Polking appointed as national coach

Polking appointed as national coach

German 'ticks all the boxes,' says Nualphan

Coach Mano Polking will lead the Thai national team at the AFF Suzuki Cup.
Coach Mano Polking will lead the Thai national team at the AFF Suzuki Cup.

Mano Polking has been appointed as coach of the national team, the Football Association of Thailand (FAT) announced on Tuesday.

The former coach of Thai League 1 side Bangkok United was handpicked by Thailand manager Nualphan Lamsam, who oversees the national men's senior and U23 sides.

The 45-year-old German, also known as Alexandre Polking, replaces Japanese coach Akira Nishino, who was sacked in July after the War Elephants were eliminated in the qualifying round for the 2022 World Cup.

Brazil-born Polking will be assisted by former Port coach Jadet Meelarp and former national women's team coach Nuengruethai Srathongwien.

The duo are close to Nualphan who is also Port chairwoman and ex-manager of the Chaba Kaew.

Polking's first task will be the AFF Suzuki Cup in December. The tournament has been postponed from last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nualphan admitted that Polking may not be the best choice but is the most suitable one in the current situation.

With the Suzuki Cup just two months away, Nualphan said Polking "ticked all the boxes."

"With only two months to prepare for the Suzuki Cup, we wanted a coach who understands Thai football and knows Thai players," Nualphan said. "We are confident that with his experience Mano will bring success to the national team."

Terms of the contract were not disclosed but his long-term future with the national side may depend on the War Elephants' performance in the Suzuki Cup. "This is not a master plan and the results in the Suzuki Cup will prove his ability and determine his future with the national team," said Nualphan.

The German tactician has previous experience with the Thai national team, having served as assistant coach from 2012-2013 under compatriot Winfried Schaefer.

Polking, a former winger for Greek clubs Apoel FC and Olympiacos Nicosia, began his managerial career in 2008 as assistant coach at the UAE's Al Ain and Azerbaijan's FC Baku before landing the role with the Thai national team.

He went on to coach several Thai clubs, including the now-defunct Army United, Suphanburi and Bangkok United.

Under Polking, Bangkok United finished second in Thai League 1 in 2016 and 2018 and were runners-up in the FA Cup in 2017. Polking's most recent job was at Vietnamese side Ho Chi Minh City.

In the Suzuki Cup, Thailand are in Group A with Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore and Brunei or Timor Leste. They will open their campaign against Brunei or Timor Leste on Dec 5. The host country has not yet been determined.

Thailand are the most successful nation in the Suzuki Cup with five wins. Vietnam are the defending champions.

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