Football fans pour frustrations online (09/12/2010)

Disgruntled fans resorted to the cyber-world to express their displeasure with the downfall of the national football team at the Asean Championship .

Thailand's floundering campaign at the tournament, which is held every two years, eventually sank after a 2-1 loss to hosts Indonesia in their final Group A match, which sealed the Thais' fate. It is the second time since 2004 that the country widely regarded as the front runner in the region failed to survive the group stage.
The premature exit at the championship provided compelling evidence of Thai football's sharp decline. It came hot on the heels of a first-round exit at the Laos-hosted SEA Games last year, the first time in 36 years the country bidding to win the title for the ninth consecutive time failed to survive the group stage of the regional sporting event.

Given such disappointing performances, the public's discontent appeared understandable. But people preferred to direct their criticism at the poor management of the Football Association of Thailand (FAT) rather than the players.

Much of the criticism was aimed at the head of the organisation, Worawi Makudi. There were calls for his resignation given that the Thai side are yet to achieve any significant success since his appointment three years ago.

The Thai side's latest failure was hotly debated by the online community. Fans have also used social networks to organise a protest at FAT headquarters in Supachalasai Stadium on December 19, with many already signed up to participate.

Another set of fans have opened a Facebook group inviting people to gather at Channel 3 television station at Maleenont Tower on Saturday. They plan to submit a demand for structural change at the FAT during the morning news talk programme "Rueang Lao Chao Nee".

One message posted on the page read, "The current FAT executive board should manage football at the kindergarten," while another said, "Withaya Laohakul to be the new FAT president."

Worawi, however, confirmed he had no intention to step down from the post and believed the association had nothing to do with the on-field failure.

"The schedule put us in trouble, resulting in poor preparation of the team," he said. "We cannot blame anyone because the political problems and the weather caused congestion of the games towards the end of the domestic season."

Worawi said the new League Cup competition was "not a problem" because there was a rule forbidding national players from competing in the event.

"I think the refereeing decisions more or less played a part in our failure in the championship," he said. "We should have been given a penalty not only in the game against the Indonesians but also the Malaysia fixture."

The FAT boss also insisted former Manchester United and England captain Bryan Robson should remain the national coach. "We still want Robson to continue his coaching role. To qualify for the World Cup remains our target, and we need to give him a chance to do that."

Kitinan Sanguansak , The Nation .

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