By Kitinan Sanguansak - AFF Thai correspondent
|German Winfried Schaefer and Worawi Makudi|
Picture: Football Association of Thailand
German coach Winfried Schaefer wants his charges to fight fiercely like a “war elephant” as the new Thailand national football team coach started his work to revive the Thais’ fortunes following the slump of form during the previous regime.
In FIFA's ranking table announced earlier this week, Thailand dropped further down to the lowly 123th place and the former Cameroon coach Schaefer quickly made a point of it, saying the need to arrest such downward slide when he was officially unveiled as the new national coach yesterday.
“The responsibility is high. We want to improve Thai football consciously. The national team fell down below 120 so we have to stabilise.
“For us, that’s down to the hard work and the improvement needs to take a step by step,” said the German veteran who built his coaching reputation from his stint at German club Karlsruher.
Schaefer, though, stated that he could not reverse the Thai team’s downward trend on his own, making his plea to all coaches of Thailand Premier League clubs to make collective effort in taking the national team forward.
“All the league coaches and I, we have to work together. I cannot change everything in one week as I need the help from the club coaches. They work with players every day, while I have players only for one or two weeks.
“If we have the success with the national team, the players will go back to the clubs with big confidence. So, both the club and country can grow up together.
“We need to work together for the nation. If the football league is very strong, it would be good for the national team. That’s my task and challenge and that’s why I’m here,” said Schafer who occasionally switched speaking German during the conference that lasted around half an hour at the Football Association of Thailand headquarters.
With Thailand having the elephant in the team’s emblem, Schaefer, who took over the reins following the resignation of former Manchester United captain Bryan Robson last month, was hoping that he could instill bravery into his new charges to perform on field like the “war elephant” in the battlefield.
“I want every country around us watch Thailand with the great respect. The team’s symbol is the war elephant which strikes great fear at the heart of enemies. That’s exactly what we need to aim for.
“The players must be happy to get into the team. It’s the honour to play for the country. Pulling on the national shirt, the players should be proud of themselves, that’s our aim. We need confidence, courage and character,” said Schaefer, the third foreign coach during Worawi Makudi’s reign as the FAT president.
The experienced German went on to underline the importance of the youth to the national team and he wanted to create idol players like Germany’s Michael Ballack to inspire the local young generation.
“The base of all national teams is the youth. Young people need the idol, whom they can look upon. In Germany, we have Ballack and (Bastian) Schweinsteiger. That’s very important. The young should have shirts of players from our team, not of Ronaldinho or (Lionel) Messi.”
Despite the fact that Thailand have had several foreign coaches, some of which failed to achieve the substance success, Schaefer was confident he could succeed where the others failed by returning the country to the place where they belong.
“We need a good strategy. We have to work like the professional. After watching the DVD of the games against Japan and Singapore, I saw what we must do. The players fought very well but we have to work on the tactic. They need to be disciplined, tactically.
“I think the players need courage. I felt the players were afraid when they took onto the field. Like I said earlier, we must go out like a war elephant.”