Thailand head coach worried by new coach of Vietnam

By Hieu Luong   May 22, 2024 | 04:30 pm PT
Thailand head coach Masatada Ishii considers new Vietnam coach Kim Sang-sik a mystery, and appreciates Indonesia’s chances in the 2024 ASEAN Cup, formerly the AFF Cup.

Ishii has been the head coach of Thailand since December 2023 and took no time to create a positive effect, bringing the team to the round of 16 of the 2023 Asian Cup.

In the second qualifying round of the 2026 World Cup in March, Thailand drew 1-1 with South Korea then lost 3-0 at home.

Ishii was in Hanoi to attend the draw for the 2024 ASEAN Cup group stage on Tuesday.

Responding to the press, he refused to evaluate Vietnam's chance of winning the title, but said dismissing coach Philippe Troussier early and appointing coach Kim Sang-sik may have negative and positive impacts on the team.

"I'm a little worried because of the new Vietnamese coach," Ishii said.

"I don't know what his style is, how he works or what his tactics are."

Thailand coach Masatada Ishii (L) and Vietnam coach Kim Sang-sik at the 2024 ASEAN Cup group stage draw on May 21, 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Hieu Luong

Thailand coach Masatada Ishii (L) and Vietnam coach Kim Sang-sik at the 2024 ASEAN Cup group stage draw on May 21, 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Hieu Luong

Thailand have won the AFF Cup seven times, and in the last two editions, they beat Vietnam on the way to the title.

In 2020, Thailand beat Vietnam 2-0 in the semi-finals when the tournament was held in Singapore. In the 2022 final, Thailand drew 2-2 in the first leg at My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi, then won 1-0 in the second leg at home.

In the 2024 edition, Thailand and Vietnam are the number one seeds, so they are put in different groups.

Thailand are in Group A, considered easier, with Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia and the winner of the play-off between Brunei and Timor Leste.

Vietnam will face Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines and Laos in Group B.

Coach Ishii appreciates Indonesia, the team led by South Korean coach Shin Tae-yong.

"Indonesia played well and achieved positive results in the U23 Asian Cup. Indonesian football is much more advanced now and will continue to improve. I think they will get better and better," he said.

The 2024 AFF Cup will witness the battles between East Asian coaches. Japan has Ishii (Thailand) and Tsutomu Ogura (Singapore). South Korea has Kim Sang-sik (Vietnam), Shin Tae-yong (Indonesia) and Kim Pan-gon (Malaysia). However, Ishii believes that there should be no distinction between which country the coach comes from, because they all want to help Southeast Asian football develop.

After his retirement in 1998, Ishii pursued a coaching career but it was not until 2015 that he won his first title, the J. League Cup with Kashima Antlers.

A year later, his club won the J1 League and the Emperor's Cup titles, and finished as runner-up in the FIFA Club World Cup, losing 4-2 to Real Madrid in the final. In that year, Ishii was named the best coach in the J1 League.

In 2019, Ishii went to Thailand to coach Samut Prakan City and then Buriram United from 2021-2023.

He helped Buriram win the treble twice - Thai League 1, Thai FA Cup and Thai League Cup - in the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 seasons, and was named the best coach in Thai League 1 twice.

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