PHUKET: Former Thai national team star Surachai Jirasirichote today stepped into his new role as manager of FC Phuket.
Surachai, 40, is a former national team defensive stalwart with over 50 caps and two goals for his country.
He takes over the reins of FC Phuket (also known as the “Southern Sea Kirin”) from former boss Arjharn Songngamsap, who stepped down last month after guiding Phuket to promotion to Thai League Division 1.
Surachai was at Surakul Stadium this afternoon putting the new-look Phuket squad through their paces for the first time. He will need to get up to speed quickly with the new season set to kickoff on February 12.
“Mr Arjharn recommended me to FC Phuket. He coached me during the 10 years I was a player on the Thai national squad. He has faith in me and has given me great support,” Surachai told the Phuket Gazette.
Surachai played an integral part in arguably Thailand’s finest footballing hour. At the 1998 Asian Games he set up one of the goals as nine-man Thailand defeated a highly favored South Korea 2-1 after extra-time in the quarter-finals.
The game was played at the newly constructed Rajamangala National Stadium in Bangkok in front of more than 60,000 fans.
Surachai has a great deal of experience playing club football in both the Thai League and Singapore’s S-League.
Although he obtained a coaching license last year, Surachai’s appointment with FC Phuket on a one-year contract is his first managerial posting.
“I hope we can win promotion to the Thai Premier League within one year. I will be doing my best to achieve this, or at least make the playoffs,” he told the Gazette.
“I’m not pressured by fans’ expectations. I really just want to bring this team to the highest level. I believe that with the experience I have it will bring success to the team,” he added.
Meanwhile, FC Phuket has announced seven more signings to bolster their squad ahead of the new campaign.
Four fresh faces have arrived from Rajpracha Nonthaburi FC: defender Nirun Phunthong, midfielders Kornprom Jaroonpong and Seksit Srisai, and striker Tameezee Hayeeyusoh.
Also added to the new line-up is Kone Adama and Coulibaly Abdoul, both from the Ivory Coast, and exciting Brazilian import Paulo Reneto.
“Seven players arrived from Bangkok today to train with us. It’s their first practice session. It may take some time to improve our relationship and teamwork,” said Surachai.
“In terms of players, we’re almost ready. Reneto can help the team a lot. He is a very skillful forward signed from GE Brazil.”
In more good news for FC Phuket fans, one of the stars of last year’s promotion success, Nene bi Tra Sylvestre, who was reported to have parted company with the club at the end of last season, will return next week to join the FC Phuket squad.
The final make-up of the squad for the 2011 season is set to be confirmed by the end of this week.
FC Phuket have penciled in a friendly match against current Thai Premier League champions Muang Thong United at Surakul Stadium on January 26, kicking off at 6pm.
The game will see former Phuket star Diarra Ali line up for Muang Thong United after he switched clubs in the off season.
— J Upatising & A Jennings
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