After comprehensively nominating the footballers who enjoyed an outstanding 12 months to be part of FFT’s SEA Team of the Year, the time has come to name the region’s Best XI for 2015. Below is how our dream team would line-up, helmed by the coach who is fully reaping the fruits of his labour…
Kiatisuk 'Zico' Senamuang
Talk to any Thai person about football and it’s almost guaranteed that one name will come up more than any other – Zico.
That, of course, would be Kiatisuk 'Zico' Senamuang, who comfortably claimed FourFourTwo’s title of the 2015 Southeast Asian coach of the year.
There were some other names in the mix; Ange Postecoglou’s Australia side took out this year’s Asian Cup and is well on track for more World Cup qualification, while Mario Gomez did an outstanding job with a Johor Darul Ta’zim outfit that claimed Malaysia Super League and AFC Cup honours.
But Thailand’s emergence as a budding world force gave Zico the nod this time around.
One of the most successful players to come out of Southeast Asia, he once spent a season with English club Huddersfield Town and also played in Malaysia and Singapore before attaining legendary status with Vietnamese side Hoang Anh Gia Lai.
Yet it was his performances with the national team for which he is best remembered, leading Thailand to the final round of World Cup qualifying for the first time in 2002 and still holding records for the most caps and most goals for his country.
He then managed to adapt his golden touch to the coaching ranks, leading Thailand to the 2014 ASEAN Football Championship title and earning a gold medal at this year’s SEA Games with the under-23 team.
Most importantly, he has guided the War Elephants to the top of Group F in 2018 World Cup qualification with one final fixture remaining, against Iraq on March 24 next year.
“We’re doing great right now, but I believe this squad is capable of going further,” the 42-year-old said after last month’s 4-2 win against Taiwan. “Our target is Iraq. We’re going there to get a win to ensure that we go through to the next round as group winners.”
Kiatisuk is currently working with the under-23 squad for the upcoming AFC Under-23 Championship due to take place in Qatar in January, where qualification for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games is on offer. - Written by Kritikorn Thanamahamongkhol