After three consecutive third-placed finishes, Port FC are in the hunt for that elusive Thai League crown. After winning an FA Cup in 2019 and appearing in the AFC Champions League group stage for the first time earlier this year, there is still a feeling of excitement and novelty around the club. However, a year from now, only the gleam of the big prize will be enough to sustain that feeling.
There are signs that things could be different for the Klongtoei Lions this year. Their moves in the transfer market, whether by necessity or design, have been considerably more measured. The foreign player quota is all made up of returning players for the first time in recent memory, and the core of the squad remains intact. Instead, change has occurred in the dugout – a coach of their ‘usual profile’ has been forgone in favor of someone who is expected to make the side more organized and resilient.
Head Coach – Dusit Chalermsan
Last year’s title-winning head coach with BG Pathum United, Dusit Chalermsan was shockingly replaced ahead of the Rabbits’ AFC Champions League campaign due to insufficient licensing. Originally slated to take over feeder club Rajpracha in T2, Dusit instead decided to take up the offer from a side which will likely challenge for his former employers’ crown. While things might remain diplomatic publicly, there is no doubt that he has a point to prove.
Known for his defensive solidity and functional football, Dusit previously helped Port get promoted from the second tier back in 2013. He achieved the same feat with an unfancied Trat FC side in 2018, getting his career back on track and catching the eye of BG Pathum following their relegation. His ‘defence first’ approach will be a change from what the PAT faithful have grown used to in recent years, but could be what is needed to help the Klongtoei Lions take the final step.
Key Player – Sergio Suarez (Attacking Midfielder, Spain, age 34)
Spanish midfielder Sergio Suarez is the creative and attacking hub of this Port side. Formerly of Las Palmas, he made over 100 appearances in the Spanish second division before arriving in Thailand back in 2014 with Police United. He has also crossed that century mark for Port since joining them in 2017, and has averaged close to a goal every two games during that entire spell.
Primarily a number 10, he is capable of both dropping deeper into midfield to dictate play or operating as a forward when needed. He registered an impressive 14 goals and 6 assists from 27 league appearances last season, making him one of the league’s most productive and dangerous attackers.
Key Player – Philip Roller (RB, Thailand, age 27)
Port’s marquee signing this season, Philip Roller finished the campaign as the highest-scoring local player despite playing as a right back. As would be expected, he is primarily known for his attacking forays and offensive contributions, and has shown that he is also comfortable playing forward on either flank.
Born in Germany, Roller moved to Thailand back in 2017 and has since played over 100 games for Ratchaburi FC and earned 12 caps for the Thai national team. The 2020-21 season was the best of his career, as his 15 goals helped the Dragons qualify for the AFC Champions League for the first time in their history. He moved to Bangkok in time to feature in that competition with his new side, in one of the most high-profile moves of the summer.
Rising Star – Jaturapat Sattham (LB, Thailand, age 22)
While Port have many young and promising players in their ranks, the depth of their squad means that most of them will struggle for minutes in the Thai League. Jaturapat Sattham makes this list because of the injury struggles of Kevin Deeromram, for whom he deputizes and filled in for during the AFC Champions League this season.
Formerly of Chainat Hornbill, the youngster rose to prominence after a stellar T1 campaign in 2019. While he is yet to rekindle the same form in orange and blue, the 22-year-old still clearly has the quality and potential waiting to be unlocked. An extended run in the side could help get things back on track for the youngster.
Reason to Follow
There is never a dull moment at the PAT Stadium. Their passionate support base and raucous atmosphere is admired across the country, and no matter what happens this season we can be sure the Klongtoei Lions will not be far from the headlines.