Watanya steps down as boss of U23 team
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Watanya steps down as boss of U23 team

Resignation in line with FAT policy to do away with managers' position

Thai football chief Somyot Poompunmuang gives Watanya Wongopasi a bouquet of flowers yesterday.
Thai football chief Somyot Poompunmuang gives Watanya Wongopasi a bouquet of flowers yesterday.

Watanya Wongopasi has resigned as the national U23 team manager to allow the Football Association of Thailand (FAT) to pursue its policy of bringing an end to the tradition of appointing non-technical officials to the helm of the country's squads.

Watanya served as the manager of the Thai team which recently qualified for the final stages of the AFC U23 Championship in China.

She also managed the team when they retained their title at last month's 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games, which was restricted to players aged under 22.

Affectionately called "Madame Dear" by the Thai press, Watanya announced her resignation at a press conference which followed a 40-minute long meeting with FAT president Pol Gen Somyot Poompunmuang at the association's headquarters yesterday.

Somyot lauded Watanya's contributions to the country.

He said: "I would like to thank Khun Dear [her nickname] for her time and hard work.

"She never disappointed the FAT during her time as the team manager.

"Her appointment -- and that of team coach Worrawoot Srimaka -- was criticised by many senior people in the Thai football circles who lacked confidence in their ability.

"But in the end, we did win the SEA Games gold medal and made the Thai people happy.

"I have been vindicated as having chosen the right people, and that my faith in them wasn't misplaced.

"Today, Khun Dear has confirmed to me that she agrees with the FAT's policy of not appointing any team managers in the future and has therefore decided to step down from the U23 team manager position for the AFC U23 Championship next year.

"This is not the end of her career in football as I am sure we will be working together again in the future."

Watanya said: "It was an honour for me to be appointed the manager of a very talented squad.

"For the past one year, I worked very hard as the team manager. We had a good relationship among members of the team.

"The FAT has a clear policy in developing the future teams, so I thought it's in the best interest of everyone involved that I should resign and let the association continue its work without any problems.

"Although I am no longer the team manager, I will still go to the AFC Asian U23 Championship in China next year and give moral support to the squad.

"We have all been together for a long time so those family-like ties still exist. I would love to see these players become successful in the future."

Watanya was appointed as the manager of the U23 squad last year and worked together with team coach Worrawoot.

During Watanya's reign, the U23 team won the Nations Cup in Malaysia and Dubai Cup in the UAE last year, qualified for the finals of the AFC U23 Championship in China next year, and successfully defended their SEA Games title in Malaysia last month.

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