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



Tom’s Transfer Talk: Kanarin In


Port are reportedly close to signing young box-to-box midfielder Kanarin Thawornsak. The 22 year old has been on the books at Ratchaburi since 2016, but has been loaned out every year of his stay. His latest loan spell was with Sisaket, who enjoyed a superb season, only narrowly missing out on promotion despite being docked 12 points. Kanarin played 31 times, scored 3 goals and most impressively managed a Siwakornesque 12 yellow cards. He’s also played for Thailand at all youth levels, although he has yet to be capped by the senior team.

Whilst signing decent young players is generally not a bad idea, there’s absolutely nothing to suggest that Kanarin will get a look in at Port, with there being numerous better options in midfield. His arrival would almost certainly spell the end for Anon Samakorn, who will presumably find himself still further down the pecking order.



There’s also a far more vague story doing the rounds, which is most likely a figment of some bored writer’s imagination. Doumbouya, who Port have been linked to this off-season, will apparently be joining ‘a big club in Bangkok’. Depending on your definition of both ‘big club’ and ‘Bangkok’, that could be several teams. Whilst I think there is a decent chance that Doumbouya will end up joining a big team in Bangkok, it isn’t because of this rumour.



Finally, there are also murmurs that Nurul could be on his way after a poor second season with Port. He lost his starting place to Bordin, and after a horrible missed chance in the FA Cup final and the arrival or fellow winger Thanasit Siripala, Nurul leaving – with any luck on loan – could be the right solution for both parties. I’m sure Chonburi would jump at the chance to have him back, and it would seem to be the right move for his career.


The Sandpit’s 2019 Port FC Goal of the Season Poll


Port’s most successful season this millennium saw us top-score in T1 with 55 goals, while a further 17 were netted on the road to FA Cup glory. Add in 2 more goals in Port’s short-lived League Cup campaign and The Sandpit’s Goal of the Season panel finds itself with 74 goals to narrow down in to a short-list of just 10.

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Sticky Reis vs Fried Chickens: PT Prachuap FC 2-1 Port FC


Thai domestic football returned after its annual midseason unnecessary bullshit break, with Port making the journey south to take on Prachuap. The good news, Prachuap aren’t going anywhere soon. The bad news nor are Port, as we were defeated 2-1 in a match that had that a familiar feel of Port defeats that have come before.

The hope was that the tail end of the season would see Port put together a run of victories that would push for an ACL place, either via catching and surpassing Bangkok United for second place or the somewhat less assured route of Buriram adding cup success, to the now seemingly inevitable league title and a third ACL spot being awarded on league position. On last night’s evidence it is Prachuap who will have a greater interested in this battle. Bangkok United, had by the time we kicked off, already won the Rangsit derby 3-2, giving them a 9 point cushion. Come the final whistle it would remain intact, while victory for the Killer Wasp and the forces of footballing evil Legoland branch, means that Port remain in third spot on goal difference (or whatever FAI are using this week) over the lizards, with Prachuap now a mere point behind.

Thailand’s finest stadium khazi

That Prachuap are where they are says a lot about the state of Thai football, this isn’t a team that does more that be well organised and exploit the ability of its front men. The sum is considerably greater than its parts. In essence they are the opposite of Port. Find the right players for your system and play to their strengths. No square pegs in round holes, you want a target man you go and sign a Guianese SFS, who is about the biggest and scariest in the league, rather than signing the leagues top scorer and asking him to morph into a targetman, when its clearly the last thing he is. It seems a simple ideology yet it’s well beyond the brains trust at the PAT, along with most other clubs in Thailand. Prachuap do it wonderful and should be applauded, with owners and managers across the land looking to replicating it. Least we forget that this collection of journeymen Thais and unheralded foreigners were tipped by every preseason prediction article I read to make a swift return to the second tier. That they won’t and if they keep doing their thing will be a fixture in league one is great news, not only because it is a victory for an underdog but also because it means the opportunity to return to this excellent small Thai seaside resort. The ground is neat, well positioned in town, the home fans are noisy, passionate and friendly, to the point of visiting the away end for a prematch love in (who amongst couldn’t enjoy Ming and a 6ft killer Wasp having a dance). They buck the trend of over charging visitors with tickets at 100TBH. It also has the finest away end toilet l’ve seen in the league. Its not perfect our stand had a massive scoreboard in front of it (good thinking stadium design people, might I suggest the back of the stand next time). It also features a running track, which wasn’t quite wide enough to obscure the calamity at the far end that unfolded just a minute into the game.

Port had kicked off and looked ok for a good 50 seconds, when the ball was given away and a hopeful ball forward was collected by Kevin. Whilst Jonathan Reis(10) was pursuing, it should have been a simple back pass, however it was woefully underhit. Allowing Reis to nip in, the advancing Worawut manages to get to something on the attempted shot but only succeeds in playing back into Reis, off whom the ball rebounded into the goal. Not an ideal start but still plenty of time to turn things round. Except it was to be one of those nights where Port never really got going. Inside the first 7 minutes Prachuap would add two decent shots from outside the box, it amounted to more threat on goal that Port would offer over the entire evening.


Great place for a scoreboard


As the half wore on Port would come to have the majority of possession but it was always lacking an sense of any cutting edge. Generally, the same trick. Our wide players, Pakorn and the returning Nurul would get the ball and be supported by the full backs, at which point it would be utterly predictable, balls failed to beat the first defender or were easily cleared by the centre backs due to the lack of a target man. I can’t blame Boskovic for not getting on the end of any of the service he was offered, its hit and hope as often as not and he’s just not the type of player to feed off that sort of service. Not once do l recall a ball into space for him. On one occasion he managed to get the ball at his feet, he beat 3 defenders before his attempted pass resulted in a scramble and no attempt on goal. Nurul at least tried to create something different with the occasional dribble and was on his return was subjected to endless fouls the ref had little interest in stopping. Seldom did we try and create though the middle, on the two occasions someone went crazy and didn’t just pop the ball out wide, penalty shouts resulted. The first when Suarez burst though only to be tugged back and the second in first half injury time when Nurul made the most of contact by the keeper, both were deemed offside, having seen the Nurul call it looked an error from the officials.

The second half started in the same manner. Then after 57 mins Kevin fired a ball to the box and having drifted inside Nurul collects and has a shot blocked. It rebounds and is fired into the goal in a bit of a scramble, from my vantage point at the far end and judging from the celebrations, I thought he had fired his second attempt into the net. The official league website has awarded the goal to Boskovic but from my viewing of the highlights appears to be former Port player Piyachart Tamaphan (99) with a bizarre attempted clearance towards goal (and maybe the merest of contact with Bosko). However it went in, it was a scrappy goal and hardly validation for the “tactics” on show. A more reasonable team would at this point dig in and make sure they take at least a point for a match away against a team close to them in the league. So it was no surprise when five minutes later Reis had put the Wasps ahead again. Cutting in from the right flank unchallenged he shoots from the middle, his first effort blocked the ball falls to him again and he curls it past Worawut into the top corner. This attacking using the middle and taking the odd shot from range thing really seems to work.

Port then pushed the full backs even further forward (yep I know I told you’d seen this one before at the start), leaving the now seemingly back two of Rochela (22) and Dolah (4) ever more exposed. Prachuap brought Doubouya(21) who instantly set about causing havoc, I can only presume he wasn’t fully fit as 90 mins of his muscular battling would surely have seen the margin of victory increase. He had the ball in the back of the net in the 83rd minute only for it ruled out for offside, it wasn’t. Nobody should be more grateful than, the otherwise excellent, Dolah who had been picking up the Guinean before leaving him to drift to the near post and play him onside. And then it ended. As meekly and limply as Port in attack though out the match. See you all at the PAT for Chainat, it can’t be any worse than this or the last time we played them…can it?

The Sandpit Man of the Match: Nurul

The guy who signed off the away end toilets was getting a place on the podium till the 78th minute. At which point Anon (20) surpassed him. Doumbouya had since coming on been involved in a war both physical and verbal with any Port player in his vicinity. With 12 minutes to go he attempted to break past the Port midfield only to be met by a perfect body check from the former Leicester man. Not only did he flatten the Scariest SFS he remained on his feet. For that alone he should be applauded. However he offered far more than the once again invisible Siwakorn who he replaced. The only other Port player to excel where the centre backs and Kim. That said there was only one contender for the award, Nurul. His running caused more issues for Prachuap than the combined output of his teammates. He won endless free kicks, got in the faces of the opposition, deserved a penalty and wound up the home fans, including giving a few thousand people flack as he walked off. Its great to have the little fella back.


The Portlist 7: New Blood


With Port’s two debutants, and a very fresh-faced bench on Sunday, it must be time for another Portlist.



1 (1) Sergio Suarez

Suarez has been out of action for a few weeks now, and my word does it show. Without him in the side, no other player is capable of linking midfield and attack, making Port look disjointed and impotent going forward. Even having missed several games now, Suarez is still Port’s top T1 scorer with 13, although Boskovic has now overtaken him in all competitions.

2 (2) Dragan Boskovic

Ever since that fateful Chainat away clash, we’ve seen a completely different Dragan. He works harder, he links up play better and he has far more confidence in front of goal. That last fact means that he now has 19 goals in all competitions. That’s what he was signed to do.

3 (3) David Rochela

El Capitan continues to be a crucial figure in Port’s team, especially with injuries and suspensions meaning that changes in personnel are now weekly occurrences at the back. Crucially, Rochela’s calming presence helps those who play alongside him.

4 (4) Kevin Deeromram

He flew up the last Portlist, and I see no reason why he doesn’t deserve to stay at number four. Always full of energy, contributing wholeheartedly to the attack and making key defensive contributions too, you couldn’t hope for a better full back in Thai football.

5 (7) Kim Sung Hwan

Kim regains a couple of spots, having slowly but surely settled in to the rhythm of Thai football. He makes fewer errors, adds another dimension to Port’s play with his vision and long passing, and has popped up with the odd goal from midfield, too. We certainly miss him when he’s not in the side. Having said that, the feeling has to be that Port could do more with their Asian quota spot, and it’s hard to imagine former Buriram star Go Seul Ki, who is rumoured to be in talks with Port, not doing a better job than Kim.

6 (5) Nitipong Selanon

There’s no direct competition for Nitipong in this Port squad. Setting aside for a moment how absurd that is, it means that even when he gets sent off and suspended, his importance to Port is just further underlined. With Adisorn suspended, will they use a left back out of position, or deploy a winger like Chakrit or Terens there? One thing is for sure, Port will miss Nitipong on Saturday.

7 (9) Elias Dolah

The second half of the season has gone well for Dolah. He has missed some games with injury and suspension of late, but his performance levels have been consistently good, and it really feels like Port are missing something when he’s not on the field. Todsapol is still a viable alternative, but Dolah does seem to have taken a lengthy stride ahead of him for now.

8 (13) Adisorn Daeng-rueng

He seems to be the answer to just about every question, and he doesn’t seem to do injuries. Whether it’s Suarez, Kim, Siwakorn or Nitipong that’s unavailable, you can be sure Jadet’s solution will involve the little terrier. His performance level rarely changes (for better or worse), and the energy he brings to the team is undeniably a big positive. On Sunday he gave the ball away then won it back twice in the space of 15 seconds. Typical Adisorn.

9 (14) Rattanai Songsangchan

He has cemented his place in the team, and he put in one the best Port goalkeeping performances of the season to give us a fighting chance against Air Force. His distribution is still a constant source of frustration, though. It may have improved significantly from when he first broke in to the team, but he still insists on aiming the ball at Pakorn or Nurul rather than Suarez or Boskovic.

10 (8) Siwakorn Jakkuprasart

Siwakorn continues to drift down the list. He still makes the odd important contribution, but the frustration at his final ball continues to overshadow the neat linkup play he provides in midfield. Last season, I couldn’t have imagined putting Adisorn above Siwakorn, but on the basis of their performance levels throughout 2018, it feels justified.

11 (10) Pakorn Prempak

I just can’t bring myself to drop him lower than eleven, even though I’m monumentally annoyed by his attitude and work rate of late. Why not? Well, he’s the top provider in the entire league for one thing. Yes, he may be just about as frustrating as could be, but he continually, consistently provides chances for his teammates in a way that other wingers like Nurul, Bodin and Terens just don’t. On merit, I’m sorry to say he has to stay in the first XI.

12 (12) Bodin Phala

Bodin is probably closer than he’s been at any point this season to changing that, though. His forced move in to midfield against Sukhothai was the revelation that most of us thought it would be, but with Nurul injured he will be occupying Port’s left wing for the foreseeable future. It’s time to add goals and assists to all that clever one-touch nutmegging stuff now, fella.

13 (15) Todsapol Lated

His goalscoring record for the last two seasons stands at 6 goals in 20 starts. Most Thai strikers would be proud of that strike-rate! Nevertheless, Todsapol has rightly slipped below Dolah in the defensive pecking order, although it’s still a close run thing, and Jadet may well call on him when more mobility is required.

14 (11) Worawut Srisupha

An excellent second choice goalkeeper, and getting plenty of minutes in cup games.

15 (17) Terens Puhiri

Finally, he started a game! In keeping with Terens’ frustrating season though, the red card meant he was asked to play right wing back for the majority of the game and was unable to show the pace and attacking ability Port fans are so clamouring to see.

16 (16) Arthit Butjinda

He’s had a fair few chances this season, but really hasn’t made a convincing argument that he brings much to the team. Yes he can win the ball in the air against most Thai defenders, but more is required in front of goal for Arthit to be anything other than a squad player at Port. Having said all that, experience tells me that as far as Thai strikers go, he’s really no worse than most teams have on their bench.

17 (21) Chakrit Rawanprakone

Is he Port’s second choice right-back as well as fifth choice winger? We will know on Saturday when the first XI is named.

18 (19) Panpanpong Pinkong

Gains a spot based on the fact that Kevin must be bloody knackered, and Panpanpong will be required to actually play some football at some point.

19 (20) Worawut Namvech

Injury and suspension have finally given him a first team chance, and the results are… inconclusive. Worawut was hooked at half time in a tactical switch in his first start, but played 90 minutes in his second. He looked good in the air, solid in the tackle but has to be partially at fault for Air Force’s first goal, where he let Air Force’s only striker have far too much room. Still definitely fourth choice.

20 (NE) Somprasong Promsorn

Somprasong was the first of the three new arrivals from Europe to make a match day squad, and against Air Force he became the first to make an appearance. Looks quick, lively and Jadet must quite like him.

21 (6) Nurul Sriyankem

Poor old Nurul fought his way up to sixth in the Portlist, but his long-term injury and the raft of young wingers chomping at the bit to take his place mean that The Penguin will do well to get back on to the pitch this season. Get well soon, little guy.

22 (26) Pummared Kladkleep

Named in several successive match-day squads due to injuries, although he hasn’t seen a minute of action so far in 2018.

23 (NE) Sammy Slot

I think young Sammy may well move up this list in coming weeks, although that will require Jadet to take something of a leap in faith in a young player, which would be rather out of character.

24 (22) Watchara Buathong

Still third choice goalie, and has even made the odd first team squad, as well as getting a few games for Port B. Is he the most unambitious man in Thai football? Quite possibly.

25 (24) Chanayut Jejue

Chanayut made his first match day squad against Air Force. He impressed in a friendly a couple of months ago, but he really looks like he needs to bulk up in order to make an impact in T1. Should be having daily appointments with Rod Pellegrino!

26 (NE) Anon Samakorn

The final arrival from Europe and the youngest of the three has made one matchday squad, but was not sent to warm up. Don’t expect to see him on the pitch in 2018.

27 (RE) Sarawin Phakdeekan

Reentering the Portlist, having been absent from the last four. The defensive injury crisis looks short-lived though, as will be Sarawin’s time on this list.

28 (23) Chaowala Sriarwut

Poor old Chaowala – Port B’s top scorer despite playing in central midfield – must be wondering if he’s ever going to be given a whiff of hope of first team involvement with the likes of Pummared and now Anon being favoured.

29 (25) Jetjinn Sriprach

Third choice left back behind two left backs who don’t get injured.

30 (27) Anipong Kijkam

With Watchara expected to move on, Anipong was in line for a promotion. Now he’s back where he started, which is still at the head of the Port B queue. Not bad for a young ‘keeper.

99 (99) Tana Chanabut



What’s that? You thought with Tana leaving Port he would lose his place in the Portlist? What you fail to consider is that Tana is doing far more for Port in a Nongbua Pitchaya shirt than he ever did when he was actually with the club. Promotion hopefuls when the crooner arrived, they have slipped down the T2 table with just one win in six since his arrival. His contribution so far? A yellow card. His shirt number? 69. Lulz



‘Mare Force: Air Force Central FC vs. Port FC, 15 July 2018


Port will look to bounce back in the league after Air Force ended their 7 game unbeaten run with a shocking upset in the League Cup on Wednesday. Whether you look at league position, squad strength or form, Port are massive favourites to take 3 points home from Thupatemi Stadium, although a much improved performance from a squad really starting to struggle with injuries and suspensions will be needed.


Air Force Central FC

Players to Watch


We all know how these Croats love to overachieve. Aleksandar Kapisoda (5) is your prototypical T1 foreign defender and the leader of the Air Force back line. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that, with the exception of a couple of loanees, he’s the only player in their entire squad who deserves to be starting for a T1 team. He’s 6 foot 3, dangerous coming forward from set pieces and ought to be well acquainted with Elias Dolah by the end of the evening.

Speaking of those loanees, the headline names are Ernesto Amantegui (13) and Sarayut Sompim (23). Ernesto surprisingly lost his place in Bangkok United’s back line this season after excelling for them in 2017, but has played every minute for which he’s been available since joining Air Force mid-season. He’s a Thai-Spanish left sided player who can play at full back or on the wing, and has experience in Spain’s third tier. 21 year old Sarayut is on loan from Buriram, who he has yet to make his debut for, has also been ever-present since joining in June. The youngster has even impressed enough to be made Air Force captain in recent games. Expect stiff resistance at the back from Sarayut and Kapisoda.


Kapisoda, Ernesto and Sarayut


There will also be quite a few familiar faces in Air Force shirts this Sunday. Expect to see Kayne Vincent (10), re-signed from T2 after Air Force’s big-name signings flopped, lumber around up front looking disinterested. At least one of former Port stars Ekkapoom Potharungroj (36), Pinyo Inpinit (44) and Jirawat Makarom (7) should also get a run-out off the bench. Pace and unpredictability are the name of the game for Ekkapoom and Pinyo, whereas Jirawat is an expert from dead-ball situations.


Vincent, Ekkapoom, Pinyo and Jirawat


Finally, Frenchman Greg Houla (19) is a bit of a wildcard. The attacking midfielder is just a few games in to his first spell outside Europe. He has played for a load of teams that I haven’t heard of, including a few, like Les Herbiers VF, that I suspect might be made up. He’s scored once in 5 games since joining last month.


Greg Houla




Awful. Just awful. Many (myself included) picked Air Force to stay out of trouble this year after signing Leandro Assumpcao, Jaycee John and Renan Marques, but things have gone worse than anyone could have imagined. All three have left and 5 points have been accrued all season, making Air Force unlikely but legitimate contenders to ‘beat’ Super Power’s record low 6 points in 2017. They’ve lost 11 on the bounce, too. Ouch.


Port FC

Injuries and Suspensions


The one thing undoubtedly in Air Force’s favour is that they’re playing Port at the ideal time. Not only have they just enjoyed that morale-boosting success in the League Cup, but Port are reeling from injuries and suspensions too.

Todsapol (6) misses out having picked up his fourth yellow cards against Sukhothai, which wouldn’t ordinarily be a big deal, except that Dolah (4) will also miss out through injury. Another big name also joining Suarez (5) and Dolah on the sidelines is Nurul (31), who is expected to be out for around 2 months with a knee injury. Bugger. Arthit (29) was also withdrawn having picked up a knock on Wednesday, but we have no idea how serious his injury is.




Rather than creating a dilemma for Jadet, though, this might just make things a bit simpler. He doesn’t have a lot of options at his disposal, so experimenting with Rochela (22) or Bodin (10) in midfield this week is pretty much off the table.

Expect Worawut Namvech (24) to make his fist league start of the season, having played 45 minutes in the cup on Wednesday. The youngster on loan from Chiang Rai is a great prospect, although his two appearances so far this season have consisted of a mistake leading to a goal away against Ratchaburi, and being withdrawn at half time on Wednesday. I have faith that the sturdy centre half will find his feet given time, but he’s got to take chances like this when they present themselves. Playing alongside El Capitan rather than Todsapol this time out might just help him out a bit.

In midfield, the trio of Adisorn (13), Siwakorn (16) and Kim (8) picks itself. With the shortage of defenders meaning Rochela must move back in to defence, Nurul’s absence meaning that Bodin is a shoo-in on the left wing, and Arthit likely being injured, moving Kim in to an advanced role would seem to be the only viable solution.

Pakorn (7), Bodin and Boskovic (23) will be tasked with making things happen going forward, something which they have struggled with in the absence of key man Sergio Suarez.


Predicted Lineup




The match will be shown live on True Sport HD2 at 19:00 on Sunday 15 July, 2018. For those who can’t make it to Thupatemi 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.


I Will Follow: The Port FC Instagram League Table


Back in the old days of Bovril, half-time oranges and jockstraps, we rated footballers using such vague, inaccurate criteria as goals scored, medals won, international caps and so on. Thankfully in the digital age we have a much more precise metric to assess just how good footballers are – Instagram followers. So with the assistance of my lovely wife (and keen Instagrammer) Linny, I’ve ranked Port’s players based on how many people are following them on Instagram (with the exceptions of Kim and Chakrit, neither of whom appear to be on Instagram).

Note that all of these figures are dwarfed by our fragrant chairwoman Madam Pang, who has over 350,000 followers.


Nurul – 176,195

The wee fella has clearly benefitted from national team action, and is by far the most-followed Port star with over twice as many followers as his nearest challenger. Here he is celebrating with the time-honoured cunnilingus gesture.


Pakorn – 81,893

The Midfield Monk may not be a national team player yet but he’s Port’s second most followed player. Here he is with his mum. Awwwww.


Siwakorn – 72,476

Completing Port’s top 3 is yellow card collector and unlikely midfield hard man Siwakorn. He may put it about on the pitch but his Instagram feed is pure kawaii.


Terens – 59,781

Bodin – 17,761

Boskovic – 15,604

Put them away Dragan


Nitipong – 14,949

Todsapol – 10,573

Kevin – 10,359

Rochela – 8,637

Nope, me neither


Worawut (defender) – 5,317

Worawut (goalkeeper) – 4,487

Arthit – 4,156

Suarez – 3,614

Jetjinn – 3,298

Dolah – 3,153



Rattanai – 2,306

Pummared – 1,069

Midfield Monk II


Adisorn – 795

Panpanpong – 646


Big thanks to Linny Russell for collating the stats for this piece.



2018 King’s Cup Roundup


Thailand’s King’s Cup Campaign ended in disappointment with a final defeat against a strong, experienced Slovakia side. After playing out a pretty poor 0-0 draw with Gabon, Kawin helped Thailand triumph in the semi-final shoot-out, before – despite a spirited display – they were relatively comfortably dispatched 3-2 by Martin Skrtel and co.

In keeping with my usual national team coverage on The Sandpit, I’ll be looking at each of Thailand’s players and giving my thoughts on their performances. Hey, there are even some Port players to talk about this year!


Kawin Thamsatchanan (1, goalkeeper)

Not only is he a great shot-stopper and very comfortable under the high ball, Kawin is a penalty specialist. His last few shoot-out performances have all resulted in victories for Thailand, with captain Kawin starring each and every time. The semi-final was no exception. In the final there wasn’t a great deal Kawin could have done with the 3 goals, particularly the third which was an absolute peach of a finish.



Philip Roller (13, right back)

One of Thailand’s weakest link in this tournament. Rajevac likes his full-backs to stay back, and you could tell that Roller was constantly fighting the urge to bomb forward down the right. This made him pretty ineffectual in the semi-final, when miserable Mongkol struggled to get any joy down the flank in front of him. Then in the final, when up against a winger much bigger and stronger than him, Roller really had a torrid time. Slovakia’s first goal pretty much summed it up, with Roller being comprehensively out-muscled as Slovakia’s winger broke in to the box and pulled the ball back for a simple goal. His one redeeming moment was his well-taken penalty in the semi-final.


Pansa Hemviboon (6, centre back)

This guy just keeps getting better. Not only is he the best Thai centre back by a country mile, on his form over the last season and a bit I would have him over most of the foreign defenders, too. Aside from his fine defending, the Buriram man almost broke the Gabon keeper’s wrists with a powerful strike in the semi final, netted the winning penalty with aplomb and scored from a set-piece in the final.

My player of the tournament for Thailand, narrowly beating out Kawin and Thitipan.




Chalermpong Kerdkaew (4, centre back)

I thought the Korat centre half was good in the semi-final, and didn’t do much wrong in the final either. He doesn’t do anything spectacular, he’s not great on the ball but he doesn’t make mistakes either, and that’s why Rajevac likes him.


Peerapat Notechaiya (2, left back)

With Tanaboon still out injured, Peerapat must take his place as the most overrated Thai player in the national team. Whoever allowed him to take another penalty this year needs a good slap. In last year’s King’s Cup, he smashed his effort a mile over the bar, and this year he passed it straight down the middle. Similar to Siwakorn in the Leo Cup for Port, everyone knew he was going to miss, except apparently him. Kevin can feel pretty aggrieved not to have played at all over the 2 games.


Thitipan Puangchan (8, centre midfield)

My player of the tournament in last year’s King’s Cup, and once again one of the best players on the park across both games. As well as his driving runs forward he must have made as many tackles as the rest of his teammates combined in the semi-final. In the final he had a compelling running battle with Slovakia’s bigger, stronger number 8, but such was his determination that he by no means came off second best. I’ll keep saying it: he is one of very few players in Thailand’s team with the guts to stand up and be counted when heads start to drop around him. He always puts in the work, he always wants the ball and he will put his body on the line like no one else.



Jakkaphan Kaewprom (7, centre midfield)

Largely anonymous across the two games, until he popped up with a tap-in in the final. His performances throughout the last season at Buriram have rightly earned him this opportunity, but I didn’t see anything to convince me that he will contribute much at international level.


Mongkol Tossakrai (11, right wing)

Probably Thailand’s worst performer, although Teerasil ran him close. As ever, Mongkol played with no creativity, and was unusually poor when he got himself in to the threatening positions that he has scored a decent number of international goals from. Rajevac gave him barely an hour in the first game, before rightly hooking him at half time in the final.



Theeraton Bunmathan (3, left wing)

Well, he didn’t really play on the left wing. Theeraton was all over the place throughout both games, and once again I just don’t think he contributes as much when he has the freedom to go wherever he wants. Drop Peerapat, stick Theeraton at left back, let him get forward as much as possible so he can deliver those wonderful left-footed crosses to Teerasil. How many goals has this formula provided over the years? I rest my case. Theeraton was also typically reliable form the spot, with his stutter-step technique continuing to prove successful.


Chanathip Songkrasin (18, attacking midfield)

What a superbly talented player. His first half performance in the final was absolutely vintage Messi-Jay, and the way he was doubled-up on and fouled in the second half showed just how scared of him Slovakia were. With Thailand chasing an equaliser late on he nearly had the shirt ripped off his back, much to the chagrin of the home support. Still needs to add more goals in order to really take his game to the next level, though.



Teerasil Dangda (10, striker)

What a let-down. The striker who has done well since arriving in Japan this season certainly didn’t show much of that promise over the two games. His touch was heavy, he wasn’t strong enough and was just frustrating for a player who has the ability to do so much better. Thankfully he did manage to keep his head when the goalkeeper passed the ball to him in the area, playing an intelligent pass to Jakkaphan who converted the chance easily. Also made no mistake from the spot, although if the ‘keeper had gone the right way he would almost certainly have saved it.



Bodin Phala (15, left wing)

Played about an hour in total, and looked pretty darn good. He was outshone by Nurul in the semi final, but still had quite a few threatening moments in both games. Bodin’s season so far has consisted of 8 substitute appearances in 8 games. If only he could get a start for Port every now and then!


Nurul Sriyankem (14, right wing)

Also used twice from the bench, where he was threatening and dynamic at times in both games. Was unlucky not to score with a chip in the semi-final, but came through with an assist for Thailand’s second goal in the final. If I’m honest it looked like an awfully miss-hit cross that made it’s way through to Pansa at the far post, but we’ll take it!



Siroch Chatthong (22)

Typical Pipo, really. Used his physique to create a promising break in the final, then booted the ball way too far in front of him, allowing the ‘keeper to gather comfortably. The promising Pipo of a couple of seasons ago is becoming a more and more distant memory, I’m afraid.



All photos by Umim Supatchana


A New Career in a New Town: Rating Port’s Debutants


Following a close season of lavish spending, Port took to the field against Pattaya on Sunday with three debutants, and another two coming on as subs later in the game. So how did the new boys fare on their first day in the office? Here’s our verdict…


Dragan Boskovic

The big Montenegrin striker with a beard you could hide a badger in came with a huge reputation and a price tag to match, and so expectations were sky high – and the Bosk probably exceeded them. He’s more than just a striker and was frequently found dropping back to midfield or moving out to the wing looking for the ball and creating chances for teammates – his interplay with Nurul in the second half was electrifying.

But scoring goals is what Dragan does best and he can’t have scored too many better than his debut effort for Port. In the 44th minute he picked up the ball on the left, ran into the box at high speed, pretended to overrun the ball, bamboozled two Pattaya defenders with some nifty footwork, and then fired an absolute thunderbastard of a shot into the far corner, before celebrating in front of a packed terrace – an unfamiliar experience for him after 3 seasons at Bangkok Utd.



Nurul Sriyankem

The Thailand international also arrived with a hefty price tag, and before the game the talk was of how Jadet could accommodate both 2017’s top assister and Port’s own king of the assists, Pakorn, in the same team. He tried, Nurul starting on the left whilst Pakorn began on the right, but it wasn’t until the second half when the pocket rocket from Chonburi switched to his favoured side that we saw him at his best.

With incredible pace, lovely technique and a very low centre of gravity Nurul is a defender’s nightmare, and he gave Pattaya’s defenders a torrid time, winning a host of free kicks and drawing yellow and red cards, as well as creating Port’s second goal (his shot was saved and rebounded to Suarez) and striking up an early understanding with Boskovic. He was my MOTM and looks like one hell of a signing.



Bodin Phala

In years to come, Port fans will be boasting that they were there when the young ex-Port Futsal player made his debut. Given just 15 minutes to make his mark, having replaced Pakorn from the bench, he grabbed the chance with both hands and made himself the main post-match topic of conversation.

After crashing a shot against the post with his first touch, he then took on free-kick duties and curled in a sublime Ronaldo-esque effort in the last minute to give Port a 3-0 win and close out the game, before celebrating by doing the funky chicken in front of Zone C. A brief debut, but he crammed more into those 15 minutes than last year’s left-wing substitute Tana has managed in two seasons.



Kevin Deeromram

The young Thai-Swede only joined on deadline day and so hadn’t had much preparation time with his new teammates, but with only Panpanpong and Jetjinn for competition he went straight into the first team and didn’t disappoint. Like Panpanpong, Kevin likes to get forward and has a cracking cross on him (his 7th minute free kick almost led to a goal for Todsapol); unlike Panpanpong he doesn’t require a motorbike taxi to get him back into position and he fulfilled his defensive responsibilities admirably.

It was a solid, unspectacular start for the defender, which is exactly what you want from a left-back, and a rare clean sheet for Port was testimony to the fact that we no longer have a weak link at the back.



Terens Puhiri

The inch-high Indonesian had a flash symbol shaved into his head in readiness for today’s game, ready to delight his army of Indonesian (and, increasingly, Thai) fans. Sadly The Flash only got a couple of minutes and didn’t get a touch, though he’d have been away if Boskovic had picked him out late in the game. So it would be unfair to give him a rating, but his proximity to the first team suggests we’ll be seeing a lot of him in 2018.




Wicked ‘Vic: Port FC 3-0 Pattaya Utd


The most hotly anticipated Port FC season in living memory kicked off at a jam-packed PAT last night with a win over a Pattaya side who were organised and physical but lacked a cutting edge up front. Stunning debut screamers from Boskovic (23) and Bodin (10) sandwiched a Suarez (5) goal to give Port just the start they wanted and to increase fans’ appetites for what is to come.



Ah, the first day of the season. The familiar taste of Leo and ice in a plastic glass. The meeting up with old friends. The unveiling of a rather tasty new shirt, then being told you can’t buy it until next month. Some things never change.

Quite why new Port shirts are treated with the kind of secrecy normally afforded to MI5 missions or buying beer on Buddhist holidays is a mystery; an even bigger mystery is how the club can spend over 100mBHT on new players but still not get the club shop stocked for the opening day of the season. Yes, I was given a free can of Leo with my season ticket, but I’d rather have had the option of BUYING A BLOODY SHIRT. Sort it out.


It was easier to find a Super Mario outfit than a new Port shirt


OK, rant over, because apart from the annual shirt debacle there was nothing whatsoever to moan about. The decision to put ModernDog on stage before the game was an inspired one, with their derivative but highly anthemic Thai rock music working the local fans up into a frenzy of excitement before kick-off. With Zone B visibly filling up, we took our seats 30 minutes before KO and found the stadium already full to the rafters, and Port’s performance will ensure that’s likely to be the norm this season.

Port, as expected, went at their opponents from the whistle, and although their first half performance wasn’t quite as fluid as it would become later in the game, the result should’ve been done & dusted by half-time. Boskovic in particular was serving notice that he’s here not just to score goals, and his all-round play, dropping deep or moving out to the wing to look for the ball, was a revelation to fans so long starved of a genuine Scary Foreign Striker. On 4 minutes, the bearded Montenegrin bombed down the wing, skinned two defenders and fired in a low cross, which rebounded off a Pattaya defender straight back onto his head, forcing the Dolphins’ excellent keeper into the first of many smart saves.

Port came closest to opening the scoring on 7 minutes when an excellent inswinging free kick from new left-back Kevin (97) found the head of Todsapol (6). Tossa directed his header into the corner but somehow the keeper pulled off a miraculous, Gordon Banks-esque save to keep it out. And on 15 minutes Pakorn (7), sensing that he’s no longer the only game in town when it comes to dead balls, hit the crossbar directly from a corner.

Despite their superiority, it took Port until the last minute of the half to break the deadlock. Suarez fed Boskovic down the left and he appeared to overrun the ball before cutting back, leaving two defenders for dead with a sublime bit of trickery, and firing an unstoppable strike into the top corner sparking scenes of delirium on the terraces. Port finally have a real SFS, one who can create goals out of nothing, and it feels damn good.


The PAT at its best – packed to the rafters & in full voice


Half-time saw the kind of frenzied beer queueing not seen since the repeal of prohibition, so your correspondent decided to forego the usual HT bevvy and thus made the start of the second half. 10 minutes in the referee – who had a generally poor game – awarded Pattaya what I initially thought to be a highly dubious penalty. But after using the VAG system – Video Assisted Guesswork – I can see that Pattaya’s big no9 Lukian has a wrestle with Rochela (22) on the edge of the box, the cap’n goes down, then has a little kick at the Brazilian as he tries to get away. Well spotted ref, and it looks as if Port’s penchant for piffling penalties is continuing into 2018. Thankfully Worawut, with his only real action of the night, pulled off a stunning save to keep it 1-0, with Suarez amusingly appearing to tell the ref where he could stick his penalty.

This proved to be the first of two incidents that turned the game, the second being a red card for Pattaya on the hour mark after Nurul was – for the umpteenth time – upended on the edge of the box. It was now 11 v 10 and, with Nurul restored to his preferred position on the right, Port were playing some champagne football and looking dangerous every time they crossed the halfway line. And yet the next chance fell to Pattaya, with a cross from the left spectacularly volleyed over Worawut but against the Port crossbar.

On 73 minutes, Port finally got the second goal their football deserved. Pakorn picked out Nurul in the box and his shot was again brilliantly saved by the Pattaya keeper, only for the rebound to fall to Suarez who gleefully blasted it into the roof of the net for hopefully the first of many goals this season.

It was Pakorn’s last act of the game as he was replaced by new boy Bodin (10), who almost announced his arrival in the most spectacular fashion, smashing a shot against the post in the 76th minute. Five minutes later, Nitipong (34) went down in the box and the referee, for reasons best known to himself, decided it was a penalty (the VAG tells me Niti was going down before the defender, who played the ball, touched him). Rochela, still taking pens despite the arrival of Boskovic, stepped up to take it but his shot was weak and the keeper saved it comfortably.

Seasoned Port fans may have seen the penalty miss as the beginning of Operation Fuckup, that post-80th minute phenomenon that seems to kick in every time Port have a two-goal lead; but thankfully this team is made of sterner stuff and they put the game to bed on 89 minutes, with the boy Bodin curling a delightful free-kick into the top corner and celebrating with a funky dance routine in front of Zone C. Nurul then went off to a standing ovation and to have the rare experience of being replaced by someone smaller than him, with Terens ‘Flash’ Puhiri making a late debut. Sadly the popular Indonesian didn’t get a touch, but his time will surely come.

So a comfortable, and thrilling, 3-0 win to start off this most anticipated of seasons, and the job done in very impressive fashion. There wasn’t a weak link on the pitch, with the defence solid, the midfield quick and creative, and the forward players often dazzling. Pattaya may not have been the strongest opposition Port will face this season, and they offered little goal threat, but the way Port dispatched them – and, for once, closed out the game – bodes well for 2018. The four new players all made quite superb debuts, and the incumbents visibly raised their game to match their new superstar teammates. Jadet has the winning start he wanted – and needed – and with Kim Sung Hwan soon to take his place at DM, the future is surely bright for Port. Hopefully starting at Muangthong next week!


The Sandpit Man of the Match – Nurul

A very, very tough choice this week, with all 11 starters, plus Bodin, staking a claim for the coveted Sandpit MOTM award. I was initially going to give it to Rochela, who put in a masterclass in calm, unflustered defending, however his giving away a penalty at one end and missing one at the other mean he misses out. Boskovic was also a contender, as was Suarez, who revelled in his new free role. But the award this week goes to debutant Nurul who, particularly once he switched to the right, absolutely terrorised the Pattaya defence, drawing fouls, free-kicks and cards almost every time he got forward. Only a miraculous save from Pattaya’s keeper prevented him from scoring on his debut, and his partnership with Boskovic looks like a recipe for goals.