Feb 03, 2012|
The final act of the tortuous 2011 season will take place this Saturday when Thai Port take on Buriram PEA in the Toyota League Cup final. The competition started back on May 18th and the semi-finals were played way back in September! The final should have been played on October 15th, but was postponed over flooding fears. It was then continuously pushed back in the schedules as the TPL season became ever more stretched. But finally it is here, and an intriguing contest it promises to be. Not least because the same pair met in the previous final: Port triumphing 2-1 back in November 2010. But this Buriram side has considerably improved since that game, whilst Port have gone backwards. PEA won the 2011 TPL with a 16-point margin and also added the FA Cup to their swag bag for good measure by beating Muangthong in the final in January. Victory on Saturday would mean a first ever domestic cup treble for a Thai side.
Thai Port's 2011, meanwhile, was one of turmoil, uncertainty and controversy. There have been off-the-pitch ownership disputes, non-payment of players, and the loss of a highly-rated coach – Sasom Pobpraserd – and four of his best players. Despite these problems, Port still managed to finish seventh – an excellent achievement as a relegation battle was looming at one point during the season. With impeccable timing, Thai Port vice-president Worapong or "Big Ben" said that all outstanding monies – some 12 million baht – will be paid to the players before Saturday's showpiece. That should at least provide a shot in the arm to the much put upon Thai Port players, and more hope may be drawn from the fact that Port gave a good account of themselves the last time the two met in September. A final ray of hope comes from the fact that this will be the last game for many of the Port players, with the likes of Munze, Moise, Mongkol and Todsapol looking for one last hurrah as they’ve all ready been sold by the cash-strapped club.
But make no mistake, Buriram are heavy favorites to win this one. A stubborn defensive display (and Port can defend) and a penalty shootout maybe Port's best hope of holding onto the trophy. Kick-off is at 5.30pm on Saturday at the Suphachalasai Stadium. Some tickets may be available on the day, but with Buriram likely to bus down large numbers and the Klong Toei army set to parade through the streets from the PAT Stadium get there early! It will also be broadcast live on Channel 3.