Former Shimizu boss Ghotbi says future 'bright' for Thai soccer


Former Shimizu S-Pulse and Iran manager Afshin Ghotbi, named new coach of Buriram United on Tuesday, believes Thai soccer is on the rise and gaining on Asia’s two premier leagues, the J. League and K-League.

“Both K-League and J. League have a longer history of being professional leagues,” Ghotbi said in an email to Kyodo News, after taking over from Alexandre Gama.

“Thai football is growing at an exponential rate. Football is the No. 1 sport in the country, and there is massive investment to develop the domestic league and the national team of Thailand.

“The future is bright for Thailand, and I am happy to be part of it at this very pivotal moment in history.”

The Buriram job will be Ghotbi’s first full-time position since being fired by Shimizu midway through the 2014 season. The Iranian-American said he almost signed with a few teams in Europe, but was overlooked in the end for off-pitch reasons.

Ghotbi said while he is currently back in Asia, he hopes to secure a move to Europe one day after turning around the Thai Premier League giants, who crashed out in the Asian Champions League group phase with one point and one goal from six matches.