Problems at home and failure abroad (1/1/2011)

Thailand under coach Bryan Robson began their 2010 campaign with unconvincing results, and ended the year in a similar manner.

The full national team finished third in the King's Cup after beating Singapore's second-string side 1-0 and losing 3-1 to Poland and 3-0 to Denmark.

In the Asian Cup qualifying round, the Thais drew 0-0 with Jordan in Bangkok and then lost 1-0 at Iran to be eliminated.

Last month, they failed to get past the group stage of the AFF Suzuki Cup in Jakarta after not having a single win. They drew 2-2 with Laos and 0-0 with Malaysia before going out with a 2-1 loss to Indonesia.

he U23 team fared a bit better. They reached the quarter-finals of the Asian Games in Guangzhou before losing 1-0 to eventual champions Japan.

But in the opening stage, they were embarrassingly held to a scoreless draw by Maldives.

The poor performances infuriated fans who have campaigned to pressure Worawi Makudi to resign as president of the Football Association of Thailand (FAT).

Not surprisingly, Worawi argued that he was not to blame because he had nothing to do with coaching.

Worawi also upset the English FA after he did not vote for England to host the 2018 World Cup. The English FA reportedly will cancel its national side's friendly with Thailand next year.

Thailand welcomed Europa League champions Atletico Madrid to a friendly match, won 3-0 by the Spanish club.

Owned by King Power and coached by former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson, English Championship side Leicester City played a friendly here.

Although they are just a team from England's second-tier league, the Foxes proved much too strong for Thailand who were defeated 3-0 .

Before the World Cup, hosts South Africa invited Thailand to play a friendly there and the country comfortably beat Robson's men 4-0.

On the domestic front, the Thai Premier League enjoyed an increase in popularity. But local football was also hit by problems.

Muang Thong United retained the TPL crown but they just missed out on winning the FA Cup after losing 2-1 to Chonburi after extra time in the final.

Army, Bangkok United and Si Sa Ket were the bottom three teams and relegated. But the FAT suddenly increased the number of TPL teams for next season from 16 to 18 with the trio facing three teams from Division One in play-offs for TPL spots.

It was reported that an influential team forced the FAT to make the TPL bigger so that they would get another chance to return to the top flight.

The FAT also surprisingly launched the League Cup in mid-season. This added games to the original schedule and affected Thailand's preparations for the Asian Games and Suzuki Cup.

In their debut season as Buriram PEA, the northeastern club finished second in the TPL and League Cup. They were defeated by Thai Port in the League Cup final.

The team were formerly Provincial Electricity Authority ( PEA ) and were taken over by political heavyweight Newin Chidchob.

Before the 2010 campaign kicked off, FA Cup champions Thai Port played league winners Muang Thong in the traditional King's Trophy match at Supachalasai stadium.

During the game, Port fans felt the match officials were biased and started attacking Muang Thong supporters.

The match was suspended while Muang Thong were leading 2-0. The Kirins were declared the winners .

Last week, Nakhon Pathom fans attacked the match officials and Si Sa Ket supporters after their TPL play-off match ended in a scoreless draw.

Nakhon Pathom claimed the match officials were biased. The club has since been banned from playing in the league for two years.

In futsal (five-a-side), Thailand's campaign ended in the quarter-finals of the Asian Championship when they lost 9-2 to China.

Thailand were awarded the right to host the 2012 FIFA Futsal World Cup. In 2011, Thailand will have two major tasks _ the SEA Games and Olympic qualifying round. Both are for U23 teams.

It could be a difficult assignment for Thailand to win back the SEA Games title following their first round exit at the previous edition in Laos in 2009.

They had been eight-time defending champions before the disgraceful spell in Laos.

While Thailand are not expected to secure a berth at the 2012 London Olympics, at least they should produce some impressive results to please fans who have lost faith in their own national side.

Good luck, Robson !

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