Monday, 26 March 2012

Muangthong United 5 Thai Port 1 - report

The first goal

Such is the pace of change in Thai football that the events of just two years ago feel like ancient history for fans of MTU and probably Thai Port, too. Today we’d suffer a flashback of those events but to over-focus on them would be an injustice to a cracking game of football.

The line up was Kawin (GK), Thittiphan (RB), Panupong (CB), Nataporn (CB, capt), Piyachart (LB), Dagno (DM), Pitchipong (MD), Barakat (LM), Super Mario (RM/CM), Datsakorn (AM), Teerasil (ST).
Notice the slight change in formation and the absence of Kone (injured) and Christian (?). On paper it looked defensive, in practice it’s not that different to our usual 4-4-2 where one striker plays wide or deeper anyway.

The early stages of the game start with an interesting clash of styles. Thai Port don’t look like a side that got smashed last week and with tough players like Watson, Mario and the Scot Steve Robb, they rightly don’t shy away from a physical game. I wouldn’t say we look intimidated but we don’t look keen on it either, perhaps we’re just keeping faith in our ability to win by skill.

Port are getting stuck in with a fairly direct and rugged style while we respond down the left and right flanks - Piyachart again looks good - so everything's set for an even game. I’m slightly annoyed that Teerasil looks isolated yet again but then who can support him? Kone’s injured, Chris didn’t look himself last week and the Korean striker has yet to arrive. Do we have any kid strikers on the bench?

Before I get time to ask, Mario Djovski gets the ball outside the box, looks up, looks down and  then loops a shoot over the keeper’s outstretched arm and down into the net. 1-0. ‘Super’ Mario then pulls off his shirt, runs to the corner, grabs an MTU flag and waves it around for a while as he soaks in the moment. This picture sums up a lot of the reasons why we love football: anyone of any culture and language could see what’s happening here and appreciate what it means to everyone. In Mario we have, simply, a good player who is enjoying what he does so much. That’s all you need in a player, all the tactics and planning in the world don’t change the simplicity of the beautiful game.

No changes are made at half time for us and for a while it does look like it will be another of those “ride our luck but we can score again if we really need to” games. How wrong I was. A low pass to Teerasil is followed by a neat finish from “Mui” as he rides a rough challenge and keeps on his feet in the process. It’s now 2-0 and this is when we can get dangerous at home: the pressure is off, the opposition need to push forward and we have midfielders with the vision to find space. the skill to wrong turn the back line and the pace to punish teams for pushing up. Sure enough, Piyachart and Thitiphan start to get forward more and Datsakorn in particular starts to find the free men. A low cross by Mario to Pitchipong allows the long haired midfielder to walk in our third goal of the game and make it 3-0.

Only now do Thai Port players look mentally broken and as their heads go down, you can smell more goals. Steve Robb has enough fight in him to run it down the right wing and slot in a low, angled ball that bounces off Ekapoom (on for Mario) for an own goal. It was good for the players and fans who had something to cheer but I don’t think a single player on the pitch felt it would change the course of the game.

Datsakorn goes off for a stranger called Sarat Yooyen (“Sarat” on his shirt so that’s what I’ll call him). Most fans have not heard about this kid who quickly shows himself to be a small, pacey striker in a Michael Owen mold. Within thirty seconds of arrival he gets through on goal only to wack his shot just over. He doesn’t let it get to him though and minutes later he gets a second, slightly more difficult opening and smashes it home to make it 4-1. Most of us have never heard of this Sarat kid before now, but I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot more of him.

It could get better: Barakat has hit a couple of neat free kicks, Siaka has already come close with two headers and Teerasil slots wide of the far post from the kind of chance he’ll bury ninety nine times out of a hundred. But when a near-perfect cross from a free kick finds Siaka in space, you’re going to pay and Dagno sends the invoice with a header to make it 5-1.

Still it doesn’t look to be over but something on the right of the stadium has caused an uproar. The first thing I see is a group of Thai Port fans in the lower West Stand throwing objects en masse at the MTU fans above them. I doubt it was unprovoked but the fans in the upper section were mostly SCG staff on complimentary tickets. I find it hard to believe a bunch of office workers in company shirts would try hard to start a fight with Thai Port fans when their team is 5-1 up against them. My guess is that one foolishly thrown object was all the excuse some idiots needed to show what sore losers they were. Credit to the security who at least managed to stop the away fans clamouring up the stairs to attack the fans above them without the faintest idea which of them had actually thrown anything. It was also good to see police and stewards actually moving towards the trouble, though I couldn’t help but notice the police moved second.

Play was stopped for a few minutes but normality was restored reasonably quickly without any injuries. There’s a few things I’d like to say here but I’ll bite my tongue and just say that most Thai Port fans are great people but they need to stop this minority element giving the club a bad name or worse yet, the same fate as Nakhom Pathom

Back to the game, and it plays out the last few minutes with a couple more chances but no more goals, just time for a rash challenge from behind and a red card for a TP player.

And so a fantastic win that brings back great memories of the good times. With another home game against BG - who did us a favour today holding Chonburi to a draw - on Wednesday, we have a chance to form an early breakaway with Buriram in the title race. The most encouraging thing about this display was that once again, we didn’t look the finished product. Barakat had a good game but looked like the slightly overwhelmed new boy he is and I’m sure the best is yet to come from him, the Koreans have yet to play and in Sararut we have signs of great potential. The more I think about it, the more our absence from AFC competition could be a very big blessing for us; the extra mental and physical rest could keep up the team spirit as we push Buriram all the way to get our title back. As for Thai Port, they’ve had two opening fixtures that would be tough for any team. They just need one break to go their way and the points will start coming.

Man of the Match
Normally I give MOTM to Datsakorn ‘Le Tissier’ Thonglao when he scores a belter. Today there were no screamers from the Vietnam veteran and he even had to play slightly out of position to push forward and support lone striker Teerasil. I was against this decision and felt Buntao (who actually did replace him later on) should have got the job but Datsakorn worked hard and sprayed several neat, short passes that set up several of our goals. Today wasn’t his best or most spectacular performance, rather a hard working effort to do what was best for that team. That’s what it’s all about at MTU right now. I must note many of my fellow fans nominated Mario Djurovski for today's honour.

Photo credits:  Jirawat mooinblack 66818053470

1 comment:

  1. Greg,
    I respect you pics and inserted another ones I was shot yesterday match. Please give a click Regards
    José Martins