The long-delayed agreement prompted similar headlines in the Thai media such as ‘Drama ends’ and ‘Saga over’.
Kiatisak’s previous one-year deal expired at the end of January and the man who is affectionately called ‘Zico’ had refused to sign a new contract, prompting Somyot to demand that Kiatisak ink it by last Tuesday (Feb 28) or he would look for another coach.
It was reported that Kiatisak, 43, wanted the FAT to shoulder his taxes but Somyot refused to yield to his demand, saying the coach must play by the FAT’s rules.
In fact, Kiatisak had no choice but to accept the new contract.
He reportedly receives two million baht a month. Although he was linked to several clubs and countries, it was not likely that he would get such a handsome sum elsewhere.
Working with Thailand has made him a famous coach – and a rich man.
Thanks to his success with Thailand, he has appeared in numerous TV commercials ranging from chicken essence and energy drinks to mobile phone systems and cars.
Kiatisak had never received such lucrative endorsements even when he was at the height of his playing career when he was the country’s best forward.
Having failed at several clubs in the early stages of his coaching career, the former national team striker became an instant hit after he was appointed coach of the Thai U23 side in 2013.
Only months after taking the job, he guided Thailand to the gold medal at the SEA Games in Myanmar, ending the Kingdom’s six-year title drought in the biennial tournament.
He also guided the U23 team to fourth place at the 2014 Asian Games.
Kiatisak was named coach of the full national team after reaching the semi-finals at the 2014 Asiad.
He soon became successful in that position when he steered Thailand to win the 2014 Suzuki Cup, ending the country’s 12-year wait to regain the title.
Under him, Thailand retained the Southeast Asian crown in December.
However, the new contract could be Kiatisak’s last with the FAT as it seems that Somyot wants a new national team boss to fulfil his ambition of pushing the country to a higher standard and ultimately secure a first-ever World Cup berth.
Shortly after the Suzuki Cup triumph in December, Somyot was quoted as saying that the country needed changes to move to another level.
At the same time, there were reports that the FAT would replace Kiatisak with Argentina’s Alejandro Sabella who guided his country to second place at the 2014 World Cup.
Somyot was quick to dismiss the reports, saying he was not going to cut ties with Kiatisak and that the FAT had not approached Sabella.
The fact that Kiatisak has been given only another one-year contract may signal that Somyot does not want him to remain as national coach for too long.
Somyot argues that the length of the contract is irrelevant as if the coach does well he will definitely get a new one.
He has reiterated that the coach’s performance and the team’s results are more important than the length of the coach’s contract.
Later this year, Somyot may have a legitimate reason to sack Kiatisak if he so desires.
Thailand will resume their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign later this month, having only one point from their first five games in their six-team group.
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