Posts

Masks For Goalposts: Port FC vs. Police Tero Preview

 

Finally! The long months of pining for the hallowed gravel of the sandpit are almost at an end. We may be masked, separated and deprived of the moo ping and cold Leo that fuel our howls of disappointment, cheers of celebration and insults in whatever language the opposition keeper speaks, but we’re back.

Well, those of us lucky enough to score one of the 25% of tickets that are up for grabs are, anyway. With season ticket holders already having had the opportunity to reserve their seats for Sunday’s long-awaited return, the remainder of tickets, of which we expect there will be a few hundred, will be sold from 1pm on Saturday. Expect queues the length of Zone C, with a socially appropriate distance between everyone, of course. The club shop will be open on match day, although there will apparently be just 6 people allowed in at a time. It’s football, but not quite as we remember it.

While familiar faces, or at least eyes, will be reuniting in the sandpit for the first time in too long, so too will two clubs who have engaged in quite a bit of business over the last few months. Twin towers Thitawee (2) and Thitatorn (3) moved from Police to Port for a reportedly big fee, with Police struggling to keep the lights on during the break. Young goalkeeper Anipong moved in the opposite direction, and of course on-loan forward Arthit has played a big role in Police’s surprising early season form. Crucially, Pele shouldn’t be eligible to play against his parent club on Sunday.

 

 

Port haven’t just been snapping up the finest Police men money can buy, though. We’ve also brought in one of T1’s finest strikers. Ah yes, this familiar story again.

Of course, at Port it’s never as simple as signing a star striker and reaping the rewards. Drama has been unfolding all week regarding Port’s foreign player registration, in what has basically become a bi-annual festival of stupidity and financial recklessness. This year, it centres on the arrival of the aforementioned Salvadoran striker Nelson Bonilla (99). Just a couple of days before the deadline, it was reported that Port would not be registering Bonilla due to concerns over his fitness, with long time club captain Rochela (22) being restored to the squad. Then, at the very last minute, long-serving Rochela was once again ignominiously dropped, with an apparently unfit Bonilla being given the spot. Meanwhile, Rochela will once again be forced to sit on the sidelines, able to participate only in the FA Cup (there will be no League Cup this season) if he is even registered for that.

Port also ‘strengthened’ at the back with the acquisition of national team defender Adisorn Promrak (20), although the new arrival has spent most of his time in Khlongtoei on the treatment table alongside fellow defender Tanaboon (71). In response to these injuries, Port brought in Sarawut Kanlayanabandit (26) as cover, while big-boned fellow centre half Worawut Namvech (24) has also been restored to the squad after a spell on loan last year. Are you keeping up? No, me neither.

 

 

Finally, left backs Jaturapat and Yossawat as well as central midfielder Chatmongkol have been sent on loan, meaning the T1 squad (which you can peruse on our up-to-date squad page) currently consists of 30 players.

Right, who are we playing again?

 


 

Police Tero

Players to Watch

 

I’ll keep the lowdown on our opposition brief, I promise. They had a very good start to the season, with the twins impressing at full back and Arthit leading the line effectively, but the main danger man has been right winger Greg Houla (7). The quick, tricky winger has provided some moments of magic in an otherwise functional but fairly workmanlike side, although it has been beefed up recently using the money earned from the sale of the twins.

 

 

Gambian born winger Mohamadou Sumareh (13) is a shrewd acquisition, with his Malaysian citizenship allowing Police to register him as part of their ASEAN quota. They’ve also brought in Ivorian forward Marc Landry Babo, who has been scoring goals in Thailand for years, albeit mostly in T2.

The key man at the back is one of the most physically dominant players in the business. Ghanaian Issac Honey (35) can play at the back or up top due to the fact that he’s built like both a sprinter and a bodybuilder. Quite an obstacle for Port’s forward line, impressive as it is on paper.

 

 

Former Port right back Ekkachai Sumrei (5) and veteran left back Mongkol Namnuad (53) are some other recognizable names in Police’s squad, but it’s the African contingent that Port ought to be most wary of.

 

Form

 

Police’s early season success, however was not achieved so much by individual talents as it was operating as a solid unit. I don’t expect Port will have an easy time breaking down a team who will be set up to defend and hit us on the counter. With some pace and power on the opposition wings, we’ll have to defend well at times, as well as take our chances clinically when they come.

They’ve ground out two 1-0 home wins, one against Buriram, and BG are the only team they’ve failed to beat.

 

  • Police Tero 1-0 Buriram
  • Trat 1-3 Police Tero
  • BG Pathum 3-0 Police Tero
  • Police Tero 1-0 Samut Prakan City

 

Port FC

A Embarrassment of Riches

 

Under Jadet there’s one thing you can be pretty sure of. We’re going to line up in our usually 4-2-3-1. Who exactly is going to be in the lineup is a very open question though, with injuries and new signings proving plenty more options for the Spherical Supremo to consider.

In goal the usual choices are all available, but Rattanai (18) has been favoured in friendlies, so I expect him to get the nod. Worawut (36) is of course another option, and if he doesn’t start, he’ll be on the bench. Perennial third choice Watchara (1) will continue to be overlooked, and this year’s fourth choice will be youngster Chatcharin (25).

At the back we have a surprising dearth of options available. Defensive leader Elias Dolah (4) was only fit enough to play half an hour against Bangkok United last week, although we expect him to start on Sunday. Alongside him in the recent friendly was Todsapol (6), but he will almost certainly be replaced by new signing Adisorn Promrak (20), who has also been injured, but could be fit to start. The twins (2, 3) are also perfectly good options, while new signing Sarawut (26) is available in case of more injuries.

At full back Nitipong (34) and Kevin (23) will take up their usual positions, with Steuble (15) a very able backup on the left should Kevin tweak one of those notoriously fragile muscles. Thitawee (2) is the new backup right back, which means he’ll be well acquainted with the bench this year.

In central midfield is where things get very tricky for Jadet. Go (8) didn’t start in the friendly last week, but if he’s fit he will of course take up his place in the XI. Siwakorn (16) is probably the leading candidate to partner him, but there’s also a very strong argument to be made for youngster Kanarin (31). His high-energy performances were hugely impressive early on in the season, and he looked excellent off the bench in last week’s friendly, too. I’d give Kanarin a start, but I doubt Jadet will. Chappuis (17) is also available.

On the flanks, Jadet will most likely opt for Bordin (10) on the left and Heberty (37) on the right, meaning we will be seeing a lot of cutting in from the flanks this season. The relationship between Bordin and Kevin on the left always provides a creative threat, but it looks like Heberty and Nitipong will take a little more time to gel. For me, Heberty is too often slow to release the ball, leaving poor old Nitipong pining for his former partner in crime Pakorn (7), who is positively selfless in comparison to his replacement. Tanasith (11) is another great option from the bench, should Port still be looking for a breakthrough late on.

Suarez (5) will most likely start in ‘the hole’ behind the striker, who could be Adisak (9), Bonilla (99) or even Heberty if Port opt for a more fluid attacking system. Adisak started the most recently friendly, but that was while Bonilla was reportedly on the outs. Now he’s back in he could start, although whether he’s fit or not is a mystery. Adisak will likely make it on to the pitch one way or another, with the forward having notched 2 goals from the bench already this season. Nattawut (45) put on an outstanding late show against BU, and if he makes it on to the bench is an excellent option anywhere across the front line. Port’s is a seriously competitive squad this year!

 

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 

Subs: Worawut (36), Thitawee (2), Thitatorn (3), Steuble (15), Chappuis (17), Kanarin (31), Tanasith (11), Pakorn (7), Adisak (9)

 


 

The match will be shown on TrueSport HD3 at 18:00 on Sunday 13 September, 2020. For the many of you who won’t be able to get your hands on tickets, 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.

 

ASEAN Scouting Report: Wingers

 

In my penultimate ASEAN scouting article I’m looking at wingers. We’ve covered goalkeepers, defenders and midfielders, so next we have our creative geniuses, our speed demons and some really big names with even bigger price tags. Is it realistic to think that Port could sign most of these guys? No, not really, but it’s good to dream big, and to know what’s out there.

 


 

Billy Ketkeophomphone

 

 

Transfermarkt Value: ฿20m

Position: RW / ST

Current Club: SO Cholet (French third tier)

Nationality: French/Laos

Age: 29

Height: 1.80m

 

It would be an absolutely fantastic move to bring French-Laotian winger Billy Ketkeophomphone to Thailand. He’d walk in to any team in the country. Unfortunately just this Wednesday he signed on for SO Cholet after having been a free agent since June. The Bullet of Lao possesses power, pace and fantastic dribbling, which would give Port a very different option to Pakorn on the right flank. He can even play up top, which is a bonus. In a world where he was still available and the Laotian government had more relaxed rules on dual citizenship this could be a massive move, but it seems extremely unlikely as things stand. Just watch his highlight reel and dream.

 

Stefano Lilipaly

 

 

Transfermarkt Value: ฿15m

Position: RW

Current Club: Bali Utd (Indonesian first tier)

Nationality: Dutch/Indonesian

Age: 29

Height: 1.75m

 

Stefano Lilipali is without question one of the best players in South East Asia. He’s played in The Netherlands, Japan and Indonesia and has 24 caps for Indonesia. He’s currently playing for Liga 1 Champions Bali Utd, and apparently has one more year left on his contract, but it’s possible he could be tempted by a move to one of the best teams in South East Asia’s top league. His right footed set-piece deliveries are perhaps his greatest strength, but he’s a player who can do it all, as you can see from this 2018 highlight reel. This signing would be a major coup for any Thai team, but he’d cost significantly more than what Transfermarkt estimate.

 

Mohamadou Sumareh

 

 

Transfermarkt Value: ฿8m

Position: RW

Current Club: Pahang FA

Nationality: Gambian/Malaysian

Age: 28

Height: 1.79m

 

This would be a tough one to pull off, but my word if it came off it would be something. Sumareh was born in The Gambia but moved to Malaysia in 2013 and has since been granted Malaysian citizenship. He’s scored 6 goals in 18 games for Malaysia from the right wing, with his pace and power making him unplayable at times. His stunning volleyed finish against Thailand earlier this month was a match-winner, and it was only a monstrous performance from Brendan Gan than stopped him scooping the man of the match award. The tricky part of this is that his true value is much higher than Transfermarkt suggests. As a nationalized Malaysian his value is higher to Malaysian clubs than to Thai clubs, and his club Pahang FA have got him tied down to a big-money long term contract. This highlight reel is taken just from his national team games this year, but there’s still plenty to get excited about. Still, we can dream…

 

Pasqual Verkamp

 

 

Transfermarkt Value: ฿2.5m

Position: LM

Current Club: SV Viktoria Aschaffenburg (German fourth tier)

Nationality: German/Thai

Age: 22

Height: 1.80m

 

The first three on the list are practically unattainable, so I’ve gone for an eminently plausible signing here. The German fourth tier may not be all that, but we’ve seen European players playing at a similar level come over and take the Thai league by storm before. His form is good, having scored 5 and assisted 4 in 16 games this season, and he’d be mad not to jump at the chance to play for a top Thai team. We’d be mad not to try and sign him, too. Well, I say that but I’ve never actually seen him play, as his name brings up nothing whatsoever on Youtube. He’s probably pretty decent, though. Maybe.

 

Christian Rontini

 

 

Transfermarkt Value: ฿800,000

Position: LW

Current Club: Sangiovannese (Italian fourth tier)

Nationality: Italian/Filipino

Age: 20

Height: –

 

Christian Rontini would be a speculative signing, as he’s a youngster and he’s playing in Italy’s fourth tier. He has, however, been capped already by The Philippines, making his debut in a friendly against China earlier this year. He could provide a useful option from the bench, although Port do already have plenty of options in that position who would all be ahead of him in the pecking order. Again I’m lacking a highlight reel here; the closest thing I’ve found as an interview. In Italian. He’s just been called up to the Philippines SEA Games squad, so Thai clubs should be watching closely to see what the youngster can do.

 


 

For inquiries about other players I’ve looked at in the research for this article, send me an email at earlsy@outlook.com