Monday, 25 July 2011

Samut Prakan United 2 Nonthaburi FC 0 - Report

Eka crashed at Samut Prakan United in a game that was memorable for all the wrong reasons.

Nonthaburi started well with Ryan Reece finding space on the left wing, but it became clear that the referee was not going to allow any tackles or challenges that were not standing or that involved any form of shoulder contact whatsoever. This pushed the game into a scrappy, stop-start affair and exacerbated our season-long problem of having lots of the ball but very little punch in front of goal.

The game was effectively decided in a short, second half spell. After blowing his whistle three times in about fifteen seconds of open play, the ref awarded a free kick to SPU that they scored from. Eka staff protested strongly that it was offside but I don't think it was.

Shortly after, our number 25 (Surachat) performed a very badly-timed but totally innocent sliding challenge on a SPU winger. The contact looked very light but of course the winger threw himself down like he'd been shot and the referee appallingly gave a straight red card to Surachat. The home side scored their second goal later. I thought the final pass was a forward pass, which would render it offside. I guess the linesman disagreed.

This contest was effectively decided by a referee who looked to be incompetent and insecure in equal measure. It's a frequent problem that the Thai FA needs to solve. Too many officials compensate for their nerves by blowing their whistle every five seconds. This produces a scrappy, dull game of football and defeats the whole point of anyone being there.

But still, questions need to be asked at the club if we are to rescue our rapidly-fading play off hopes. Why did we sign no strikers when the problem has been screamingly obvious for ages? Why do so many of our players look capable but get tired earlier than the opposition? Why play the same formation that fails to produce many goals at the best of times when we are two goals and a man down? Why not just throw an extra man (Sathit or Prasop) forward and take a chance? Why be so inflexible?

On a positive note though, big credit to all the players who refused to give up even when two goals, one man and one rubbish referee were the odds against them. Both sets of fans enjoyed the day and thanks to the home fans who made us feel welcome.
We won't give up.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Monday, 18 July 2011

Luk Isaan Thai Air FC 0 Nonthaburi FC 2

Eka took an impressive two-nil victory away from Luk Isaan Thai Air at the weekend with goals from Prasop and Korawut. Nonthaburi will be looking to take the impressive form into our second successive away game at Samut Prakan United this weeekend.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Jelani Grant - interview

Jelani was pivotal in the away game at Chamchuree
Canadian import Jelani Grant kindly took time out to answer my questions this week. Jelani was signed in pre-season, he's a deep midfielder who is also eligible to play for Barbados and could possibly be up against teams like Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago in future.

1) How does a Canadian like you or Ryan get involved in football rather than ice hockey or baseball?

In Canada you are introduced to every sport at an early age. I tried everything from Basketball, Hockey to Badminton. My father was involved in soccer and really pushed me in that direction and from the age of twelve i knew this is what i wanted to do.

2) Is it true that football (soccer) is growing in North America? What can be done to make it more popular?

Football in North America is certainly growing, there are many kids with the desire to play at a professional level but as they get older this goal becomes extremely hard to achieve because Canada does not have the professional leagues to keep the players motivated and therefore many lose focus and quit playing.

I believe more money has to be put into the sport. First at the youth level to help steer the young players in the right direction and give them the proper training to be able to compete with the European Countries. Then in addition to this, more professional teams must be created throughout the country. Canadian players in particular are forced to leave there own country in order to play the sport they love. If players believe there is something to look forward to, they will aspire to be better and keep there dream alive.

3) Can you give us a quick summary of your career to date? What clubs have you played at and how did you end up at Nonthaburi?

USA University soccer till the age of twenty one, I received a full soccer scholarship.
Hungary for a team called Papa Lombard.
Canada Magic Soccer Club and Erin Mills FC
Denmark HIK
Hungary Integral Dac FC and Soroksar FC
Canada York Region Shooters
Nonthaburi FC
When I last was in Canada, a former teammate of mine Dave Simpson was playing for Chonburi FC and put me in touch with some people here in Thailand. I came over, played a match against Nonthaburi Fc and was invited to the team.

4) What have been the high and low points of your career?

I believe the high points to my career are anytime i am outside of Canada being able to play overseas pursuing my dream. So Being in Hungary and Now Thailand are both great times to me.
Low points, both times leaving Hungary not quite knowing what my next move would be. In this business you just have to keep working hard and hope things will work themselves out. As long as you put in the work and continue to play at a high level, things will workout for you.

5) Moving on to Nonthaburi FC matters, how satisfied are you and the squad with the first half of the season?

Nonthaburi FC, the first half of the season was a struggle. Trying to adjust and learn how to play in the coaches system was a little difficult but we had the talent and should have finished in the top three.

6) How is the mood in the camp generally and how much of a problem is the language barrier in communication on and off the pitch?

The players are happy, I believe the camaraderie is much better now. We are able to communicate more with certain players who speak English but generally i think everyone has the same goal and we are able to read eachother on the field. Off the field we are slowly learning some Thai words so we can make one or two jokes with our teammates.

7) Any message for the fans?

For our loyal EKA fans, thank you for your support. Thank you for making Ryan and myself feel at home. Everytime we step on the field we feel as though we are in a home match and that really helps. We will continue to fight for you and try to catch a playoff spot.

Thanks again to Jelani for his time. 

Monday, 11 July 2011

Nonthaburi 0 Thai Fleet 0 - report

Nonthaburi stumbled to a goaless draw against a distinctly average-looking Fleet side that were surely there for the taking in a lackluster game at Wat Boat that was painfully short on memorable incidents.

As usual this season, Eka had more of the ball but still desperately lacked a poacher to capitalise on so much possession. In many earlier games the skill of crowd favourite Prasop and Sathit have seen us through, but in this game both players were suspended, exacerbating the attacking problems .

The one incident that stays in memory was when a ball looped up high in the sky and dropped down right onto the head of a poor ball-boy. Hope he's OK now.

It's a shame that we haven't addressed the lack of poacher problem in mid-season but full credit to all the players who work hard up to the final whistle. We have to hope that Prasop and Sathit can return and score us enough goals to make the play-offs and no doubt the fans will stay right behind the team all the way through.

Another report is here

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Chamchuree United 1 Nonthaburi FC 2 - video

Chamchuree United 1 Nonthaburi FC 2 - report

Eka overturned Chamchuree United in a “stormy” game in every sense. Most of the action occurred in the second half and the only memory of the opening 45 minutes is of torrential rain that threatened to ruin the contest towards half time. Luckily, the astro-surface at Chulalongkorn Stadium copes with rain far better than the Thunderdome at Muang Thong and when the rain began to ease (not stop) the surface was playable again within ten minutes. It may not be the choice of purists, but could astroturf be the way forward for tropical Thailand?

Nonthaburi took the lead about ten minutes into the second half from a close range volley by Prasop that the home goalie couldn’t hold on to. By now the ref was starting to look nervous and many innocuous incidents turned into free kicks or other advantages for the home side. As CC piled on the pressure under the still pouring rain, a breakaway Eka attack resulted in a free kick that was curled in towards Korawaut, completely missed by the striker and glided into the net! CC didn’t lay back and the nervous officiating continued, while a challenge on Jelani Grant that was so high it almost took his ear off went unpunished. In injury time, CC scored a low, curled shot and somehow during the celebrations, Eka’s goalscorer Prasop was given a red card. A scuffle ensued and Eka staff stepped over the touchline to join in the yelling.

The game ended shortly after but as CC players came to greet the away fans, a very small number of Eka fans - who had seemed somewhat overzealous and abusive for most of the game - continued to yell “chi-gong” at the home players. It seemed to die down as the rest of the away support clapped the home players off but then trouble flared.

I missed the flashpoint but I’m told that one CC player threw a water bottle at away fans - though not with real force - and as Eka fans bawled at him, he gave the middle finger. He also refused to walk into the tunnel and continued to stand and stare (though not gesture or yell) at the away fans as they struggled to get to him. Eventually the situation was calmed down by fellow fans and club staff, no thanks to the player who acted so unprofessionally and should have been big enough to just walk away.

It was a shame to see a small number of fans, home players and coaching staff setting bad examples, but I think it will be an isolated incident and it musn’t distract from three excellent away points, another good show of teamwork and a real effort by both sides to play football under very difficult decisions. Great work lads, can’t wait for the next game.

Man of the Match: Sathit, Nonthaburi’s answer to Teeerasil Dangda. He’s one of a bunch of Eka players who could hold his own at a higher level.

All photo credits: Getidea Ka

Sathit outflanks his marker down the left wing.

Defending a free kick.

The players 'planked' after both goals. I'd prefer a pubpeab!

Eka staff approach the ref at full time.

Away support, noisy for the whole game!