Thailand not ready for World Cup Finals

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Updated: March 22, 2016
Gary Stevens Iraq v Thailand

Thailand need a point against Iraq to secure a place in the next round of qualifiers, but I don’t see them making the World Cup proper. It’s a step too far for them at the moment. I went to their home game against Iraq last September at the Rajamangala Stadium and the Iraqis were quicker, sharper and technically better, but somehow Thailand drew the game 2-2. It was a great result for them. After they went a goal down, and then two, I thought “here we go”, but they surprised everyone. The fans were great and got behind them.

I’d love to see them win away against Iraq on Thursday, but it will be a tough game. Over there they will rely on their keeper Kawin a lot. I really believe he could play at a higher level and has gone well for Muangthong this season. He’s probably the most impressive Thai player in the domestic league.

As for the other Thai players, little “Messi Jay” (Chanathip Songkrasin) gets rave reviews as he has quick feet and is clever on the ball, but at international level you find that even the big defenders that look sluggish are that bit more intelligent.

Thailand also rely on Teerasil Dangda, their main striker. He had a spell in Spain with Almeria a few years ago, but I heard from a few friends out there that he didn’t really fit into the Spanish lifestyle and preferred to go to Asian restaurants. When you go abroad, you need to embrace it, like me eating my 40 baht noodles! In all seriousness, it’s important to do that. It broadens your horizons as a person and as a player. I would like to see more Thai players going abroad, it would only benefit the game here.

So we’re on a break from the league at the moment, and you have to say the schedule is incredibly difficult for the players. We’ve had four games in two weeks, then we’re off for two weeks, followed by another two games in four or five days, then another break for three weeks! You can get some strange results with a schedule like that. The break can be beneficial for coaches if the time is used wisely to work on players’ development etc. But most clubs seem to organise friendlies. I think that is an opportunity missed for managers.

I experienced this disruption as a coach in Thailand. I had never come across it before in other countries. What do you do: organise a friendly or give the players a few days off? Actually I think it’s an opportunity to do technical work, but most coaches miss the chance.

I’ve watched a good few matches in the Premier League so far this season, and no surprises that Muangthong have started well, though it was a shock result for them losing to BEC Tero at home. And it was nice to see little Baggio get up to score two headers from corners for Sukhothai at Chonburi. In football people always talk about getting up big and getting your head on the ball, but it’s not always about the tallest player or getting up highest. As Baggio showed, it’s often about clever movement in the box and the delivery of the ball.

John Baggio Chonburi v Sukhothai

John Baggio scoring for Sukhothai against Chonburi

As for the other teams, Bangkok Glass have started well, and are one of the contenders for honours this season. They have a big advantage at home, playing on a synthetic pitch. The others teams are not used to it. But they also picked up a good three points at Chainat and their away form needs to be better than last season.

Buriram have been disappointing in the AFC Champions League. I’d love to see them do well as I still have aspirations of working in Thai football and I want to see a strong league here. But they’ve lost confidence and got another bad beating, this time in Japan at Sanfreece Hiroshima. I saw the game and it was one way traffic for the Japanese. The big centre back Tunez didn’t play for Buriram, and they badly missed him. So it’s played three, lost three for them. It’s been disappointing following their decent campaign in Asia last season.

On another note, I often get asked when I will be coming back into management in Thailand. All I can say is I’m confident opportunities will present themselves as the season progresses, but these things are out of my control, so I don’t stress about it. In the meantime, I’m enjoying life here in Bangkok and chok dee to Thailand against Iraq on Thursday night!

 

Gary Stevens is a former England international and two-time manager in the Premier League of Thailand. He currently lives in Bangkok.

 

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Thai Goals, ThaiGoals, Thailand Soccer, Thai Football, Premier League of Thailand, Thai Fixtures, Thailand National Team, Thai Grounds, Thai Division One

Thai Goals

Thai Regional League, Thai FA Cup, Thai League Cup, AFC Champions League, AFC

ThaiGoals, Thailand Soccer, Thai Football, Premier League of Thailand, Thai Fixtures

Thailand National Team, Thai Grounds, Thai Division One, Thai Regional League, Thai FA Cup, Thai League Cup

ThaiGoals, Thailand Soccer, Thai Football, Premier League of Thailand, Thai Fixtures
Thai Regional League, Thai FA Cup, Thai League Cup, AFC Champions League, AFC
Thai Goals, Thailand National Team, Thai Grounds, Thai Division One, Thai Regional League, Thai FA Cup, Thai League Cup< ThaiGoals, Thailand Soccer, Thai Football, Premier League of Thailand, Thai Fixtures ThaiGoals, Thailand Soccer, Thai Football, Premier League of Thailand, Thai Fixtures
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