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Coronavirus-induced hiatus could help Thai foobtallers

Coronavirus-induced hiatus could help Thai foobtallers

FOOTBALL: These are depressing times for everyone. In sport, fans around the world watch aghast as events continue to be called off by the hour due to the unabated spread of coronavirus.

By Bangkok Post

Monday 16 March 2020, 10:00AM

Players of the Thai national football team pose before a 2022 World Cup qualifier in Bangkok last year. Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill

Players of the Thai national football team pose before a 2022 World Cup qualifier in Bangkok last year. Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill

Football leagues around the world including the Premier League, Formula One, NBA, golf, tennis, rugby have all fallen victim to COVID-19 as the recent weekend almost devoid of sporting activity was a strange one.

A major question is whether the 2020 Olympic Games will take place in Japan from July 24 through Aug 9, as scheduled.

At this point in time, there is no absolute answer to the query.

The Olympic flame lighting ceremony in Greece was held without spectators on Thursday (Mar 12), marking the start of the traditional torch relay.

Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, has insisted that the Games are on course to begin in late July, but the tone of some of the leading officials of the Japanese organising committee has changed considerably during the course of this week.

In Thailand, there have also been a number of high-profile casualties, with the postponement of the Thailand MotoGP race in Buri Ram and the decision to put the domestic football leagues on hold until after mid-April topping the list.

The Thailand Grand Prix, the most-attended event on the MotoGP calendar for two years in a row in 2018 and 2019, has been rescheduled to be contested on Oct 4 and the Thai League 1 returns on April 18.

Also affected were the Thailand national team’s Asian qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup which were due to be staged this month and in June.

While it is too early to be optimistic about a quick resumption of the Thai League 1 hostilities, this usavoury hiatus caused by the unfortunate coronavirus outbreak does present one man with an excellent opportunity to build upon his recent mixed-but-somewhat-successful results.

Thailand football coach Akira Nishino has messed up his team selections on a handful of occasions and has openly admitted his mistakes a few times.

One can’t actually blame Nishino for this as the veteran coach, who has the distinction of taking his native Japan to the 2018 World Cup last 16 round in Russia, hasn’t had much opportunity to be with the Thai players.

With the league matches on hold, the Football Association of Thailand (FAT) can negotiate with the clubs for the release of some of the top footballers in the country to undergo training under Nishino.

The way these Thai training camps are organised, presence of team’s medical staff and secluded nature of their training sites are unlikely to put these players at a bigger risk of contacting the COVID-19 virus than they already are at their clubs.

After all, the Kingdom’s athletes from different disciplines are all getting on with their training regimes for the Tokyo Games as announced by the Sports Authority of Thailand on Thursday.

This should allow Nishino to get to know the strengths and weaknesses of his players better to get his future line-ups right.

Maybe this would help him bring the best out of young players like Supachok Sarachart, Supachai Jaided, Suppanut Muenta, and a number of others who have largely been living under the shadow of foreign players at their clubs.

And may be this would allow the players to get to know each other better, read each other’s body language better so there are no longer any complaints of a lack of understanding among the team members during key battles.

And maybe, just maybe, this would help the Thais realise their dream of making it to the final stages of the World Cup finals in the not too distant future.

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