Nishino braced for 'new challenge'

Nishino braced for 'new challenge'

Japanese skipper vows to do his best to make Thai men's football side competitive with Asia's best

Football Association of Thailand president Pol Gen Somyot Poompunmuang presents a T-shirt bearing the name of the new national men’s team coach after Akira Nishino signed his contract in Tokyo on Friday. (Football Association of Thailand photo)
Football Association of Thailand president Pol Gen Somyot Poompunmuang presents a T-shirt bearing the name of the new national men’s team coach after Akira Nishino signed his contract in Tokyo on Friday. (Football Association of Thailand photo)

Japan’s Akira Nishino formally signed his contract to take over as head coach of the Thai national and U23 men’s teams and vowed to do his best to make the War Elephants competitive with the top football nations in Asia.

The Football Association of Thailand (FAT) was represented by its president, Pol Gen Somyot Poompunmuang, at the contract signing ceremony in Tokyo.

The War Elephants had been without a full-time coach since Milovan Rajevac was sacked following a disappointing 2019 Asian Cup campaign in January.

Nishino, who guided the Samurai Blue to the last 16 at the 2018 World Cup but stepped down after the tournament in Russia to serve as technical director of the Japan Football Association, said he is happy to make a comeback as a coach.

“Asian football now has a very high standard and the competition is tougher, but I have experience in coaching some J-League clubs and the Japanese national teams,” he said.

“I had the opportunity to interact with coaches from other countries at the World Cup and was able to learn a great deal from them as well.

“I have never worked abroad, so this job presents a new challenge to me and I know it won’t be easy at all.

“I will try my best to help the Thai national team become strong enough to be able to fight against some of the top Asian sides, including the Japanese national team.

“I had a long discussion with the FAT president earlier and was briefed about the plans they have to develop football in Thailand.”

Nishino said he needed to understand Thai football and the existing system in the country first.

“I watched some Thai League 1 matches [last month], and I think there are many things to do and there is a lot for me to learn as well,” he said. “I know that there is not much time at our disposal before the World Cup qualifying tournament gets under way [on Sept 5].

“I will try to put together the strongest team possible, but I know that all Asean sides always make an extra effort to beat the Thai national team. It’s not going to be easy because the United Arab Emirates are also a very strong team.

“We also have other major tournaments like the SEA Games and AFC U23 Championship.

“Besides taking on Vietnam and Indonesia in our first two World Cup qualifiers, we will also have the SEA Games and AFC U23 tournament to worry about and these are different propositions.”

Pol Gen Somyot said the FAT would support the new coach in every possible way.

“I am sure that Mr Nishino will use his vast football experience and help us prepare the Thai national teams for the future challenges as he did for the Japanese national team, helping them create good results at the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia.

“Thailand and Japan have a good relationship together for a long time. We hope that we can work together with Mr Nishino and improve our ties even further.”


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