Inside Story: Chanvit's big chance leaves a role to fill (February 21, 2007)


Chanvit Phalajivin has resigned as Thailand's national football team coach and will train Vietnamese side Dong Thap in the V-League.

Chanvit will be another Thai to coach a foreign club. There are a couple of Thai coaches who are working for Singaporean clubs in the S-League, including Vorawan Chitawanich who is said to be popular there.

This proves that Thailand is not short of good coaches. Chon Buri coach Vittaya Laohakul recently turned down a lucrative offer from a Japanese side which could have made him 40 million baht richer in a few years.

Chanvit is one of the most respected Thai coaches and will get around 500,000 baht a month plus other fringe benefits from Dong Thap.

The promoted Vietnamese side apparently chased Chanvit's services because the coach helped Thailand beat the Vietnamese on several occasions during his spell in charge which began in 2005.

Chanvit's men hammered Vietnam 3-0 in the 2005 SEA Games final in the Philippines. Last year, Thailand drew with Vietnam in the final of the Agribank Cup to to win the four-team tournament in Hanoi.

More recently, Thailand defeated Vietnam on their way to clinch the King's Cup in Bangkok in December. The kingdom also finished off Vietnam over two legs in the semi-final of the recent Asean Championship, although the Thais fell to Singapore in the final.

Chanvit, a high-ranking official at the Sports and Recreational Department, was initially reluctant to take the job at Dong Thap. But when the Vietnamese club surprisingly agreed to meet his salary demands, he had no choice but to accept it.

Why not? Chanvit will get around six million baht a year from the Vietnamese club. He received about 200,000 baht a month as a government official and Thailand coach.

Chanvit's move to Vietnam proves that Thailand and their national league are no match for the V-League in terms of financial power. Several top Thai players are playing in the V-League which is now more attractive than the S-League.

The Football Association of Thailand (FAT) did not oppose Chanvit's move. But who can stand in his way when he is going to receive a huge income by Thai standards?

It is quite surprising that Thailand have used five coaches in less than three years _ Englishman Peter Withe, who was sacked in 2004, Brazilian Carlos Carvalho, Chatchai Paholpat, Germany's Sigi Held and Chanvit.

Chanvit's departure is a loss for the FAT whose urgent task is to find a replacement with only five months to go to the Asian Cup, in which Thailand is one of the four first-round hosts.

Hiring a foreign coach is unlikely during the current economical situation. The first name in the mind of several fans and critics is Vittaya, a former national team coach who has vast experience in playing and coaching.

But it is almost impossible that Vittaya will make a return to the national team. The former Hertha Berlin player is a vocal critic of Thai football authorities and last year challenged FAT president Vijitr Getkaew's power.

Vittaya ran for FAT presidency against Vijitr and he was engaged in a fierce war of words with Vijitr's aides before the poll. Although Vijitr was comfortably re-elected, it was the first time that he faced a challenge after more than one decade in the position.

Vorawan could be the right man but he may not be keen on leaving his S-League club for a risky job.

Highly-rated Somchai Subperm who guided surprise package Bangkok University to win the Thailand League last season is also in the frame as is Chanvit's assistant Thongsuk Sampahangsit.

Whoever is the FAT's choice, he will have a tough assignment to impress in the Asian Cup against Australia, Iraq and Oman. However, he must be given a free hand and take full responsibility no matter the outcome will be.

Several coaches of Thailand have been sacked or have quit because of internal politics and there should no recurrence of this.