By Lerpong Amsa-ngiam
Sirisak Yodyadthai performs a Thai wai to Marcello Lippi after their game.
Sirisak is in the dark over his future with the national team after their Asian Cup journey ended on Sunday with a 2-1 defeat by China in Al Ain.
The 49-year-old stepped up from the role of assistant coach to take charge of the Thai team two weeks ago after Milovan Rajevac was sacked in the wake of the humiliating first-up 4-1 defeat by India.
Under his guidance Thailand’s spirits soared – they recovered to beat Bahrain 1-0 and then earned their last-16 place as group runners-up by drawing 1-1 draw with host nation the United Arab Emirates.
The War Elephants also did themselves proud in defeat, showing a more adventurous approach against China, going into the half-time break 1-0 up before the Marcello Lippi-coached Dragons struck back with two goals after the interval to book a quarter-final spot.
With only three games to prove himself, Sirisak did pretty well for someone with limited experience – his greatest claim to fame had been to coach Thai Honda from League 2 to Thai League in 2017.
And although the Thai FA appeared impressed by his work, there’s no guarantee he will be handed the job full-time.
“From now on, it depends on consideration from those in charge in the Thai FA. We will find out after we return to Thailand,” said Sirisak, who only has a coaching license, rather than a pro licence that coaches of national sides are required to have.
It takes hundreds of hours and many thousands of baht to enrol in the pro licence course but Somyot Poompanmoung, president of FAT, has publicly stated he will help Sirisak with an interest-free loan should he take the next step in his coaching career.
Meanwhile, Sirisak reckons that reaching the knockout stage was better than many expected following the dismal start that seemed sure to end Thailand’s campaign in the group stage.
“If you ask me if I’m satisfied with the outcome, I will say that it [reaching the knockouts] was a bonus for the players. I really believed we can compete with China. We just couldn’t hold on to the lead and lost two goals too easily,” added Sirisak.
“China changed their tactics in the second half by playing long balls and pushed us deep in the defence. We lost concentration and let them dictate.”
J-League star Chanathip Songkrasin is one player who backs Sirisak’s training and tactics.
“He is a good coach in my personal view – but I’m not in a position to say much as it depends on the Thai FA to decide. As for the Asian Cup, I feel so proud to have come this far and feel thankful for this valuable experience,” said the midfielder, who scored the winner against Bahrain.
Skipper Teerasil Dangda, 30, hopes to continue playing for Thailand and believes the team is good enough to reach the Asian Cup Finals again in four years’ time.
“After a year playing with Sanfrecce Hiroshima in J-League, I have changed my attitude and want to keep representing the country,” he said.
“With my age I’m not sure if I will still be picked in the next Asian Cup, but with the current team we have I believe we will be stronger then.”