The former Japanese national team manager, who flew back to his homeland during the lockdown, returned to Thailand in August and is eager to continue his Changsuek project.
Thailand is 3rd in Group G of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Asian qualification round two before Covid-19 hit and the fixture is rescheduled to 2021. The War Elephants is set to face Indonesia, United Arab Emirates and Malaysia respectively but Akira Nishino may be forced to shift his priority elsewhere during these strange times.
“At the moment, nothing in the football world is going to plan – especially in Asia. Therefore, we must divide and plan our work out intelligently according to the [football] calendar.” Nishino told FA Thailand after a staff meeting at the football association of Thailand’s (FAT) headquarter on Tuesday the 8th of September.
“We plan to hold 2 national teams training camp during the 7-12 October and 11-16 November FIFA Day slot. We’ll look for competitive friendly matches and try our utmost best to get as much out of the time in hand.”
“The AFF Suzuki Cup, which is expected to be held in April 2021, is our nearest tournament and an important one. Hence why we will grade potential squad members during the October and November training camp as well as the player’s performance in the Thai League.”
“I am delighted to be back working and improving Thai football. The Thai League is about to return and I’ll do my best to select the right players so we can the results we deserve. I hope the fans are behind us – not only with the national team but at clubs and the league level as well.”
Attending the meeting is the assistant head coach Totchtawan Sripan, first-team coach Anurak Srikerd and Issara Sritaro, goalkeeper coach Umarin Yaodam and other non-football related staffs. Since taking the job in 2019, Nishino is very open with his preference to send coaching staff out on scouting missions to gather first-hand information on opponents or possible national team call-ups. Nishino was spotted in the friendly between Muangthong United and Chonburi FC on Sunday and the 2008 AFC Coach of the Year will be in the stands as BG Pathum United welcomes Buriram United to the LEO Stadium this weekend.
There is widespread discussion about whether or not Thailand should play the U23, the B team or the full squad at the upcoming AFF Suzuki Cup so it makes sense that Nishino will want to expand is selection pool via scouting. Plus, by Nishino attending the game himself, it motivates the players to up their games and plants a connection them and the national team head coach which makes for a stronger bond during international duty.