Breaking many Thai hearts, former coach Kiatisak “Zico” Senamuang won’t be returning to the team.
Pol Lt Kiatisak told a Channel 3 interviewer on Monday that he has no ambition to return to the War Elephants any time soon.
He has one of the best coaching records of all time, and Thai fans have made it clear on social media that they hope strongly for his return.
But it won’t happen, at least for now, and Sirisak is in charge.
Of note, Kiatisak did tell the interviewer on Monday that if he were Thailand coach, he would promote young players as starters for the next two matches.
The Football Association of Thailand (FAT) appointed Sirisak to take charge of the national team at the continental championship Monday after it sacked coach Milovan Rajevac following the War Elephants’ humiliating 4-1 loss to India in their opening Group A match in Abu Dhabi last Sunday night (Jan 6).
India’s Sunil Chhetri scored twice as the Blue Tigers outplayed and outclassed the Thais.
“It is an honour to be given the duty. I will do my best although it is a tough job,” said Sirisak, 49.
“We will fight for all Thai fans.”
Thailand will play Bahrain tomorrow (Thursday, Jan 10) and meet the hosts UAE next Monday (Jan 14) at 11pm Thailand time. Bahrain drew 1-1 with the hosts in their first game last Saturday.
“We will give our all in the remaining two group games for the Thai fans. We are underdogs against both Bahrain and the UAE. But we hope to get two points from the two games for the happiness of the Thai fans,” said the former Thai Honda coach.
Sirisak, who has been serving as Rajevac’s assistant since the Serb was named coach of Thailand in 2017, talked to Rajevac after he was fired.
“I thanked him for giving me football knowledge and new experience,” Sirisak said.
“He told me to work harder as head coach. He wished us good luck in the remaining two games and said he would give the Thai national team moral support.”
Hours after Thailand’s loss to India, FAT president Somyot Poompunmuang fired Rajevac.
“We are playing in the biggest football competition in Asia. This is something we have waited for very long and the FA Thailand has fully supported the preparations of the national team to reach its highest potential before the competition with the intention of producing better results than before," Somyot said in a statement.
“But the result [against India] is not what is expected of the Thai national team and that our supporters deserve. As president of the football association, I cannot stand still with this problem.
“I would like to announce the termination of the contract of the head coach of the Thai national team, Milovan Rajevac, and also announce the appointment of Sirisak Yodyardthai to perform the duties with the team.”
Choketawee Promrut has been appointed as Sirisak’s assistant.
Rajevac’s job was on the line since two-time defending champions Thailand’s disappointing semi-final exit in the AFF Suzuki Cup last month.
Rajevac, who turned 65 on Jan 2, is well known for guiding Ghana to the quarter-finals of the 2010 World Cup.
A large number of fans have also called on FAT head Somyot to resign.
Earlier, Rajevac was left shell-shocked by Thailand’s horror show against underdogs India, whose veteran striker Chhetri scored twice, overtaking Lionel Messi’s 65 international goals for Argentina in the process.
Lamenting his side’s abject display, Rajevac admitted that India were worthy winners.
“They were phenomenal – they ran more, were more aggressive and wanted it more,” he said.
“They absolutely deserved to win. But we underperformed, especially in the second half.”
Rajevac was criticised for his defensive style but the Serb clearly felt otherwise after watching Thailand overrun by a hungry India side.
“It’s not always about technical ability and skill on the ball,” he said. “We lacked power, strength and aggression. We need to put more pressure on the ball and show more passion.”
Thailand, appearing for the first time since co-hosting the Asian Cup in 2007, have now won just one of 21 games at the continent’s showcase competition.
Cricket-mad India find themselves as unlikely leaders of Group A thanks to their first Asian Cup win in 55 years.
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