Port FC aim to put an end to a 10-year wait when they take on Ratchaburi in Saturday’s Thai FA Cup final.
A decade has passed since the Klong Toey side won the trophy and nine years since their last major domestic honour – the 2010 League Cup.
Much has changed in the Thai football landscape since then but the Port Lions are finally among the top sides again.
Ratchaburi may lack the rich history of Port but they should not be underestimated, having given Port two very tough battles in league action this year.
Here are three things to look out for in the 2019 FA Cup final.
- Port’s wide boys
A key element of Port’s attacking play this year has been the two wingers, supported by the energy of two dynamic full-backs. Bodin Phala has been outstanding for much of the year, while Pakorn Prempak, though less consistent, can be a menace on his day. At right-back, the relentless Nitipong Selanon has really excelled, while left-back Kevin Deeromram’s injury-plagued year can end on a high.
Photo credit: Port FC
There is creativity, pace and energy on the flanks, while Bodin in particular offers a goal threat with a thunderbolt strike. Much of Port’s tempo will be dictated in midfield and Go Seul-ki will play a key role in the centre, while Sergio Suarez will, as usual, be a focal point of the attacking play.
However, the performances of the Port wide men may go a long way to determining who ends the year with a trophy.
- Dragons’ French connection
Yannick Boli, Lossemy Karaboue and Steeven Langil all share a similar footballing education, having come through the French system that has produced so much top talent in the past 40 years.
Striker Boli and attacking midfielders Karaboue and Langil have been among Ratchaburi’s top performers this year, with Boli announcing himself on the Thai stage by scoring a hat-trick on his debut.
Photo credit: Ratchaburi FC
Boli – nephew of former France international Basile – was once part of the Paris St-Germain youth system, while Karaboue’s youth career was spent at Lyon. Langil’s first steps in French football came at less celebrated Nimes, but he has arguably been the most impressive of the three this year.
It has been an up-and-down season for the club but Boli’s finishing, Langil’s flair and Karaboue’s energy have all been features of the best moments for the Dragons.
Up against a Port squad that has the edge in terms of quality and depth, Ratchaburi’s French connection will have to be at their best if the Dragons are the lift their first ever FA Cup.
- A night for cool heads
Both of the fixtures between Port FC and Ratchaburi this year were keenly fought as only a Dragan Boskovic penalty separated the sides at the PAT Stadium before a 1-1 draw at the Mitr Phol in the return fixture. The first match was a bad-tempered affair marred by VAR controversies, while a poor refereeing performance was also a feature of the second game.
Photo credit: Port FC
Both teams will be desperate for a landmark trophy win, so this will be a match in which cool heads are vital. A loss of discipline could be the difference between success and failure with the stakes so high.
It has to be hoped that matters on the pitch will be decided by the team that plays the best football and deserves the victory and subsequent celebrations. However, emotions will be running high on Saturday and the team that stays calm under pressure may well have the edge.