Southeast Asia Thailand

Akira Nishino Ramps Up Preparation for War Elephants Debut

Obb Deewajin

Football Tribe Thailand


The Football Association of Thailand (FAT) recently held a meeting on preparation for Asia’s 2022 World Cup qualifications.

The biggest update came from the new head coach, Akira Nishino, who revealed that his first provisional Thai squad list will be submitted to FIFA on the 18th of August. The selected senior squad members will then report for training and play in a closed-door friendly match (opponent is yet to be announced) around the end of the month before the final 23-man squad is named. 

The former Japanese National Team head coach also said some of the players available for the U23 squad will be reporting to training with the senior squad in order for him to see the players in action first hand. Time is unquestionably the biggest obstacle leading up to Nishino’s first game in charge – something he plans to solve by visiting clubs’ training sessions as well as attending matches himself. 

“We don’t have much time before the training ahead of the World Cup qualifiers. At the moment, I’m working round the clock, gathering players information. If I have the chance, I’ll be there at the games. Other than that, I will also be attending clubs’ training sessions.”

Other interesting updates regarding the first team is the appointment of Anurak Srikerd as one of Nishino’s backroom staff. The former-BG Pathum United head coach won the regional AFF U19 Youth Championship in 2015. Many graduates from that U19 side are now part of the current U23 squad which is set to take part in the SEA Games this November. Anurak could be the perfect bridge and offer Nishino insights on the U23 talent pool. 

Nishino backroom staff also already includes former caretaker coach Sirisak Yodyardthai, but the Japanese tactician is yet to appoint his righthand man. War Elephant legend and former SCG Muangthong United head coach Totchtawan Sripan heavily linked with the role. 

Thailand will kick off their road to Qatar at home against Vietnam on the 5th of September. Tickets for Nishino’s debut match have already sold out.