Sunday, June 25, 2017
Kiatisuk Spurns Overseas Offers For Port Luck
I gotta start by saying I love Kiatisuk Senamuang. He was one of the first Asian footballers I became familiar with when I moved to Thailand in the early 1990s. He was a fantastic ambassador for Thai football, not a bad player and made difficult career choices, moving to Huddersfield, because he felt his game would improve. And having seen him exude with and charm in press conferences has only increased my pathetic man love for him.
Out of work since stepping down as coach of the Thai national team earlier this year, Zico, as he is popularly known, was recently appointed coach of Port in the Thai top flight. I don't have a favourite team in this part of the world but if I did it would probably be Port FC as I lived round the corner from their PAT Stadium for several years (but never saw a game!).
So when a guy you respect is appointed to a club you have a soft spot there is a certain warm glow inside one's body, as well as a possible trip to Bangkok to take in a game or two.
A number of clubs in Indonesia were linked with Zico before he appointed coach of Port including Persib while he admits there was also interest from Malaysia. However it seems there was little to no hope of him heading outside of Thailand to coach. Why?
'I received several offers to coach teams from outside Thailand,' he explains, 'but I don't want to go there because I don't want to coach a team that could play against either the Thai national team or a Thai club side in the future'.
It seems a daft reason from such a well travelled football person. With one of his star players in the national team Chanathip heading to Japan you can be sure coach and player would have discussed the pros and cons and playing outside the comfort zone and it is difficult to believe a man who played in Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam would have so easily dissed the chance to go abroad.
The chances are of course Port simply offered more money. Zico's quote, if indeed he did say that, would have been made to a Thai audience brought up on the importance of 'Thainess' and it would have gone down well with the flag wavers and face painters who put love of country above everything else.
There could be another reason. Despite his stellar record with the Thai national team and the Under 23s Zico remains unproven in the domestic league with underwhelming stints at Chula United (twice) and half a season at second tier Bangkok. Only a season at Chonburi has seen him competing with the very best Thai football has too offer. He remains very much unproven as a club side coach. Maybe he sees an opportunity with Port to burnish his coaching credentials at a mid table side.
All conjecture of course. It would be great to see Kiatisuk coaching in Indonesia one day and I hope he hasn't fully closed the door on the opportunity.