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Soccer: Thailand retain Akira Nishino as senior men's, U-23 head coach

Thailand national football team coach Akira Nishino gives instructions to his players during a Group A match in the AFC U-23 Championship against Australia on Jan. 11, 2020, in Bangkok. (Kyodo)

BANGKOK (Kyodo) -- The Football Association of Thailand on Friday gave a two-year contract extension to former Samurai Blue boss Akira Nishino as dual national team manager, praising his work with both the senior men's and under-23 sides.

    FAT President Somyot Poompunmuang told a press conference the association renewed the Japanese manager's contract based on results.

    "We are happy with Nishino's performance and agree to let him set a fundamental system for Thai players," Somyot said.

    Aside from overseeing the national teams, Nishino is responsible for developing coaches and needs more time to continue his work, said Somyot.

    Nishino, meanwhile, thanked the fans for their support over the past seven months.

    "I have received warm support from the fans and also the media. I understand football fans have high expectations for the national team, so, I will give my best effort to meet those expectations," Nishino said.

    The Japanese coach admitted communication with his players remained an issue, but said it was gradually improving.

    The former Japan national team manager was appointed dual head coach in July after an extended run of poor performances by the senior men's side.

    Although the Thai team made an early exit from last year's Southeast Asian Games in the Philippines, they made a strong showing at the recent AFC U-23 Championship. Tournament hosts Thailand reached the quarterfinals for the first time before being eliminated by Saudi Arabia.

    After his contract extension, Nishino said his first task is preparing the Thai senior national team, the War Elephants, to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

    Thailand have been drawn in Group G of Asia's second qualifying round along with Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates. Thailand are third on eight points, trailing leaders Vietnam by three points with three games to play.

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