'I am serving His Majesty': Schaefer decides to stay (10/03/2012)
German coach Winfried Schaefer revealed that the pride of working for His Majesty the King was behind his decision to continue in his post as Thailand manager.
The veteran coach complained of poor preparations for last week's crucial World Cup qualifier in Oman, where a 2-0 defeat saw Thailand eliminated from the competition. He responded to the loss by saying he might not see out his contract.
But after taking time to consider his position, the 62-year-old Schaefer said that along with Thai fans' overwhelming support, the opportunity to continue serving His Majesty had persuaded him to stay.
"To be honest, I thought long and hard [about] whether to stay or not after the end of the Oman match. With many fans lending their support to me through my Facebook, as well as my personal target with the team, I simply can't leave.
"Most important, though, is that I felt as if I had served the King while doing the job, since the FAT is under royal patronage. That really means a lot to me," said Schaefer, who has received plaudits for his work in reviving the Thai team's fortunes since taking the post in July.
The German, who made his name by leading Cameroon to the 2002 African Cup title, admitted he was still finding the World Cup qualifying elimination hard to digest.
"Everyone needs to have a dream and live with it. One thing that I can't take on my chin is the knowledge that we should have realised our dream if we had been well prepared for the Oman game. As we all knew, our preparation for such a crucial game with a ticket [for the final group-stage qualification] at stake was not what everyone expected. I don't know when such an opportunity will come round again."
After talks with Thai FA president Worawi Makudi, who pledged to improve the management structure overseeing the national team, Schaefer revealed he has already set plans in motion for rebuilding the team.
"For the future of Thai football, we need to start working right now, not tomorrow. The FAT president gave me his word that he would improve the way the Association worked to be more professional.
"I plan to help develop our football at youth level, which is the foundation of success on the pitch. I already have the persons who I want to work with in my mind. But, I still [haven't told] anyone, because they are under contract with clubs."
Schaefer also lashed out at some Thai league clubs for their delay in releasing players for the national team's training camp.
"I'm quite baffled [as to] why we didn't receive good cooperation from clubs, considering how important the Oman game was. But, I don't want to dwindle on the past as we now must move on. Both clubs and the Association need to work together for the national team's interest, just like in Germany," said Schaefer.