New manager should stick to his own job (April 02, 2008)

Thailand's World Cup dreams turned into a nightmare last Wednesday when they lost 1-0 to Oman in a qualifier at Rajamangala National Stadium for the 2010 finals in South Africa.

It was Thailand's second defeat in as many games after they were hammered 4-1 in Japan in their opener. Winless Thailand are rooted to bottom of Group B. Bahrain, with two wins, are leaders on six points followed by Japan and Oman who each have three points. Two teams from each advance to Asia's final qualifying stages for the 2010 World Cup.

A lapse of concentration led to Oman scoring after just 26 seconds.

After conceding the early goal, the Thais had no choice but for an all-out attack.

Thailand had several chances to equalise but their efforts were denied by Bolton goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi. But you could not say Thailand had no luck as Oman also squandered chances to put the matter beyond doubt.

The only good thing about Thailand's heartbreaking defeat was Rajamangala National Stadium was nearly packed to its capacity, which is rarely seen.

Credit to Pinit Ngampring, chairman of the Cheer Thai Club, who has campaigned for Thais to watch their own national football team.

This proves that Thai fans are still eager to support their national side if they look to have a future. Now that Thailand's future looks doomed, it is doubtful how long the kingdom will enjoy such support.

Thailand, who are still looking for their first-ever World Cup appearance, are in a coma and cannot afford any more slip-ups if they are to keep their slim hopes alive.

Thailand's remaining fixtures are - Bahrain (home) on June 2, Bahrain (away) on June 7, Japan (home) on June 14 and Oman (away) on June 22.

Oman are considered the weakest side among Thailand's three opponents in the group. If the side can't beat them, can they defeat Japan and Bahrain?

When Japan lost 1-0 at Bahrain on the same night, Thailand's situation became worse as the Japanese may have to go for a win in Bangkok.

By that time, Japan should be at full strength with the return of their Europe-based stars particularly Celtic midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura.

However, by the time Thailand face Japan, the Thais may be out after two encounters with Bahrain who lost to Trinidad and Tobago in a play-off for the 2006 World Cup.

Apart from losing to Oman, Thailand also lost their manager Kittiratt Na Ranong who quit after the game to shoulder responsibility.

To be fair, Thailand's preparations had improved since Kittiratt took the job in June last year.

For example, travel arrangements were better.

This was unlike in the past when the team sometimes had to sleep at the airport while awaiting transit.

When he had time, Kittiratt, along with football experts, even went to watch opponents play to gather information for the coach.

The Oman defeat was not his fault at all as the responsibility should go to the coach. But Kittiratt's mistake was probably he talked too much.

He promised on several occasions that he would resign as team manager if Thailand failed to beat Oman.

One may wonder why he had to say so. It would have been better if he had said nothing at all and then quit after the setback.

Before Thailand played Japan, Kittiratt said Thailand could beat the Japanese on their home soil.

It turned out to be a humiliating defeat for Thailand.

Like several Thailand managers before him particularly Thavatchai Sajakul, Kittiratt often talked about the team's game plan and possible line-up.

Worawi Makudi, president of the Football Association of Thailand (FAT), said he was not in a hurry to appoint a new manager.

However, he should set the manager's clear-cut job description.

The manager should look after administration.

He should not be allowed to give comments on footballing matters to avoid confusion as this should be the coach's job.