Ex-Japan boss Akira Nishino appointed coach of Thailand national, under-23 squads

AP, Kyodo

Former Japan manager Akira Nishino is the new coach of the Thailand senior and under-23 teams.

Nishino agreed to take the job on Monday after a four-hour meeting with Football Association of Thailand chief Somyot Poompamoung in Bangkok.

He will coach Thailand in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, and take the under-23s to the 2019 South East Asia Games and 2020 Asia Under-23 championship, the Thai F.A. said.

During an interview with local broadcaster Thairath that aired Tuesday morning, Nishino said he had watched the Thais for some time and had grown interested in coaching a team he believes has the potential to become one of Asia’s best.

“The strength of the Thai team, it made an impact on me. It’s a team I’ve been interested in for a while,” Nishino said. “There is some similarity to the style of Japanese players and teams. I feel there’s a lot of potential for growth.”

Nishino attended Thai League games on Saturday and Sunday.

Despite only two months with Japan before the 2018 World Cup, he led the Samurai Blue to the round of 16, almost causing a huge upset before losing to Belgium 3-2. That ended his brief contract with Japan, which sought a long-term coach.

Nishino succeeded Milovan Rajevac as Thailand coach. Rajevac was fired in January, the day after Thailand lost to India 4-1 in its opening match of the Asian Cup. Former assistant Sirisak Yodyardthai led Thailand the rest of the way, and resigned after the King’s Cup last month, when the team was fourth out of four after another loss to India.