Thailand sacks coach Polking after defeat by China

By Trung Thu   November 24, 2023 | 03:54 am PT
Thailand sacks coach Polking after defeat by China
Coach Mano Polking and Thailand national team manager Nualphan Lamsam hold the AFF Cup title in 2023. Photo by Football Association of Thailand
Thailand’s national football team manager Nualphan Lamsam, known as Madam Pang, announced the dismissal of coach Mano Polking after the team's defeat against China, impacting their World Cup aspirations.

Polking's potential firing was considered earlier in September following a loss in the King’s Cup to Iraq. However, Lamsam and the team had decided to continue with Polking at that time.

The recent 2-1 loss to China in the 2026 World Cup second qualifying round led to a reassessment by the team and the Football Association of Thailand (FAT).

"The loss to China greatly affected our chances of advancing to the third qualifying round," Lamsam wrote on her Facebook. "I think it's time to change, so that Thailand can prepare better when facing the top teams in Asia."

Lamsam reported to FAT President Somyot Poompanmoung and spoke privately with Polking.

Thailand are currently second in Group C with three points, the same as China but with better goal difference. South Korea top the group with six points while Singapore have yet to earn a point. Thailand still has two matches against South Korea, one match against China and one against Singapore.

Lamsam denied speculation that she abused her power, affirming that she never interfered with the coach's work.

As the manager, she said she only tries to provide the best players for the coach, in addition to creating favorable training conditions and equipment for the team.

She said that the new coach Ishii had proven his ability in the J-League 1 and Thai League 1 with four titles with Kashima Antlers and six titles with Buriram United.

In addition, Japanese football is always appreciated in Thailand, even though Akira Nishino, the first Japanese to coach Thailand, was unsuccessful with the team.

"Ishii is ready to work immediately," Lamsam said. "He is knowledgeable and familiar with most Thailand players."

Japanese coach Masatada Ishii will be Polking’s replacement. Thai newspaper Siam Sport warns that coach Masatada Ishii will face many difficulties taking over the team.

His first match as the head coach of Thailand will be a friendly against Japan on January 1, 2024, followed by the 2024 Asian Cup group stage and the 2026 World Cup second qualifying round.

Madam Pang, 57, is a businessman, politician and billionaire. She is a fifth-generation Lamsam, one of Thailand’s wealthiest families.

In 2008, she became the manager of Thai women's football and helped the team qualify for the World Cup in 2015 and 2019.

In 2015, she became the chairwoman of Port FC and was appointed the manager of the Thailand men’s national team and U23 team in 2021.

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