Schaefer meets FAT president Somyot, eyes comeback

Schaefer meets FAT president Somyot, eyes comeback

FAT president Somyot Poompunmuang (right) shakes hands with Winfried Schaefer.

Former national team coach Winfried Schaefer had a 30-minute meeting with Football Association of Thailand president Pol Gen Somyot Poompunmuang on Monday, adding credibility to the speculation that the German veteran is plotting a comeback.

The job of the national team coach became vacant on Friday when Kiatisak Senamuang resigned.

Kiatisak, a former Thailand striker, enjoyed a successful four-year stint at the Southeast Asian level, but the team’s performance on the Asian stage left much to be desired.

Thailand are at the bottom of Group B in the final phase of Asian qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup after suffering six losses and drawing only one match in their seven outings so far. The other teams in the group are Japan, Saudi Arabia, Australia, the United Arab Emirates and Iraq.

Recent heavy defeats to Saudi Arabia and Japan ended Thailand’s hopes for a place at Russia 2018 and led to Kiatisak quitting the job just a little over a month into his new one-year contract.

After the meeting with Somyot, Schaefer said: “We talked about many things. I am now under the impression that the FAT president loves football and wants to see the sport develop continuously in the country.

“In fact, I share his views and also want to see Thai football grow. I hope there will be more discussions among us in the future.”

Schaefer, who coached Thailand for three years before departing in 2013 without a silverware, was reluctant to discuss his chances but made it clear that he was keen to make a comeback.

“Of course, I haven’t come here without a hope, but I can’t say more on this because the decision does not rest on me,” said Schaefer, who coached Jamaica from 2013-2015.

He added: “The Thai football fans know what I have done for the national team in the past, when I worked hard to bring success to them. I am hoping to do it once again.

“I can’t say if I will be returning as the head coach of the Thailand team, but I have presented my plans to the FAT chief today.

“The most important thing is to develop young players. When I was the head coach of the national team many years ago, Thailand had many young players who were ready to become future stars.

“In football, you have to see things on a long term basis. You have to give chances to young players. This is what I want to do with the Thai team.”

The 67-year-old German coach however faces a stiff competition as some big names are reportedly interested in the job as well.

According to reports, the other candidates include former Japan coach Takeshi Okada, former Argentine manager Alejandro Sabella, Makoto Teguramori, who coached the Japanese U23 team, former SCG Muang Thong United boss Dragan Talajic, former Algeria coach Milovan Rajevac and ex-Japan manager Philippe Troussier.

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