Schaefer set to take Thailand job

BANGKOK - German Winfried Schaefer is close to clinching a deal with Thailand to take over as national team coach ahead of the start of the team's 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign next month, the country's football federation said on Wednesday.

Schaefer, a former Karlsruhe manager who led Cameroon to their fourth African Cup of Nations title in 2002, was due to meet with Thai football chief Worawi Makudi on Wednesday to sign a contract, effective from July 1.

"I believe the contract would be for three years, we want Schaefer to improve the national team and work to develop Thai football at all levels," Ong-Art Kosinkar, secretary-general of the Football Association of Thailand, told Reuters.

Schaefer, 61, is set to become the sixth foreigner in eight years to take the notoriously difficult job. His predecessors include compatriot Siegfied Held, Brazilian Carlos Roberto and Englishmen Peter Withe, Peter Reid and Bryan Robson.

Thailand have been in a race to hire a new coach ahead of the start of qualification for the 2014 World Cup on July 23 due to the resignation of former England captain Robson, who quit on June 18 after overseeing the side's worst run of form in a decade.

Thailand have fallen to 120th in the FIFA rankings and will face either Palestine or Afghanistan in their opening qualifier for Brazil 2014.