By Lerpong Amsa-ngiam
Speaking to the Thai media in Bangkok for the first time since signing a deal with the Football Association of Thailand in Tokyo on Friday, the former Japan manager was adamant he could lead Thailand to a win over arch-rivals Vietnam and progress to the third qualification stage of the Cup.
But the 64-year-old from Saitama will not take charge of the full team until August 26 when the players complete their Thai League games. That means he has only 10 days to prepare the War Elephants for the 2022 World Cup Qualification group stage opener against neighbours Vietnam on September 5.
“I have no worry,” Nishino said during a press conference on Sunday. “I was asked this same question when I was assigned to coach Japan two months before the World Cup in Russia last year. The team made it to the round of 16,” added the Japanese, who will also oversee the U23 team.
Despite having limited time for preparation, Nishino believes Thai players have the potential to reach a higher level and can clear the first hurdle against Vietnam.
“From my experience in Japan, I believe I can elevate the level of Thai players. I will apply the same techniques I used in Japan with the Thai players. I expect to beat Vietnam and lead Thailand to the World Cup Finals,” said Nishino, who also led Kashiwa Reysol to the J-League title in 1999.
“But the players have to improve themselves too. I alone wont be able to achieve the end goals without support from the players, Thai FA and fans,” added Nishino who insists he has no plan to bring along Japanese staff for his coaching lineup and prefers to work with Thai colleagues.
Apart from Vietnam, Thailand share the group with the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia and Malaysia in the Asian Qualifiers, which will be played in a home-and-away round robin format from September until June 2020. The top teams from eight groups plus four best second-placed teams will proceed to the third qualifying stage.
“We are in a group that is not too tough but not easy as well. The good thing is we don’t have to travel far for the games as most are in Asean,” said the Japanese coach who in the meantime plans to study Thai players in their league games as much as possible.
Meanwhile Thai FA chief Somyot Poompanmoung insisted that he will maximise efforts to assist Nishino to do his job and promised there would be no interference from the Thai FA in his supervision over the Thailand and the U23 teams.