FAT chief Somyot Poompunmuang, centre, and Ekkono executive Mikael Ferrero, second right, during the contract signing event.
While the Football Association of Thailand made another ambitious move to fulfil its World Cup dream on Tuesday, former national team coach Kiatisak Senamuang lashed out at FAT officials and fans whose criticism led to his resignation.
Kiatisak, 43, announced his resignation as national team coach on Friday after his men were hammered 3-0 at home by Saudi Arabia and thrashed 4-0 by Japan in Saitama in World Cup qualifiers.
The results were described by FAT president Somyot Poompunmuang as “embarrassing”.
With the losses, Thailand remain bottom of Group B in Asia’s final qualifying stage for the 2018 World Cup and are already out of contention with three games left.
“I quit as coach of the Thai national team on March 31 for the FAT to move forward. I apologise that I could not take Thailand to the World Cup in one year,” he said in his first interview since his departure.
“The target is too high. It is difficult to reach the target so I quit to open way for another person to do the job. There are wins, losses and draws in sports. We cannot always win. We lost matches but won fans’ hearts. It is the FAT president and its executive board who passed judgement on me.
“We may forget who we are. Everybody wants to play at the World Cup finals but we have to know ourselves. When we lose, it is not that everybody can scold at us.”
He added: “I was a national player for 15 years and national coach for five years for a total of 20 years and I had never thought about quitting. But I can’t accept this [criticism] and I think I have made the right decision.”
Kiatisak guided the Kingdom to two Suzuki Cup titles and one SEA Games gold medal, although some critics said he was only good at the Southeast Asian level and was out of his depth on the higher stage.
“These days, winning the SEA Games and Suzuki Cup is not easy. There will be the SEA Games in Malaysia in August and we should wait and see if Thailand can win the title,” he said.
He criticised the FAT for not investing in football development and said a large number of the current national team’s players were developed by previous FAT president Worawi Makudi, who first appointed him as coach of the U23 side in 2013.
“I have told the FAT president [Somyot] to develop young players but I don’t know what he has done,” Kiatisak said.
He said he would take a coaching course and would return to football.
Meanwhile, FAT president Somyot yesterday signed a contract with Ekkono Method Soccer Services for the Spanish firm to help groom young Thai players with the ultimate aim of steering Thailand to the 2026 World Cup.
Ekkono executive Mikael Ferrero represented the company at the signing ceremony.
Bangkok Thonburi University is part of the project as it has donated a 22-rai plot of land for the FAT to build a national young football development centre.
Barcelona-based Ekkono will send their coaches to look after Thailand’s junior teams.
Julian Marin Bazalo will coach the U21 side, Oriol Alcazar will be in charge of the U19 team, Lorente Sola will supervise the U16s and Salvador Valero Garcia will oversee the U14s.
“The signing of the contract is to lay the foundation for football development from the youth level,” Somyot said.
“We want to see these players take us to the World Cup finals in 2026.”
Ekkono will only work for the FAT in youth development and will not have any role in the full national team, Somyot said.
Fifa will increase the number of World Cup participants from the current 32 to 48 in 2026.
Asia is expected to get eight finals berths, up from the present four or five spots. This would give Thailand, as well as other minnows, a higher chance of playing at the World Cup.
Thailand have never qualified for the World Cup finals.
Ekkono has worked with several countries and clubs including Japan, China, Finland, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain.
Among the players it has helped to develop are Carlos Puyol, Jodi Alba, Gerard Pique and Cesc Fabregas.
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