot of stick on here although when he was with Suphanburi he was without a doubt one of the best performing Thai players in the league, Carmelo Gonzalez and Thai league veteran Bjorn Lindemann were also part of a team which appeared to have an exciting future challenging the top teams in T1 for honours, but then something went wrong. It’s hard to pinpoint what, but since their initial success, Suphanburi have finished no higher than tenth, and there’s little in their current form to indicate that they’re ready to break that slump this season. They’ve got a highly rated T1 winning coach in Totchtawan, a group of talented Thai youngsters and two of the top foreign strikers in the league, but they just can’t seem to recapture that winning formula.

 

Players to Watch

 

Another T1 team, another Brazilian strike force. On paper this one ought to be among the very best in the league, but while Jonatan Reis (7) and Cleiton Silva (23) have a respectable 6 goals between them so far in 2019, their team has scored just 8 goals in total, and neither has yet provided an assist for a teammate. For some reason they’re just not quite gelling. While Reis has been spending a lot of time dropping back to pick up the ball and start attacks from midfield, Cleiton has held his position up front, and although this seems like an ideal partnership, it just hasn’t clicked yet. Either Reis has failed to find his teammate in dangerous areas, or Cleiton has missed the chances when they’ve come. I shouldn’t talk the pair down too much, though. They’re both superbly talented, and they both managed to get on the scoresheet last time out against Korat, potentially lifting spirits in Suphanburi and giving them the confidence they need to fulfil the promise their partnership holds.

 

 

Besides the Brazilians, it’s really tough to pick out anyone else on current form. The players I rate at Suphanburi have been spending far too much time on the bench. You’ll have heard me talk up the likes of exciting Thai forwards Thanasit Sriphala (11) and Chananan Pumbuppha (10) in past previews, but these guys have been in and out of the team this season. Even experienced Thai national team legends like defensive midfielder Adul Lahso (19) and goalkeeper Sinthaweechai Hathairattanakool (18) haven’t been playing recently, with former Muangthong coach Totchtawan favouring lesser known players. How’s that been working out?

One of those lesser known players will be known to most Port fans, though. Last time the sides met at the PAT, Meechok Marhasaranukun (20) provided two excellent assists from the right flank, and he will be expected to start at right wing back. Quality defensive duo Anderson (3) and Suphan Thongsong (26) will make up two thirds of their central defence, but surprisingly they’ve conceded 12 goals already in 2018, so clearly there are as many problems at the back as there are going forward.

 

 

Mark Hartmann (9) wouldn’t have merited a mention unless he’d scored an excellent header off the bench last week to spark Suphanburi’s comeback, but the English-born Filipino will almost certainly now make a second half appearance. If you haven’t seen him before, he’s not easy to miss, what with his long flowing locks and the unmistakable aura of a player who couldn’t quite cut it at the Gang Warily Recreation Ground. That’s the home of Blackfield & Langley of the Wessex League, for those of you unfamiliar with English ninth tier football. Shame on you.

 

 

Form

 

Suphanburi have been consistently unpredictable so far this season, but on balance have fallen far short of expectations. It took three draws before they finally recorded a win, but that was followed by three defeats, before they bounced back with a win last time out against Korat. Here are their results in full.

  • Chainat 0-0 Suphanburi
  • Suphanburi 0-0 Buriram
  • Sukhothai 1-1 Suphanburi
  • Suphanburi 3-0 Chonburi
  • Trat 4-0 Suphanburi
  • Suphanburi 1-2 Chiang Mai
  • Bangkok United 4-0 Suphanburi
  • Suphanburi 3-1 Korat

 

Port FC

Yellow Fever

 

Port face yet more challenges to their squad depth this week, with suspensions to key players Go (8) and Nitipong (34). The yellow cards have been coming thick and fast this season, and both have already made it to four. Go will most likely be replaced by Athibordee (35), who has seen a lot of action off the bench so far in 2019, although we are clinging to the hope that one of the breakout stars of last season Anon (20) will be picked instead. Anon performed superbly in some big games for Port last term, and is a player Port should be trying to give as many minutes of T1 action to as possible, but Jadet seems to have promoted Athibordee, so that’s probably that. That is unless Suarez is available for selection after missing out last week. If the Spaniard is fit, Jadet could also ask Siwakorn to play a little deeper, with Sumanya alongside him and Suarez further forward. The spherical supremo has certainly got options in the middle of the park.

Normally Adisorn (13) would also be part of the conversation when the DM spot is up for grabs, but with Nitipong being out, he is sure to deputize at right back instead. With no other options available to Jadet, an out-of-position defensive midfielder will have to do. If only we’d considered our paucity of right backs in the transfer window when we were signing left backs like they were going out of fashion!

The rest of the team could remain unchanged, although with captain Rochela (22) returning to near full fitness it’s a question of when not if Todsapol (6) drops back to the bench. Watchara (1) has surely made the goalkeeping spot his own with an assured performance against Muangthong. I haven’t seen a Port goalkeeper looking as confident as Watchara does in all aspects of his game for quite some time. Bodin (10) and Pakorn (7) are undroppable the way they’re playing, so Nurul (31) is going to have to wait for his chance when he returns from injury, too. What an impact sub to have!

 

Predicted Lineup

 

Please, please, please pick Anon.

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True Sport 2 at 20:00 on Saturday 27 April, 2019. For those who can’t make it to PAT Stadium, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound. Don’t forget to wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.

 

Tom’s Transfer Talk – Mid-Season Roundup

 

OK, so Tom’s Transfer Talk hasn’t been particularly talkative so far this season. It has been a shockingly quiet transfer window by Port’s recent standards, but there have been a fair amount of low-key moves and juicy rumours, so let’s get up to date with exactly what’s been going on at Port in recent weeks.

 

Departures

First and foremost let’s get the bad news out of the way. Despite his exemplary commitment to training and his tenacious attitude on the pitch, Thai national team star and fan favourite Tana Chanabhut has been shockingly allowed to leave PAT Stadium. To add insult to injury, not only are Port being deprived of the services of one of the finest moustaches in world football, the forward has been sold to T2 team Nongbua Pitchaya FC, a side so far below his level I’m shocked he agreed to the move. No, wait a minute…

 

 

HAHAHAAAAA SCREW YOU TANA, YOU OVERRATED, LAZY GOOD-FOR-NOTHING WASTE OF A SQUAD NUMBER! NEVER, EVER, EVER COME BACK!

Ahhh, that’s better. Anyway, Port have also allowed young right-back Meechok Marhasaranukun to move on. After signing from TOT, Meechok broke in to Port’s starting XI in 2016 at the age of just 18, but was displaced by Nitipong at the start of 2017, and has spent the vast majority of the last season and a half on the bench. Now 20, it makes sense for Meechok to move on to a club where he can get more regular football, but surprisingly he has chosen to move to Suphanburi, where he is not expected to be getting an awful lot of playing time, either. Still, we wish Meechok, a good young player with a bright future ahead of him, all the best.

 

 

Port have surprisingly not moved to replace Meechok, so either versatile defensive midfelder Adisorn or left winger Chakrit Rawanprakone are expected to fill in if first choice Nitipong is injured or suspended.

Speaking of versatile central midfielders, Athibordee Atirat has also secured a transfer away from PAT Stadium, although his move is not permanent. Athibordee joins Navy on a 6 month loan, where he is expected to play a key role in midfield. He’ll need to perform miracles to keep Navy up, mind you. This move surprised me a little, as Athibordee had been seeing pretty regular action in midfield and defence, but he is obviously seen as surplus to requirements in the second half of the season.

 

 

There have been some other loan moves too, although it’s mostly players who were already out on loan moving on to different clubs.

Left back Yossawat Montha, who made 9 starts for strugglers Ubon UMT, has moved to Prachuap, where he will compete for a starting berth for 2018’s surprise success story. Unfortunately for Yossawat, he will likely be behind 37 year old Prachuap captain Adul Meunsamaan in the pecking order, whilst former Port teammate Piyachart Tamaphan will also provide competition.

 

 

Bajram Nebihi has also moved on from Chiang Rai, with Chonburi securing his services on loan for the second half of 2018. The big German didn’t strike up much of a partnership with under-performing star player Cleiton Silva, so it is no surprise that ambitious Chiang Rai are looking to rebuild their forward line without Nebihi. It was also no surprise that the player who had such a strong impact for Ubon in 2017 had numerous suitors. Talk of a move to Navy was rife, before he eventually signed for The Sharks.

 

 

Now we starts to get in to the weeds a little. Two players who, as far as I was aware, had already made permanent their moves away from PAT Stadium may still be on the books. It’s of little consequence that Thanakorn Saipunya is still a Port player, as he wasn’t given a squad number and was confined to training with Port B in pre-season. His move to Khon Kaen is apparently only a loan, but he will surely leave on a permanent deal at some point, without getting a sniff of first team action.

 

 

The other player in limbo is midfielder Tatchanon Nakarawong, who everyone including Chonburi seemed to think was a Chonburi player, but is now apparently on loan at Army from Port. Tatchanon arrived at Port from Army a couple of seasons ago, and despite impressing in pre-season was grossly underused by Port before being shipped out on loan to another club where he was very unlikely to see significant game time. Indeed, the youngster played just 7 times for The Sharks. He has finally done the right thing in joining a team where he is likely to be first choice, although with Army recently announced that they will be folding, he will likely have to move on again before long.

 

 

 

Arrivals

Now, I know I said things had been quiet, but I do actually have a couple of confirmed arrivals for you. This could be good…

Port have signed two young players who had been part of King Power’s ‘Fox Hunt’ project. Anon Samakorn and Somprasong Promsorn are the two players in question, and they look pretty promising. Anon, nicknamed Boat, is a 19 year old midfielder who has been on the books at both Leicester City and OH Leuven’s youth setups. Somprasong, nicknamed Toto, is a 21 year old right winger who has also been with both Leicester and Leuven. He looks pretty nifty in this video, playing for Leuven’s under 19 team in a 4-1 victory over Bierbeek, and showing some impressive pace and trickery. The video of Anon’s performance from the same game looks less exciting, although he does notch an assist with a clever through-ball.

 

Anon (l) and Somprasong (r)

 

Both players have been given first team squad numbers, with Anon taking number 20 and Somprasong number 14, although it is thought that both will start out with Port B before joining the big boys.

 

Rumours

Now for the rumours. We’ve been hearing Ratchaburi’s Thai-German right wing back Philip Roller’s name over and over again in recent days. He has been linked with both Port and Muangthong though, in a situation eerily reminiscent of the saga that led to Kevin Deeromram signing for Port. Roller is a superb player, but would find very stiff competition for a place in Port’s team. I do think that he’s a better player than Nitipong, but there’s certainly no guarantee that he would nail down a starting place, whilst his ability to play further forward would be of little value to Port, who already possess a surfeit of right wingers. As much as it pains me to say it, I think a move to the Theatre of Corrugated Iron makes sense for Roller, with Tristan Do having moved on to the wing and midfielder Wattana Plainum currently playing out of position at full-back.

 

 

We also heard numerous rumours that Port’s third choice goalie Watchara Buathong was on the way out, but as far as we know the perennial back-up to the back-up is still kicking around at PAT Stadium. He must like the easy life.

 

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Chok’s Away! Defender Off to Suphanburi

 

The mid-season transfer window is aproaching, and already one Port player is on the move. Young right-back Meechok Marhasaranukun has announced that he’s packing his bags and heading off to Suphanburi as soon as the window reopens.

It’s not hard to understand why the Chok should have put out a “come & get Mee” plea – he’s behind Nitipong in the pecking order, and given Niti’s consistency and fitness, he’s likely to see even less action than Jadet’s salad tongs.

Meechok joined Port in 2016 from the defunct TOT and has made 28 appearances for the club, as well as getting capped at Thai U19 & U21 levels, but Nitipong’s emergence last season as a top quality T1 right-back has seen his chances limited to the occasional cup or substitute appearance, and at his age he needs more game time. Whether he’s any more likely to get it at Suphanburi we do not know, but good luck Meechok from all at The Sandpit!

 

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Fallen Angels: Port FC 3-3 Bangkok Utd (Friendly)

 

Port recovered from a 1-3 half time deficit to secure a 3-3 draw against a strong Bangkok Utd team. As usual, Jadet stuck to his non-serious approach to friendlies, picking his Second XI for the first half, and his First XI for the second half. Port were outclassed in a one-way first half, but played a storming second 45 minutes to rescue a draw, with Meechok the stand-out performer.

Port started with their second string. Weera (1) was in goal, with Suchon (11), Dolah (4), Anisong (15) and Prakasit (2) making up the defence. Just back from injury, Piyachat (88) partnered Ittipol (7) in central midfield, with Piyachart (23) out of position on the left wing and Maranhao (92) on the right. Stand-in captain Wuttichai (14) supported Kaludjerovic (10) up front, as Port looked to continue with the 4-4-2 formation that worked so well against Buriram.

Port started off on the back foot, with Bangkok Utd’s foreign attacking trio of Jaycee John (22), Mario Gjurovski (20) and Dragan Boskovic (7) causing all sort of problems going forward. It was no surprise then when Prakasit was beaten for pace and strength by Boskovic, who was clear through on goal when Prakasit hauled him down inside the area for a clear penalty. Boskovic himself converted the spot-kick, although Weera guessed right, but didn’t quite get a strong enough hand on it to prevent it going in. Prakasit went off injured to be replaced by youngster Niran Hansson (33), who was given his first chance to impress at right-back. Port 0-1 Bangkok Utd

In the 19th minute Port drew level against the run of play. Maranhao (92) – industrious as ever – dispossessed a Bangkok Utd defender and squared the ball to Kaludjerovic (10), who rounded the keeper and slotted the ball past a covering defender the give Port an unexpected life-line. Port 1-1 Bangkok Utd

Port’s recovery lasted just two minutes though, as Jaycee John (22) restored The Angels’ lead with a stunning piece of skill that was applauded by all in PAT Stadium. John received the ball with his back to goal, but in one motion flicked, turned and fired the ball in to the top right hand corner, in a similar vein to this this outrageous effort from Thierry Henry. Port 1-2 Bangkok Utd

Bangkok Utd were enjoying all sorts of space down their right, with a combination of Piyachart (23) – out of position at left wing – and Suchon (11) at left back hapless against their constant attacks. It was a cross from the right that led to their third goal, with John (22) beating Weera (1) – who looked a touch slow off his line – to prod home a simple goal. Port went in to the break 1-3 down, but this was to be game of two very different halves. Port 1-3 Bangkok Utd

Port’s second half line-up was what looked like Jadet’s first choice XI, minus Rattanai (17) who is on international duty with the Thai under 23 team. Weera (1) was the only player to complete the 90 minutes, surely meaning that Worawut (36) was suffering from an injury. We didn’t see him on the bench, but have to assume that he was unavailable for selection. Meechok (20) returned at right back, with Rochela (22), Todsapol (6) and Panpanpong (19) completing the back four. Adisorn (13) continued alongside Siwakorn (16) in midfield, after his man of the match performance against Buriram. Pakorn (9) and Genki (18) were on the wings, with Suarez (5) behind Josimar (30) up front.

Port’s changed line-up immediately took control of the game; creating chances at will. A dynamic passing move put Suarez clear through on goal, but the Spaniard wasted the chance with a frivolous attempted chip which drew groans from the fans behind the goal. Those groans soon turned to cheers though, as Josimar (30) notched a well-deserved first goal for Port. Meechok (20) – who was outstanding down the right – did well to reach a through ball, and pulled back an excellent cross which Josimar bundled in to the bottom corner. It wasn’t particularly pretty, but Josimar won’t care. He’s off the mark now, and will look to carry his goal-scoring form in to the upcoming competitive games. Port 2-3 Bangkok Utd

Port continued to press, with a Suarez (5) cross from the left being flicked over the bar from close range by Josimar. Soon after, Pakorn (9) rattled the post with a clever free-kick which caught-out the Bangkok Utd keeper, then when Rochela (22) knocked the rebound back in to the danger zone Todsapol (6) looked certain to score, but couldn’t keep his header down. Port’s non-stop pressure eventually paid dividends though, with Meechok (20) getting the goal that his second half performance deserved. His forward run was picked out by Josimar, and the young right-back finished like a seasoned striker, steadying himself and shooting with power and precision into the bottom corner from a narrow angle. Port 3-3 Bangkok Utd

Port comfortable held on to draw 3-3 draw, maintaining their unbeaten run in Fortress PAT and showing that they can be a match for absolutely anyone at home.

Port FC Man of the Match

Meechok (20), replacing the injured Nitipong (34), was outstanding at right back. With Port largely controlling the game in the second half he managed to get forward and cause all sorts of problems down the right, assisting Josimar for the first goal, and scoring the second one himself. We’re certainly happy to see the youngster back in the team, and on top form to boot!

 

MATCH REPORT: Port FC 3-1 Pattaya United

 

Port secured a comfortable 3 – 1 win against Pattaya United, thanks to a clinical first half performance. New signing Kaluderovic looked the business, notching his first two goals on his debut. Pattaya struck back, before Genki added a third goal late in the first half to seal Port’s second consecutive friendly victory against T1 opponents.

Port started with Worawut (36) in goal, and the same back four that has started the last few friendlies: Rochela (22), Dolah (4), Meechok (20) and Panpanpong (19). Suarez (15) played in an advanced role just behind striker Kaluderovic (10), with Siwakorn (16) and Tatchanon (27) anchoring the midfield. Pakorn (9) played on the right wing, and Genki (18) on the left.

Pattaya looked lively in the early going, but had no real bite to their attack. Rochela and Dolah were fairly busy, but did what was asked of them with relative ease.

20 year old new signing Tatchanon had his best game to date at the base of the midfield, keeping the ball moving without ever looking like losing possession, and spreading the play with a couple of excellent long balls out to the flanks.

The even younger Meechok was also a revelation down the right. At times in the first half, the right back seemed to be playing a more advanced role than right winger Pakorn, so it was no surprise when his good work led to the opening goal. Meechok’s run down the right was expertly picked out by a lofted Siwakorn pass, and the right back played the ball across the six yard box where Kaluderovic swept home with ease from close range.

Spot the scoreboard #fail

Just a few minutes later, the same three combined to score a second. Meechok, pressing high up the pitch, intercepted a pass in midfield and the ball broke to Siwakorn who played a well-weighted through-ball for Kaluderovic to run on to. The Serbian made no mistake with a classy outside-of-the-boot finish to make it 2 debut goals and 2-0 to Port. Whilst neither goal was particularly special, the way they were taken seemed effortless. We don’t want to jinx it, but this might be the first time since the legendary Leandro that Port have had a foreign striker who makes scoring goals look easy!

Pattaya soon got themselves back in to the game, though. After a fortuitous richochet on the edge of the area, a Pattaya forward reacted quicker than the Port defence and managed to force the ball past an onrushing Worawut to bring Pattaya back within a goal.

Port were still playing the better football of the two sides, though, so it was probably a fair reflection of the first half that they went in 3-1 up. Kaluderovic was once again involved, this time turning well under pressure in the middle of the park before releasing Suarez down the left with a pinpoint pass. Suarez could easily have gone for goal himself, but unselfishly squared the ball to Genki who got ahead of his marker to score the tap-in.

It was an important goal for the Japanese player, who few have been expecting to stay with Port in 2017. Nevertheless, with less than a month to go he finds himself starting with Jadet’s first choice side, whilst no rumours of an AFC replacement are anywhere to be seen. It’s looking increasingly likely that Genki could retain his place in the squad, although there is of course still time for that to change.

The liveliest player of an otherwise pretty dour second half was Port’s other left winger, Ekkapoom (8). Port, once again, brought out an almost entirely different XI. Rattanai (17) came on in goal, and Nitipong (34), Anisong (31) and Piyachart (23) joined Dolah – the only player to stay out – in defence. Wanchalerm (35) and Piyachat (28) played in central midfield, with Ekkapoom wide left and Maranhao (29) wide right. Wuttichai (14) partnered (5) Tana, playing his first game after a lengthy spell out injured, in a conventional front two.

Whilst the two strikers both looked a little off the pace, the wingers looked busy and dangerous. Ekkapoom and Maranhao both hit the post after creating excellent chances for themselves, but neither could add to Port’s lead.

Midway trough the second period, left back Piyachart picked up a knock and was replaced by Suchon (11), but the substitution that got everyone talking was the introduction of Pinyo (21) late on in the half. Pinyo was injured for almost the whole of last season, but now finally seems to be getting an opportunity to prove his fitness. He came on for Ekkapoom in the 80th minute, and looked enthusiastic, although understandably short of match-sharpness.

Little else of interest happened in the second half, meaning Port claimed another confidence boosting victory against top-tier opposition. If they can secure another victory against Nakhon Ratchasima on Sunday, Port will be heading in to their opening game of the season against Rachaburi full of belief that they can cause an upset.